Tell us a bit about yourself and Barnyard Roundup.
My name is James Hudson and I am one of the guys behind Druid City Games, our first game is a family-centric bluffing game called Barnyard Roundup. It is a fast and silly game of collecting the most points by bluffing and truth telling. Keeps parents and kids laughing the whole game. It’s one of those games that surprise people with how much they enjoy it once they actually play it.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched?
I can’t stress the next thing I am about to say more, I am gonna use bold, underline, and flashing lights. AUTHENTIC ENGAGEMENT. What I mean by this is that MONTHS before I wanted to launch my Kickstarter, I engaged in every board game related area of the internet I could find and then I didn’t self promote. I got in there and read the threads and participated with no agenda, just got to know the members and became a member myself. A real member, not someone dropping ads and updates on people about my upcoming Kickstarter. No one likes to be sold.
What is your best marketing tip?
Make a great game! Make it look fantastic! You can’t market a bad game or a game that looks amateurish. If you look at all the top games of 2016, they all look the part and have dynamic game play. I see most failed Kickstarters have a few things in common, they aren’t original (only slight twists to an already existing game) or they went cheap on the art and it looks bad or uninteresting. This is harsh talk, however you are trying to launch a business with presenting the market a company and a game. You set your reputation and first impressions with your project, how do you want to be seen? If you really believe you have a great game or great idea, then you need to spend some real money to flesh it out properly and present it professionally. If you can’t do that or are not willing to do it, then you should be pitching your ideas to publishers and let them run with it.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched, what would it be?
How hard it is! This is a full time job for multiple people, not just a single person. There is so much work and many opportunities to mess up and rip all that hard work down. I am really glad I pressed forward but I understand how and why people quit or don’t fulfill projects.
You launched Barnyard Roundup in the middle of July. Why did you choose that exact moment?
I wanted to run the gauntlet of conventions during the year. I was an unknown company with a first time project. I wanted to get my game in front of as many people as I could before the Kickstarter launched. The only way to do that was hit the circuit of cons over the summer.
The beginning and the end of the campaign are when most of the backers pledge. Whats your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop?
This is where your marketing kicks in, it is easy to get all the excited fans of a project in on day one, but how do you keep attracting new people to your project. Blogs, interviews, conventions, bgg, ads, YouTube, social media, and any gorilla marketing you can think of! You have to be unrelenting in your efforts.
How often do you send out updates and what do they include?
During the campaign I updated anytime I had something real to say. But never more than twice in one week. No one likes spam and if you update with minor things more than a few times a week, people will turn you off and not listen. After the campaign, I have tried to update as needed but at least once a month to give everyone a status update.
Whats you tactic regarding stretch goals?
I tried to use my stretch goals to add things to the game that I wouldn’t have gotten to add without knowing that revenue was going to be there. Like a playmat, we would have needed to play a large amount of the art piece and the other logistics to producing it, but once I saw the support would be there, we commissioned the art for it and added it. I think that is what all stretch goals should be, things that you would love to see in your project but you aren’t financially willing to risk before you see what kind of support your project will get.
You had a very good start the first day but the boost on the final days was not that big. why do you think that happened?
Family games aren’t especially exciting for the Kickstarter market. All the fans of the game from the conventions leading up to the launch were excited and jumped in immediately. We understood our project would be limited on Kickstarter because of it’s theme. We were really pleased with how well it did!
What is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
That it conveys the core of your project as quickly and as professionally as possible. People aren’t going to investigate an amateurish page and they aren’t going to search forever to see why a game is special and deserves their hard earned money.
Do you regret something you did on your last campaign?
Not really, we learned as much as we possibly could and made the best decision we could at the time. Will our next campaign look different? Yes, I think so, but that is part of the process. Learn and apply that information. It was a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, but if you want to make it in the landscape that is board game publishing today, you better be ok with those two things.
You also do reviews of other games on your FB group?
Yes, Board Game Spotlight. I am an avid board gamer, I love board games, and I love sharing my passion for them with everyone else that I know shares those same feelings with me. I try to do a quick 5-10 minute overview of the games that I cover so people can quickly get the gist of a game and see if it is something they would enjoy. We have so many choices, we all hate buying a game that we end up not liking. I hope to help people make the best buying decision for their collection.
What is your favourite board game and why?
I love love love Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. That game has never failed to be big fun for everyone that has played it. Everyone wants a turn with the Forensic Scientist. It melds so many great little nuances together into one tight game package. No matter the range of board gamer, everyone enjoys it and I love watching people have a good time.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Wow, this could be a really long list. Jamey Stegmaier is first and foremost. I follow everything he does, he is where I want to be and he is brilliant and transparent. James Mathe, straight up business man that tells it like it is. Also, willing to share a lot of his experiences. Tony Gullotti at Arcane Wonders, he has spent a lot of time talking with me about the industry. Scott Morris at Passport, I have learned so much from him about the industry by following and listening to his discussions and how he handles hard topics. Then on the content making side, people like Rodney Smith from Watch it Played, what a fantastic human. He has helped me so much, he is a great person. Jeremy and David at Man vs Meeple, again fantastic humans that are a pleasure to support. Richard Ham (Rahdo) his energy is infectious, I interviewed him for one of my first pieces of content. I did such a terrible job, I had no clue what I was doing.
You know one of the things that pops up in my mind over and over is how this industry is full of great people! Board gaming industry people are board gamers at their hearts, we are all the same, people who really love board games.
Anything else you want to add?
I am really excited about the future of Druid City Games! We have a new game we are launching in 2017 called, The Grimm Forest. It will branch out from the family-centric feeling of Barnyard Roundup. This is a light to medium resource management game with lots of card strategy. Tim Eisner is the designer, we played it at GenCon and I begged him to let me publish it. After a lot of convincing he succumbed to my persuasion. This game is fantastic and the components and atmosphere are great. People are going to get a lot of game for their money with this project and will be playing it for years!
Other than that shameless plug for the next project, I want to remind people to think of your fellow board gamer in everything we do. Be kind, be helpful, enhance people’s experiences. We play board games to relax and have fun, if we can help ANYONE have a better time and be included, that is what we should do. I implore you to think of others before yourself, to be sacrificial, you never know that act of kindness and what it is going to do for someone else, it might literally save their life. Enrich the lives of those around you!
You can reach James on firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can join his FB group, Board game spotlight.