Some of you might be wondering about the publisher through which all of the recently released line of Gamer’s University Games is produced, I thought I’d share a little about it today for my fellow designers out there.
Business 101, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That is not the case today. A couple of months ago, a friend of mine over at Cascade games dropped me a line with a link in it, knowing that I was involved in board game design as a hobbyist, he wanted to know if I had heard of www.thegamecrafter.com. Which, at the time, had just been open for a few days.
Until that day, I hadn’t. So I spent some time there, joined their forums. Made some suggestions and overall just took a good hard look at what they were doing and how they operate.
So far, I am quite impressed and, suffice it to say, still as excited as I was on the very first day.
If you’re familiar with Cafepress, the concept should be somewhat familiar to you. You’ve designed a game, you prototyped it on your own, playtested, refined, etc. and now you believe the game is ready. Now what? Well, before, you pretty much had two options: get a game company to pick it up (unbelievably difficult) or publish it on your own/pay someone to publish it for you (unbelievably expensive)
Well, The Game Crafter bridges the gap. Submit your design schematics digitally, define the contents and design of the box art using their interface, set a price and presto. You have a game. Your game will be published and designed on demand whenever it is purchased from the online store and the only cost to you is 50% of the profit of each sale.
The first couple months of TheGameCrafter’s existence has been bumpy, what company doesn’t have a rocky start in the first few months right? I didn’t want to write about it right away while they were still working out issues; I didn’t feel it would be right to talk about features that would be changed or removed. But it looks like they’ve gotten to a point of stability that I am really pleased with.
They’ve improved their parts selection several times already, now you can get all kinds of pieces for your games from nodescript pawns to colored cars, airplanes, army men, and even pirates. They have tokens that custom round labels can now be applied to, and of course, 100% custom cards and game boards.
This is a game inventor’s heaven.
Got kids? Spend a weekend with them and design a game. Who cares what it is, hammer it out and submit it, you don’t have to publish your games to the public- you can order a copy for yourself for about $10-$20 and the wee ones will be delighted to get their own game in the mail, all done up nice with professionally made cards and components, it truly is awesome.
If you’re curious about what the site is all about, they have a great wiki on their publish page that you can look through. Of course there is always the forums, where everyone has been helpful so far. Two gentlemen seem to be the front of the business and do the most interaction with customers: Tavis and JT. JT can come off as a little bit abrasive at times, but don’t let that fool you. He’s a great guy and clearly dedicated to his work- he’ll come through for you in the end, both of them will.
I had a problem with my first order and not only did I get a refund, they fixed the problem within weeks by getting a brand new machine (which is not to say they did it just for me) but still, that’s expedient. They’ve taken process improvement very seriously and have so far made changes twice that not only improve the product, but have lowered the production costs for the users of the site–how about that?
Gamer’s University has published three games so far with The Game Crafter and believe me, there will be more to come. If you have ever been curious or just have a wacky idea that you would like to try out, this place is like nothing else. Words can’t do it justice, you just have to experience it for yourself.