Monday, 4 February 2013

Analyzing Last Week - Game Summit and the Big Sale

I am the Warden!!

It was a busy week that finally came to an eventual end as a big online sale through OneBookShelf and my first convention as an exhibitor/publisher were rolled into a big week of sales (pointing out Killshot is now six months old). When it's all said and done, I pulled in $100 after commissions and expenses for all of the above with the majority of it coming from online sales. At the moment, I'm still in the red at close to $240. Helpful as the sale was, it's not something that's wise to repeat over and over again or else I might as well just drop the price down permanently (and it's a bit early and offensive to those first customers who purchased anything at full price).

What I need to focus on is getting the word out about the awesomeness of Killshot and that means conventions and videos. I know I've talked a lot about posting how-to-play videos and posted some rough footage of a new trailer, but that needs to move into a higher position as a weekend project. That leaves us to talk about conventions.

This past weekend's Game Summit was an interesting and educational experience, one that I enjoyed going through. Not just because it was my first con as a publisher/designer working an actual table (shared with the OTGD), but because I learned the table approach is not going to work for Killshot or the Optional System as a whole.

One of the most educational parts of the weekend was watching Corey Reid, creator of Dino-Pirates of Ninja Island, connect with fans and potential customers. It was either his personality, enthusiasm for his product, or that incredibly catchy title that brought them in and the remaining two closed the deal. He also had the benefit of association to help RPG fans connect to the mechanics (Dino-Pirates is influenced by True20 and 3rd edition D&D), something Killshot does have. At most, I can state it borrows elements from Savage Worlds (exploding dice), but everything was intended as original material from the ground up. (This really sounds like bragging when I read it, so I want to make sure that's not my intention at all. It's not an insult or snotty remark to Corey's work. I played a game of Dino-Pirates on Saturday night and all I can say is "undead steampunk-mechanized Tyrannosaurus Rex... on fire." How is that not awesome?)

People need to see Killshot in action; they have to try it. Even at a vendor's table, I'm not sure if that'll do the trick because of the other lesson I learned at Game Summit. People were there to play, not buy. Some were, don't get me wrong, but not in the room where all the games were going down. There's a difference between cons like Gen Con and Game Summit (though hopefully that will change in time). What I need to do is set up a demo table and run quick games of Killshot in a big open area for others to watch, play, and learn.

I've considered drafting up a new one-shot job specifically for conventions or offering up PvP tournaments and awarding prizes, including free softcover copies of Killshot: An Assassin's Journal. Determining prizes for a PvP is fairly easy, but enrolment could be a bit tricky if no one's ever heard of this game before. That leaves me with a one-shot job and here's what I have in mind.

Roll A Kill Shot, Win A Copy Of Killshot

At the start of the job, players choose one of eight cards written specifically for this game. Each one provides a bonus objective in the form of a particular dice roll (such as rolling a kill shot against any mark or thug), a personal objective for their assassin (such as learning the mark's middle name without asking a direct question), or anything else possible yet not necessarily automatic. The first player to achieve their objective wins a print copy of An Assassin's Journal.

Because here's something else I've noticed over the years: every table I've ever played in has at least one or more friends in the same game. It was the same for the Marvel game I ran Saturday morning (one group of three friends and a couple) and in the Dino-Pirates game (two friends and a pair of siblings). All it takes is for one of them to win a copy and you're potentially looking at another group playing your game on a regular basis.

My next con will be CanGames (May 17-19) and I plan to unveil it there. 


  1. You ended up doing better than I, but I think Corey's willingness to engage passers-by with a friendly greeting and then easy-going pimping of DPoNI really helped. I have a hard time doing that. I'm not a cold-call type, and I worked in retail, so I've had to do it often enough. It's not natural for me, but if I want to sell at a convention, I better bloody deal with it.

  2. Exactly. I've never been comfortable with cold sales because I hate when it's done to me. Personally, I'm less inclined to speak with someone who keeps pushing when you say "no thanks," but Corey wasn't that type.

    At the same time, the noise and crowds does diminish my enthusiasm slightly. It's gets a bit easy to become overwhelmed until I have a reason to focus my attention, so it's something to work on. That's why I'm hoping running Killshot games as more of a contest will help bridge that gap. Get me talking about the mechanics and I'll be on fire.