Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Business: Tabletop Game Companies Dropping The Ball

The other day I posted a new BattleTech lore video. I mentioned that the channel posting that video did more to promote BattleTech than anything that the current owners of the property--Catalyst Game Labs--have done. All of the other lore channels and battle report channels contribute to this effort, and it helps that Harebrained's adaptation is very close (but not identical, which it should have been) to the tabletop game, but there's sweet fuck-all for marketing from the company itself.

This is a mistake.

Compare this to Wizards of the Coast. While not good for getting how play actually goes across, and its effectiveness in converting watchers to players is dubious, there is no doubt that promoting livestreaming of tabletop play online at places like Twitch or YouTube has done a great deal to promote the game and brand to the population of gamers. This is critical now; if you do not have an active, if not agressive, online presence and build your products to use online then you're leaving money on the table and gimping yourself- even Games Workshop are getting the memo now and they're utter Boomers about it.

Yes, that's a brand new trailer for a brand new (9th) edition. Yes, that debuted in a livestream event. Yes, it's there to promote the game via new developments and revisions (and model releases). This is the effort that is now necessary--not in specific media, but in attention to detail and expression of care--to promote a tabletop game because tabletop games not only compete with others of its niche, but with all other entertainment options worldwide. Catalyst Game Labs could achieve the same end cheaper just by making stronger use of social media, as Wizards of the Coast made use of streaming media to get the same end cheaper, via curating the best miniature painters, lore videos, product reviews, cosplayers, etc. and use their power of Officialdom to make those fan expressions go viral.

But no, because reasons.

Those reasons inevitably come down to "I don't wanna" and "I don't get it".

Is this a business or not? If it is, then "I don't wanna" isn't an option; you do what is required of you or your business takes a dirt nap. You either learn what is required or you hire someone who knows what you need and delegate the task to them. Tabletop gets away with so much incompetence because the barriers are low, manpower needs are low, and you can reliably substitute crowdfunding patronage for actual business acumen for a very long time.

Yes, I just threw a shitton of shade. Deal with it.

The fact remains is that this is a struggle for attention. We are now in a business environment where online attention is necessary to success, and logistics tools are now available to ensure that people can play the fucking game at any time with anyone anywhere sourcing physical components from anywhere to ship to anywhere. Small companies, and that is all tabletop companies that are not Games Workshop or Wizards of the Coast, need to make full use of what audience they have to promote their game products and that means that having a good man managing the social media outlets is vital.

If your game has a strong and distinct visual presence, one that lends itself to cosplay, then encourage cosplay at public gaming events (conventions, usually) that flies the flag and promote the best of them on your social media accounts. (If your game doesn't have such a thing, make one; you're screwing yourself good and hard.) If your game instead lends to modelling, encourage and promote modellers to model your stuff and promote that. As soon as you can, get sanctioned costumes or model kits out there. Encourage your audience to repeat your curated posts and share your videos.

This is a time where Word Of Mouth is easy to engender if you put for the barest amount of effort, and it is appalling that so many tabletop companies can't be bothered.

Let them burn. Just as you don't give money to people who hate you, don't give money to people who can't be bothered to try. Wizards may be pozzed, but they still try.

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