As a game developer, I have come to realize one simple truth: players are our oxygen. Without them, we literally don’t have a game. So, its paramount that we not only build a community of players who love the game and potentially be advocates for the brand, but also in the early stages of game development, to find play-testers to provide much-needed feedback.
With Rats to Riches, we had the idea for the game in June 2017, made our first prototype (scraps of paper) shortly after, and began play-testing, first with friends and family. That’s all well and good, but these guys aren’t exactly avid board gamers, so they couldn’t really critique the game and give the meaningful feedback we needed.
We then looked to Meetup.com to find board game meetups in the local area (We are based in Manchester), and even found some game developer meetups, which is super cool. These sessions were awesome for game development.
To up the ante even more, we ran an Instagram influencer campaign in May 2018, sending beta copies of the game to board game influencers all over the world. This achieved two goals: feedback and publicity. Naturally, these influencers would post and talk about Rats to Riches, because its new and fresh, and also because it’s kind of their job to find and push out content on their accounts anyway. This created a huge buzz, and it led to multiple publishers approaching us, asking us to license the game to them. Wasn’t our initial intention, but a pleasant surprise. We eventually chose to go with Accentuate Games Ltd. And its been pretty cool working with them so far.
There are two main points I want to draw from the journey. One, that the internet, or social media in particular, has enabled a large-scale, instant, real-time word-of-mouth network, unbounded by any physical constraints. Its absolutely key that we as developers not only tap into this network to find players, but to establish a unique, positive, and impactful reputation for the product and the brand.
This leads to the second point. Of all the resources you can have in a modern enterprise, be it skills or assets, your reputation is becoming ever more important by the day. With the dominance of platforms like TripAdvisor and Amazon, the power of a good reputation is gold, while a bad reputation will sink you in seconds.
Developing a tabletop game is a pretty traditional endeavor. We produce a physical product, sell it through traditional retail channels. But what we did differently was to be modern with our branding and marketing strategy. We looked at Instagram, Facebook, Meetup.com, Muster, etc. which are all totally free and have worldwide reach, to push the brand out and get loads of people interested in the game. As for building a good reputation, we made it a point to be genuine and be kind. We treat our play-testers well. We appreciate their time, effort and feedback. We own our mistakes, and learn from them. I like to believe it’s helped us thus far. Hopefully it helps you too.
Founder and Game Developer
Rats to Riches