The Basic Problem with Convention Copies
When a publisher is trying to figure out how many copies of a game they should bring to a convention, an event (like the Locally Crafted Games Fair), or just to have on hand in general, they do a lot of number crunching. A few things really play into this, though.
It is a lot of guessing. Some of it is educated guessing, but there are a lot of variables to consider. Sometimes, publishers get it right. Sometimes, they only bring as many copies as they can afford and/or get at the time, run out, and gain the ire of many a gamer. Sometimes, they forego this whole mess and just pre-order or do a Kickstarter.
We have seen all of these, and want to avoid it for the Locally Crafted Games Fair (July 19, 2019). The solution we found for this issue lie right at TheGameCrafter.com, a Print on Demand game publisher.
The Joy of Print on Demand
We use Print on Demand services to make our games. That means, when someone orders a copy of a game, it is put into a queue, created/printed, and sent to the customer. The main one (and the one we'll get into specifics about here) is TheGameCrafter.com. There are lots of benefits to this.
The Digital Contingency Plan
So, while looking for a way to make sure we did not run out of copies at the Locally Crafted Games Fair (LCG Fair), we looked at how we made games, and found the answer.
The Game Crafter has a great process called Bulk Order Fulfillment (BOF). If you upload a spreadsheet with all the customer info (name, address, e-mail, etc.,) and select how many copies of what game you want that customer to have delivered to their house, they will do their Print On Demand magic, and get games to your customers in about 3-4 weeks (I usually get them in 2). We've used the BOF for a Kickstarter before, and it was seamless, and simple. In fact, an order got damaged, and The Game Crafter's shipping insurance covered it. Just a top-notch experience for us and our backers.
Knowing that BOF existed, we decided to use it to solve the "I ran out" problem. It looks something like this.
The Pros and Cons of the Digital Contingency Plan
There are lots of good things to using this strategy at an event of show.
Contingency or Main Plan?
While all of this is being used as a way to avoid the feeling that we did not print enough copies for people to enjoy at an event, this Digital Contingency Plan could be more than that. In fact, it could be the way to go for a show.
Imagine if you had a table or booth. In that table or booth is you, demo copies of games, and a few tablets and hand-outs. You could show people the game, hand them some promo material, and then turn them loose on a tablet to order whatever they wanted, all shipped to their house in 3-4 weeks. Vendors do the show-and-tell part today and tell people to just "go to the Kickstarter page". Those same tactics with a closer deliver date would probably work great. You could just them show up to the show or event with minimal products, footprint, and no need for a cash box... just tablets and card readers. The Digital Contingency Plan is then your Digital Event Plan.
What Do You Need to Do the Plan?
So, you now know the plan, the good, the bad, and the possible. How can you do this? Well, here's your checklist.