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GENCON 2014

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I can tell when a game system is hurting from lack of support and SG games in MY AREA are suffering big time!!

What would help then? It's easy to say "support" but what exactly do you mean by that? Gencon aside, which may drum up some interest but has little direct impact on local player base, what is the support that'd get your local community up and running in your opinion?

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Great question Pok!!  I can think of a few!

 

1) Send posters to a large number of the stores to advertise the game!

 

2) Push the Vanguards to run more events to promote the game.

 

3) League play needs to be introduced in a better way and more often, you should not need a book to do a league.

 

4) SG should start doing some Youtube or bigger web based advertizing.

 

I sure there is more but this is what I came up with quickly.

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1) Great if they are used, wasted money if they are not. Perhaps if they were available free for stores that request them?

2) How do you 'push' volunteers without potentially angering them?

3) Without a book, is this not more of a local thing? Although I think an official download or thin league play / campaign book from Spartan would assist this push.

4) Totally agree on the YouTube idea. Been think of doing it myself. If more players did videos it would definitely drive sales. Most people immediately try to find info online when they hear of something new.

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In the US a league is just regular play that leads to a tournament at the end.  Other companies have League kits that give patches and awards for the best of something at the end.  It is usally a $5-$10 buy in for each player to cover the cost of the kit the store buys.  You pick a night and then people start playing once a week and get points for win or a loss and the most points wins a medal are a pin.  This drums up new players like mad.

 

SG is doing campains that require a new $40 book.  This is not the same thing!!!!

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Never heard of a league kit being used for any other games before. Most of the time it's the store running something.

Campaign books are designed for players and not store owners, but they could be used by both.

A 'kit' might be a good idea - but you need a player base first. No store will by said kit if there are no players first. That leads me back to players and store owners needing to build a local community.

Even if ever person that saw Spartan at Gencon wanted to get their games, it won't build a play group for them locally unless they convince others to join them. It takes time and effort.

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In the US a league is just regular play that leads to a tournament at the end.  Other companies have League kits that give patches and awards for the best of something at the end.  It is usally a $5-$10 buy in for each player to cover the cost of the kit the store buys.  You pick a night and then people start playing once a week and get points for win or a loss and the most points wins a medal are a pin.  This drums up new players like mad.

 

SG is doing campains that require a new $40 book.  This is not the same thing!!!!

 

Apples to oranges my friend, apples to oranges.  You look at those companies who put out the game night kits and they're casual play, small investment, and absolutely no hobby aspect unless you really want to.  Now look at SG, this is a full on hobby game, you assemble, you paint, buy the rules and if you want the campaign books.  Two totally different gaming experiences.  Two different markets with some overlap.

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Spartans products require very little assembling. The painting is up to the players or the groups, but even then it does not require nearly as much work or investment as any sort of infantry based game.

 

Dystopian Legions is more heavy in the hobby side of the gaming arena, but even then except for specific cases it's minimal.

 

Edit: ah, SG does have more hobby work than 'clicks'. I always forget that those games even exist.

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I get that totally but which one pulls in new players??  A campaign is for the VETS that want a new challenge and a League that starts at 800pts, and builds to 1200pts over an 8 week period is what pulls in new players and grows the community in my OPINION.  If SG did some League kits It would help, that is all that I am saying here.  Campaigns are awesome and they can keep on doing those for the VETS.

 

BTW HERE is the GENCON Total RECAP!!  56K gamers, not a bad show at all!!!!  It just came out a min. ago.

 

http://www.gencon.com/press/2014recordattendance

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Well, this is all opinion - we sure don't have the answers...lol

As a comparison, my local store has been pushing out a certain grim dark league recently. The only ones who joined were people with armies.

I think a league won't draw people in, but might convince a player who already owns product to start a new faction.

Thanks for the recap link!

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We just did a WM League at our LGS and we were amazed on the new blood that showed up.  22 people joined and less than half of them had an army, the others bought a starter box and joined in!!  Doubling the group size!!  Now that was an awesome League result!!

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Pok, I would love to I would, but I am not a young buck anymore and have lots of other games and hobbies, including coaching for my two boys.  I did a ton of "Volunteering" for the other games while in my youth during collage and ran a tournament every month and even built 8 (4'x8') Tables of custom terrain and ran 2 MEGAMEGA tournaments that was 25 people all playing at the same time on the same table.  It was a blast and again that was 10+ years ago, old, fat, and tired does not make for a good REP.  Trust me I have thought about it but that would be my last resort!!  I do demos now at my LGS and try my damnist to get new players but that is it now days.  I also just picked up two new awesome games at GENCON that I cant wait to play!!!

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One of the big issues in North America is that there are a lot of stores that don't know where to order Spartan stuff.

A lot of stores only order from the big distributors. If they stop carrying the products, many stores won't look around for a new distribution chain, but will just say they can't get it.

It's laziness on part of the store I think. I had to hunt around for somewhere to get Spartan products from because the store I used to buy from said that they couldn't get it anymore. Another store told me that Dystopia Legions was out of print when it wasn't.

It's hard to combat this lack of knowledge if the store gets its info from a distributor who doesn't care because Spartan is one of hundreds of other products carried.

It has to be customer driven. Videos, demos, players playing in stores etc... many store owners don't even go to Gencon - there are stores that can't afford to take the time or invest the money to go.

This means it MUST be customer driven. We need to tell the store owner how great this game is and badger them to find a distributor, because the games are alive and are great!

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Commander- I don't doubt you one bit about commitments, I'm just saying that all gaming companies use volunteer reps. If there's not enough of those there's literally nothing the company can do about it. I guess I just have a very different experience- it seems to me, after watching numerous games come into the local stores, that whatcatches or doesnt catch on has little to nothing to do with reps, posters or conventions, and everything with reaching the initial critical mass by itself. I've seen games pushed hard by volunteers that flopped and died, and games with absolutely zero support that flourished.

 

I am not dismissing any of the marketing attempts as pointless, but at least in my limited experience they have far less impact than this thread seems to attribute to them.

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Well we are going in circles now so I am done. The way to prove me wrong or right is SG go to GENCON 2015 and as some say the proof is in the pudding!! Please prove me wrong!! And if they need volunteers next year I will sign up is a second!

 

BUT unfortunately I will have to stick to my comment back a few posts, until I see any change in the amount of new blood coming into the SG games or some serious outbreak of PlanetFall fever in my area I have no interest in buying another SG game system so that is can sit on my self at home and look pretty which I am sure it would look very sexy!!

 

P.S.

 

There are already 4-6 guys playing DZC in my area that I have been telling them I was waiting but now because of GENCON and the awesome new Faction that Hawk just released I will be dropping my money into that game very soon.  This is not a big poke as I walk out the door it is just the brass tax gentelmen!!!  Good luck and if things change I will still be here to enjoy the games if something of a marical happens.  Like I said at the beginning of all this I love SG and their games and really am not complaining about the games at all, they are all very well done and fun when and if I get to play them!!!!!!

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Going out on a limb, completely unscientific, purely anecdotal.......

The Roll Call thread: http://community.spartangames.co.uk/index.php?/topic/5765-roll-call/page-7#entry200295

This thread shows far more American players registered than any other market. This pertains to Firestorm Armada only and only those users who chose to place their name on the list. It is quite compelling though.

I would be curious what the actual registered forum users would show if broken down by country.

Only a foolish person would ignore that kind of anecdotal evidence.

Think about it.

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I agree with both sides of this discussion. Creating a community is on us, not spartan. But spartan has virtually no presence in the US. I don't hold it against them that they can't make it to conventions all across the States. But they do need to do something. Its difficult to generate a community when you're the only player trying to run demos. Great models only go so far. I just attended gencon and while I knew ahead of time that spartan wasn't going to be there, its still disappointing. Games like the other armada game just announced have already gotten the backing of one of my friends over fsa because I'm the only fsa player around and he knows that there will be opponents for that game if its as big a hit as the wings-of-x game.

I'm not giving up, I want to see these games succeed. I will continue to try to drum up support here and create a community. I am not suggesting spartan make big changes, I don't want to see them overextend themselves.

Also I'm shocked as of late by the negativity here on the forum, it was a lot brighter and positive when I signed up almost a year ago.

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But spartan has virtually no presence in the US.

 

For satisfying my own curiosity, how would you rectify this?  Would going to one or two conventions really generate enough buzz to increase the presence of the company in North America?  What would your marketing strategy be here, to improve brand recognition in the tough North American market?

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For satisfying my own curiosity, how would you rectify this?  Would going to one or two conventions really generate enough buzz to increase the presence of the company in North America?  What would your marketing strategy be here, to improve brand recognition in the tough North American market?

I honestly don't have the answers, I work construction not marketing haha! Attanding just gencon would be a start. I saw many video cameras and interviews at all the game company booths. They had almost 60,000 unique bages sold. You factor those numbers and all the people who watch the news videos and read the convention reports and reviews and that's a lot of exposure for 4 days stateside. Honestly I don't think that one convention is enough but its a good start. Other than that, I'd suggest interviews with gaming news blogs. More product previews and development news would be a great thing as well, lately spartan has been very hush hush about upcoming stuff. Their own blog has been very sparse. The first thing I would do is start talking to their fans more in their own blog, then go from there. Gaming news sites will see those updates and start talking about them and that will just expand from there.

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Just as a note guys.  The crew here in Lansing, Michigan has some ins at a couple big conventions Adepticon being one of them and we are currently working to include SG events.  We are Starting with Firestorm Armada and hope to expand it from there if things go well.

 

We are seasoned Gamers and have lots of Tournament and Convention experience so it will be professional.  I have proposals already sent and being evaluated for Adepticon and another more local Convention in the Ann Arbor Area called UCON games COnvention.

 

I am hoping that we can also use our contacts in the aforementioned blog and pod sphere to help Spartan out a bit in the States.  We may be ex-40K guys but we have made lots of contacts over the years that could really help get the games out there and get more people interested.

 

 

I am hoping that when, not if, we get these things going that we can coax Spartan Across the pond for at least one COnvention :-)

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@Boblogik

Those are some fair points, for sure.  A high number of attendees is good, but it's not necessarily volume that you have to go on, it's what sort of people are within that volume.  This is Gencon, it's a huge convention for all gaming, meaning cards games, rpgs, miniatures, and board games.  Not everyone attending is interested in miniatures, and of those that are, not everyone wants to play what Spartan has to offer.  I once asked a game designer why he didn't go to GENCON and he told me that the outlay of money to set up a booth there wasn't worth the return.  The guy wasn't saying that going to a con always needs to be to make money, since he attended other conventions and never made money at them, but he felt the return in business was better at specific conventions where his niche product was more likely to be appreciated.  He makes a 6mm wargame that models post-ww2 combat.  Because his game is so specific, Gencon he felt was not the best place to showcase it.  Instead he attends Cold Wars, a historical miniature convention.  The people who go to cold wars, while less then gencon for sure, have a higher proportional number of people who's interests line up directly with his product.  And this is a one man show as well, he just flies to cold wars himself from Canada, or drives.  It's not a huge undertaking like flying across an ocean, having promotional materials printed up, bringing product with you, etc.  I could honestly see how Spartan prefers to focus on the UK market, rather then a far riskier and expensive jaunt to a huge North American convention where they might just be a drop in the sea.

 

Do they miss out on coverage by the gaming press?  Sure, a bit, but a press packet to some media outlets is far cheaper, and serves the same purpose.  The only difference is that they don't get interviewed by a 'games journalist' in a youtube video showing not much activity out front of their booth in a noisy convention hall.  A controlled media interview, or article, would be a much better investment.  Think about some of those floor interviews you see from cons, do you ever see the people wandering by in the background with a dead look in their eyes as they head to the next booth they want to see?  Or the people who realize there's an interview and then hustle to get out of the camera's field of view?  It's not a big loss in my mind to have a company decide that the outlay of capital to attend wouldn't reap enough rewards.

 

A more solid marketing plan involves involving the community who plays your game (this website, the blog, Spartan Vanguards), generating good will (Thank you Spartan Customer Service!), producing an enjoyable product reliably (FSA 2.0!) and creating buzz, word of mouth advertising.  Timed with media press packets and news releases, this builds a brand identity.  It frees a company from a deadline (the amount of reveals at Gencon, and E3 for that matter, can reduce the end product by virtue of it being rushed so it can be shown to the public at a big event) and allows them to concentrate on solidifying their current market, while expanding at a reasonable pace into new markets.  I've heard that the Battle for Valhalla boxes are selling at a rate that Spartan was not expecting, which is frankly better then them producing too many and then not selling them.  A hot product in demand will generate more buzz then a product that seems to sit on shelves.  So a measured approach to new markets, like dipping a toe into the water rather then cannonballing in, is a smart approach.

 

tl;dr version: There are more cost effective ways to build a gaming brand then splurging on a big 4 day convention.  A 365 day a year commitment to a fine product is one of them.

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Agreed gencon may not be the top choice of cons here, others may be better suited like adepticon and origins. But gencon gets a TON of press. I have rarely seen a news article get lots of reposting from other conventions like you do from gencon. Additionally, Spartan's games are easier for the average gamer to get into though. So while gencon is more of gaming in general, not just minis, they'll get other gamers who may just be waiting (consciously or unconsciously) for the right game to break them into minis. It's not an entry level like the wing-of-x but its not intense like the grimdark. The price point is right for the average gamer as well.

Edit: also as I was saying at the end of my previous post, the first thing they should do is start talking to their customers and fans via their blog with product development and previews. Also posting stories in their universes would be well received.

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The price point is right for the average gamer as well.

Edit: also as I was saying at the end of my previous post, the first thing they should do is start talking to their customers and fans via their blog with product development and previews. Also posting stories in their universes would be well received.

 

The price point is a strong selling point for sure!  Getting members of the community to do unboxings on youtube, writing about the games in their blogs and in other forums, that's a great idea that should be fostered and grown.  As to the interaction between the company and us, the gamers, that can be a full time job.  It's hard to have the time to write something like that when you're running a company, and I can see why the updates are a bit light sometimes.  If you don't have a dedicated employee doing them, it's a side project for an employee with other responsibilities and duties.  Not saying that is how it is at Spartan, just my own suspicion.  To their credit, Spartan seems like a company that listens to it's fanbase and takes it into consideration when they update products.  That's the foundation of a good relationship.

 

As to the stories, again, you need to have someone with a lot of time on their hands (employee being paid to do it) to be able to generate fluff and fiction.  The community at large can help out here as well, with user submitted content.  Heck sometimes even the oddest or most outlandish fandom becomes canon.

 

I think I'm drifting away again, since I realize I'm now talking marketing, publicity, and social media, rather then specifically about Gencon.  It's just such an interesting topic to consider, especially since I'm very enthused by what Spartan has done so far, and how I'd like to work to help grow the fanbase here in North America.

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