Everyone has played a gateway game, and usually, it's a player's first venture into the hobby that they have this experience, whether it be at a friends house, a board game cafe or just a game that they picked up on Amazon. This is the underlying pin of what I want to write about in this post.
What is a gateway game?
Read this thread here on Board Game Geek for more info, but BGG user JoeDogBoy described a gateway game as, 'A gateway game can be the game that gets a "non-gamer" to play "real" games. It can also be a game that gets someone to try a new genre of games. A "heavy Gateway Game" is a heavy game (not a lightweight) that has an appeal to non-gamers, or non board gamers.'
I picked this specific user definition because 1. It comes up first on Google and 2. Most users in the thread seem to agree with him or build off his idea.
So what can we take from this?
A gateway game is:
Why are gateway games important?
No matter your preference in genre or your favourite game, starting small as a designer and developer is excellent for both you and the consumer. I plan to talk more in-depth about why starting small is great for you, particularly in a different post. To begin creating small is great for the consumer for many reasons, a lot of which I found out by reading "12 Months to $1Million" on my daily walk in the park.
Unbeknownst to me, I stumbled across what I should have been doing all this time, starting the journey for new gamers to get into the hobby, play more complex games, and contributing to the industry's profitability.
To break it down more clearly, here is an example of how you can gain, keep, maintain and nurture your customers from the first campaign until you make the game that you can go full time with.
Regardless, as you can see between steps 3 and 4, the unit cost will stay at a similar level or decrease slightly, despite the number of components and value you add to the game. This is because of the number of units you will be able to order from the manufacturer due to the profit you gained from backer fulfilment.
Some people see that shiny bright light at the end of the tunnel and think, I can do this right now. They will say, "I know I have the perfect game. It has great art, great mechanics, a great story, and I know what I am doing". That isn't going to help you if you haven't built your audience. If we include shipping in your goal for that fourth Kickstarter, you are going to need a minimum goal of £9,000 at the very least to get that project off the ground, and so you can pay for that minimum order. £9,000 might not be impossible with your first-time project; in fact, I know it's not. However, £9,000 is much harder to get than the £750 you will need for step 1.
That's why you start low, and nurture your customer. Eventually, that same customer that started your journey with you will slap down £40 on the middle-weight game that you wanted to make, to begin with, and they will do that with confidence whilst telling all their friends on social media to do the same.
Create your own Gateway Game
I started writing this blog post with the lofty ambition of convincing others like me, just beginning in the grand scheme of things, creating their gateway games and contributing to the movement of increasing the already growing board game market rather than trying to take from it. There are enough pieces of the pie if everyone contributes to making it. I hope I have, if not convinced you, at least made you think back to the first gateway game that you played; Whether that be Splendor, Ticket to Ride, hell, even Exploding Kittens, and hopefully, you think back fondly.
Thank you very much for reading. I run my daily podcast in which a lot of these blogs start as, and then I talk through them before writing them down like I am doing with this one. Therefore all the suggestions for this post are going to be the episodes revolving around this topic.
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Niall from Crab Studios
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development endeavors and successes, as well as essays on game design.
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