With the submission period of our newest contest running out next sunday, we would like to take a look back at what happened the last time around! Read about the 2012 contest and what happened to the two games that received contract offers from us.
Our View On the Contest
When KBG decided to increase its efforts in publishing, that in itself was already a big step for us. The company was successful in distributing games, but had little experience in creating and developing them. Therefore we looked to the example of the big western publishers, most of which have editorial teams that filter and develop ideas created by external authors.
Consequently, we opened ourselves up to submissions. However, we noticed that it is not as easy as just waiting for the good games to come flying towards us: For western authors we wouldn’t be the first choice (if they had even heard of us), so we would mainly get designs that had basically been rejected by every other option out there. There was also not a big pool of Korean designers -for whom we might have been a more natural option- to draw from.
That’s why we decided to have a contest for both of these audiences, trying to remedy these situations at the same time. We didn’t expect a huge amount of submissions, but we felt that the contest would show western authors that we are a viable alternative (or at least hoped that the passable prize money might convince them) and it would also encourage Korean designers to step it up. At the same time it would be a nice experience for us, working with designs from all over the world and seeing what everyone came up with.
The KBG Design Contest 2012 took place from 9/18/2012 to 11/7/2012. During that time we received more than 80 submissions from all over the world, with about 50% of that number being submissions from Korea. These figures alone already constituted a huge success for us, but they also meant that we had huge logistical problems to accomodate that high number and make sure that we reviewed each individual submission with the appropriate care. We also found that the quality of the entries exceeded our expectations and it became quite hard to eliminate games from the competition. I still feel that another jury might have selected three completely different winners and they’d be just as worthy as the ones we have chosen. Anyways, we ended up having to delay the announcement of the finalists by a bit, but I feel we managed to do a good job overall.
What about the winners ?
Our contest produced 3 winners, Love Means Nothing by Ariel Seoane, Grazing Lands by Christwart Conrad and Promises, Promises by Carlos Moreno Serrano.
Love Means Nothing is our first place winner. It simulates a game of tennis by players shooting and receiving shots in different areas of the field. The catch is, that the number of cards you may play depends on how many you display openly in your “preparation” area. This balance between flexibility and secrecy is quite novel and makes for some interesting decisions. While the rules are easy to understand, the game also features quite a bit of depth: Depending on how many cards are visible, quite a lot -and sometimes too much- calculation is possible. And yet you might get unlucky and lose a whole play (which counts as one “game” of tennis – as opposed to a whole match) due to bad card draws. You can find a full print-and-play version here.
Even though a “tennis” – theme usually is cause enough for an instant rejection, we felt some huge potential here, so we made this game our winner and we made a contract offer to Ariel, which he accepted. The game is currently being developed by us. Working on the game mostly involves trying to find a theme for the game that is anything else but tennis. We will be developing this game for the Korean market, but we are also looking into having a small english edition or making the game bilingual. We are still hoping to make it an Essen 2013 release, but we will have to see whether we can pull it off.
Grazing Land is our second place winner. It is a really fast and fun game, where players simultaneously play cards, trying to stay below a shared limit. We enjoyed the streamlined nature of the game and we offered Christwart a contract, which he accepted. We are currently working out some kinks in the rules. We have decided to produce a version for the Korean market that is based on another IP of ours, changing the theme to something that will probably not be acceptable for western kid’s game audiences. We are in talks about coproducing an international version. This game is well on track to be available in Korea around the time of the Essen fair and we might bring some bilingual copies to Essen, too.
Promises, Promises is our third place. This game, with a political theme, is arguably the most elegant of our entries. It involves winning “elections” by making promises (in a kind of bidding process) and the winners of the elections having to scramble to meet their promises by negotiating with other players. We really liked this game as gamers and editors, but due to marketing considerations and our limited capacity to produce games, we couldn’t give Carlos an offer this time around.
So, as you can see, we found quite a few gems and we are not only busy to realize them in cardboard form, but are already bringing in the next batch of prospects with our 2013 contest, which will conclude its submission period this sunday. Hopefully we will have a similarly spectacular result as last time – or might we dare hope to even surpass the previous year?