Publishing games is still a very exciting thing for us! Since one of our favorite projects is finally available in Korea now, we thought we might share a little bit about it and the different steps that it had to go through before finally being published. Coconuts is a dexterity game and not a “eurogame”, but it might nevertheless be interesting to read about the whole process that preceded the publication.
Step One: Acquisition
The usual process in the boardgame business is to wait for the games to get to you, via submissions. Then you choose the best one, develop it a bit to remove the rough edges. And voilá you have your “Spiel des Jahres”.
For us, it is a little bit harder. While we are accepting submissions, we are not exactly the most famous board game company in the world (,… yet!). Much less in the beginning of 2012, when we acquired Coconuts. There were some nice submissions, but overall we wanted to see more. So instead of conveniently sitting in our office, we were scouting for suitable games at the Board Game Author´s Meeting in Goettingen, Germany, and there we found this:
The game is about launching little coconuts with your monkey catapults. When you hit a cup, you may take it to your player board. Whoever manages to build a full pyramid of 6 cups first, wins.
What we liked about the game was that it featured quite interactive and dynamic gameplay (mostly by players constantly stealing cups from each other) in addition to the appealing, but not very original “catapult-factor”.
So we took it to our offices in Korea, played and discussed it with others in the companies and thought about the possibility of making this game.
By the way, this game was presented to us by an Agency: White Castle Games from Austria. We´re not saying that as an author you should definitely use their service (because you´ll have to pay for that, while you could just as well send your game to us for free instead :)). But we will say that they are efficient professionals and nice guys as well and we very much enjoy working with them.
Step Two: Reality Check
Sure enough, many people in the company liked the game and we felt that it might be a good prospect. So… we think that we have a good and original game on our hands. At this point in time we have to take a step back and try to analyze:
– What is the target group for the game ? Mass Market, Educational or Gamer, Kid, Family or Adult ?
-> Mass Market/Kid+Family
– Do we have a good way to market this game and to reach this target group?
-> Probably, we will have to get it into the big market chains…
– Is this target group big enough in our market to warrant making this game here
-> Targeting Mass Market, of course the answer is Yes.
– Can we produce this game with an adequate quality, regarding artwork and material, while keeping our consumer price low enough for our target group?
Some of the answers to these questions seem obvious: A game with little monkeys and catapults and coconuts is definitely more of a kid/family game than an adult game, right? When we look at the last question however, it gets more complicated, especially in the case of Coconuts: The original material (catapults and coconuts) provided by the author, which you can see above, combined two unlikely features: It was both perfectly suitable for the game regarding handling and feeling and perfectly unsuitable to be reproduced in the mass-market version of the product (Due to price of production, aesthetics and minor issues like flammability).
So we had to choose and make new material that would
– fit our price point (to get out with any profits after royalties, discounts and our own running costs, the production cost needs to be a very small fraction of the final consumer price
– at the expected sales level
more expected sales = more games produced = lower price per game, but higher risk
– for the chosen target group
MSRP of a mass market/kid/family game must of course be lower than that of a game for hardcore gamers.
– and still be fun to use in the game
the launcher must be controllable, coconuts must reach all cups comfortably, but not fly too far. Cups shouldn´t fall over when they are hit…
At this early stage of development there is a lot of guesswork that can be hit-or-miss on things that you can´t really accurately predict. Previous sales data of comparable games is of limited help, but mostly this is where it is important to have experience in your market and in making games as well, to put it all together and get to an appraisal of the chances and risks that is as accurate as possible.
While we are certainly the most experienced game company in Korea and we do know our market quite well, this is nevertheless one of the first games we publish ourselves. So for us to go for making this game despite the existing uncertainties might actually not be the most reasonable thing to do. Except that we really wanted to.
We´ll not go into actual numbers, but in the end, after having a thorough reality check, we decided to go ahead and make the game, despite the fact that there was quite some risk involved and despite the fact that we could already see that there would have to be a lot of additional work before we could put the game on the shelves….
That´s it for today!
In the second part of this short article we´ll tell you more about the actual development process of the game and all those other things that still had to happen on the way to publication.