For Would Be Game Inventors
So you think you have got a good idea for a new game. Is there a market for it? How do you go about getting it made? How much will it cost? How many should you make? How do you distribute it? First the facts. One in 600 ideas patented in Australia result in a product that is regarded as a commercial success. In other words ...make money. The games industry is no different. Your chances of inventing the next Trivial Pursuit are slim. So don't give up your day job.
Having said that, Australian games rank with the best in design and playability. Squatter, Psyche-Out, Make n Break, and Fact or Crap were all huge sellers Downunder. Some such as Smart Ass and Imaginiff won the Australian Game Of The Year award. For inventors Jack and Andrew Lawson, the award was the springboard to international success. The win was especially significant as it's hard to recoup your manufacturing costs by selling to an Australian market of just 21 million people.
Some Good Advice
Before you spend any of your hard earned money, do some research. Friends and relatives are usually supportive and encouraging. Although well intentioned, their encouragement can lead to unrealistic expectations (which can cost you dearly in the long run). The fact is the real world for new inventors is much tougher.
Do your homework. Seek the advice of experts in the industry. Before you spend any money, have your idea tested by independent play testers. Are the proposed rules clear and simple to follow? Is the concept original? Has it been done before? Does the game have enduring appeal? The answers to these questions are critical in determining if you should proceed to the next stage.
What you need to know
If you're still determined to go ahead, you'll need help. You'll almost certainly need the services of a graphic artist and possibly someone to make you a prototype. There are plenty of designers happy to take your money. Make sure you use a graphic artist experienced in game design.
Games manufacturing is a highly specialised field. The size and shape of the box, the type of components and of course the production run are just a few of the considerations. Should you patent the game? How much capital will you need? Can you fund it yourself or will you be seeking venture capital. Can you sell the concept to someone else and receive a royalty on the sales?
What's the best way to market and promote your game? Remember, the major retailers won't normally be interested in your game unless you have a track record as a games designer or the game or the game is distributed by an established national or international distributor.
Success against the odds
Fortunately, there is no shortage of would be inventors hoping to come up with the next Monopoly or Pictionary. That every year sees new games coming on to the market is testimony to the health of the games industry. Indeed, it seems interest in new games that are thought provoking, challenging and innovative is as great asever.
While the road to success is never easy, advice is available. The Australian Games Association and its network of games professionals provides an advice service on most aspects of the game development process including design, manufacturing and distribution. The Association even playtests games, making suggestions for improving the rules. For more information on the service, contact The Australian Games Association, 21 Burton Avenue Hawthorn VIC 3122 Australia Ph: (03) 9818 6974