Lesson #17 – How the Indie Game Alliance can help your Kickstarter Campaign succeed

Recently, Dan had the opportunity to sit down with Matt Holden, the founder of the Indie Game Alliance (IGA), a group formed to help smaller publishers unite to make a bigger splash in the board game industry. He provided some insight on the IGA, what they do for publishers, and how they can help a publisher’s campaign before, during, and after their campaign!

Can you tell us a little bit about the Indie Game Alliance, its history, and why it was formed?

Back in 2014, I was volunteering for Steve Jackson Games, and I decided I wanted a more leadership role. I reached out to Brotherwise Games, publishers of Boss Monster, and offered to help them start a volunteer demo program. We got hung up, however, on the issue of rewards — what do you give a volunteer who already has a copy of your only game? To address this, I hatched a crazy idea – what if we had a demo program we shared between four or five companies? We talked it over and decided to give it a shot.

Three years later this week, our little guild is about to add our six hundredth member publisher. Our client list and our volunteer roster includes every continent except Antarctica, we’ve done more than 120 conventions, and there’s no sign of stopping. We’ve added game sales, negotiated discounts and a slew of other services to the demo offering, and we have even more exciting things on tap for the back half of 2017

What types of publishers are part of the Indie Game Alliance?

We support designers seeking publishers, as well as publishers of every size — from folks Kickstarting their first game right now, like Mystic Tiger Games, to mid-size indies like Zafty Games and Everything Epic, all the way up to the titans of indie publishing, such as Tasty Minstrel, Mayday, Greater than Games, and, of course, Brotherwise. We work with primarily board and card games, but we’re working on developing programs for supporting RPGs and miniature-driven wargaming.

The IGA has multiple different tiers that a publisher can join. What is the difference between being a paid member and being a free member?

IGA operates on a “freemium” model, meaning we have free and paid membership options. On our free Starter plan, publishers can score some basic demos, get some advice in our private developer community, things like that. If a member goes Pro, for $20 a month, they get access to our brand-new retail microdistribution service, game shipping to our volunteer Minions, crowdfunding consultations, and more.

What partnerships and discounts do you offer?

We’ve also negotiated guild member discounts for our members with over 40 respected industry vendors. Our members save with 14 different manufacturers, including popular choices like WinGo, Whatz, MeiJa, LongPack, BangWee, BoDa and more. Our members get free ad impressions with BoardGameGeek, $200 off when using BackerKit, 5% off global fulfillment with Games Quest… the list goes on and on. IGA has partnerships ensuring our members benefits with every major digital platform we can find, including PlayTable, Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. If you need playmats, T-shirts, legal services, whatever the case may be, it’s cheaper just because you’re an IGA Pro member.

Our master plan is to use the size of IGA as a guild to help offset the higher prices indie publishers tend to pay because they’re ordering smaller quantities of things. We know that saving 5 to 10% on everything related to a Kickstarter campaign can be the difference between funding or not, or between losing money or profiting from a funded campaign. We want to see our members not just get their games made, but to flourish as businesses for years to come.

How do you help a Kickstarter creator PRIOR to their launch?

Prior to launch, we can help with playtesting and development, including rulebook editing, refining mechanics, and cleaning up the component list. We can collaborate with you to get your Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign in great shape before you click Launch. We can get the word out for you with our newsletters, our social media, and of course, our international demo team. You can use our curated freelancer database to find reviewers, artists, graphics designers, copy editors, and video producers to help you polish the project.

Prior to launch is also the perfect time to bring all the discounts we offer to bear, so you can get an accurate budget and set a realistic goal that will see the game successfully made in a way that’s healthy to your bottom line.

How do you help a Kickstarter creator DURING their campaign?

During the campaign, there’s three things you need – exposure, exposure, and exposure. Our demo teams prioritize games with active Kickstarters to help drive you traffic, especially at conventions. Active campaigns are listed free on the front page of IndieGameAlliance.com and in our weekly email newsletter that goes out to over 1,000 industry professionals and avid gamers, and our social media accounts share campaigns 24 hours a day.

How do you help a creator AFTER their campaign is over?

When the campaign is over, we can help you navigate any issues you encounter with your manufacturer or other vendors. Once the games arrive, we can get them into even wider circulation among our Minion demo team, and we can stock them in our all-new eCommerce store, where they’ll be available through our generous “microdistribution” service by which Minions can help sell games at wholesale prices to the game stores in which they demo. And, of course, we can sell for you at any of the conventions where we have a vendor booth, so your games can be at Gen Con, Dice Tower Con, or any of the other major shows even when you aren’t.

Pic from Jason Gough

Besides discounts and campaign support, what other services do you offer?

The three major service lines IGA offers are the demo program, the discount partnerships, and the sales. Our playtesting/consulting arm is growing quite a bit, and stands to receive a few new exciting features soon. Keep an eye on indiegamealliance.com around Gen Con for some interesting announcements about 2018 and beyond.

There is also an IGA developer lounge (closed group) on Facebook. Can you talk a little about that? 

IGA couldn’t exist if our members viewed each other as hostile competition. Rather, they are incredibly familial with each other. In our Facebook group, we average about 8-12 posts a day of designers looking for feedback on Kickstarter campaigns, advice on manufacturers and other vendors, and other general sage advice. It’s totally private, so designers can speak candidly about their experiences or concerns. I learn from the experiences of our members each and every day, and over time I’ve become a sort of living index for that information.

Is there anything else that we missed in this interview that you would like to add?

IGA is in the midst of a major expansion of our volunteer Minion team, and we’re recruiting! Minions earn Loot Points when they run demos in public or on digital platforms like Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. Minions file a report on our website with their mobile device in about thirty seconds, and their Loot Points are available to spend immediately in our Reward Store. Minions can score fresh-from-Kickstarter, hard-to-find titles and exclusive loot from our members, and all you have to do is play the games you already love in public. Plus, we’ll pay your way into conventions all over the world. You can sign up at www.indiegamealliance.com/join.

Special thanks to Matt Holden of the IGA for taking the time to tell me all about the group’s services and how they can help you run a better campaign. If you feel you are too small to make a splash  and you want to be part of a cohesive group of indie publishers, be sure to reach out to Matt for more information!

2 thoughts on “Lesson #17 – How the Indie Game Alliance can help your Kickstarter Campaign succeed”

  1. As a member of the IGA I can wholeheartedly recommend them. They have been an awesome group to work with. Matt is a great guy and is always willing to pitch in. I personally shaved at least $5000 off of my Kickstarter goal using the very discounts Matt mentioned in this article. If anyone has any questions about being a member game designer give me a shout( gamesbyray at gmail dot com) and I’d be happy to talk.

  2. Alienplay Games publisher of the new Superbeings Jumbo Card Game recently joined and will be using IGA for demo playtesting at Dice Tower Con in Florida in July. Also, maybe Origins in Columbus Ohio in June but without IGA there would be no where to turn for expanding the reach of the Superbeings game before our Kickstarter on August 17th day 1 of Gencon50 – which we’ll be there and likely be leaning on IGA for assistance as well.

    Join the IGA today!
    Rick Medina
    Alienplay Games

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