56: Publishers

56: Publishers

Which publishers are you currently most impressed by, and what impresses you about them? What can designers learn from publishers?

 

 

One of my favourite publishers is Renegade. Not only do they produce amazing games, they also treat their staff and contractors (designers, artists, etc.) extremely well. I think if there’s one thing designers should know, it’s that if a company is treating them poorly, it’s not industry standard. Companies like Renegade are really setting the bar for making designers feel recognised for their hard work.

Banana Chan

The publisher that I am currently most inspired by is Hush Hush Projects (the publishers of ‘Fog of Love’), because of the work they are doing in re-normalising who tabletop games are both about and for. Publishers play a powerful role in helping get diversity to the tabletop, and those that champion this are a powerful ally for designers wishing to do the same.

Sam Illingworth

A game may be your baby, your passion project, but to make it to publication, it has to be a viable product that makes a company money. Every game I have signed has turned into a substantially different game. Designers can be empowered to stand by their decisions, but flexibility and a willingness to make changes can help get your game to the finish line. It can be frustrating, but I’ve always learned so much by working with publishers to boost my own design skillset that I see it as a positive challenge, not a negative one.

Kathleen Mercury

I think there are some really exciting smaller publishers out there at the moment! It seems like a good time in the industry to have a strong unique style and identity as a company. Publishers like Keymaster, Roxley and KTBG have impressed me recently in this regard. As a designer, I am inspired by their approach to the game as a complete product – visually, physically, as well as play style. More and more I try to think in this more holistic way throughout the process of designing.

Phil Walker-Harding

I think if there’s one thing designers should know, it’s that if a company is treating them poorly, it’s not industry standard. Companies like Renegade are really setting the bar for making designers feel recognised for their hard work. — Banana Chan

AEG is doing some great things. Gamers might already notice that they’re putting out far fewer titles, and ensuring they’re of the highest quality. But what they don’t know is how much AEG is investing in their relationships with retailers, distribution, and even designers. From their communications system to their availability online to their designer FB group, no other publisher I know is nurturing their designer community the way AEG is today.

Isaac Shalev

Right now as a designer, I am so impressed by Kids Table Board Gaming, because they are the absolute best communicators I’ve worked with. I feel like my role as a designer is valued and respected. Also, they consistently put out delightful family games that look amazing and are really fun!

As to what we can learn from publishers – so much I think. Visual communication, creating mood and building story- a good publisher really works to bring out these things but a designer can as well, and putting thought into details like that all through the process can help make great design decisions.

Roberta Taylor

Leder Games really impresses me. They are focused on a small range of high quality products that are genuinely innovative. Their semi-consistent arty style has a positive brand effect – you can definitely recognise them and immediately associate them to Leder – and they seem strong on general marketing presence as a company. I think designers can use their products as a standard to live up to if they definitely want their games published: designs which are genuinely novel, with a strong clarity of vision.

James Naylor

From their communications system to their availability online to their designer FB group, no other publisher I know is nurturing their designer community the way AEG is today. — Isaac Shalev

Underdog is a publisher that a lot of people haven’t heard of, but I think they will soon. Their business model is based on heavy direct sales to consumers through Amazon, supplemented by a presence in FLGS. They find a small number of games that they think will have broad appeal and then pour a lot of time and money into development and advertising. Their approach is pretty different than most of the traditional hobby companies, and I think that gives them an exciting niche to expand from.

Alex Cutler

What else can I say when my publisher is my best friend? I’m just so impressed with how Jay Cormier is taking our next game, MINDMGMT, and running with it as the first title for his new imprint, Off The Page Games. He’s been very transparent about it – If you’re thinking of self-publishing, you should definitely check out his weekly YouTube series called “How To Start A Board Game Company”. Jay is asking the questions you should be asking out loud and learning from his mistakes as a first-time publisher. It’s very humbling and inspiring all at the same time.

Sen-Foong Lim

It’ll seem like sucking up (because obviously we designed a game together) but I love the stuff that Jordan Draper does. It’s experimental, it runs the gamut of game types and approaches, and always looks beautiful. That consistent branding across the board is awesome too. I also love checking out what the folks from Lay Waste Games do, simply because their stuff is always so recognisable (and they’re not afraid to have fun with their games and branding). As for what designers can learn… I guess limitation would be my answer. Often I find I need to work within a constraint – a certain budget, a box size, component count, etc. – so seeing what publishers do with a similar product to what you may be working on is always useful.

Michael Fox

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