David Lowry

David Lowry

It has been coming up over and over again between us board game review blogs about game review policies with special attention to Kickstarter games. With the massive influx of all the new people wanting to launch a Kickstarter project we (meaning just about every reviewer out there) are completely inundated with people wanting us to review their Kickstarter game. So I want to take a moment to break down a few things to talk about from both a professional and a marketing stand point.

1. Review Policies – Always and I do mean always check the reviewers review policies so you know what they offer and what they are willing to review instead of wasting each others time. To do otherwise smacks of laziness and unprofessional ism. I have to deal with this so much with the music industry and it is usually and instant ignore to anyone who can’t take the time to read the policy or submit properly, but yet they expect everyone to look at their product with poorly done and rude approach letters or improper submissions. There is just too much demand for our time and for such poor manners and lack of professionalism. Don’t be one of them.

Many reviewers are seriously tightening up their Kickstarter policies due to the ridiculous amounts of them launching every week and the fact that most think they can contact us two weeks before the launch for the review.  Remember, many of us are booked out months in advance for reviews/previews. If you are in a “rush” due to your lack of planning, plan on paying a “rush” fee as you are now bumping many others who also need the press and also planned ahead better than you. Also don’t ask reviewers to review your Kickstarter half way through the campaign, it won’t get done on time and honestly, at least for my blog, Kickstarters get the least amount of views of any of the other types of content. It’s hard for us to justify any rush to help people out for lack of planning.

2. Prototypes – No, just no. The last prototype that was sent to me arrived with a hole in the envelope and the little itty bitty card board pieces weren’t even in a plastic bag to be kept together so I have no idea how many were lost with no list of contents included. That is plain cheap and very poor planning and says volumes about the company to be honest. Secondly, it is very hard for people to get hyped up to review or preview poorly produced prototypes and half of the review is aesthetics, theme and artwork. You can’t expect an honest review of half a product. Some people may disagree but I don’t care. I have been producing product and reviewing them for way to many years and I know better. I would never accept a bunch of scratch tracks from a musician to review as it would really, really be a very poor representation of their work and the same applies here. Put out solid prototypes and don’t be in a rush to get your product to launch. Do it right, or don’t do it at all. There are some that will still take prototypes but from what I am reading, it is becoming less and less.

3. Plan ahead – Plan way ahead. If you want a review or preview allow enough time for mailing, learning, reviewing, writing/video and promotion before you launch your Kickstarter or product. If I get a product, like I said it’s at least two months before I will review it. Why? Well, there are many, many games that have been sent before yours. It takes a lot of effort to get the games played enough times with different folks to get an honest feel, view of strategies and believe it or not, when we walk into board game nights, not everyone is dying to play your game that no one is ever heard of. We have to wait our turn to bring games to the table so they can play their games they paid hard-earned money for. After, a few weeks of planning play o the game, it takes a day or two to write it, video it, edit it, add pics, links etc…. I have posted in blogs before after all is said and done, it’s about a good 40 hours to review your game. That is one week just to get it done spread over weeks due to schedules. Plan ahead and help us do the best job we can to review your game by actually getting enough time to play it properly. Rushing is never a good thing. Also remember, things pop up in peoples lives they have no control over. Bleep happens.

4. Shipping – For those that want their game shipped back or to another reviewer, you need to plan that ahead and provide the shipping label. Don’t make the reviewer do it. For one thing, not all reviewers have a lot of money and may not be able to pay for this and wait to get reimbursed which slows down your game getting to the next reviewer, not a good thing. Not only that, but this is your business, not theirs. You need to plan all the logistics ahead of time and make sure you cover the costs of your campaign. Don’t ask others to do that for you.

5. Share the wealth – As much as well all love board games, reviewing them and supporting the community, we tend to do most of this for free. Very few are popular enough to make any money at it. What does that mean to you? It means you supporting the blogs, tweeting them, re-tweeting them, following them on Facebook, Google+ and making sure you share their content about your product many times over as well as conversing and supporting them on social media. If they can put all this work into your product, you can support them by helping them grow their audience. Don’t be one of those game companies that doesn’t follow back, ignores those helping, supporting and purchasing their product by ignoring them or only supporting your “inner circle” of social media. Share the wealth and support those supporting you. It’s common courtesy. And please don’t tell me how busy you are and it can’t be done. I run a business, many other people’s businesses and the social media campaigns of several projects at any given time. It can be done and done fairly easily.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. This hobby is growing so fast, things will drastically change in how it’s marketed and yes board game publishers will at some point actually have to pay for marketing like every other business genre on the planet. Learn how to do it well, do it right and develop as many good relationships as you can now before it gets to expensive to market your games. People who like you will always want to help you. If you make them feel taken advantage of, forget their help in the future.

Support board gaming, support the community and most importantly support those who support you. It’s good for everyone in the both the short and long run. Best of luck in all your future endeavors!

Game on!


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