Infinite Content

Welcome to Unscripted–a lighthearted, unrehearsed, and sometimes silly Q&A series with Rose Gauntlet Entertainment founders and tabletop game designers Isaac Vega and Lindsey Rode.

In this edition of Unscripted, we look at the world of sponsored content and its creators, including what we look for in coverage, how we measure success, and what types of content coverage we find most valuable for crowdfunded games. Yea, that’s right, we’re using the word “content” A LOT. Buckle up!

What things do you look for when it comes to selecting a content creator to cover your crowdfunded games?

Lindsey: I think this is one of the areas where Isaac and I are still really experimenting and trying to answer this question ourselves. Right now, it comes down to mainly two things.

First, does their content match the kind of game that we want to make? If we're making a deep mystery game, maybe something cozy, we’re looking for a creator that covers cozy mystery types of games. For instance, when we did a nature-based game like Wild Gardens, Jenna from The Board Game Garden was a perfect fit. So, there's always the thought of, does the game feel like a good fit for their channel? That'll benefit both their channel and our game.

The second is and unfortunately, this is just the truth; do they have enough viewership to make that content worth it? If we’re talking sponsored content, we’re going to be paying the creator, so we have to kind of make the decision on whether we think that channel has the breadth and viewership that we're going to need to make that money count, especially for a small business like ours.

Isaac: Yeah, and we also want to make sure that when we are selecting content creators to work with, that their audience is not an audience that we are already reaching, right? We want to have our product introduced to a new set of people.

We also want to make sure they do a fantastic job representing the game. Like Lindsay said, we want to make sure that the game fits their audience, but we also want to be sure the creator has good energy around the product. We want them to actually enjoy engaging with it and they’re happy having that video sit alongside the rest of their content as part of their brand.

We also always strive towards diversity, making sure that we have lots of different voices representing our products and showing that our audience can come from different segments of the board game industry.

So, we want to make sure we have a good amount of people representing our product that can attract different types of audiences, but overall, we also just want the content to be enjoyable to watch. That means overall good quality, good audio/visuals, and that they’re always trying to improve the type of content they're putting out there.

How do you measure the success of a creator's sponsored content?

Lindsey: I ask my marketing manager (haha) – that's certainly part of it. But I'd say the other thing is the engagement from the audience. For example, when Jenna from The Board Game Garden did a Wild Gardens Twitch stream, there was a ton of engagement. People were popping in to see how it was going, commenting, asking questions, and just really enjoying the stream overall. The amount of audience interaction and feedback is one of the top measurements for me.

Isaac: Yeah, like Lindsay said, we leave it up to our marketing manager to give us the actual analytics but for my petty self, one of the things that I like to look at is other videos the creator released that month and how we did in comparison.

Did we get more views? Did we get more engagement? Do we have similar products? Are we on a similar trajectory of successful projects being covered? So, I kind of like measuring against what our competition is up to.

Are there other factors beyond hard results that would keep you going back to a particular creator for coverage on future games?

Lindsey: For me, enjoying working with them is definitely a factor. Is communication a pain? Are deliverables arriving on-time? Are they excited to cover our game? Do they like working with us? I'd rather have someone who maybe is a little bit smaller in viewership, but is really excited about our company, our product, and just generally wants to work with us, because that enthusiasm shows up in their content.

Isaac: Yeah, and just to add to that, having them follow through on everything that they said they were going to do within the time that they said they were going to do it is super important for a company our size. We have such a narrow window from the moment we produce a prototype for creators to when we need the video for our project launch, so timing and reliability is crucial.

Also, like Lindsay said, just being enjoyable to work with is super important and definitely makes us want to come back time after time.

Before we go to the final question, we need to spend a moment playing everyone’s favorite game -- Boardgame Content Lingo™! Can you define the difference between a preview, a review, a how-to-play, an overview, and a playthrough?

Lindsey: You've got this Isaac!

Isaac: All right. Let's start with … you're going to have to remind me on each one, preview first, right?

So for me, a preview is a quick synopsis of the game. It's kind of like a more detailed version of what you'd find on the back of a game box. Hit all the selling points, talk about why your audience would be interested, give a good primer for what this game is about and how you're going to feel playing it.

A review is the honest opinions of the content creator. How do they feel about the product? How do they enjoy certain aspects of the product? What didn't they enjoy about the product? How does the product look? How does the product feel? Kind of like every aspect of what the product has to say.

A how-to-play is different from a review because they're not necessarily giving their opinion. They're more just giving you the facts – this is the rulebook and this is how you play the game. Maybe they'll throw in some tips on certain aspects of the game that they find interesting or certain ways to play. But mostly, it's just a visual walkthrough of the rules.

An overview to me is kind of like a preview, just maybe not as sexy. It’s less about how the game will make you feel and more of a quick summary or snippets of what the game is all about. Preview and overview kind of sit very close to the same thing for me.

And finally, playthroughs which are pretty straightforward to me – just a straight playthrough of the game with [hopefully] people authentically enjoying the game. Sometimes they're edited down, but most of the time they're real time.

That's how I see all of those separating in my mind. That’s also the first time I've ever thought about that, that deeply.

Now that we've defined these terms, here’s the heavy-hitting final question: Using Keystone North America's ecosystem sequence rule, with five being at the top of the food chain and one being at the bottom, rank the different content types in terms of importance to a crowdfunded game’s success.

Lindsey: Oh, that's a great question. My one would probably be a review because if you're crowdfunding, it's most likely a new project, meaning you probably don't have any reviews yet, so I wouldn't worry about getting them.

My number two would be a how-to-play. Honestly, when it comes to crowdfunding, a lot of times in my experience people don't worry so much about how to play the game. They might want to skim the rulebook, but they don't seem to be too interested in a deep dive of the rules.

They almost would rather do my number three, which is a playthrough. I think those tend to do better because they can see people enjoying the game, and kind of see how it works without getting into the rules.

My number four would be the overview, which I think is really important. You want to show people how the game works, show them the components, give them the base ideas. Even if you don't do a how-to-play, the overview can at least show them how the basic mechanics work and show off some of the really cool things that sets it apart from other games.

This leaves the preview as my number five. Make that preview as sexy as possible. Sell the game through the preview. It's the most vital thing. It's the best way to introduce your new product to customers. That is the king of all content as far as crowdfunding goes, I believe.

So you'd say it's a keystone species?

Lindsey: It is a keystone species! It’s the coyote! It's the keystone species with all four habitats who can survive in any environment.

Isaac: The coyote is only a three in Keystone.

Lindsey: Is there any five keystone species that are all habitats? The bumblebee? Previews are the bumblebee of content types.

Isaac: The bumblebee is a one...

Lindsey: Haha, ok, but the bumblebee is very vital to a lot of ecosystems!? Anyway, point is, previews are the top of the food chain, most important thing.

Isaac: Yeah, I agree for campaigns. It's funny because for crowdfunding campaigns, it really does restructure the order for me. For crowdfunding campaigns, previews are definitely number one for me.

However, after a game is released and is out there “in the wild,” I feel like an overview is a one, a preview is a two, a playthrough is a three, a review is a four, and a how-to-play is the king at five. I think the review is definitely important once the game is available, but the how-to-play is most important for the overall enjoyability of the game, since it’s what you really want after you pick up a copy. But that's after the campaign, not during the campaign.

What about over the totality of a game’s life, from crowdfunding campaign to release? Which would be most important?

Isaac: In that case, I think reviews sit as king over the course of time if you’re thinking about long-term success of the game. If there are a ton of reviews out there, that means the product engaged enough people to have commentary on it, right? That is really, really important for the overall health of the game. I would say that of all the games that I've ever released, the ones that have the most reviews are the ones that are the most successful as far as a product. But you need that excellent preview first, so I’m conflicted.

What about you, Lindsay? What do you think?

Lindsey: I would say, because we're speaking specifically about crowdfunding, it's still the preview because it’s so important to the crowdfunding campaign. If your game doesn't get crowdfunded, nothing else matters. You're not going to move forward and it's not going to become a product that people can review. So in this insane situation where you can only have one video type for the rest of your life and it's a crowdfunded game, making sure that your crowdfunding campaign goes well is the basis of all your success. That's just a way for me to simplify this ridiculous question.

However, I do agree that reviews, once your game is out, reviews are king. Good, bad, everything – the more reviews you have, the better. So, I absolutely believe that for the success of a game in general, reviews are the most important thing.

Wow, this last question was a doozy. What did we learn here? I’m not quite sure, but if you read this far, thank you [and I’m sorry?]!

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