The First Yay Games 'Frank Day' Report.
Ok ‘Frank Day’ is 13 August 2014.
Well, that’s the day ‘Frank’ actually became real. The day the professional printers actually stepped in and started printing it.
It’s as good a day as any to decide to focus back on what’s happened in the last year. Good enough for me.
So, how do I feel right now? Well, pretty damned proud actually. And pretty damned amazed at what’s happened in one short year.
Don’t let anyone tell you that making games is easy. It’s been a frantic few years and this last one has seen hair pulled, tempers strained and nerves wrenched as we have struggled to meet deadlines, wrestled with concepts, playtested frantically and exhaustively and brought two games to market. Yes two!
But hey, don’t let anyone tell you that making games isn’t rewarding, awesome and just right where we want to be! In a word - Yay!
So, this time last year we were in a noisy and hot printers, bombarded with the smell of paint and the overwhelming feeling of being well out of our depth. Three years of graft, a successful KS and there we were in a professional printing company getting our game made. It was truly exciting and very scary. All the money we had struggled to get from our backer support, and all of our hard saved cash, every stroke of the press was that cash being spent. Hard not to have a few nervous misgivings. But it felt right. That day, that place, that was the end of a journey, right? Yes.
And oh so no!!!!
Just the beginning.
In a blur towards the end of that year we took delivery of Frank, got it out to our backers and headed off to Essen. Our first time behind the tables. Essen was a blast. A blur of international people playing our game, buying our game and afterwards throwing comments up on BGG. We had stepped up onto the plate (along with 746 others that year) and ‘made a game’. Somehow we peaked at number 7 on the BGG Essen 'hotness' list. In April we headed up to Conpulsion and won the prestigious 'Griffie' Award for Best Game. And had our first big stand at UK Games Expo.
'Frank' had been our focus for three years. We had done it, got it out there. But along the way a second thing had come along. It wasn’t quite ready in October in Germany…. But soon.
Ignored for too long, bursting from us like that alien creature from John Hurt’s chest – Sandcastles was born, screaming for players. Possibly too soon it was flung onto the increasingly overcrowded KS in the same cluttered month as far too many others, but our people, you lovely people, found it and we funded.
All the months of development were pulled forward, completed and we found ourselves ready to give the UK an early treat with a July release of ‘Sandcastles’. We didn't let a delay at the printers and missing Uk Games Expo release put us off. We still played a demo version and people loved it!
Soon the rest of the world will be able to join in and play when we release fully at Essen.
‘Toy or game or what the hell? Is it Fun?’ That’s all you really need to know isn’t it?
A year ago I thought that I was a pretty rounded gamer with a good grasp of what was happening, what was good to play and where the great new stuff was coming from. Yeah, another naïve moment has passed.
Heading out to games clubs, cons and even setting up our own game club we started playing games of all kinds- trying games we wouldn’t naturally choose. I have changed so much. Playing everything available has been such a mind expanding experience. This was the year I started calling games a ‘rainbow experience of fun’. Why? Well, here is a huge confession. I now realize that I was a bit of a game snob. I would only play games that I thought I’d like. And for me – they were card, board games in a Euro style. But playing strange plastic things in a dark bar in London involving ping pong balls and cups, (stop those smutty thoughts) or answering trivia questions to get points….. this was a world of games I hadn’t considered. And it was glorious fun. Childish, no strategy, giggly fun. Brilliant.
Shortly afterwards I went to the London Toy Fair and there was more of that. It was great. And I didn’t quite know what to do with it. Suddenly game ideas were coming from all over the place and most interestingly – from many genres I had never considered. Once I had declared I would never develop a dice game – now it was a possibility. In fact…well, there will be more of that to come. Suddenly children’s games were on the cards. Well, a host of NDA’s now stop me saying any more. But there are five- yes five- games currently being wrestled into some kind of useful playing state. And hopefully a fun result will come. Right now three are shaping up nicely and two need a damn good talking to. And that’s where we are now. What a year.
And many lessons learned.
Yeah, it's not all been as rosy as I hoped. We need to do a stack more work on letting people know what we’ve got, how awesome ‘Frank’ and ‘Sandcastles’ are, what's squirming through the development pipelines. I need to do more of that.
Distribution. Pretty good. We’ve got a smashing team at 247Toys who are doing great in UK territories – but there’s more. New European and American Distribution is definately needed.
Financials. Not too bad. The truth is – after just a few months we have broken even on Frank – covering our printing costs and a bit more. Sandcastles is already in UK distribution and we are gearing up for Essen. We need to get more money coming in so we can reinvest in future games. Printing and manufacture and advertising are all very expensive, so the more money coming in the faster we can get future games out there. Do encourage everyone to buy our games!
So to sum up ‘year one’. Busy, hectic, creatively rewarding, slightly less rewarding financially, but it’s early days. We are here and loving it. We will be aiming to bring you lovely people more games to entertain and irritate and some of them will be published by us at Yay Games and some will be published by other guys. Thanks for all the fabulous support and encouragement and yes – watch this space. New games are coming.
But we couldn't do any of this without the support and encouragement of everyone who has played, backed, reviewed, had fun, offered advice, bought games - thanks to all of you. You give us the energy to keep going and make our games the very best they can be. Thankyou.
I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved this year. And I’m really confident that going forward we will be getting new, interesting and exciting games out there for many more people to enjoy.
Watch this space. Yay Games are here to stay.
Andrew and Jenny