Developer Spotlight: Steve Jackson Games
PAX Unplugged was an unforgettable experience that granted me unfettered access to some of the hottest, newest, latest, and greatest board games in the industry. It is my great joy to bring these experiences to all of you and open the gates to new hobbies and pastimes. In this series we will learn more about the industry and different companies directly from people in the thick of it. These will be released in standard Q&A format with answers transcribed from audio taken during Unplugged. Some answers may have been edited for clarity as the actual interview was done in a discussion format that gave the developers, designers, and staff more room to talk about their ideals and products.
This is our Developer Spotlight series, please enjoy!
Now Interviewing: Rhea from Steve Jackson Games
Q: Obviously you guys are sort of the veterans in the industry. Can you tell me a little more about how your process for bringing a game to market has changed over the years? Do you feel it’s more competitive now with all of the indie developers?
A: In any industry, any time you bring a product to market, you have to adjust your point of view and your plans. Regardless of the product, you have to be flexible and willing to change with the times. We’ve adjusted our strategy many times over, especially in the past few years. Whether it’s price control or support our retail channels or a customer looking for something very specific. We do participate in Kickstarter and we always have to be listening to the community and make sure we’re responding to the people who want to buy the games we make.
Games are a very creative thing. We work with a lot of other publishers, which we’re happy to do. It’s hard to compete in the market but it’s a bit different. It’s more difficult to get your voice out there, but it’s just about having the game people want to play. For example, our Collectible Card Game involves a lot more up front. Planning games for stores and retailers. Organized play thrives when people are playing in a store or at an event so we need to provide a lot of support for that. We have organized play kits specifically for the game to just allow retailers to pick up and start running drafts. We’ve provided many documents online that allows people to reference it.
For a regular Munchkin game we might do an event and an event kit. It’s a lot more freeform. It can be a bit more casual. The focus is a lot heavier on advertising. Such as ads in comics and whatnot. When we bring new versions of, say Munchkin, it starts with the license and it varies between creators with how it starts. Generally it begins as a mutually collaborative process but it varies depending on the owner of the license and how they want to work or proceed. For example, with our new Starfinder Munchkin, Paizo is very easy going.
Q: Do you think you’ll keep creating and bringing more Munchkin games to market?
A: The continuation of bringing Munchkin to market depends on what sells at the time. We’ve gone through lots of different “hot games”. Such as GURPs which was once the flagship. Trends change and it is always adapting. We won’t push something that isn’t selling. The market right now is very difficult for new games. It’s very saturated with new and the board game industry is a hard industry to do new. It’s not digital and it’s not always made in the US and it can be a lot of expense. But the passion is really what brings people back and keeps it going.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell everyone?
A: We have been here since the 80s. I think this has let us seen the rise and fall of the industry and watch the cycles of products which do happen. While Munchkin is still very high on the cycle, we do have other games like Simon’s Cat which is like one of our best sellers. We also have Zombie Dice which is a best seller.
And we’ve just come out with Super Kitty Bug Slap. Some of our games get put up on Kickstarter for when people want more runs of games we sold that might’ve been more limited. We have a lot of to offer beyond Munchkin, so definitely go through our list and check it out.
For more information on Steve Jackson Games, check out their website: http://www.sjgames.com/