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Funding the Dream on Kickstarter
EP 298 Live From GAMA Tradeshow with Eric Price from Japanime Games
March 14, 2019 Richard Bliss / Eric Price

EP 298 Live From GAMA Tradeshow with Eric Price from Japanime Games (20:32)

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Date: March 14, 2019

By: Richard Bliss / Eric Price


Host Richard Bliss and Guest Eric Price, owner of Japanime games, explain why to bundle three smaller projects/games into a single Kickstarter campaign. 

Eric has built a company with Kickstarter and continues to make Kickstarter tightly tied to the growth of their company. Their current Kickstarter project, Three Worlds of Mystery, is a bundle of three different games with a similar theme and artwork that brings them together.

Eric has launched 20 Kickstarter campaigns, using the momentum from each to bring success to the company itself.

Host Richard Bliss and Guest Eric Price, owner of Japanime games, explain why to bundle three smaller projects/games into a single Kickstarter campaign. 

Eric has built a company with Kickstarter and continues to make Kickstarter tightly tied to the growth of their company. Their current Kickstarter project, Three Worlds of Mystery, is a bundle of three different games with a similar theme and artwork that brings them together.

Eric has launched 20 Kickstarter campaigns, using the momentum from each to bring success to the company itself.

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:09Welcome to funding the dream, the number one podcast for the number one crowd funding platform. Kickstarter. Now here's your host, Richard. Bless. Welcome

Speaker 2:0:18to the show. I'm Richard Bliss, the host. This addition is a little special because we're coming live from Reno, Nevada gamma trade show, the game manufacturers association show in Reno that covers the board game industry. And I'm joined by Eric Price from Japan to many games. Eric, thanks for joining me. Thanks for having me. It's not very often. I had the pleasure of doing something live or I get to see my guests because it's so often over the internet. Skype, phone. Uh, Eric, uh, you have a campaign that's going live a week from today as of the recording of this episode. And one of the things that makes it unique. You know what to tell you what? Before we get into that, let's tell people a little bit about Japan. Because you have built a company on Kickstarter right from the beginning. Yeah. From the very beginning.

Speaker 2:1:00Andy, how many Kickstarter campaigns have you launched? About 2020 campaigns. Over how many years? Well, we're at 10 years now. 10 years. Our first campaign was I think nine years ago, nine years ago, and you've done 20 campaigns and you're sustaining a sustainable company that's putting this out using Kickstarter. You have another one going out. It's going to be a little unique, but let's talk about the company itself, what you do and what these campaigns are. Well, the company mainly the way we got started was bringing over games from Japan and localizing them into English. Now we're doing other languages as well, but we also do anything that has something to do with Japan. Like we've got a Sushi game coming out or Ramen game. But at the beginning all of our games were about anime or anime style artwork. Okay. And now you have had, I got to ask you, what is this about?

Speaker 2:1:50The Japanese draw in the board game industry is there, what, what is it? What is that? I'm not a fan. I'm not a fan. Not that I'm not a fan, but it's just not something that works. Right. Board gaming in Japan was not very popular at all until about five, six, seven years ago. Uh, it's really growing rapidly though. And uh, the main, the main reason for that is they don't have room apartments for four big board games, things that take up all of our houses here in America. But uh, just to be clear, I'm sure many of my audience has games that have houses full of board games, but probably most of America doesn't have board games flow. Right, right, right, right. But, but your people that are into board games, they take up a lot of my basement and other people's garages. Yes.

Speaker 2:2:32So, uh, Japanese, uh, collectible card games were very, very popular 10, 15 years ago. And that's when I got involved with doing things in Japan. I met people that made board games in Japan, started making card games and then I was bringing them to the states and it's just grown and it's grown well. And then Kickstarter came along right about that same time. And it's done very well for you. Yeah. In this case, you have a Kickstarter campaign that's going live. It's a Japan of May. I'm not even sure how to pronounce the name right now. The working name

Speaker 3:3:00is a little awkward where w unwieldy the working name is Japan may games brings you three worlds of mystery. Uh, the actual games. There's three games that we're packaging together, uh, that were originally published in Japanese by dominant games. And you're, and you're doing this because one of the things that you've talked to me as we've known each other over the years is that you, you really, you stay away from the $20 game or $20 product type project. Is that right? Well, for Kickstarter, absolutely. From Kickstarter. Right, right. Well, I mean we do have a few other $20 games that we've released in the past and normally we wouldn't put those on Kickstarter because it's not really cost per, I mean it is cost prohibitive to send out a $20 game individually. Like that cost prohibitive because cost of shipping, shipping is suddenly shipping's more expensive than the game itself or close to it.

Speaker 3:3:47Yeah. So one of the things that you've done with this campaign is a little different and you want to explain to the audience with that, it's just so we're working with this publisher in Japan, uh, bringing three of his games together and we're going to bundle the three of them into one campaign. What's his name? His name is Mr Ohashi. Mr Ohashi. So Mr Ohashi has made three games, right. And all three games are designed by him and they all use the same artist, which is great art or amazing artwork. And so that's what people really notice when they see this. Uh, and we're also going to be working on different accessories and things along with it to using that artwork. One of the things though, that's your games are known for I think is the artwork. It stands out. Oh yeah. Yeah. What's that one of the most successful projects that you've had?

Speaker 3:4:27Well, the game, we're most well known for his Tonto Quora, which is all famous Japanese artists and a, so all the artists that are very expensive to work with, but a, there they are excellent. And that's what sells our games initially is the art. But then people find out it's actually great games too. So how, what does it like then, cause you're exclusively working with Japanese games? Not exclusively. Mainly. Mainly I would say 80% of our games come from Japan originally. And is there, what is the, what aspects of that are unique? If somebody wanted to, cause that's not easy. I guess the facts, it's not easy. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it as they say. Right. But you've been able to make this happen. Why have you had success in this area? Mainly because I knew several game publishers before they were even publishers in Japan because I was doing business with them.

Speaker 3:5:15They own game stores in Japan and I was bringing magic cards to Japan before it was even published in Japanese way back in the beginning. So, um, I, I met many of these people and as they grew and we got a good partnership going. And so this game, the three a mystery stories, three something mysteries, what does it say? Three mysteries, let's call it the three ministers ministry. Three worlds of mystery worlds of mystery. That's three worlds of mystery. Uh, what, what is unique about what these games are bringing to the table this time? Because you said they're all about but $20 games each one. 20, 20 and 25. Okay. And we're going to sell the bundle together for 60 on the Kickstarter. And the, obviously the artwork ties all three of them together, but also each game is about a fantastical world, some different type of world. And uh, so they kind of have a feel of a mystical lore type of book. And so we're calling it an anthology of the three games. So we'll have a special box set to put all three into. Okay. And that makes it something special more than just the game itself, which makes a nice kick starter or a special exclusive item.

Speaker 2:6:21There's a lot of debate on exclusivity. That exclusivity then turns off retail because hey, they didn't get it on Kickstarter and now necessarily they're unhappy the whoever they are. I guess I'm just kind of speaking in general.

Speaker 3:6:32Right, right. And the cool thing we're doing here is we've got a special retailer pledge level where the retailers can get that same item and we're creating events where retailers can promote the game in their store too.

Speaker 2:6:43You don't just talk about that because one of the things that sets you apart as a company is that you, you pursue direct consumer more than other publishers that I've seen. And what I mean by that is that you spend a lot of time selling your game straight to the people who play the games. That's true. And, and kind of bypassing the distribution model, tell me what's the philosophy behind that a little?

Speaker 3:7:09Well, a big part of that is because there's so many games being released all the time for distributors to keep up with and re retailers to keep up with all the games. It's practically impossible. So if we are promoting our stuff directly to the consumer, then we're going to have a, a better channel that way. However, we haven't been doing enough in retail as well. And that's an important channel that we've been overlooking. I feel. So we're creating new a event programs and bundles that we're putting together for retailers to bring our volunteers into their stores and teach our games to players as well. Because you drive a lot of your business but the operations of your company with through a volunteer program, we do, we have a program called team Japan to me. And how does, how does it, cause I hear there are other yep. Uh,

Speaker 2:7:55whatever it might be that right? There's champions that would be, I know that, uh, still Meyer Games has champions, right? You've got all these others, how much time do you spend and what do they get out of it to be part of this team? Japan, may

Speaker 3:8:08we give them special exclusive items, free games and uh, sometimes bring them to conventions as well.

Speaker 2:8:15And that's it. That's enough for these, these fans. What is it, the day, what is it about Japan of May that's drawing them to you?

Speaker 3:8:22A lot of it is all the anime conventions we go to. So, uh, on the game industry, most, most game companies aren't going to go to anime conventions. But obviously that's our niche. And so we're getting a lot of anime fans. I want to go to those events. Plus I feel we have a very generous a program where we're giving out a lot of free games to all of our, our volunteers and

Speaker 2:8:43we know that in, I'm in the tech industry and we say that pretty much anybody will do anything for a t shirt in the tech industry. I guess in the board game industry is anything pretty much anyway,

Speaker 3:8:51let me think. For a board game we give out tee shirts too. Oh, all right. That works. That works. You have been doing this now for 10 years. People listening are saying, okay, I want to quit my job and I want to go be a board game publisher. I got this idea and I want to design this game and I don't want to go publish it and run my game company. What kind of advice do you give? Do you get that, those questions at all? They'll sure, sure. Uh, generally speaking, they're not really committed to the idea. Um, it's just a more of a, a dream. Obviously the main thing is to have the determination and just the drive to jump in and do it. A lot of people have ideas of things they want to do, but uh, you can do this again. Yeah.

Speaker 3:9:35I mean with, with the ability to use crowdfunding, most anybody could pull this off, but the biggest thing is to create that marketing around any kind of campaign, which most inexperienced people don't do well. So what is it that you do to generate this, uh, that, that awareness? Well, we have a huge mailing list. Uh, we go to many conventions. We're going to five conventions this month alone and gamma trade show. And we, we go to about 40 events a year. So we're always talking to the convention attendees directly, getting their emails, growing our mailing list. We've got a very large mailing list and promoting everything we do all the time. So then let's talk about the mailing list. Uh, how often do you send to your mailing list? Probably twice a week. Twice a week. And people aren't, that's not too much. It seems to be the rights right?

Speaker 3:10:25Writers was the right amount. And what does it mean when you said that that mailing list, what is it you're sharing with them? A lot of information about the company. We've got actually got to mailing lists. We've got our uh, Japan may fan club mailing list, which talks more about personal things about the company, where I might be talking about what I personally been doing, my lap last trip to China visiting the factory, that kind of thing. Whereas the regular mailing list is going to be talking more about upcoming projects we're working on and more of a traditional marketing product centric. Do you find it interesting in this industry or your company that there is such a, a huge interest on the personal side. They want to know what you're doing. They want to know where you went and that's true. That's true. Um, do I find it interesting?

Speaker 3:11:12I mean it's what I know, it's what I've been doing. I've been in the game industry for 27 years now. So I guess people like being connected to this. It's a industry of fans and creators all tied together. It really is. And then, and then do you think that your fans, your, um, your volunteers, they feel emotionally invested in the fact that when a game comes out from Japan may that they had something to do with that, that they almost claimed that as a piece of their own? Oh, definitely. Our fans connect with us at all the conventions and uh, through email, through our social media, all of that. And uh, that it's obviously that same kind of feeling they get when they're talking to us on a Kickstarter campaign with the comments and all of that. So they're, they're very much tied in with what we do.

Speaker 3:12:02The team, Japan, uh, may, uh, aspect where we have the volunteers going to stores and they are championing, championing our projects and all of that just draws more and more to that aspect as well. So this campaign is going live in about a week. How much is it you're trying to raise? How much are we trying to raise? I mean, well, no, how much is the, what's the, what's the state of the mount that's going to be on the campaign? I think it's a 20,000, $20,000. So, and how much do you, do you have an idea how much you think you would probably raise based on the experience? My guests around 75. 75 maybe a hundred. Okay. And the other nice thing about this campaign is it actually a, this art style crosses over to, that's going to appeal to a lot more people than our traditional anime fans because it's kind of a dreamy watercolor anamae look almost the fantasy fantasy anime, I would call it.

Speaker 3:12:52Yeah. Getting closer into this as though it could do even better. They couldn't do any better cause cause of the art. Right. And you really have tapped into the fact that that art is such a critical component of what you're doing. I've been promoting a one of these games, uh, at conventions with our signs, uh, for the last couple of months. And that stands out. People come up and they're like, what is that game? I haven't heard of that. What is it? And you know, we've got several games on these signs they haven't heard of, but that's the one that catches their eye. And this is called the three worlds of mysteries. What we're calling it right now. [inaudible] I got to work on that title. Uh, so there's three games and won. One game is called our goat and other is Morris. And the final one is Prolia. And all three of them are card games are goat has a lot more bits and pieces to it with some, uh, cool custom pieces we're adding to it.

Speaker 3:13:40So that one's going to be a little more expensive. But, um, they're, they're all about a ancient world of mystery per Aliah specifically I really loved, uh, it's about a sinking island. Okay. And so while you're playing the game, uh, the island is slowly sinking and you're drawing more cards, adding cards to your deck. And if you flip over another island, or I'm sorry, another ocean card, that space is taken up in the game ends when there's only one piece of island left and you need to buy a boat and get off that island before that happens. So is it cooperative, competitive to player for player? I mean it is not cooperative. Uh, cause it sounds like forbidden island as you describe it. That's what it sounds like. I know. Um, and obviously it's completely different in the respect that it is not like a co op game. Each player needs to be able to buy the boat to get off that island and there's different boats and they'll have different costs depending on which, who bought them first. And you get, uh, you get coins and you get points based off of different sets of cards you're going to buy throughout the game too. So it's everybody's trying to get off the island and get the most points. How many players? Two to five I believe. Two to five. I think so. Okay.

Speaker 2:14:53Well you got three of the three games. Yes. Three of them coming out. Right. And that one sounds intriguing. What I liked the, some of those aspects that you're describing. And so then is there a, how do I say this? Is there a metagame with all three of them tied together or is it just automatically that they're tied together? I would say thematically. Okay. But each one is about an ancient world of mystery as we call it, the three worlds of mysteries. Right, right, right. I can't pay me, Eric, this has been great. We've been able to talk about this and the fact that you've been running a company, I'd like, is there any advice that you can give to somebody who is going to try this, that there they're like, okay, I want to try it. I listened to this podcast and they took away one thing that helps them be maybe effective at trying to launch their own company using Kickstarter.

Speaker 3:15:40My most important thing I would say is get good art. Uh, most people getting into this industry, uh, that's where they try to save their money. And the, if it does not have good art, it's not gonna. It's not gonna sell.

Speaker 2:15:53I agree. I tell people you need, you can have an amateur video that's personal shot on your iPhone talking, but you need to have professionally paid artwork. Yeah. It looks like that's what you've been,

Speaker 3:16:04yeah. Well our, our, our game coming out actually in the next couple of weeks, it's called common gummy battles. Every piece of art is done by a Japanese artists that we've commissioned and it's excellent. So I mean that's really going to sell that game

Speaker 2:16:14and I will testify to that. Having been able to spend the last couple of days with you having that game around, uh, it does have some beautiful art with it. Eric, thanks for joining me. Yeah, thank you. This is Richard Bliss, the editor stepping in here in a moment as I do some, I don't normally do this, but Eric and I continued our conversation afterwards. I caught it on tape, recorded it and I thought I would just add it here at the end. So I apologize for the interruption, but we had some other great content to go. So here's Eric and I continuing our conversation. Eric, thank you for taking a few minutes. Uh, I enjoyed that. One of the things that we didn't talk about in the episode was how do people, if they want to go find what you're doing and kind of pay attention. Do you have a, you have a group out there, right?

Speaker 2:16:54Yeah, our Facebook group, we post a lot of upcoming stuff on there, so there's that. There's also our mailing list that you can sign up for on our website and they can go get it. How do you go find good artwork? I mean, what's the definition of that? That's, that's a great question because I mean finding the right heart, the right artists to work with. I've worked with some artists where we've commissioned art and it took almost a year to get things out of them and I've got to, I've got a good group I'm working with now in Japan, so it's working. Trial and error is what it sounds like you just said and I agree with you. How often do we have now? I don't think it's happening as often, but people saying that artists are approach saying, I won't pay you, I'll pay you out of my Kickstarter campaign.

Speaker 2:17:39It's it funds. And I'd tell them, you can't do that because the Kickstarter campaign might not fun. But they did the work to create the art. Right? Right. And so that you have something tangible and they have nothing. And obviously you need the artwork and before you launched the Kickstarter to show it off, but you don't need all the artwork. Uh, we have done games where we've only done half the artwork. For instance. Uh, some of our games, the artwork alone has cost $20,000. So to get all of that art work done, maybe we don't want to put all the money aside for that artwork to begin with, but maybe we will get 25% of it done so we can get the campaign going and then use the rest of the funding to finish it up. Have these are, um, you know, I had a guest, I'm just recently, they went to an artist, found an artist on their website, made a book.

Speaker 2:18:25It was in Sweden. I made a book of art for them on Kickstarter, uh, in Swedish, then did it on an English. It did very well. They've now done a series of RPGs and now that artist is being picked up by Amazon prime and turned it into a television series. Wow. Yeah. So again, it's from the art. Uh, it's called tales from the loop, which is kind of think of stranger things from the Netflix type of approach. But you're seeing artists I think coming to their own now when it comes to Kickstarter and what that's been able to do. And your game certainly ties into that, right? I mean, some of our artists are hoping to get more work in other games as well. Are they? Yeah. Yeah. And I mean we will be giving them quite a bit more work in the future. We actually just released our first art book, uh, last year for Tanto quarry, which was really cool.

Speaker 2:19:10Uh, it's got art from all the five different sets and a bunch of Promo cards and tells a lot of the story behind the game, which is pretty bizarre actually. But, uh, uh, things that were written up by the original game designer in Japan, uh, that the game was about maids in a, in a game show. And they were all trying out to be the best made and made like maids and clean your housemate. That's what Tom took. Corey is about. It's about me. Oh, okay. Sorry. I guess I haven't played the gay. Okay, but that's it. That was the original idea. Right. Anyway, it was very cool to get that art book together and our fans are asking us to do some for other games as well, which I think is a great idea. We're just seeing more and more the artists, the funding that's pouring in from Kickstarter has been funding that a, I call it the Kickstarter economy.

Speaker 2:19:56Right. And that part of the economy, the artists themselves are now having money available for them to be able to take the time and dedication to produce some great art. Right, right. All right. Hey, thanks for taking the extra few minutes. Yup. You've been listening to funding the dream on Kickstarter. I'm here live at the game of trade show. I've been meeting with Eric Price from Japan to make games as he talks about his upcoming Kickstarter campaign that will be live. Basically when you are listening to this, so go take a look at Japan may games three worlds and mystery tech in any of those in the search box, and you should be able to find it. That's right. Thanks for listening. Take care.

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