Get In The Game is a weekly column by Dan Yarrington, managing partner of Myriad Games in Manchester & Salem, New Hampshire, Treasurer of the Professional Game Store Association, and Editor-in-Chief of GameSalute.com. This week, Yarrington talks about how he made in-store gaming more profitable.
Welcome back to Get In The Game, a column that focuses on proactive ways we can improve the games industry. This week, we delve into what makes for successful game celebrations.
Whether you call them game nights, events, tournaments, game days, launch parties, prereleases, sneak peeks, organized play, casual play, or anything else, there’s a simple and ineffable rule. Whenever players meet to enjoy a game together, we should think of those get-togethers as game celebrations.
I've spent a lot of time and energy thinking about events: how to optimize turnout; how to promote them successfully; how to yield the results the player base is looking for; how to use them to drive sales; how to generate new customers through running innovative events; etc, etc. I've even expounded at some length on the Value of Organized Play.
Recently, we reworked how we share information about events. We now use a central page on our store website for each event type. Then we syndicate that to a variety of places including physical in-store calendars, Google Calendar, Facebook event listings, Twitter, and email. All those references link back to that central page on our site, which means that when we update the details of an event, we only have to do it in one place. During the process, I got to thinking about what drives events, why we run them, how much time and energy go into coordinating them, and what type of events have the best results for the bottom line.
What do we stores want out of events? We want to support the community of customers who shop at our stores. We want to involve them in games and get them actively sharing those games with others. We want to provide them with exciting opportunities to play games in special ways to create awesome memories. We want to draw new people to the store by creating an environment where they can actually play and enjoy games. We want people to have fun. We want every event to be something you look back on and say "Wow, games are awesome, and games at that store are the best!"
And we need to balance that against all the time, energy, and monetary expense associated with putting on events, including (but certainly not limited to): time spent planning, coordinating, promoting, and reporting events; time spent running the event; extra staffing cost for events; costs of materials and prizes; mental energy drain on staff of working events with lots of detailed rules that they're not familiar with; additional utilities expenses for having longer hours for events; the opportunity cost of space dedicated to running events; energy cost of keeping up to date with all sorts of events; and much, much more.
When we analyzed how much time we were spending on events, we realized it was inordinate and unnecessary, and that the events weren't getting the results we wanted for that investment. So we simplified things and went back to basics. Now we have simple requirements for events to be successful:
1) Every event needs to be treated as a celebration, whether it’s a weekly game night or an annual event like Free RPG Day (June 18th -- www.FreeRPGDay.com for more details -- Don’t Miss It!).
2) We need to have customers that are excited about running and/or attending the event.
3) We need to have sufficient customers attending to make the additional costs worthwhile.
4) We need to see corresponding sales support for lines that we’re celebrating.
5) Celebrations should boost employee morale rather than sapping energy from the team.
Now, rather than trying to drive events, we harness the excitement of customers and convert it into game celebrations! We provide the tools and support needed to run these events professionally within our stores. The difference is enormous. When the community, even just a few key individuals, is invested in making an event a success, the events get better turnouts and yield even greater sales increases. It's a groundswell of support rather than a top-down approach. We let the enthusiasm flow naturally from the customers and then emphasize and support those games that our customers want to play and play more often. We celebrate releases; we celebrate expansions coming out; we celebrate birthday parties; we celebrate the launch of movies or books related to games we carry; we celebrate reprints; we celebrate all the cool new stuff that came out last week.
We don’t sell games. We don't push games. We don't support games. We don't carry games.
We celebrate games.
And we invite you to join in the celebration. Harness your passion. Find those games that make you love gaming. Then share those games with others and enjoy the fun. What are you waiting for? Get In The Game!
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Dan Yarrington
Posted by ICv2 on June 3, 2011 @ 3:10 am CT
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