“I would never want to be a publisher” – Jim Price, 2019
“I would never want to be a publisher” – Jim Price, 2018
“I would never want to be a publisher” – Jim Price, 2017 and many times before then
So what changed? If I knew what publishers did and actively feared the headache and difficult logistics, why would I be doing it now?
This is a very difficult question, one that has devoured countless hours of my life leading up to and during this entire process. I have wanted to be a board game designer for so long. Designers work with Publishers. Designers create. Publishers execute. It is a fairly standard process that has worked to produce many of the games I love and cherish.
Business or Pleasure?
But publishing is a business, and that is the problem. This is not my job – this is my passion. In September 2020, I do not know if I ever want it to be my job, because I am having too much fun and freedom otherwise. When you rely on profit and margin, that drives creative decisions. It could mean that expansion that you know is great won’t exist because the market is not there for it. Many games that I love dearly come across as unfinished as a result – in an extremely competitive market, not everything that wants to be published will be published. Not everything that is published should be published.
Before I start this venture, I need to be clear and upfront about my goals. I would love for these games to be a massive success and make money, funding future games and expansions. But, more importantly, I want these games to exist, so that I can inspire a new generation of gamers.
When a game gets published, it becomes a tangible part of our shared history. It feels real. For better or worse, a bad game in a shrink-wrapped box feels more genuine than a tremendous game in print and play form. It sounds dumb (because it probably is), but a simple pair of cardboard enclosures conveys an incredibly powerful sense of achievement. What happens after that moment is anyone’s guess. Designers and Publishers want their game to stay relevant for as long as possible and continue to sell. But this puts the focus on the games, not the gamers.
My goal, and I mean this as genuinely and candidly as possible, is to inspire, like I have been inspired.
What Gaming has done for me
I have had many conversations with others where I have explained how playing Final Fantasy as a child changed my life. I would not be where I am today without it – it is a big part of the reason why I chose my career in software engineering. I have been extremely open about how [Settlers of] Catan changed my life, from a professional and social standpoint. It compelled me to find a gaming group, because I could not keep this hobby to me anymore. And Smash Up has clearly changed my life, giving me a sense of purpose within the hobby where I was able to build community and just help others have fun.
My hobbies have given me so much over the years. I have tried to give back as much as possible, but now I want to do it in such a way that reaches the widest audience. Our flagship game, soon to be announced, is one that I truly love. I truly believe that the players will embrace its analytical nature and pull them deeper into the hobby, while giving themselves a sense of community that not many get to receive. The best way to do this is to forget about the business side of things and focus on what matters most – that we get to do this at all. I am fortunate to have a very good job that has helped bring my dream closer to reality.
If me fulfilling my dream inspires you to fulfill yours, that is my true measure of success. By self-publishing, I can focus on us, rather than the bottom line. This is not meant to mock conventional publishing at all. I love publishers – they are amazing at what they do. For other projects, I would be happy to collaborate. But for this project, which is too close to my heart, the only way to ensure that it has its intended effect is to take the business aspect out of the equation. By self-publishing, I can control the quality and make sure that it meets my high standards, that I can give you the duration and commitment that you deserve for investing in my game.
As you invest in me, I want to be investing in you. Together, we can build something truly special.