Producing Fun #12: Gaetan Beaujannot - Game Agent

Producing Fun #12: Gaetan Beaujannot - Game Agent

Producing Fun is a podcast about making tabletop games from a product perspective. 

We return with Gaëtan Beaujannot, CEO of ForgeNext: a game agency where he and his team act as a literary agent for board games and their designers. It's a nearly unique business that draws heavily on Gaetan’s extensive experience as a true game industry veteran,: with experience as a game designer, publisher and even creator of the first digital tabletop game platform: Vassal. In this episode we talk about how the modern game market came to be, how publishers can select the right games to publish and the man he believes is the Steve Jobs of Boardgames.

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James 00:00
Hi I'm James, and this is producing fun, a podcast about making games from a product perspective. Welcome back to producing fun. Since the last season ended in July, things have been pretty intense here at Naylor Games. That's not too surprising when you're shipping your first ever game. That's a lot of work whenever you do it. But when it's against the backdrop of the worst supply chain crisis in living memory, you have your hands pretty full, not to mention selling the game to retailers distributors providing follow up support moving stock around taking it to shows and now organising your first ever reprint. I am beyond proud that magnate the first city, a game I first had the idea for 10 years ago, is out there and being enjoyed by people around the world. By I'm also really glad to have the time to do this podcast again. listening back to today's episode reminded me just how much I learned from these conversations. And this one, as they say, is a doozy. I wanted to kick this season off in style with one of my favourite interviews so far, my conversation with game agent and all round industry veteran, Gaetan Beaujannot. Gaetan's job is almost unique, being a role that so far is mostly unknown in the game industry. As a game agent, he represents top game designers to top publishers all around the world, helping them get published by the right company for the right price. Just as a literary agent would do with a successful novelist. This puts him in a rather unique position. As someone who makes his money from successfully selling in great games, he has to understand the needs of designers, the tastes of players, the business of publishers and the commercial needs of their distributors. To make his business work, he must be incredibly selective. But always on the lookout for the next big thing. gay trans experience is deep and varied from roles and publishing to building one of the first ever digital game platforms, a forerunner to the now ubiquitous Tabletop Simulator, he has decades of experience having seen firsthand the modern board game market come to be. Unsurprisingly, when I spoke to Gaetan last year, at the time, his first ever podcast in English, he was simply brimming with insight from how Asmodee came to dominate the game market, to how smart publishers today as squeezing more value than ever out of their games, this conversation was equal parts rich with history and market strategy. Given his practical tips for designers, I think this is an essential lesson for anyone who wants to take their tabletop games career further. We join just as we're both talking about how much we've been missing the trade shows, since the start of the pandemic.

Gaetan Beaujannot 02:46
That I can go to see some French publisher, I've done it in France, but nothing outside of France. And usually for me, I go two or three times in North America, I go in Asia one or two times by year. And it's very strange to stay at the same place during 9-18 months, that is very long. But yeah, I've got a house and we work in great place that it's cool. But now we as a lot of people, I need to see some people and just to, to play and speaking and take some beer and something like that.

James 03:26
Yeah, no, completely right. I mean, it was really interesting. I think I'd realised how much I missed it, even with all the slightly bizarre restrictions we had in place at the show and the fewer numbers and it being a bit quieter. And some people having stayed away completely. Yeah, it was so good. Yeah, as you said, just to have like a like a beer at the end of the show. And just see people and actually for me, it's something I'd kind of forgotten I really enjoyed so much was just selling my game on the stand. And having people come by and buy copies just just doing that. It didn't really have any we didn't have any physical copies to sell. We can only do web pre orders. But just even that was just so much fun again, and it sort of forgotten how much fun that was, yaeh. So that's that's that's really great. So obviously then your your job takes you to meet loads of different people, right normally, so are you are you normally kind of jetting all over all over the world then if it weren't for what happened?

Gaetan Beaujannot 04:18
Yeah, I work with all over the world. That is clear. We work in France, we are in France that it's very easy for us to work with the European publisher and distributor but I work a lot all over the world. And if you can see that a lot of French publisher works with French game design is the same with the German publisher and with the German game designer. And I think it's not the best thing that we can do. Why? Because we need to mix the culture, we need to mix the knowledge. That is why I think I love to just to cross the different culture are no different people. In Forgenext we are 30% of people from Asia, Japan, Korea, the most of them...

James 05:08
Oh, wow.

Gaetan Beaujannot 05:09
30% from North America, from Canada and the US, and in the 30% from that 40%, from Europe, and the most of them clearly from France. And our publisher, mostly France and North America.

James 05:29
Right, yeah, that would make sense.

Gaetan Beaujannot 05:30
We work with everyone, I think we, for the moment, we publish with one publisher per continent for the moment, that we just need to find someone in Australia or something like that. But we work with everyone. That is why I travel a lot. But I love that. And I spend a lot of time for that as said just before that, I will work with everyone. It's what it's what very great, I enjoy in our industry. But it's especially in what we do. We are not publisher, we can work with everyone, we can speak with everyone. And it's a jewel, we can say it like that, we have a chance for that. That's why I say that. I have the perfect job for that. I love what I do. And it's a chance. When we see that we can have some problems with community with... For me, it's strange, because in one day, I can speak with Korean, with North American, with everyone and since, I think, five or six years, I forgot the border. For me, I work with the world. Right now it's a very precious thing. We lost a little with, with the COVID for that, because we can't see everyone just only with a video or something like that. But in one year, when you can eat in different countries and... Right, yes, I'm a lucky man if I can say it like that.

James 07:00
Yeah, I mean, it's I mean, it does sound like actually like a really, really cool job. I mean, you must be just interacting, as you said, with so many different different people. And presumably, it gives you an opportunity to play lots of very different kinds of games presumably is what it is what you're doing, when you're you're meeting all these designers that you've said, there's about, like a pretty even split across Asia and Europe and North America pretty much?

Gaetan Beaujannot 07:21
And we, we make a selection of the game that we, that we have done in our catalogue. But we do all kinds of games, just only one or that we never take is a heavy game.

James 07:37

Gaetan Beaujannot 07:37
Why? Because you have a lot of very famous and very good game designers for that, like Vista, like Rosenberg and something like that, and a huge number of publishers. And after that, to do an heavy game takes a lot of time. And for us, to be to be clear, it's not interesting for the commercial part. Economically, it's not interesting that we do everything, kits, just like little toys or something like that. But... And with abstract game, it's very hard to sell an abstract game, but I learned that I love these kinds of games. It's not very too complex to develop, you just have to find a good idea. But after that, it's very easy to sell it. I accept to lose time, you can say like this, but if I love the game. But I can't take a lot of time on a game, like for a heavy game to develop, to finalise it with a game designer, and after that, to sell it with a little publisher for that, that I can't do that.

James 08:47
Yeah. Now that makes a tremendous amount of sense. I think that's right, it's first, it's really interesting to hear that from your perspective that that market is quite dominated, isn't it? By not only a small number of publishers, but actually, a small number of designers as well.

Gaetan Beaujannot 09:00
When you check it, when you check all of the games or the other heavy games on the on the market. Okay. Okay, a lot of games from Pfister, from German game designer from... But in fact, why do you got that? Just because you have a huge number of publishers, that this publisher takes the good game designer for that. And when you've got a third of Pfister that can produce a lot of very, very good games by year.

James 09:28

Gaetan Beaujannot 09:29
You don't have a lot of place for the other.

James 09:31
Yeah, that's really interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 09:33
And it's why you've got a lot of new publishers with heavy games, because you are, you have some new game designers. Okay. I don't find any new publishers for my game that I will produce. I will do it on Kickstarter or something like that. When you check all the new publishers by year, the big majority is for strong games. Not really for family games, more in Europe, that in the US, but it's like that, that you don't have a lot of place for these kinds of things.

James 10:07
That's really interesting how that leads to that shape of the market as well, as you said, where it's this strange mixture of a small number of kind of established publishers who produce heavy games. And then the and then, of course, a lot of little very, very new little tiny publishing companies. Because it's like the one way that lots of designers who want to work in that medium actually have a chance, I guess, of being picked up is with those small companies. I always think the question of like, game weight is a really interesting one. Because it can mean quite different things to different people. For you, when you say heavy, would that be like equivalent to like a BGG four plus? Or is that like something a little bit more specific that you have in mind, when you're thinking about like heavy weight?

Gaetan Beaujannot 10:50
I will not think about BGG weight, I think more that it's 12 years, 12 years old, and more in general.

James 10:59
Oh, interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 11:00
And it's a game that you can play more than one hour, in general. And you take 10 minutes or more to just to read the rules and to understand that. That it just suddenly the way like this, it's the time that you need to learn it. The size of the rules, the duration of the game, and these kinds of things. If you play Great Western Trail, I love this game, very complex, in fact.

James 11:32
Oh, yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 11:33
But it's not for everyone, because you have a lot of different things. The maximum level of difficulty that I can take, I think it's Wingspan.

James 11:43
Right, okay.

Gaetan Beaujannot 11:43
Just after Wingspan it starts to be complex. But, Wingspan, I can take it because the game's not very complex. But it's a lot of games of development, it's a lot of time of development, the game, the work around it, for the development of the game is just crazy. But I think it's very interesting. The rules are easy, very easy to learn. And when you play it, everything is logical, these kinds of things. But if I have to make a border between what I want, or what we can take on, it's not very easy. Sometimes I can have a crush on the game and say, okay, we can try, but we have to avoid these kinds of things.

James 11:44

Gaetan Beaujannot 11:45
That's too... because our job is just find a good publisher. And we need to have a good rate of results. And it's very, it's very important for that. And the rate is very low, when you start with a new game designer, just because the game is not very good for the first time, or something like that. And when you see some game designer as Bruno Cathala, or Antoine Beaussart for the French, or you can take a Eric [inaudible] for the US or Eric Lang, I think their results are better. After a few years, because they know their job, they know how to develop the games, how to be more efficient, or to present the games and to develop it. And they are, they can give the the good example for the publisher.

James 13:26
So that's really interesting. So I'm guessing part of that, then is that if you've established game designer, and you're working with a publisher, and you've got a great track record, it probably also means does it not that the print run for that game is likely to be pretty substantial?

Gaetan Beaujannot 13:42

James 13:42
And is it then that because I think this is going to be a great point to start talking about, more specifically about what Forgenext does? Is it then that your percentage, I guess, is based on sales, presumably, so so it's going to be way lower? If they're only selling 2000 units of something? That's not going to be very interesting versus a game that's going to sell 20 50,000 units, right?

Gaetan Beaujannot 14:05
Yeah. I can say, we take 30% of the royalties.

James 14:11
Right. Okay.

Gaetan Beaujannot 14:12
And when we we send the games, there are no money between the game designer and us. Because... So, we are... we can... You can find some game designer, more in the toy industry than in the board game in the US, that you have to pay a fee just to show and present your games. It's not the case with us. And in fact, all the money comes from the publisher, that I will [take] more money only if the publisher gives us money for that. And the publisher will pay the agent and will pay the game designer, it's very important. And it's why we need to have a good results for the games, because we take in charge every thing: we take a lot of time for the presentation, we take in charge all the postal services because we sell, we send everything, and we produce some parts of the games and we take time. Just to give you an example after a Nurenberg, or Essen we can sell, between three or four cubic metre of games. It just... we can take a car into complete it to sell to everyone. In general, we sell between 100 and 200 prototype to publishers.

James 15:41
Oh, wow!

Gaetan Beaujannot 15:42
That's... Well, yes, it's a lot. And I think, that the best record, I don't like this... this...this one. We sold 250 boardgames after one Essen. And for me, it was not a good result. Why? Because it's too many.

James 15:59
Right. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 16:00
It's too many because we have too many publishers just to ask. Okay, I will try it. Okay, I will try it. And we change our work to say, Okay, no, I don't want that you don't trade, I want to hear that you love it. I want it before everyone.

James 16:19

Gaetan Beaujannot 16:19
And just to, we change our manner of for working just to say... just not to add the interest more than that, that we change our way, we... we show the games, and we work with them. And the results are clearly better, now that we have that we have best results for that.

James 16:40
So that's really interesting. So just just so I'm clear. So in that situation, in that year where you'd had 250, that's 250 games that you presented to publishers?

Gaetan Beaujannot 16:51
In fact no, because we never... I don't have it in a catalogue, I don't have more than now 25 games in the catalogue, in the segment. And 25 could be a lot. But in fact, we've got three or four abstract games, five kit games, five card games...

James 17:14
Right. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 17:14
...five party games that each range, we get everything. And I don't want to have two similar games. Because, if you... if I've got two similar games, one of them will push the other. And it will create some problems, some issue with the game designers. And it's normal that, you take my guess, but this one is too close of mine. And this one is better that I I've learned that if you can sell it like that, these games, that the selection is very close. Now, I want to have not more than 20 games at the same time in our catalogue. And one thing very important, I refuse to send a PNP, the pretend play. Because if someone asked me a pretend play in general, I just to say no, because I won't. It's really important that I have to find the good way for the game designer, for the game designer, live this situation in general and this development in the best way. I have to put everything on the table that immerse and try it what it does.

James 18:28

Gaetan Beaujannot 18:29
And for me, the same for the publisher.

James 18:31

Gaetan Beaujannot 18:32
If this publisher asked to do a prototype by by, by themselves, they will never do it. And I just... I prefer they take the time just to play.

James 18:42

Gaetan Beaujannot 18:43
And sometimes, what I do on some fair of... with French publishers that are close to us. Or, when we go in the US, they just okay, you want to play test it, you are with your team, I come in your house or your on your headquater, I explain everything, you make one other term. And if it's okay for you, I go back at home. I just want to be sure that they play with a good rules with the good materials. If you send a pretend play, they have to take the time to to it's just awful for them. They don't have the time to do that. After that, they have to create it in a good way, just to avoid any mistakes. And everyone can make mistakes. And we have [inaudible] something like that we try to have a great prototype just to play it and to enjoy to play it, that is very important that they can play in the best situation.

James 19:42
That makes total sense. I mean, I think what's that saying? You don't get a second chance at a first impression

Gaetan Beaujannot 19:49
That.. Yeah. Aand it's more that... I know a lot of publisher that sometimes I can just to say that okay, I got a new prototype, it's very original for for me, and I just want to have your opinion because I think it's in your range. But probably, we can adapt some elements to fit it very well. And because we are, we are in good relationship, not very easy for a French to see this name and this word, and because we can show that, that sometimes we have a second chance because we work well with them. But in general, it's impossible. It's why when I receive... when I receive a new prototype or new game, I say, Okay, do you do you show this game to publisher? If it's a yes, I don't see it. And I say no, I can't take it. Because the game is burned for me because it's finished. It's very hard to change the opinion of a publisher, when it's a no. Because, now since I think, five or six years, you have a lot of game designers on the market.

James 21:06
Oh, so many.

Gaetan Beaujannot 21:06
And a lot and a lot. And they don't have the time to see everyone, to see everything. That is why it's very important when the first show is very important to take, to go directly to the good point.

James 21:18

Gaetan Beaujannot 21:19
And if you see, show them the same game than the last time, but they're just with me not magnification or something like that. It can be: okay, no, I don't want to see it. So okay, but we mentioned... No, I don't want, you have other games, okay, that I prefer to take the time to show, to see your other games. It's very hard to drop this condition. And we saw in the past some very good games quickly burn, because to show again, to present a game to a publisher, it's a job. It's very special that it's... it's a job very different that to be a game designer. In fact, it's... it's a part of commercial, it's a part to be a geek, that between geek and between players, and what I said. And when we sell a game to a publisher, we sell it to a player.

James 22:13

Gaetan Beaujannot 22:14
But you have to think one thing. When the game is finished, the publisher has to sell it to a distributor. And the distributor is not a player, he's a commercial.

James 22:25
Yeah, yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 22:26
And to sell the final product to a distributor is not the same job than to sell to a publisher. That is why it's very hard to to be a publisher, they have to think not only as a player, they have to think for commercial. And sometimes when we show them clearly, we say, we explain the cost, the cost production, what will be the marketing point, what's very strong with this game, this game is very good. But it's good because it's original, not expensive. You can produce it in Europe, because your guard on the plastic. And some a lot of little points like this. We start with the game is very good, because you have a great component, (enfin) the original component with original material, original association of materials, of original succession of mechanics of games, or an original mechanics. But after that, we go, we say a little more, and it's not too expensive. If I say this, I can sell very, very good game. But if you've got 200,000 of dice, it is too expensive for them.

James 22:26

Gaetan Beaujannot 22:27
That I will loose everything for that, that I have to find to find a good balance. I have to give to the publisher, or the keys to say yes, and all of the keys that it can use them to sell it in his team and is commercial internally.

James 23:55
Yeah, this is the thing that a lot of people don't really understand, I think and it's something that is unsurprising not going to be the immediate skill set that a typical designer is going to have is like thinking in those terms about be able to think short, the game can be great, it can be original, it can be that that's all marvellous. But unless you can make a good margin on that game that it has, there's something very saleable about it. I think it's so interesting to hear you say that because one of the things that I've been doing recently, for the first time as a publisher is I've been taking some submissions as potential games to produce. And this process has helped me work out one of the things that I'm looking for. And I realised in this process and the things I'm always looking for is something that's relatively high concept, because I'm looking for something where I can say right, there's a clear marketing USP that I can imagine for this about why someone what's effectively what they say in moviemaking. What's the hook?

Gaetan Beaujannot 24:51

James 24:51
And without that hook it's gonna be like, well, now I'm just making a genre again, maybe in a sea of other genre games. where there's just loads of other similar stuff out there already. So it's really interesting to kind of hear you talk about that. And all those those points, and then well, okay, how do we sell it not only to the players, so what will a player like, but this has got to work for distributor, because obviously, there's got to be enough margin that the publisher can make money. And the distributor can make money. And it's the kind of thing that the distributors retailers will buy from them. And I mean, yeah, when you add all of this up, it's a huge part of the work that has nothing to do with really with game designers, we tend to think about it.

Gaetan Beaujannot 25:32
Clearly. And if a publisher assures again, for his range of 15 euros, and for for 8 euros, I don't kow... you need to have something with a great materials, original, or original mechanism, or association of mechanism, very original. But if if your publisher ask you to do a game on IP. Yeah, the mechanism, it doesn't matter. It's not the same job. And you have to find something great, like the Villainous. But the Villainous, we can say that it's not very well balanced, in fact, but because it doesn't matter.

James 26:11
Which game is this? Sorry, I didn't quite catch that. Villainous. I'm not sure. Oh, sorry. I was miss hearing Villainous. Yes.Yes. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 26:21
Perfect accents. [laughs]

James 26:25
Oh, yes.

Gaetan Beaujannot 26:26
It's not very well balanced. But again, it's very, it's great. Yeah, it's a bit long for the for the mass market. But it's great. And you can't have the time to spend a lot to of time for that. To send a game on that IP or to sell a game for the Geek market. If it gets like that for the Orbi market. Yeah, yeah. And when I speak to Hasbro, when I speak to Space cowboys, with Asmodee, I don't have the same, the same speech, I change everything is very different.

James 27:00
And it makes sense when you think about what you see in different stores or shops. It's really, I think, useful way just to help people in thinking about this. villainous is one of those few games that I see hobbyists talk about that I also see in, for example, a typical high street toy shop. Yeah, you know, you'll see villainous in there in a way that you're not going to see, you're not going to see sighs in there, right. But you're, but you might see villainous in there. And you look about how different that is, like, I'm the kind of games that are being sold there. It might as well be a different industry in some ways, right. And there's a there's like a quite a divergence between them, and only a very few products that tend to seem to make the jump between one to the other.

Gaetan Beaujannot 27:44
Yeah, but I think what is great with Villainous and their success is, you got in the game, the good hook, original mechanism with... in the game, that the geek player are interesting to play it, and they push a lot the game. And you've got the success. If you check some games, like Shining from Nick's floor in the US, if you check some games like this, you don't have the same feedback from the from the geek. And the success is not the same. But it's very different. The outwork. But if you achieve to have the little good hook, as you said, in IP games, and you have to convince the geek to play it, the results will be incredible. In fact, and it's what they Prospero all and... are very good for that.

James 28:43
Yeah, that's that they're really interesting, aren't they like that's a company where I've actually not played many of their games, but I'm kind of very been kind of commercially watching them for some time, because I'm so interested in, in how they've done that with they've got these IPs that obviously a very recognisable IPs on their games. And they seem to appreciate things that I read reviews from reviewers that I you know, we often have quite similar rich taste, and I've got a huge amount of regard for their view on what's good and what isn't. And I'm finding offers for curious that it's like doing something for them, as well as achieving this degree of of mainstream success, which is really cool, because that's sort of like the kind of golden space that if you can do you want to be in one of the things I think about sometimes in the UK about this as like I think about the hobby games that make it into Waterstones, like and you know what systems in the UK it's like a bookshop books bookshop. Yeah, and it's really interesting to see what they they carry because they don't carry anything that would be unusual. So I don't I don't think I've seen anything like it's very new anyway, something like oath, but I don't see anything that's quite or gloomhaven or something that's heavy and ridiculous price point, I think like that. But I do see they carry things like Settlers of Catan they carry Ticket to Ride carcass on these kind of like classic gateway games and these A small number of these titles are seem to have made it into this space where people will just in a bookstore, randomly pick it up rather than be a hobbyist, especially that it's

Gaetan Beaujannot 30:09
That's... the thing can change a lot. If you take the UK in the 70s, or 60s, it was one of the most important country in the world for the boardgame.

James 30:09
Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it?

Gaetan Beaujannot 30:23
But changed a lot.

James 30:25

Gaetan Beaujannot 30:26
And with the question Spieler and something like that, with new publisher. And after that, you've got Germany in the 80s and 90s.

James 30:31
Yeah. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 30:39
And since I think 10 years, you've got now France.

James 30:47

Gaetan Beaujannot 30:47
And but the channel, it's changed a lot new. Because if you check the results, commercial results, since three or four years, now you've got the Poland.

James 30:58
That's interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 30:59
And it's more and more important, the Polish market.

James 31:02

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:03
That to be very important. Yes. And now, I think the turnover in the Polish is very close to the German.

James 31:12

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:13
The three country in Europe, you've got France, Germany, and Poland. And in the future Poland will be, I think, best than the Germany, just for the size of the market, the size of the country, and you've got very strong publishers in the country with Rebel, with Portal or something like that, that you we have to adapt. We have to adapt everything. We have to adapt to the market, we have to adapt the taste of the players. The abstract games, clearly, has better results 30 or 40 years ago.

James 31:19
Interesting! yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:31
And now you get you can find something great. But it's not only abstract, if you've seen it all you need a little more you need more design, something like that. And since five or six years, you need more storytelling in the game.

James 31:31
Yeah, that's interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:31
And just for example, Asmodee for the minute, they ask story games, they want each time story games, they want to have something to say in the games, just because you've got to create the format. They want to use the game to create an IP for the book, the anime... [overlapping conversation] You've got the players that develop that. It's why you have great results with the legacy games, because we have... We don't think like that 30 years ago, we want to just to have a great boardgame on the table.

James 31:31

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:31
Now we, the publisher need more and more. I think it's Eric Lang who said several years ago, that the new "bad games", it's the "okay games". Not to do good games, that's not enough now.

James 31:31

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:31
You need to do the best one.

James 31:31

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:31
And you have to think about it. And when you sell a game to a publisher, I have to tell a story.

James 31:31

Gaetan Beaujannot 31:31
I have to tell a story with some marketing elements with some economical elements, but not only we have just to think about that, and what we can create around the games, what we... it's very, very interesting for that.

James 32:44

Gaetan Beaujannot 32:45
...storytelling, and so like Gloomhaven, and all these kind of games, but you can do more with this kind of things.

James 32:53
Yeah. I mean, this I find this absolutely fascinating, because that quote from Eric Lang is one that I think I've heard before, but it's very much something that I feel all the time that it isn't enough to be good anymore. You have to be great. Because that's when you know how many things are out there. That's the real minimum bar for the competition. And this thing about the IP element, I find that really fascinating, because it's something I spent a lot of time thinking about, for example, Games Workshop. Yeah. And, you know, so much of their business is really about world building, which they then sell miniatures on and now and what happened for some time and doing it ever more licencing toys licencing films now licencing, computer games loads of those, right? And that's where really the the world is actually the real value to some extent of the company is in that more than, you know, more than what we've certainly been games workshops, case a lot more than game design, right? That's not ever been a particularly critical part of the Games Workshop formula. And it's so interesting seeing how other companies are now beginning to see that so that's really interesting to hear that Asmodee specifically are looking for narrative so they can layer on all of these things on top. So you really getting a lot more potential out of these titles, I guess Yeah,

Gaetan Beaujannot 35:02
They... Asmodee is very good, enfin, the studio is very good to develop a good game. That...

James 35:08
Mm hmm.

Gaetan Beaujannot 35:10
I think if they have a really great product, I forgot the name. The World game, I wouldn't say a product is very important.

James 35:21

Gaetan Beaujannot 35:21
If you've got a great product, they can sell it all over the world and very well.

James 35:28

Gaetan Beaujannot 35:29
And the big part of my job, it's its Forgenext and, and InstaPlay. I've got another company in the, in the gaming industry just for the publisher. It's not the story. Yeah. And I'm the co designer of Concept. I don't do a lot of games for me, because I take all my time in the game design with my with the game designer in the agency, but I've done Concept. And with Concept, we have great results. And now with Asmodee, I can see all the difference. Because since three years, they change a lot of things. How to develop, how they can develop an IP. And they spend more time, in my opinion, to develop an IP not to develop a game.

James 35:40
Oh, interesting. Interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 36:19
And it's very important. If you see Days of Wonder for example. They don't have big new games with great results. Since a lot of times.

James 36:31
Yeah. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 36:32
Their version is very long. They don't have a lot of new, new games, 1 - 2 by year, but in my opinion, they have a lot of works to develop the IP with ticket right. And the it's, it's the big part of that job. When you got a jewel like omec, like Pandemic, if you have a jewel like Ticket to Ride.

James 36:56

Gaetan Beaujannot 36:57
Now you can do it, you can work on it. If you see Pandemic, the life of Pandemic when it was with only Z-man, with Zev Shlasinger, and all the game changed, you can say like that, the IP, not the product changed.

James 36:58

Gaetan Beaujannot 36:58
I think it's new. It's very new that we didn't work like that 12 years ago. When Z-man has been bought by Philosophia, and they develop the IP, it changed all the things that Z-man at the beginning, they find the jewel.

James 37:29

Gaetan Beaujannot 37:29
And we have some people in our industry that they can just change the stone in one jewel.

James 37:39
Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. Do you think 12 years ago, it was much more focused on just developing what would become new successful games, rather than this sort of like working out taking a focusing on a single title that's been very validated and working out how to create as many versions of it and things based on it as possible

Gaetan Beaujannot 38:05
From me.... In the game industry, we have two or three different variants at that moment. The first one is Catan, as everyone said, because we find a new Monopoly, but with someone for everyone. And it's the new age of the boardgames.

James 38:31

Gaetan Beaujannot 38:32
And the second very, very important point is the question of Asmodee and... at the beginning of the 2000's as the light vendor. Other points. It's Dixit.

James 38:47

Gaetan Beaujannot 38:48
And the last is Kickstarter, Kickstarter.

James 38:50
Right. Okay. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 38:51
Just for my opinion. Why? Why Asmodee, because that's probably the change of commercial idea.

James 38:58

Gaetan Beaujannot 38:59
They use the geek and the player to push in the retail the games to say, the new evangelist, you can say it like that for the for the baard game must be the geek. If we push from them, they will show the game to everyone to the family and to for that, and their work a lot like this. And the core business of Asmodee. It's the returns not on the internet or on the mass market. And they changed a lot of things like that. Just to think another way to publish and to make the commercial is very important.

James 39:38
Interesting. So they weren't they were much more focused on thinking about the customer as as the evangelist.

Gaetan Beaujannot 39:44
And the geek and the player, yes.

James 39:46
And it's going to drive the marketing effect much more because you rely on that because I think about so much of board games being driven by word of mouth, but that's really interesting to think about Asmodee as the first kind of company to really zero in on that as a commercial strategy that's really interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 40:02
I think that where I will say in other way. I think with Marc Nunes, the founder of Asmodee, we have the Steve Jobs of the board game industry.

James 40:12
Oh, interesting. Wow.

Gaetan Beaujannot 40:14
For me it's like that. It's a.. Marc Nunes. is a Steve Jobs of the board game industry. And it's not because he's French. And it just because he's too good. If you see with very important people in the game industry in the story of the gaming industry, I think Marc Nunes changed a lot of things, more than any other people.

James 40:37

Gaetan Beaujannot 40:37
More than Christian Pettersen, for example, something very good people very strong, but Marc Nunes changed everything for that. Just to think of the commercial to take the good people, to buy everyone, to just to share the good move.

James 40:52
Yeah, fascinating.

Gaetan Beaujannot 40:53
And other point when I speak about Dixit, and again, it's not because it's French, because it's just to say one thing: Dixit, Asmodee didn't want it...

James 41:07

Gaetan Beaujannot 41:07 the beginning of the year. Yes, they didn't at the beginning. The first probably, the first distributor of Dixit was Pi, a little publisher in the US, in France. And the no one wanted to have it in the US at the beginning Régis Bonnessée,, the founder of Libellud was very clever for that. And what is very important for me with these games, is because we push a lot on the illustration on the world around the game, just to let you have something that we push a bone or we roll a dice, just to create a story around the table.

James 41:46

Gaetan Beaujannot 41:47
And it's for me, it's first game that with this, so powerful for that.

James 41:52
Yeah, yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 41:53
And the next step of these kinds of things is the Kickstarter.

James 41:56
Yes, it makes sense.

Gaetan Beaujannot 41:57
Thanks to Kickstarter, we have more materials, more very beautiful games. And we have something we can create something new. Yeah. And Dixit plus Kickstarter, we have the actual board game industry. And just to we have to tell story, we have to great materials, we have to play on the table, we have to avoid to be on video games, and everything is on it. And it was very strong for that. And it's the actual step. For the for this one.

James 42:32

Gaetan Beaujannot 42:33
And now the, for me, the game designer, when you want to start with games like this, you have to try that the players around the table has an adventure. Just a little adventure about 10 minutes or two or three, it was best for everything for a party games for for an abstract, to have some sensation to have some matter that you can play with it just to you, we need to relive something. And it what's very important with Dixit and Kickstarter, because these two points give us the keys to do that in fact.

James 43:15
I find that absolutely fascinating. That is really really really interesting as and I would I would completely agree with you that creating that sense of as you put it an adventure or we're living something around you know at the table I think is so important and it strikes me that one of the reasons I like working in ways why start with a theme is just because can easier for me to tell a story in that sense if I know if that's where I'm starting. So in terms of crafting that experience or that moment, again that I play very regularly. My... previously mentioned a couple times in the podcast actually with my developer Jaya is a game called Aeons End. And one of the things I really like about that game is how much that climactic boss fight feeling it captures that moment really well. And I think it's like for me getting those kind of moments that experience is so critical to making anything anything successful these days. So this is absolutely fascinating. It's really really cool to hear your perspective because you are as I understand it to try and make sure I really got the business of how Forgenext works you're a lot like someone like a literary agent right or Hollywood talent agent a bit like that? We are we are close to literary agent. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 44:31
We can sign a game designer just for one game and we have done it in the past with very famous game designer as Antoine Beaussart Oh interesting. Or with our with Marc Andre the game designer of Splendor just because just for example for for Antoine, he had a secret game that he didn't want, at this moment when he gave us the game, that it was not in his target to see the publisher for four kids game that. Okay, Gaetan, I know you that you take the game and to show to the publisher for the kid games and to push it. And Mark Andre tried to work with a foreign publisher. He has some, he's not very good in English that ask us to push it that we have done with him Sail away with Mattel and Majesty with Hans im Glück. And that we can work just on the one game or we can work with a long term contract. In this case, we work on all the game of a game designer during three or five years.

James 45:42
Oh, interesting.

Gaetan Beaujannot 45:43
But first, we wish to try just with on one game, just to be sure that how we work, it's fine for him and for us for for us we can we can work together easily that is very important for that.

James 45:59
Well, that makes a lot of sense to me, because I can imagine that, particularly if you've got this really tight catalogue where you said 2025 games with deliberately not having things that overlap, so that you've got a nice clear delineation and very different things in the catalogue that I can imagine, you might not want presumably to be promoting all the time, all the games being made by a designer anyway, right? Because some designers are very prolific, they produce a lot of different games, right?

Gaetan Beaujannot 46:25
For the moment yes, we say more than 100 games published now are in the pipeline for publishing. And for that one games team catalogue, in front of our catalogue, we say in front, during 18 month,

James 46:47

Gaetan Beaujannot 46:48
After that, we push new games that all the time we have new games, old games, but we if the game designers agree, we keep it in our in our agency, because sometimes we have a new publisher, that's okay, I try to game like this or like this. And we're okay this game design that we have done six or seven years or years ago is great for that. And it's not rare to sign a game that we've got in the agency, since five or six years, just to... We have the way of just find the good publisher for the good game to fit the same time is very important for that, that, in general, we've got 50 new games in agency by year, but at the moment, when we sign it, we don't show it immediately. Because in 90%, we work on it just to finalise the development, just to be sure that everything is okay. And after this, we'll work on the words, because it's very, very important. Oh, yeah, we have someone in the company that take the role English that basically fluent, and we do everything in English. And we, after that we produce all the materials with video to explanation with with, with the rules with the catalogue. And after that we go to different events or directly to the head quarter of the publisher, because for for us is very important that to see the publisher and to show the game, that and to play to play it with them.

James 48:31
On that note, I want to ask that that's a really interesting question. So the two things that come to mind first one, I find that really interesting that you actually do some editing and development in house as well. So you're not just saying, here's some feedback to the designer about what you might want to change based on our commercial expertise. But you've actually got your own people workshopping the game and editing the rules.

Gaetan Beaujannot 48:54
For development of the games. We asked to the public to the game designer to do it. We work a lot with him. We make some play tests. But it's very important that the games stay his game.

James 48:59
Okay. Right? Yeah. Okay, that makes sense.

Gaetan Beaujannot 49:10
It's very important for that. Because we don't have the truth. We don't know everything. Okay, we know the market. But the market changed a lot. As I said before, that we have to adapt permanently to the new tastes of the Parisian, the new tastes of the player and the new constraint. Just for example, for the moment we have a lot of constraint for the materials and things like that. We have to think about everything and I have to be sure that the game designer, listen what we can say that we don't want to have a game designer, but they say yes to everything that what I said, because he has to say me no Gaetan it doesn't work because at this point or this point, and I say okay, perfect. Or, no Gaetan, I'm not agreeing with you because in the story of the game, it's not very fit very well, something like that. Okay. But if I've got someone to say, every time Yes, it's not good for the for the game? And if I've got someone to say it, no every time, it's not good too, he has to have something very good in them decide to think about it. And the job is not finished when we signed a contract with a publisher, will continue to work with the publisher to develop the games to try new elements that I have to be sure that the game designer will be okay with that.

James 50:40
Yeah. Because it's that difficult. It's a difficult balance, isn't it? Because you've got to make sure someone has the ability to take feedback and be able to honestly take on that those things and think about how to develop them. But they've also got to be know their own mind and their own work and have really understood it to the extent where they know they can say, well, yeah, that wouldn't work for this reason. Well, that doesn't fit with that, or I tried that earlier. And the reason it didn't work was this, versus you know, but also if on the other side that that's that's really interesting, because I guess I'll How much are you selling the person as well as the design, then? Just...

Gaetan Beaujannot 51:14
How much?

James 51:16
How much are you sort of selling the person? As in the designer as well as the design, then? That's kind of part of it almost?

Gaetan Beaujannot 51:24
I think we send 50% of the game that we've got in catalogue, depending on the moment.

James 51:31
Oh that was? Oh, sorry, that wasn't my question. No, that that's very useful to know, that's really cool about about that, that 50 %. No, I was just thinking in terms of, I think about so many creative,

Gaetan Beaujannot 51:41
Oh, the creative part of the games?

James 51:43
Yes. And I'm really aware that often, it isn't just about the creative work, or the potential of someone the skills they have. But it's also about rather, not so much about what they've always produced, but about who they are, like in the sense that if someone is a very easy person to work with, they might be slightly less talented than the other person. But if they're really easy to work with, they can take on feedback, and they can grow and they can develop, even if their work today is not the very, very, very best work possible. I know that they will eventually make the better work, because because of the person that they are, I guess that's something I've encountered in several fields. And I wonder how true that is in the in the game? Agency space?

Gaetan Beaujannot 52:21
Yeah, then that's very easy, because it's depending of the people. To work with an agency that as an agent, we have to stay in the shadow is very important for that. We are not in the light. And the game designer must to understand that. And after this, when we've gotten a game designer, we need to have someone that that you can design can meet the development. But if you can be very good on the network. Social network to make communication around of him, and around of the game is great that we need to have someone very good for that. That, but the most of our game designer is not the case. Why is it that just because they don't want the if you work with an agent, in general, is because you don't like to discuss about the contract about this kind of things, wants to be focused on the creation? And or the feeling of that? And if you want to have your name on the cover or the books on it, that we are not here for that. Yeah. If you want to be permanently in the light, but yeah, we will work later. We are not for that. We are and I can say the good balance. For me. It's a guy like Eric B. Vogel. He's a US game designer, I say in because it's one of the most famous giving you them that we have with several games in agency, but it just a big pleasure to work with him. Because he works a lot on the communication on the game. When you say something to on this game, you think about everything. He said yes or no, not immediately. It take the time to think that not a lot of time that is very, very great.

James 53:49
Okay, interesting Yeah. Like he's got the right combination of those different skills,

Gaetan Beaujannot 54:21
The right combination.

James 54:22
Yeah, I find this absolutely fascinating about that. So that raises another question to me, which is about how you find designers to work with because, you know, we've talked about how many games are out there, you know, I went to recently to UK games Expo speed publisher a speed dating event. And 15 different designers pitch to me, and they had been shortlisted from 90 people already. And in that group, I would say how ready they even were even at that point, really to pitch their games was very mixed. Some people were clearly actually quite good. And they were at the point where they were ready to pitch to publishers, and a lot of people even in that Room weren't really at the level in my opinion that they probably need to be to to have any success at all yet. So I'm so interested to find out how you how you identify designers to work with?

Gaetan Beaujannot 55:12
Oh, we found it at the beginning 10 years ago, because we obtained this here than 10 years ago, we go to a lot of fair to meet some, some game designer and things like that now, we we 50% are games, they come from our classical game data now that we that we work with them since a lot of times since a lot of years. And the last part with new game designer and this new game designer, they find us by other game designer, because we have some French game designer has a theory, ideas, something like that okay, you want to find some some help ask to Forgenext or something like that. We are the Canadian game designer as a lot of things. We want people in one year in Japan to search new games, and we try like this. And we are we when we go to different country, we organise some meetings with a game designer. `when I go in Korea, for example, we have some publisher directly organise one or two days of playtesting with me. Well it's just great, it's just perfect. And that they organised with current game designer. And we we make some quick tests. And we can find a lot of things like this. But at the beginning, we search with some contests all over the world. But we start to do this, because in general, the game has been has been seen by a lot of publisher that we have to avoid that we have to need to find some new games.

James 56:30
Oh, wow. Yeah, that's really interesting. So I was just going to say about the the things that haven't been seen by publishers before because you were talking earlier, obviously, you never want to present a design to a designer, if they've already seen it. Right. Unless it was something weird, radically changed. And you had some reasons for thinking it was really special. And it was really worth presenting it again, after some radical changes. You wouldn't want to do that. So do you have a rule then that basically if they've pitched the design already, that you you never to anyone that you would never do it? Or just if they've pitched that particular publisher that you wouldn't show it?

Gaetan Beaujannot 57:30
In general? I don't want to see the game it's the first question that when I receive a request, I said okay, or when you play, how many publishers. After that, depending one thing, I think I signed three or two games like this. In the past, one of them it's Blockchain from Think Fun. This game has been released this year. And it was very special because it's chose with a material It's awesome ! with the material, this is where you have to send it to see it. And when I see the materials when I see the games, I ask okay, do you show the game to Barrage? Yes, you don't want okay? Only them? Okay. Okay, I take the games because I know how to farm, I do some manufacture in China, to be sure to produce it with a good price. And I know for this one is getting must be for Think Fun and go directly to this event that I've get, I've got a game for you. And it's just for you. And I was pretty sure to signing with them. In this case, I can do it. But if you come with the German style games, and with... no I didn't like it, because the game designer has sent the rules by the email to 10, 12 publisher and and when we have this reputation in the world with with a publisher that when we have a meeting with the publisher is just only 15 minutes or 30 minutes, in general it's one hour or more. It's sometimes we when we go to the head quater, we take they take one day for for us. It's it's it's great. But the obligation that I have to show something new, something very strong, if they take the time for that. And they use it that I have to be at the [overlapping]

James 59:33
That's so critical.

Gaetan Beaujannot 59:34
It's why that the game designer asked us to work on their games, but I have to be strict on the selection of the game for everyone for the game designer. And for the publisher.

James 59:46
It makes total sense because I can see that it's completely critical because as you said, the reason that this can work is because the publishers know that when you bring something in the very least it's really really good and even If it might turn out not to be for them, and there's a good chance that it will be something that's worth publishing. Whereas the big problem I think, that a lot of publishers have is that if you just open your arms out, bring me every submission that you know you like. And people just pile in, there's so much stuff in it, it's nowhere near ready. And some of it might not just be just not very good and just can't be made ready. And it strikes me that, you know, the publisher being able to trust you that anything that you bring along is is going to be good is so important. So I can see why that's so critical to get that bit right.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:00:32
For the publisher that they have to win time with. With it. It's what I say that to some game designer, you have to be in mind that will not show your game to everyone. It's a game. It's a kids games. Okay. I will not show it to Fantasy Flight Games, for example.

James 1:00:53
Yeah, yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:00:54
No, but you have some game designer that take only one prototypes in the bag, and send probably and on remand, and should show it to everyone. It doesn't matter that it's heavy game publisher or just a kid games. No, they... But they have a jewel for them that that not I have to make a selection. Yeah. If I avoid some publisher that they didn't pay the game designer, for example, something like that, that you have they must trust in us trust in the selection of the game of the publisher. And the publisher when we showed the game that I have to show the games in the range. And each time that I show some games under just a level of just to be sure that they don't change the mind. When I say that, I've got 25 games for a fair I never show that 25 to publisher.

James 1:01:54
Yeah. Makes sense.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:01:55
I make a selection that and sometimes that okay, I want to see everything. And I've got one, two years ago, they said, Okay, we've got one hour, I've got 25 games. And they Said, I want to see everything. Okay, that no, I just want another another slot in your schedule. Why? Because you will ask me and others that we have to fix it now. And we fixed a new slot and said, Okay, now start. I've got one hour for 25 games, go and show the 25. Because I've got an iPad, there's some I have some tools to do that. I finish the hour. And I said to the publisher, now, what do we want to test? Ah yes, I've got two minutes and 30 seconds to show everything I can do that. But it's not efficient! Is it just horrible for you, it's a job for me because I got it. And no, I go very fast, and it's not good!

James 1:02:58
No, no, you couldn't possibly

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:03:00
It's not good for everyone, you lose your one hour of your time now. You have to trust in me and to just... I want to show if you change your range, or if you search new games, or new typical games, say to me at the beginning of the meeting, I will adapt my catalogue. And now what we do that before big fair like Nuremberg, Essen, we organise Zoom or Skype meeting in video meeting to make a first show of the catalogue. And after this, we take one hour in at the fair just to make some playtest first playtest for the for the games, or just if nothing is interesting for them. Just will take 30 minutes just to drink something and to speak about the news. What happened for them? What is new, what they search what they want? And what is modification we speak about the life in general, just to create links is very important. We can we can do that. Because they know us in general one meeting is more than two hours, one one hour before the big fair one hour during the fair. And it's if you can say that it's interesting to work with us. Yeah. When? Example In June, I had the chance because for me to chance that to check half of the day to show the new games to Space Cowboy. And with the boss of Space Cowboys directly. You have a lot of works at it take the time to do that. We could direct to their headquarter. And we can do that with everyone. That is why when I said before that we must be efficient for them. And very professional for that. It's in the interest of everyone to take time but but it's fun.

James 1:04:55
Yeah, completely. So there is another question for me that I can kind of burning to ask you for the last I feel like half an hour. And it's about Tabletop Simulator, and Tabletopia, because I'm obviously during the whole pandemic, we've had a lot of people not being able to physically meet up to play test. I've been invited to so many things to play testings on Tabletop Simulator to do it all digitally. And I've recently been testing some games digitally, as well as potential ones to publish. And I have to admit, I really don't like it. It feels like I'm not getting the experience. That's anything like the experience in some ways of playing in a physically together at the tabletop? How have you been approaching it? Where maybe sometimes game designers only have their games in these format? So I'm really interested to know to know what your opinion of Tabletop Simulator, a Tabletopia, etc is?

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:05:46
Just for information before I've created Forgenext. I created a community around Vassal. I don't know if you know that, Vassal?

James 1:05:47
No, I don't think...

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:05:55
Vassal it was a virtual table game game table that at the beginning of the 2000s. It's Java. And when everyone discover Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator>>>

James 1:06:11

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:06:12
Okay, so it's not new, we have got this kind of materials been more than 10 years. I started with that. In fact, it's like that, that I met a lot of Publisher, I met a lot of game designer, I started to put some prototype on Vassal and to test it online.

James 1:06:35

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:06:37
I've got these kinds of things. But what I say that is great for testing for testing some elements.

James 1:06:47

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:06:47
Not to show a a game.

James 1:06:49
Right. Yeah.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:06:50
Because some playtest for me, I will use more Tabletopia than Tabletop Simulator for different things. Because Tabletop Simulator a publisher has to instal to make an installation of steam, you have to pay then, in my mind, I have to use something that's very easy for the publisher, Tabletopia is free.

James 1:07:11
To send a link and they just get on with it.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:07:13
Yes, directly and it's finished. After that, you can make some great tests, but not party games, and some not elements that you can play. Very fast.

James 1:07:24

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:07:25
In a lot of games, we are angling issues, that this kind of thing could be a problem with the Tabletopia. It's great, too, for a first game, just to reduce to some materials and to some playtest, but to show a game it's not very good if you have card games or something like that. But the times we use the materials to, is too long. During the COVID was great a little but not that very enfin, it's not the best one. To the truth. I... last year before in September, I said some publisher I've got some virtual table in games, if you want, we can take time, but I don't believe in it. And they said at the big part. They say no, I don't want it. Or just okay, we can see the materials we can see. But I don't want to use it. And during the lockdown I organised some video but with zero camera. Play with it and to just to show that these kinds of things. And in this case, the take directly they get they book it, but it can be fooled to make a selection. That's not enough. Because the big problem during the lockdown and the last two years it was that for the publisher and for distributor to... we have to think about that. They didn't have the people to make some playtests. And it was very difficult to sell games to set up the time in some games. Okay, if that makes some test some tabletopia. They can just to say after that, okay, I want to try it. But the problem that they can say no, after test of tabletopia, they go there is too long, because it were the tools in the game. And after it, Okay, they have the game now they have to find people to play with. And it's difficult.

James 1:09:17
It's so interesting, isn't it? I've encountered this challenge myself this year, our new game that we've just announced, it's called Boardgames, the board game, the card game, and it is a card game about making board games. It has a party game element inside it, where you pitch design. So you come up we have a mixture of different themes. Each one of the cards has beautiful artwork, capturing the style of how that game is generally shown. And then the end of the game you pitch to other people your game concept based on the cards you've drawn and you've you've played basically, and was really painful getting people to play test that this year because I'd have people play test it but then play it maybe just two people and the game works. It works with that number of people but it's not really designed for it and It's sort of really a pity not to see not to see it playing that that counts, I can imagine that particularly, you've got a whole catalogue of different things, and you're trying to play test them or demo them to different distributors, I had such a huge pain, like, just to being able to do that, like it would be just a real a real handicap on on one's ability to do that, because it this, this has been my experience is that to really show a game off, like doing it online just doesn't work.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:10:25
It's good. It's a good tool, just make some development. Sometimes when I've got someone to one of my developer lives at only 30 minutes ago, from our office, and during during the COVID, we have the.. Okay, don't move, we just make one or two play tests on tabletopia during one hour and, okay, just for that, but we need too many practice elements, we need to be around the table or just to have something that happen or not, and we I think to a game that we sell to, to studio H, the new company of Hachette in France, we have done Oriflamme with them, what is great with them that the game is very original because in the middle of the table, we have a distributors of tiles with three level of materials that around the table and tabletopia is just we can't play it, we can we can see it. when you play it on the table, you'll see the problems with the materials, but and you see the good feeling that you can have with this kind of materials that you see the tournament's. It's really difficult to push, we have to change it, but he's refraining to use it. And you can't have that that. It's very important to to meet each other. But but it's useful, but we can't do that. We can't use it to show a game to a publisher.

James 1:11:55
Makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. Okay, so I think we're closing on the end of the amount of time we have which is which is a pity because this has been absolutely fascinating. This this, this has been so interesting. For me, I really appreciate this. It's awesome. I wanted to cover off a couple of final things just because I think they're kind of really interesting for people to know. So on this point on, obviously finding designers to work with do you do you then just accept submissions from designers? Can they just get in touch with you? Or do you prefer it when someone refers them to you? How does that tend to what?

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:12:24
As other people wait, that I receive a lot of email, it's okay for me. In general, I prefer to receive to receive a video like when they say an iPhone and just to explain the rules, or just a rules just to know to have an idea of the game. And if someone just sent me an email with a video with the iPhone just around the table. It's okay for me. Everyone can contact me but they don't have to have someone else to say okay, I say to this guy to contact you. It could be great to speak now. It's open to everyone.

James 1:12:55
Okay, great. Well, that's, that's really good. Because I'm sure there may be some people listening to this episode who feel like, they'd certainly might have something special that they'd like to share with you. So that's really, that's really cool to hear that. The second thing is, I guess is I'd like to know what your top three tips if you had to pick them would be for designers looking to get their games signed,

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:13:14
Try something original. As we said before, that what I said that just Yeah, original in the materials, if the material is original, it must be logical in the mechanism of the game that just wow, it's fun this material, and okay, but I discovered I played one time after that, okay, next, it's a great material. But in the idea of the material, the great idea of the great design, original the material in original mechanism or something with original association of mechanism, if we have one of the three points is a good point. And it's very easy to see whether publisher to say okay, my game is original, because the materials, the association, or the mechanism. And after this, the rules. First one seem very clear, because you are not in the books, the publisher must play efficiently on the game, you have only one chance, if he opens the publisher open again. And can't it immediately, you have a lot of chance that they push your prototype in the garbage because they have too many games to play it. It's not very easy. But the rules is very important. The last elements enfin one of the most important it's to to show the game to the publisher, just to say that show get up a game with the publisher of the same branch, not a kid to a game publisher or something like that. And the last one that just to show the game to someone that you want to work with them, because you must trust in what they do with your game. They know how to publish a game, how to chose an illustrator, the provision, they can it, they have to ask you your insight or something like that. But you have to trust in it. And because if your game is a success, it's like you sign a contract with your wife, because you will live with him or with her longtime. If it's not if it starts very bad, it's not a good start, you have to avoid iit and not sign with it. It's why I said we have to avoid just sign a contract. Yeah, to have your name on the cover. Now, it doesn't matter the size of the publisher in just you have you need to want to work with him.

James 1:15:40
That seems like absolutely brilliant advice. I think we've covered actually, in the end most of the listener questions already, as we spoke this time, which is great. And I guess my last question, and it's going to be about the top three tips I guess you would give to publishers selecting games, because this is my problem at the moment. And that would personally would help me out a lot trying to work this one out. It's been a fascinating journey already go looking through different people's games and trying to work out. How do we even go about this?

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:16:10
Just one thing that is strange to say that was that to an agent. But I think you have to know that I have done this kind of job in the past, because I worked on a segment for [on Kenites] big, big company in France. In the past Forgenext sell services to publisher who help them that we stopped to do that now Foregenct maily focus on the game designer, I created a new company with a Rescape. And the job is to sell services to publishers to help them to find new games. It's like that, that we have done [draft as always], with [oncama] It's like that, that I met Matthew, Dunston and other game design

James 1:16:54

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:16:55
When I walked from [cameras], as a contractor, and I had this question in my mind, because it's very easy. I know how to push a game to a publisher. But now I have to think as a publisher. And the first thing for me, it's, you need an original game. Again, it's the same first point that you need an original game that will seduce. Yeah, make sense. Yes, the players, but the distributor to you have to think to the product, not again. But to think as a prayer and as a commercial, then the original point is very important for me. And when you are a little publisher, or you start a new branch, it's the third thing that you have in mind. And not just your test. Oh, I love it. I bet we see it a lot of times. Right, but I love this one. Okay, how you will sell it unit in general. The second thing that you have to practice to play test it more than 20 times. Because if you are tired to play test it, after 10 times, it's not for you. Because at the moment, when you develop a game you will play it one number of times. And if you are tired to play test, it's just the game as just something great at the beginning. It's like when you test the wine, a new wine, a red wine. That oh, the beginning is really great. But at the end, everything is at the button that is not a good wine. The same for you. It's the same for a game. Okay, play tested it, it is great. We pray again and a bit or no document that you practice the practice the toilet. The third point, I will think it's what you say before it's to workwith a another ways responsive will listen. And we'll do some think that the job is over. After a year the contract is denied, that the choice of a publisher and a game design is very important and progress. The fourth point I think that if you have an author that who knows how to communicate on social networks is a plus for the marketing. I think like this, I will think to my student, Stan, I will think to the French Theo Riviere and Antoine, no not Anoitne, Bruno Cathala but I will think to Eric Lang this kind of guy or woman if you think to. I forget it's a shame Elizabeth Harvgrave, I'm a big fan But she she communicate.

James 1:19:41
I'm about to say Elizabeth Hargrave.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:19:43
And other games that it's very good

James 1:19:47
She's quite big on Twitter.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:19:49
Yeah. You You have to, you have to think about it is very important. And the last point just for the fun, it's the most important I think it's to contact Forgenext to find the good one, then.

James 1:20:04
Excellent. See, this is this is why you're in it. You know how to market things sell it was, you knew I was about to ask that question anyway, that's fantastic that no, that's absolutely perfect. Absolutely. So if designers oriented, they should get in touch with you. What's the best way to do that? Just just through the website,

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:20:22 And the email is And we've got a Facebook page, Twitter account that we don't use it. But yes, we on that social network, website and everything.

James 1:20:41
Fantastic. That's so cool. Well, thank you once again for speaking me today. It's been absolutely brilliant. I feel like I've learned a tremendous amount. And there's a lot I think I'm going to be thinking about on this episode. And I think that's probably going to true for all the listeners as well. So Gaetan thank you so much again, thanks.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:20:55
Thanks a lot!

James 1:20:55
That was absolute great.

Gaetan Beaujannot 1:20:56
It was a real pleasure.

James 1:21:04
Producing fun is produced by Naylor Games. If you enjoyed the show, follow us on Spotify, Stitcher or other major podcasting platforms. Remember, Producing Fun is also a product and it's thrives on feedback. So please leave a review wherever possible, or simply send me your feedback directly. You can message me on Twitter at Naylor James and write me an email Until next time!

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