Insight: Behind the April Mystery Games Launch

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Insight: Behind the April Mystery Games Launch

As a sole-trader-startup-puzzle-maker, I'm always looking at different ways of developing marketing, and considering how I can approach my different audiences.

At the same time, I have a range of products from small to large, and I'm always curious about the best way to launch them. I thought I'd combine these two in an experiment this year, which I called the April Mystery Games. I had developed the start of a small subscription game, which was would work as a standalone game and was very, very small. I also had a much larger game that I wasn't able to scale without some significant investment (as in, I needed some more buyers).

One route would have been to go through Kickstarter, but this requires a campaign and it takes an awful lot of mental energy and physical hours to produce.

I wondered if I could combine the two, but I didn't want to give too much away to my audience. The reason for this was that I was curious to see whether people would back something knowing only the lightest amount about it. I decided to run the campaign for 24 hours, launched a page and announced it two days before on the incredibly popular Facebook group, Puzzle People, two days before. 

It built a lot of traction, and I was really excited on the day when it launched. Although I was able to create an automatic countdown timer, I wasn't able to start a product on my Shopify store automatically so I had to do that manually. At 12 o'clock in the morning. I had my first sale one minute later.

It was fascinating to watch the sales occur during the day as it went by, with the vast majority of people buying both games. I named them Clint and Eastwood after the Man With No Name, since these games didn't have any public name. They do of course have names but I didn't want to give anything away at all. Again, I'm not sure if this was the right decision or not or whether I could have made more sales or less sales. I shall experiment with this later.

I was writing my monthly newsletter that day, when I thought I could do a one off newsletter email updates about the April mystery games.  I sent this out to my subscribers (for reference, I have less than 100 subscribers).  This was a hugely interactive community who were always very responsive. It ended up that almost a third of my sales for the April mystery games came from my email subscribers and this is something I will explore in future endeavors.

I ended the day selling out both games. Again, I hadn't included how many of each game I was going to sell, but I've actually worked out that it would be best to sell 50 and keep it at 50 of each. I managed to achieve this for both games and was absolutely delighted when the last one sold. This is a model that I will really experiment and explore again, as people seemed quite excited about it.

Curious as they are and enjoying tabletop escape games, perhaps the appeal of not knowing quite what they were going to get was attractive. By nature with escape games, sometimes you can only see very, very vague pictures of the items that you are buying due to the fact that you might get spoilers or reveal elements that are supposed to be surprises. So perhaps this is an extension of that mental excitement, that small hit of dopamine who's to know!

I have sent out the first game, Clint which I can reveal is called Mangetout and it's about a prisoner escape, set over six episodes. As I said, the game works perfectly as a standalone but it's the start of subscription game of six episodes, which all build on each other and lead to a really, I think fun conclusion using some technologies that I've never seen in a puzzle game before. That's right. I'm always seeking out the aha moments!

If you'd like to look at subscribing to this to please click on the link for information about the Mangetout subscription game. For the second game, you'll have to wait and see or perhaps subscribe to my newsletter here.