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  • Writer's pictureXeo Lye

A Singaporean Tabletop Publisher's Flashback of 2018

2018 is a thrilling year for Capital Gains Studio as time flashes by so quickly and I barely have time to write. So what are we busy with? It is high time to recap what happened in 2018. Here goes!

2018 kicked off with a roaring start for manufacturing and subsequently, the logistical nightmare of fulfilling Debtzilla. Debtzilla was our first big box game and also our first collaboration with a new manufacturer. As a result, there were plenty of adjustments that came with working with a new partner. Debtzilla also marked our first venture to fulfill a Kickstarter project with multiple add-ons (T-shirts etc) resulting in a new learning experience for our logistic and supply chain department. We also learnt the cost of high cost of reshipping as backers failed to receive the first round of postage and the cost of replacing sets due to insufficient protection to our much heavier big box game. It was a painful lesson to manage so many permutation of goods with different items manufactured in both Singapore and China and needing to fulfill from two countries.

We also welcome Steve Ng to our team as our full time inhouse designer and he greatly bolstered the creative team. He also led the design of Cryptocurrency and the project management of many of our projects, allowing me to focus on other aspect of the business.

Shortly after we fulfilled our Debtzilla Kickstarter backers, we kicked off with the Cryptocurrency boardgame Kickstarter campaign. We tried many new ideas with the Cryptocurrency Kickstarter which include shortening the campaign period to 21 days, no stretch goals, inclusion of a freemium tier, no Kickstarter exclusive and self collection at Spiel Essen.

We met many obstacles during our Cryptocurrency campaign and one of the biggest hurdle is the advertising ban on major social media website on all things related to Cryptocurrency. Our marketing efforts for our Kickstarter campaign were badly crippled with our marketing reach diminished. On top of that, we were thrown into "Facebook Jail" and we were blocked from advertising, unless repeated appeals were sent in to plead for the staff to take a closer look at what we actually do, in order to let our ads through.

Nevertheless, thanks to the support of our community and the uniqueness of our gameplay and theme, we are able to pull off a decent funding amount and became the only Cryptocurrency boardgame to be funded on Kickstarter after the cryptocurrency bubble burst by the summer of 2018.

The short lead time between the fulfillment of Debtzilla and Cryptocurrency also meant that the inhouse logistic team barely had time to take a breather before the next onslaught started. We also aimed for a short production time as we aimed to get Cryptocurrency to our European backers by Spiel meant that the operation team was stretched to their limit. We also started to face warehousing crunch as the high cost of warehousing in land scarce Singapore forced us to re-examine a more efficient way of storing our goods. With 2 products just out from the oven, it was also a huge challenge sourcing for warehousing solutions without burning too much cash.

On a more positive note, we had quite a number of media coverage due to the strong interest of cryptocurrency and the rise of board gaming in Singapore. We appeared on MONEY FM 89.3 and discussed with Elliot Danker and Yasmin Jonkers the current landscape for board games in Singapore, as well as what made us get into this business and how our team are modernizing financial literacy games to keep up with current times.

We were also featured for the first time in Singapore's most popular news paper, The Straits Times, in a newspaper article on 9th June 2018 titled “Stepping Up Their Game”, featuring our insights into the challenges for board game publishing in a small country such as Singapore and his analysis between the more matured US / European markets and the Asian markets, which contribute to the obstacles board game players face in Singapore.

2018 also marked the year when we take on more board game consultation work with other organizations to assist them on gamifying training and educational objectives. This brings about a new learning curve as each project comes with an extremely challenging timeline. It is an additional challenge to meld education and entertainment together and this becomes a lot more challenging due to the tight timeline and customer's expectations. Fortunately, the team has honed our process of designing and publishing board games over the years and this has helped us exceed our customer's expectations.

Towards the end of the year, the team participated in multiple conventions such as Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) , AFA Jakarta, Game Start Asia Singapore and Spiel Essen in Germany. After a year hiatus from Spiel Essen, we went back to the fair to find it much bigger with much more competition and participation from Asian publishers. It shows how much the tabletop industry has grown in Asia in the last 2 years but it also presented us with the challenge of needing to up our game as the production quality and game design of fellow designers from Taiwan, Korea and Japan have jumped by leaps and bounds. 2018 is also a sad year for Singaporean designers with Capital Gains Studio being the sole publisher represented in the fair. We hope that 2019 will see more Singaporean designer launching their games and presenting them in Spiel Essen.

With all these behind us, we look forward to the remaining 2019 in anticipation of more upcoming products and challenges. We are also looking to introduce our uniquely designed Singaporean finance games to more regions and countries and we hope that our products can create more impact to the society and bring fun and joy to families all around the world.

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