Written by: Jesse Bergman
It started in 2011 when John Kimmel and I were discussing putting together a video game company. We were testing a tactical arena miniatures game, but that was to be the basis for a new First Person Shooter game. Something magical happened that day when John and I realized it was much more fun to play board games than any of our most recent video game experiences.
2011, was before Kickstarter had exploded with the largest funded Kickstarter game Zombiecide from Cool Mini or Not. Later in May of 2012 Zombiecide would go on to raise over $700K and be the largest board game funded project on the platform at the time. This project re-affirmed to John and I that we were on the right path for making games. Sularia at this point had been in development wiith a few select locals for almost six months. It was nowhere near ready for the public eye. At this time the Jotune, Synthien, Exsularian, and Protoan while designed were called the Shien-Too, Sentients, Waste Walkers, and Beasts.
Two years after Zombiecide’s success, Punch-It Entertainment was officially formed by John Kimmel and I as we prepared to bring a world to the world. We only had a concept a mechanical prototype, and a dream. The world of Kickstarter had exploded, and 2014 started to see a shift from conceptual products to a need for an even more advanced and well-presented product, what many were calling a Minimally Viable Product.
John and I were working hard to make the best card game experience we could, one that was based around our favorite card games such as VS. System and Magic The Gathering, as well as bringing a unique twist by incorporating strategy and experiences players found in Real Time Strategy Video games. Finally, in June of 2015, we were ready to pull the trigger. We invested all the money, time, and energy we could to prepare for a Kickstarter, only to see White Wizard fresh off of the success of Star Realms launch Epic:The Card Game one week before our Kickstarter launch. In conjunction, we made a bold marketing move and invested thousands of dollars to attend Origins Game Fair to capture attention and excitement for the game. The purpose was to hit the 2015 Christmas release schedule and make our mark on Kickstarter with our new release.
Going up against, Juggernauts proved to be challenging and through efforts our campaign funded. John and I worked day and night, earning almost every single pledge on that campaign. We not only had to sell the game, but we knew we had to earn the backers’ trust and investment. It was a very long month for us, and we extended the Kickstarter by one extra week to have the opportunity to earn more backers while showing the game at KantKon 2015, in Kansas City, MO.
We missed Christmas delivery on the product due to a manufacturing delay, but we launched Sularia officially 30 days later, two weeks after our backers had started receiving their copies. We are always eternally grateful for all of the original backers and those of you that have stayed with us through the adventure.
John and I had been told by many that doing a expanding card game is not for the faint of heart. Boy! Those advisors right; we did not understand the scope of work necessary to release these kinds of games consistently. At the same time, we knew we needed an expansion within 90 days, as that was the strategy almost all "industry experts" had advised.
In March 2016, Punch It Entertainment launched Blood, Profit, and Glory, and once again we were successful...just barely. More experts came in and told us that we couldn't release expansion content only on Kickstarter, as the platform doesn't support it well. For the most part, they are correct. BPG, only funded slightly above the funding line, and we are of course are so appreciative of our fans support.
Many experts agree that conventions are the direct path to raising awareness of your game and growing sales. Punch-It Entertainment bought into this idea, and we spent significant money purchasing booth equipment and paying for travel. In 2016, Punch-It Entertainment did 12 different conventions around the area, as well as a few further away. The costs associated with those endeavors were staggering, and we faced our first year of income losses and which left us in a challenging position and left a lingering question: How in the world are we going to make the Protoan and Exsularian?
We discussed and brainstormed this over countless meetings and coffee breaks. Behind the scenes, our development team worked to make those factions play, be balanced, yet fun with the existing product. We still didn't know how we're going to fund the five figure costs of putting illustrations to the product and releasing it as a stand-alone expansion. We decided that Kickstarter would be the best venue.
With excitement and anticipation looming, we hit a development snag. The bookend mechanics for the Protoan and Exsularian, Anarchy and Virus were simply not fun. They ended up staying in deck boxes on bookshelves and players played strategies that felt very Jotune or Synthien. With our two newest factions lacking a clear identity, we adapted as a company and had to issue the dreaded word of "re-design" in our meetings. We are fully committed to releasing only the best and highest quality products in both production value and gameplay. The decision was a no-brainer, but it left us without a single new product for the 2017 year.
With minimal sales in 2017, we were very concerned on how to even keep Punch-It's doors open. We struggled, made personal financial donations to the business, and continued to push the development needle on the Protoan and Exsularian. During that time, with your feedback, we determined that the re-design was successful and that the new factions were fun to play.
We had received so much feedback that a book of our fiction and lore was highly desirable, so we thought. John and I shifted our attention on how to release Chronicles of Sularia. Unfortunately, the vocal minority had overcome the core audience and Chronicles was a dud on Kickstarter. In the future, we still hope to offer a coffee table book on the world of Sularia that incorporates Matt Och's fantastic fiction in the world, alongside the art and development of the game.
In 2018, we decided to launch Reign of Terror - The Protoan as a stand-alone faction pack. The goal was to re-energize our existing fan base and bring back as many original backers as possible. Unfortunately, we were not able to fund the Protoan through Kickstarter and we were left looking at what to do with the game. The Protoan were complete and financially we were in a place where we could complete the remaining illustrations for The Good, The Bad, and The Savage - The Exsularian. We had found a short run print supplier that could help us make 50-100 games which made sense economically.
Our Pre-orders were high, and our community rallied around Sularia leaving Kickstarter. Unfortunately, none of the three products launched this year have provided us with a significant enough uptick of income to proceed. We are back to exactly where we were right after Blood, Profit, and Glory.
So, what does this mean for Sularia in 2019? In September of this year, we stopped working on future content for Battle for Sularia: The Card Game. Without a clear funding path, we cannot keep making financial decisions that do not allow the game to grow. Not all is sour, we believe 2019 can be the first light in developing and sharing Sularia with the world.
That's where you, our most passionate fans of the game come in. Battle for Sularia: The Card Game is complete now that all four factions available for purchase. We are working hard to create an affordable core experience, and we will continue to do so, to make the barrier of entry into the game friendly for all card game players.
Our time is now, 2019 is the year we need you to be our voice. We need you to go out into stores and hold learn to play events. We are counting on you to grow your communities, and we will be right here supporting you every step of the way. A couple of incentives were working on are:
Creating alternate art promo cards for players to earn by attending events.
Creating an ambassador program that builds incentives for you to share the game and grow the game.
We are ready with open arms to support your local game store directly and eliminate the distributor who pushes our games to discount online retail stores. By controlling whom we do business with, we can make sure that retailers can be profitable with our products and support small businesses in your community.
We have some additional news, I do regret that John Kimmel has decided to leave Punch-It Entertainment. John has made the decision to pursue some other opportunities with his freelance graphic design business, John Kimmel Creative. We are sure you will find more of John's excellent work in an upcoming card game called Argent Saga. John leaving the project is particularly tough on us here at Punch-It as we cannot express how much we appreciate his sense of detail, and vision for the world of Sularia.
The ultimate goal for Punch-It in 2019, will be about moving forward and developing new game ideas. We currently have a new deck builder game set in the world of Sularia in testing. We hope to have more to share about the game in quarter one of next year. We now have to build some new relationships with graphic designers to assist in creating the content that John has done for us these last eight years. This will not be a small task, but one that I'm confident we can see through.
I also have many different prototype designs that we will be working to test internally to determine whether they will meet the ongoing standard's we've set out for Punch-It Entertainment games. Both Neil and I will continue to work hard for you and hope that you will stick through this transition year. We are going to work on releasing full art booster packs, which will contain Reign of Terror, and The Good, The Bad, and The Savage. Additionally, Neil and I will continue our Punch-It Plays series on YouTube, and we hope that you'll enjoy that content as well as share it with other gamer friends who have similar game preferences.
We have one final series to release to you in the world of Sularia. The Foundation Series is an Alpha Program release that focuses on sites and making sites in Sularia matter. Sites are an integral part of the game, but many players choose to spend construction points on flashier cards such as tactics, conditions, and combatants. The Foundation series put the flash in sites. The deck builder will have to make meaningful card selections based on construction cost and the impact of the card on the game. You can expect the first release of The Foundation Series to hit the Alpha Program page just after the beginning of the year.
Additionally, we will be releasing a complete content update to The Escalation Series sometime in January, that will modify some of the cards for clarity and gameplay based upon feedback we've received by you our players. That pack will be a single download for the entire series and will replace the individual packages on our website after its release. Punch-It Entertainment has found a way to use a Print On Demand service with our partners to offer the Alpha Program releases printed on card stock. These packs will be at a slight premium, and they will require 3-4 weeks to deliver from their order date. We will offer this service on escalation cards as well as The Foundation Series cards in the Alpha Program in 2019.
Lastly, we have heard from many of you that a subscription service for our Alpha Program would be preferred. We are looking into this in greater detail and hope to have a more concrete plan available in the first quarter of 2019.
I know this update was a doozy of one, with a little bit of good, a little bit of bad, and some hope for the future, but Punch-It Entertainment is not going anywhere, and we cannot wait to share some of the things we've been working on with you in 2019. Thank you so much for being fans of our games, we appreciate your unwavering support and we will see you all in 2019!