How we launched a business in a crisis and create games for children, teenagers and adults


Hello, we are the Russian publishing house Krep. Two years ago we decided to start making quests for children.

Quest is a game in which a team of players has to go through several stages, in each of which they find a card with a puzzle, riddle or rebus. The plot and puzzles for the quest are selected taking into account age. The answer to each task in the card is the place where you need to look for the next task. Thus, a scenario chain is formed, which at the end of the game leads the team to the place where the cache with gifts is hidden. You can go through the quest alone or with a team of players. This is a full-fledged holiday that can be held without the participation of an animator anywhere and anytime.

Is there only paper inside?

No. In our quests, in addition to colorful cards, there are real objects that you need to interact with in order to complete the game. Some of them, by the way, will serve as good memorable trophies at the end of the quest. However, the game is not limited to physical items. We try to add interactivity to each quest. It can be augmented reality AR, VR glasses with 3D content, video and audio content, interactive tips and interactive pages. To use them, it is enough that the participants have a smartphone. Interactive is seamlessly woven into the story of the quest, and the transition to it is carried out either by camera or by NFC tags. Today we successfully conduct retail sales through the website, marketplaces and offline stores. We have already sold over 30,000 games and received over 1,000 reviews on marketplaces.

How it all started

«Crepe» stands for «Creative Director’s Holiday». Before we started doing quests, we all knew each other and worked in the event industry. Crepe boxing appeared at the beginning of 2020, when the entire event industry suffered losses and was out of work; it was then that we discovered a new way to give smiles and create a festive mood. Quests have become a product that, bypassing the existing restrictions, brings the holiday right home. The first edition consisted of 2 quests and a batch of 60 pieces. Boxes were printed in one place, cards and envelopes were printed in another, props were purchased separately and quests were assembled manually.

First sales

There are entrepreneurs who have a negative attitude towards marketplaces. Arguments: high commissions, you need to pay for storage, the goods may be lost/damaged, the goods may freeze and take a long time to be credited, the goods may simply not be bought. Yes, these risks exist. But in our case, the marketplace was a salvation. And the first sales went. Marketplaces have a huge audience that is not on our website or in our social networks.

But with the work on the marketplace, not everything is so simple. Not a good enough product, you need a huge amount of time and knowledge of the nuances of working on the marketplace. The ranking of product cards depends on proper management. You need to try different options for descriptions, photos and videos. It is necessary to take part in various sales. Set up ads. Track balances, predict sales and shipments (New Year shipments should be booked 2 months in advance). If a product crashes, it starts to lose positions in the search results. It happens that marketplaces make mistakes and it takes a lot of time to communicate with support. We have a separate person in charge of marketplaces.

Structure

It may seem to some that it’s easy to come up with and release a game, but in fact, a huge number of people are involved in this process. Our team includes quest mechanic authors, illustrators / 3D designer, developer, lawyer, accountant, warehouse manager and assemblers, sales department specialist, marketplace specialist, driver with a car. We also work with a large number of contractors: these are printing houses, editors, photo and video operators, illustrators, authors, voice actors for quests, delivery services. At Krepa, we work according to Scrum. Every two weeks we conduct demo and retro. Quarterly planning is a must, it’s extremely important because the release of just one game can take from 3 to 6 months. If we want to get to some holidays, for example, the New Year, we start development already in June, printing — in September-October, and we still need time to ship to stores. To organize workflows, we use Miro, Figma, FigJam, Trello, Notion.Miro and FigJam for brainstorms, drawing up development plans, conducting retro, throwing on the structure of games and mechanic options. These services work online and at any time you can connect participants to discuss prototypes and collect new ideas. As a result, each meeting is focused. At Trello, we manage tasks.

About difficulties

It was difficult to build the whole process. From start to finish, make this chain of suppliers, contractors and points of sale.

Printing house search

At the start, we had small circulations. Because of this, serious printing houses were not interested in us. As a result, it turned out that in one place they printed boxes for us, in another — cards, in the third — stickers, badges, magnetic puzzles, etc. All this came to the warehouse where we collected.

Lack of hands

With the increase in the range of games, the volume of work in the warehouse increased and we stopped keeping up. By the New Year holidays, a huge number of quests had to be collected in two weeks. The assembly involved 10 people who worked non-stop for two weeks. It became clear that we would not be able to scale this way. We began to look for those who could print and collect our quests. This role was played by a large printing house that assembles games on a turnkey basis, it was only necessary to deliver raw materials to the customer. They were able to switch to this format after they increased the circulation. You can agree on a circulation of 500 pieces, but it will be expensive and unprofitable. The minimum print run is from 1,000 pieces.

Accounting

With the increase in the number of games, the number of game components that go into the boxes has increased. These are badges, puzzles, sets of master classes, various jars and cones, magic wands, slimes, virtual reality glasses and much more. We order all these components from different contractors. Each has its own production and delivery times. In order to avoid departures by components, a strict accounting of residues is needed. At first we used the My Warehouse program, but it did not suit us. Now we have switched to Bitrix, but it does not cover all our needs. Maybe someone will advise us on an accounting program.

Expansion of points of sale

It was not clear how to start cooperating with large offline chains and stores. Our first steps in this direction are flyers and bypassing stores «in the area»)). It turned out to be a failure. The sellers did not understand what we wanted from them, since they do not make decisions on the assortment of the store. They did not share management contacts. In the end, we hired a sales manager who led us along this path. We have rebuilt the RRP prices, created the necessary sections on the site and marketing materials. We have collected a database of contractors with whom we could cooperate. The mailings and calls began. And things moved on.

Where are we now

If we started with quests for children, now we have games for teenagers, adults, New Year’s quests, party games and a game for two 18+.

Where can you buy our games

Online: on all marketplaces. In the network of stores: Detsky Mir, Republic, 1C, Igrotime, BanzGame, Our Baby, Maxmegamarket, Pink Rabbit, Little Genius, Young Guard, Rene. We have already received over 1,000 reviews on marketplaces with an average rating of 4.9.

Directions

They began to develop the production of games to order, as well as branding games as corporate gifts. For example, if you have dentistry, then this is a game that will explain to children why it is so important to brush their teeth. If it is an IT company, then the game can tell children what specialties are and can help them choose a direction for development. If we consider games for adults, then this can be a party game for team building, games for Friday / corporate evenings. Interesting solutions there can be many, they will be unique and organically woven into the history of your company.

Price

We work with a large number of printing houses in order to minimize the cost of production and offer customers the lowest price. Now the whole process is automated, everything is assembled in production, the games have already passed test batches, all errors have been taken into account and corrected — and the circulation has increased from 2,000 pieces.

What’s next

The game development plan is scheduled for a year.

The plans include a major European game about the transportation of goods.

The essence of the game is the creation and successful development of a transport enterprise, which is managed by the player. The map on which the game takes place contains cities and businesses. Each such object «produces» and «consumes» cargo of a certain type. Players build roads and rails, connecting enterprises and cities with consumers, transporting goods by transport, receiving money (victory points) for this. The game has already been tested, it remains to design and release it.

Digital quests

A new direction will appear very soon — digital quests. These are games that have everything that can be removed online, in the box there will be only those items that you need to interact with. Thus, we reduce the cost of the game without compromising its quality.

For those who read to the end

For our part, we want people to get together more often and have fun. We want it to be accessible to as many people as possible.

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