It has become a trend to say that 2016 was a bad year, that it brought the worst in the world and everyone is happy it’s over. Yes, the politics and world conflicts have brought disturbing news and a lot of celebrities passed away. But for the entertainment industry 2016 came with a significant growth and for board games especially it has been quite an impressive year.
When it come to NSKN Games, we have crossed a few more landmarks and kept growing while enjoying making and playing board games and being part of this great community.
First quarter and riding the Viking hype wave
Zombies used to be a thing (some may argue they still are) and we lacked a zombie game, Star Wars is and probably always will be at the top of the pop culture and we were unwilling or unable to touch those most popular themes. When Vikings became mainstream we also got a game submission from Krzysztof Zieba – a first time designer – for a game called Jarl at that time which became In the Name of Odin.
A successful Kickstarter campaign helped us fund the game and soon after delivery in the summer it got on the radar of famous reviewers. Now we’re very proud to say that In the Name of Odin made it into the top 10 games of 2016 of the Dice Tower network:
In the Name of Odin is already available in stores in Europe and is due to be release in North America and other regions in the next few months.
Founding Strawberry Studio, riding the dragons and breaking records on Kickstarter
The first time we visited Gen Con, in 2015, we listened to a quick game pitch by Chris Castagnetto who showed us a microgame for “3-5 players in 3-5 minutes”, made solely of 18 playing cards. We recognized the ingenuity of the game mechanisms and we signed the game on the spot, even though it did not fit the NSKN Games line of heavier, gamers’ games. The market for small, family friendly games is much larger that that of designer games and we wanted to dip our finger into that giant pool of opportunity. In late 2015 we had the idea of opening a small games division and in the late spring of 2016 Strawberry Studio was born. The game had been signed one year before it got its amazing art from Magda Markowska and it became 3 Wishes, out first published microgame.
At the same time, Simurgh reached retail in the USA and in Europe, and it was quite a hit, being sold out in many stores within weeks of its release. The expansion, Call of the Dragonlord, also funded via Kickstarter, and was delivered to backers. It should be available in retail in 2017.
Following the success of Mistfall in 2015 and the high demand for an expansion, we went again to crowd-funding and we unleashed Heart of the Mists which grew to become the most funded game ever from NSKN Games. With almost 140,000 dollars and 2000 backers, Heart of the Mists was our largest project to date, especially because it came along with another expansion, Sand & Snow, and a miniatures pack to support both games.
Our second trip to Gen Con allowed us to experience true hype around 3 Wishes which was carried by Passport Game Studios and was one of the most successful releases we have ever had. Starting with the key cards of the hotels around Indiana Conventions Center which featured 3 Wishes art and seeing people playing the game in restaurants, on the hallways of our hotel and on the hood of a car (yes, we saw that happen as well!), we were amazed to see how addictive and fun this little game was.
The ending of the summer caught us in the middle of the preparations for Spiel Essen. As Strawberry Studio was becoming a publishing house of its own, we decided to split our presence at the fair into two separate booths, one to feature microgames and the main one to show the latest releases of NSKN Games. Our largest ever presence at the convention, with a team of 26 people, helped us claim 4 spots in the BoardGameGeek hottest 50 titles at Spiel and sell more than 2500 games overall.
Strawberry Studio launched its second title – What’s Up – which became even more promising than 3 Wishes, while NSKN Games came out for the first time with our new logo and no less than 10 games on display at the fair.
Deeper into the dungeon and drawing the line
An overall turnover of around $500K helped us bring another game enthusiast on board full time from the second quarter of 2017, and allowed us to plan ahead and make great games in the following years. We have already made a publishing plan for the next two years and we signed several more very interesting titles. But we’ll have the chance to discuss all that in the following weeks.