Nathan Hansen Games

 I've found myself interested in cooperative business models of late. I'm not going to pretend I've garnered anything close to expertise on the subject, but it seems like it would be a very good model for a board game publishing company or design studio. Although, probably not one named after a specific person such as I've set up mine as. The basic premise is that all members get a vote on business decisions. And only one vote, regardless of how much they individually have invested.

Depending on exact structure, members could anyone who uses the cooperative from end customers to game designers and everyone who touches the project in between. Or, even other companies like distributors. And with everyone getting a vote this could lead to some interesting development pipelines. 

For example, say a cooperative had 100 members; 4 that were part of the development team, and the rest were passionate customers. So, mostly customers. There is an opening in the development pipeline and it is time to choose a project. First, submissions and in house designs could be filtered by the development team into likely candidates, who could then put together some kind of pitch package for each potential project. Then pitches could be sent to every one of the members for a yay/nay vote. If an individual project doesn't receive over a fixed percentage of the votes, say at least 50% of all members, it will not be made. If multiple project recieve more than 50% the one that received the most votes is pursued, and the others added to a future project queue, but not pursued yet. The advantage of this is it gives a much better sense of how a project will be received by the public at large than an average publisher could with a small team (or in some cases a single person) deciding if a game is a good bet. And, as membership grows, that indication becomes that much stronger. And customer members see the games they want to see.

And you could have members opt in to help at various stages. Maybe not everyone wants to take part in the project selection process. Some members may want to help out with proofreading while other don't. Or likewise for playtesting, etc. There are many steps from submission to publication and Members could theoretically opt in to participation on any of them.

Of course this is asking a lot of members, and they need to get something back beyond games existing that they are likely to be interested in, since I don't think most people are hurting for options. The obvious answer is deep discounts from direct sales, say distributor rates (60% off). The ability to buy shares (but not votes) and maybe dividends?

Written by Nathan Hansen — October 21, 2020

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