My passion project - Board game community website

Frode789

Participant
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
89
Hi TAZ community.

This will be a long post, I hope this is the right place to post. Combination of asking for feedback, just sharing my ideas and my thought-process etc.

I've had several websites/forums over the years (mostly for specific PC games or PC game guilds), but one that have always stayed on the back-burner was having a board game community website. That was simply because I knew that it would require a monstrous effort, and I'd need a big budget. (as there is currently almost a complete monopoly situation with boardgamegeek). But now the time has come... :)
Also, I have previously managed my board game club by using various other tools, but neither have worked well.. And I just didn't see any platform where I could get it all in one package. (club, member management, tournament brackets, modern website & forum, event planning and so on).

I am well aware that any new website in these times need to really provide something unique and a great experience, to be able to compete with established sites like BGG, or something like Reddit. (r/boardgames has 2.7 MILLION subscribers. How do you compete with that?).

So I asked myself, "why should you visit our website and use it? What do I offer, that Reddit or BGG doesn't do (or do well enough)?"

Most important:
- Emphasis on the social aspect of board gaming, with unique features tailored towards this.
Of course the forum is there, but also managing your own board game club (either local club, or online), with it's own page, member roster, event calendar, private discussion area etc. You can also play in/host tournaments for your board game nights, with the system managing brackets, entries, statistics etc. It is planned to allow you to either join as club vs club, or individually. (getting this custom integrated).

- Modern, clean and responsive design, which works perfectly on any device.
This is a huge issue when using BGG. The website is a mess (a billion different menus and functions, but you can go years without knowing half of what each do or where they are), it's horrible to use on mobile (prepare your zooming efforts), the design and layout is from the early 2000s. So yeah..
But some don't mind it that much, so this is obviously not enough.

- Board game database, with plenty of filtering and sorting options, and all relevant information about every game is shown/linked to on the details page.
This isn't unique to our website (BGG has a massive one, you'll never surpass the raw amount of information stored there), but it is vital that we provide a useful and elegant database of games, to provide to the visitors. This will be tightly integrated with other parts of the site, for example XF MG galleries linked to X game in db. Same goes for XF RM resources linked, and forums linked. All showing on the game details page for each entry, to provide the best user experience and finding everything on one page.
A solution like this does not exist currently for XF (not even close), so I have contracted a developer to make a custom addon here, to get the best possible solution. I knew this beforehand, hence the high budget needed.

- Unique content, feature articles/guides/reviews.
This is also very important. Most hits to BGG (well over 50%) are from Google/search engines, and you need to have a high SEO rating to succeed here. Quality content is vital in such regard. I have my own editor plans, and I have another friend who will do pieces here. This isn't expensive, just requires lots and lots of work/time.. :)

- Board game marketplace, where you can sell board games, accessories, request for buying something special etc.
Another feature that isn't unique, but it is a part of the complete eco-system, and to elevate the whole package.

Any other things.. =) (also got some more plans, but they are further away from being ready).

One account, modern platform, sub-systems being well integrated, unique features for board gamers. Etc. That's the mantra.

Thoughts? =) Something missing that I should be thinking about? Do you love board games, does this sound interesting? Or are you satisfied with the current options?
 

l3ta

Participant
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
90
Looks like you have a plan. Go for it and see how it goes. I did take a look at BGG and wondered about the forum software they are using. Can't say for sure wut it is, but it could use a makeover.
 

koraldon

Aspirant
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
26
Content is king and trying to compete with bgg on content is almost a lost cause
I think that a marketplace, games database are very hard to do.

unique content sounds good but not sufficient, unless you are doing video content as well.
I think your first point is the strongest. Trying to offer a unique social experience, is something that bgg lacks.

while bgg site is ancient they are slowly modernizing it, without turning away the existing crowd, which is an achievement. I think that in a year or two it will be completely responsive so I would not count on it staying old.
 

Frode789

Participant
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
89
Content is king and trying to compete with bgg on content is almost a lost cause
I think that a marketplace, games database are very hard to do.

unique content sounds good but not sufficient, unless you are doing video content as well.
I think your first point is the strongest. Trying to offer a unique social experience, is something that bgg lacks.

while bgg site is ancient they are slowly modernizing it, without turning away the existing crowd, which is an achievement. I think that in a year or two it will be completely responsive so I would not count on it staying old.
I don't agree with that. Sure, it's not going to be easy. But I think the market is ready for something that is fresh and works much better.. And the board gaming industry is growing, so even with just a small fraction of the BGG user base jumping ship, we can have a active and sprawling community. We are not trying to de-throne BGG, that's almost impossible, and would require a much larger organization (with the funding thereafter) to pull off.

BGG has changed very little over the years, and they spent many YEARS trying to re-do their forums (even though it is now better, it's still bad in a modern sense, and far from being a completely responsive and mobile-friendly experience).
Will it be better in the future? No doubt.
Will it happen in a year? 0.1% chance of it happening. The day BGG is completely re-designed (not just one small section), it's almost impossible to imagine.. Given the development speed and how little changes have happened to the site in the last 20 years.
So I'm really that worried about this.

You couldn't ask for better timing. Sales of board games went up by 240% during the first week of lockdown in the UK.
Yeah I'm aware :D So much people looking to get into the hobby, it's a joy to behold.
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,429
I'd say you've thought of the right things. Made the right considerations. Have a logical awareness of the uphill challenges...

Go for it. Time/money are what you're risking - and for a passion project, that's the price of entry.


Personally, I wouldn't do it. You're relying on doing a couple of things better to pull people over - which is a logical plan. However, the gaps in what you lack (when compared to subreddits/BGG/etc) are far larger than the gaps you will be filling.


To say you have a mountain in front of you is an understatement. Go into it knowing your in for a really, really long haul before success has a chance of materializing.
 

Ingenious

Fan
Joined
May 4, 2011
Messages
815
Frode789 it sounds like you've thought this through. I'm not a board gamer but had a look at BGG and you're right, it's a mess. It's a bit like being smacked in the face with a telephone directory there's so much small text.

I take it by users making their own clubs and groups you are looking at Invision for your software platform?

Definitely go for unique content, a front-end to a forum that pushes out quality articles is the way to get traffic from Google IMHO since search engines fell out of love with forum content.

I would as koraldon says look also at doing some video content. It's another way to get traffic, reviews of games, tips, strategy, even just unboxing videos, I think it would be worth the effort, the younger generation seems more keen to watch a video than read ;) And every video is a plug for your forum.

Anyway, good luck.
 

Taylor J

Fan
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
870
This actually sounds like a really amazing passion project! I wish I were more into board games and the hobby and such so I could volunteer to help you out.

I've always wanted to get into board games but don't really know anyone in my day to day life that actually plays any at all. I know my girlfriend would probably play with me but I don't know or think 2 people is enough to get a good experience in.
 

tony45

Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
138
Most important:
- Emphasis on the social aspect of board gaming, with unique features tailored towards this.
Of course the forum is there, but also managing your own board game club (either local club, or online), with it's own page, member roster, event calendar, private discussion area etc. You can also play in/host tournaments for your board game nights, with the system managing brackets, entries, statistics etc. It is planned to allow you to either join as club vs club, or individually. (getting this custom integrated).
Using these 2 apps you can achive that experience for your users. Both are already developed and matured, and one of them is included in the core software


 

Taylor J

Fan
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
870
After thinking and re reading your original post Frode789 and seeing you may use XenForo for the project I would actually say to use Invision Community. It provides almost everything you need/want in the main package and I just think would be easier and better to setup with from the get go. I love XF but this project seems like Invision would be better suited for the needs of the community/site.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,071
I like the summary you've provided here and I think it's a project worth pursuing.

I know IPS has already been suggested here as a possible software platform but before you make that choice, take a hard look at your plan. How important is the forum part of your site going to be? If it isn't the central piece, or you don't need dedicated forum functions for it, you might want to consider going with an actual CMS solution that includes a forum. It might offer more flexibility and functionality for your project, as well as allowing greater freedom in designing the UI.
 

Frode789

Participant
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
89
Thank you everyone for your inputs.

Regarding those asking about IPS:
Yes I did check it out before renewing my XF license. I already have XF doing what IPS is doing in regards to clubs and tournaments, even if it isn't official addons. I find their feature-set to be good from the community addons. (also they are significantly cheaper than the IPS counterparts, of course).
Also I have a large number of other smaller addons that improve the overall package, which I had incense for already (most with lifetime licenses).
I also have a custom theme ported to XF2 by the wonderful Russ last year, which I will be utilizing.

The most important part was whether IPS would have a database addon similar to what I was looking for. If they had, it would have been the necessary breaking point in which it almost would be cheaper to go for IPS. But they did not, and so I went for XF. =)

Nev_Dull The forum is important, it is utilized in every section of the site. Social part of it, in news articles, in groups (dedicated forums for each group), in every game entry in the database. And using XF profiles allowing users to see participated tournaments, connected groups etc.
So using something outside of XF or IPS was never the intention for this project, although I'm sure something like that could be pulled off. :)
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,429
The most important part was whether IPS would have a database addon similar to what I was looking for. If they had, it would have been the necessary breaking point in which it almost would be cheaper to go for IPS. But they did not, and so I went for XF. =)
Interesting. Custom databases are a core piece of functionality in the IPS pages app. What are you using for XF that does similar?
 

Frode789

Participant
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
89
What about monetization? What's your plan on monetizing the content?
Income is of lesser importance right now. At least until the site is (hopefully) so large as it requires me upgrading to a much more expensive hosting plan. I already paid the large initial expenses, though of course I have a few ways that others can help me keep the site improving and afloat =)

No ads, ever. For anyone. And all main components on the site will always be free.
So it will be mostly related to two things:
- Donations. (getting a badge and color your user name).
- Premium upgrades. (bi-monthly, yearly, lifetime). These will contain small things to show appreciation, but we will never lock major features behind a paywall. So I will be very cautious about what I add here. Things to pimp your profile (covers for example), custom title, VIP forum, larger media cap, private albums etc.

I also have some plans related to having for example Q&A sessions with actual board game designers/publishers who have signed up on the site. (I have at least one I'm close to, for large studio, which I will be able to sign up early on). Maybe premium members can have a guarantee to have their question answered or something. (while others will be chosen from).
 

nick47274

Aspirant
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
12
I know you're looking for advice but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading what your plan is, and taking a glance over to your competition. I think you've got this in the bag as long as you keep going for the long haul. When you do have it all set up and ready to go, shoot me a link ^^
 

Ingenious

Fan
Joined
May 4, 2011
Messages
815
No ads, ever. For anyone
Great ideals but I would keep your options open IMHO.

The reason is, you might hit a point where some limited advertising is needed to help towards costs (don't overestimate the willingness of everyone to pay for upgrades when sufficient content is already free), or, if you get popular, someone might come along and make you an offer you can't refuse for adverts or sponsored content. I mean a nice pile of cash which you can't realistically turn down.
 

Frode789

Participant
Joined
Dec 16, 2014
Messages
89
I know you're looking for advice but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading what your plan is, and taking a glance over to your competition. I think you've got this in the bag as long as you keep going for the long haul. When you do have it all set up and ready to go, shoot me a link ^^
I will do so right away when it's time :)

Is the site ready? I want 2 see!
It's not there yet I'm afraid =) Some sneak-peaks are in order soon-ish though, but I'm gonna spend some time on working on the content before I go live and start sharing the links on the major outlets. (first impressions are really important, and I need to provide some "wow" feelings there).
The custom addon is done next week, which is when I will be able to start really working on the content.

Great ideals but I would keep your options open IMHO.

The reason is, you might hit a point where some limited advertising is needed to help towards costs (don't overestimate the willingness of everyone to pay for upgrades when sufficient content is already free), or, if you get popular, someone might come along and make you an offer you can't refuse for adverts or sponsored content. I mean a nice pile of cash which you can't realistically turn down.
True. I don't intend to have ads in the traditional sense at least (google adsense garbage), but I suppose you make a fair point to keep the door open in case the future could bring some board game companies and alike to purchase a sponsor place.
 

overcast

Adherent
Joined
Mar 17, 2019
Messages
486
No ads, ever. For anyone. And all main components on the site will always be free.
So it will be mostly related to two things:
- Donations. (getting a badge and color your user name).
- Premium upgrades. (bi-monthly, yearly, lifetime). These will contain small things to show appreciation, but we will never lock major features behind a paywall. So I will be very cautious about what I add here. Things to pimp your profile (covers for example), custom title, VIP forum, larger media cap, private albums etc.
I think Patreon and other similar platforms can be a good option as it would be easier to get paid too and also setting up once wont take much time.
 
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