Right now, in Columbus Ohio, the Origins Game Fair is underway. And we are not there.
It’s a weird feeling. We’ve been to every Origins since 1997, and for the past 12 years we’ve been running a big event there called The Big Experiment. It’s become an increasingly big deal every year, and we’ve had a heck of a lot of fun doing it. But when they announced the dates for this year’s Origins, we realized we couldn’t go, it being significantly earlier than ever before and still during the school year. Since we depend on the help of many who are parents, we just couldn’t see running the Big Experiment without their big help. So we decided to skip Origins this year.
Now, as Origins 2012 goes on without us, we have to answer the next question: What about 2013?
Well, I’m sad announce that we’ve officially decided not to resume running Big Experiments. The results are in, and even though it’s been a lot of fun, we don’t want to continue the Experiment. Decisions are good.
It’s a decision that may seem hard to believe, even shocking, since the Big Experiments have been such a big deal for us. And it was a very tough decision, since we’ve really enjoyed these events. Origins was always a high point of the year for me.
But from the standpoint of doing what’s best for Looney Labs, we just can’t justify the costs. Each year, it has become a little more complex, and even though we tried to simplify and cut things back from time to time, the planning required has continued to increase.
Part of the problem has been our own success. With each passing year, we’ve added more games to the library, and at this point, there are so many that it’s no longer possible to even play them all in one long weekend, let alone run tournaments for everything. What started as an event focused on a single game (Fluxx in the first tourneys we ran at Origins, and Icehouse before that in events we ran for 8 years at a local con called Disclave) has ballooned into a series of events so complex it takes months of advance planning to coordinate. The planning involved has become akin to staging a big wedding, or an even more complex event, and doing that every year is just exhausting.
We are a game publishing company, not an event-hosting company, and our business is better served by keeping the focus on the games themselves, rather than any specific event. And when it comes to events, we need to think in terms of creating a franchise, not a restaurant. We’ve been putting lots of energy into running a single annual event while neglecting all the other conventions where Looney Labs games would also be popular. (Coming soon: exciting info on our support for other events!)
So, after conducting 12 Big Experiments, it’s time to examine the results of those Experiments, see what we’ve learned, and make our conclusions. (For those of you who’ve read Good to Great: It’s a painful, “Selling the Mills” moment, but we’ve decided to put the Big Experiment on our Stop Doing List.)
Part of the fun we started will live on, like the big nightly werewolf hunts, which are happening at Origins without us. I’m sure there are plenty of people playing Looney Labs games at Origins without us. And we want to encourage that, just as we will seek to encourage more Looney Labs gaming events at every convention everywhere. But the Big Experiments are officially over. Thank you to everyone who was a part of these events over the years!