703
10 min 17 sec

Spousal Birthday Gift Becomes $40,000 Card Game

It starts as a creative gift for his wife, but this tabletop game ends up making a lot of other people happy.
Crowdfunding Games Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

This gamer levels-up with his romantic gift turned side hustle.

Business Model
Arts & Crafts
Skills Required
Design & Gaming
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Casey recommends not forgetting how important it is to focus more on your day job (than your side hustle) so you remember to pay your bills and support your family.

Fun Fact

Casey’s day job employer was really supportive of his side hustle. They even saw the potential benefits it could have for their in-house marketing clients!

Notes from Chris

Episode 703

Casey Hill’s side hustle started as a gift to his wife. Every year one of them makes a creative present for the other partner. In 2015, it was Casey’s turn, and he wanted to see if he could create an in-depth tabletop game the two of them could play.

Enlisting the help of his father, Casey set out to create a game many of us might recognize as being similar to Magic The Gathering. It would be set in a rich environment filled with folklore and stories, all channeled through a custom set of playing cards.

The father and son team worked around their day jobs to put together the initial version of the game, which they called Arkon, derived from the Greek word for "ruler".

Arkon centers on the story of a once bountiful and prosperous land, which is now divided and at war with itself through four major factions. Players have to use their cards, and the powers each faction possesses, to obtain control of the land and become the new and rightful ruler.

The initial version of the game was simple in design and features, but easy to play. When he finally gifted it to his wife she absolutely loved it; so much so she kept wanting to play it. They eventually hosted game nights with friends so they could experience the game too.

It was in these game nights that Casey really began to feel he had a business idea. That’s when he began what would become a two-year journey to bring Arkon to the wider gaming world.

Casey knew he couldn’t tackle this project alone while working his full-time job as a marketer, so he founded the Hill Gaming Company, comprised of his father, Doug, a former CEO with great business acumen, and his brother Tyler, a professional Magic the Gathering player.

Over time the team began to refine Arkon’s gameplay and judge player’s reactions. They loved the balance between the game’s simplicity and depth of possible strategy. It was when gamers were chomping at the bit to play again, that the newly formed company knew they were ready for the next phase.


If Arkon was to succeed as a game they would need impeccable visuals to bring the game to life. Casey began to search for graphic designers who could do just that. He eventually found a crack-team of artists through other game manufacturers, some of whom had created artwork for both the Game of Thrones and Magic the Gathering card games.

Arkon would officially “launch” on Kickstarter in February of 2018. The team’s job was to build an army of followers so that when they launched, they’d be able to ship enough units that the love of the game would spread on its own.

The most effective marketing strategy, Casey found, was partaking in discussions and offering solutions on industry message boards. It took a lot of preparation, and it was months before he even felt immersed enough to mention his product. But being an outstanding member of the community would do more to market Arkon than any other channel.

When that launch finally arrived in February 2018, it brought in $40,500 from 1,247 customers in 15 different countries. This was around $5,000 profit, after the $35,000 invested in the creation of the product and artwork. Casey hopes to fulfill these orders before the holidays of 2018.

Part of Arkon’s high earning potential comes from its pricing. Casey priced a deck of cards—often called a tuckbox—at $20, which is higher than normal. However, he wanted to position the brand as premium and knew the high-level artistry would ensure they stood out. And, by the looks of things, the market agreed.

Looking to the future, Casey wants to take Arkon further, and maybe develop some more games. Now that he’s got a track record of success, he wants to know if there are other magical worlds just waiting to be discovered.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Arkon: Learn more about Hill Gaming Company's first game over on Casey's website!
  • Arkon's Kickstarter Campaign: In order to launch their game, Casey and his team used the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter

SEE ALSO:


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Download 2018 episodes: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC

Download 2017 episodes: JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT | NOV | DEC

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Quote of the Day
"Start by having a strong and stable standing in your existing role. Don't lose focus on the importance of this position for both your financial stability and your skill development."
—Casey Hill #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau