10 Questions

Each month in the Inventor Newsletter I ask 10 Questions of an established inventor or game company. The results are posted below and will be updated monthly.

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Fundex (Jul '08) as answered by Michael Murphy
Q - What are Fundex' greatest hits, and how would you describe your line of games overall?
A - Fundex' "All-Time Greatest Hit" would be our Phase 10 card game and its ever-expanding line of related product. This has been a huge success for our company and has been for well over 25 years. The Phase 10 card game is a flagship of our company and the second best selling card game in the world. The Phase 10 brand has been expanded to include Phase 10 dice (selling over 2 million copies to date), Phase 10 Deluxe, Phase 10 Master's Edition and introduced this year: Phase 10 Twist (a board game), Phase 10 Mobile (for play on cell phones and other mobile devices) and Phase 10 Electronic (an electronic hand-held unit).

Another solid seller is our line of Classic Games. This line of products includes such memorable items as Gnip Gnop, Booby Trap and Paddle Pool. Games from the past that are still very popular today; with their frantic and frenzied energy and action.

With such award-winning games as "What's in Ned's Head", "Alfredo's Food Fight" and "Gassy Gus" our Rule Breaker line of games continues to perform very, very well. This category-defining line has truly carved out a stronghold of interest and sales. The core of this line is fun game play with a strong dose of irreverence: pick Ned's nose as you look for gross items, fling stringy meatballs at a spinning Alfredo or continue to feed Gus until he makes a rather unfortunate noise!

Q - Is there anything currently that you are looking for that is different than what you have done in the past?
A - We've introduced a line of games whose intent is to get kids up and moving. The line is simply called B·Active. This is a great line of products that proves fun for all ages. Currently the games core features are to include physical fun for kids 6+ which can be played indoors and out and allows for the players to manipulate the game system to come up with variations of their own. This last feature allows for personalization and adapting the game for various skill levels. Getting kids to have fun while simultaneously getting them physically active is the core of this line of products.

Another line of concepts that we look for is Tailgating and Outdoor games. Our RecreAction line includes versions of classic tailgating games such as cornhole, ladder golf and washers. Our versions are called Chuck-O, Top Toss and Bulls-Eye Washers, respectively. These games are designed around tossing something toward a target be it a board, ring or net. Other key elements would be easy portability and set-up as well as capturing game play for two to four players.

Q - How many games do you or your company review in a year?
A - We review around 1000 - 1500 games a year.

Q - How many games does your company usually release in a year?
A - Each year is different, but on average, 25-30 games are released a year. This total includes our outdoor & tailgating products as well as our more traditional board and card games.

Q - Do you look at games by unknown inventors?
A - We regularly review products submitted from unknown inventors. We also review content submitted from some of the biggest inventor groups. This is one of the many assets in Fundex' arsenal: our ability to review product from all sources. Be they big or small, we review them all. (Rhyming not intended...)

Q - For beginning inventors, what would be the ideal way to approach and submit game ideas to you?
A - We have submission guidelines on our website: www.fundexgames.com/inventors.php. This site provides the submission form and mailing address in which to send concepts. As for the concept themselves, we prefer fully playable samples, but we also review games that are no more than a few very descriptive sentences.

Q - How long does it take from the time you receive a submission to the time you say 'yes' or 'no'?
A - We try to review and send comments within 2-3 months at which time we give a "no" and send the sample back, or a "hold" response. A "hold" is just that, we will hold onto the concept and compare it against others that we have received. The comparison process is a time in which we require a fully playable sample and go into deeper game play. We compare the games to each other and the needs of our company and pick from that collection of concepts maybe one or two to go forward into development.

Q - Does it depend on the time of the year, and if 'yes', what times of the year are best to submit?
A - We eagerly receive and review submissions all year long.

As noted in question above, we may choose to hold a game concept to review deeper as we begin to firm up our product line. This deeper review time usually happens towards the beginning and latter parts of the year.

Q - What is the most common mistake you see from inventors?
A - From a corporate point of view, we cannot look at any concept that does not include a signed copy of our product submission form.

As for common mistakes in the invention itself, we see concepts that are not appropriate for our company. The best thing inventors can do for themselves is to research various companies to see what they produce and find either a company that closely matches their existing invention or come up with a product for a specific company.

I know that this may sound like a contradiction to the statement above, but Fundex is a very flexible company that is continually looking for new product avenues. So, if it has great game play at its core, we are very interested in reviewing it.

Q - If you were to give beginning inventors one bit of advice, what would it be?
A - This may sound absurdly obvious, but play test the concept multiple times prior to submitting to a company.

A great option would be to play test the invention with a group of strangers. This will act as a practice run to see what may happen when first presenting the game concept to a company. It offers a chance to discover if there are any hiccups in general game play, any confusion in the rules or if there is a one-in-a-million glitch that causes the whole game to fall apart. The opinion of strangers will not necessarily be affected by any bias towards the inventor and it will closely match what will occur when an idea is submitted, the concept is out of the inventers hands and has to stand on its own.


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