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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Out of the Box (Jan '09) as answered by Max Winter Osterhaus
Q - What are Out of the Box's greatest hits, and how would you describe your line of games overall?
A - I guess there's no point in beating around the bush here; Apples to Apples was by far and away our greatest success selling over 3 million copies while with OTB. But let us not forget our two next best selling titles: Blink and Snorta, both which did quite well for us (all 3 were sold to Mattel).

Q - Is there anything currently that you are looking for that is different than what you have done in the past?
A - We are still working to fill the void that was created when we sold our three best selling games over one year ago. So innovative, simple, and action packed party games are getting a lot of attention these days. That being said, I am always looking for fresh ideas in all categories.

Q - How many games do you or your company review in a year?
A - We get about 700 submissions a year and play prototypes for around 60.

Q - How many games does your company usually release in a year?
A - We have steadily released about 5 or 6 games annually for the last few years.

Q - Do you look at games by unknown inventors?
A - Yes, the vast majority of the submissions I see are from private designers: teachers, parents, mathematicians, lawyers, plumbers, a few from prison...you never know. Looking at everything is one of our greatest assets!

Q - For beginning inventors, what would be the ideal way to approach and submit game ideas to you?
A - Email is by far the easiest way to submit an idea. We have submission guidelines on our website (click here) and I look over each submission personally. We start with the basics and if we're interested we'll ask for more.

Q - How long does it take from the time you receive a submission to the time you say 'yes' or 'no'?
A - If the game is clearly not for us, we can usually respond within one week. If we have interest, then we will ask for a playable prototype and our testing can take several months. Just like you, I've got to get together different groups of players in different numbers to make a comprehensive assessment.

Q - Does it depend on the time of the year, and if 'yes', what times of the year are best to submit?
A - Not really, no. We are certainly busier at certain times (Jan - Feb for example), but it does not drastically affect response time.

Q - What is the most common mistake you see from inventors?
A - Submitting a game without having familiarity with the publisher's product line and specialties. Take risks and offer companies something they have not done before, but make them calculated risks, don't shoot in the dark.

Q - If you were to give beginning inventors one bit of advice, what would it be?
A - If you have a game that people enjoy, take a close look at what exactly they enjoy about it and exploit that aspect as much as possible. Is the rest really needed?


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