I had the honor to speak with Vincent Vergonjeanne, CEO of Lucky Duck Games, creators of hit titles like Vikings Gone Wild, Zombie Tsunami and the upcoming Chronicle of Crime! Check out our conversation, and thanks for reading!
Hi, my name is Vincent Vergonjeanne and I am the CEO of Lucky Duck Games, a board game publisher focused on bringing mobile/pc games licenses to a tabletop form.
Vincent, when did you become a gamer, and what was your “gateway game”?
I really got into the hobby 3 years ago. I played Zombicide with a group of friends and found the experience amazing.
I am a video game creator for 10 years, so when I jumped in the hobby, I went pretty ballistic acquiring over 150 games in a year.
The thirst for catching up with all these designs was an amazing journey.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I have been a creator since the age of 12 years old when I programmed my first video game. But it ‘s only at the age of 29 that I became a full-time entrepreneur. This was made possible because of many years of working on side projects until one took off dramatically in 2008, a game on Facebook called Goobox which grew to 3M users in a single month!
Ever since, I have been running my own businesses, 2 companies in the video game industry, and since 2016, one in the board game industry, Lucky Duck Games.
When you begin creating a game, where do you focus first: theme, mechanics, etc?
It all starts on a desired emotion. I love games that build up with the intent to bring players to a certain state of mind, or emotion. That can be laughter, tension, optimization. Whichever is picked, it is a great starting point to a design.
What is the most important tip you would give to new Kickstarter boardgame publishers?
With such a crowded environment, make sure you have:
– a world-class Kickstarter page
– enough differentiation on the theme or mechanic to interest gamers
– be present to at least a full year of shows. You want at least 100 persons to actually play your game. They will bring organic voices to support you when you need it the most.
What factors help you choose a video game that you want to port to tabletop?
2017 was a year of exploration on that subject. We have published mostly 2 casual licenses with amazing reach (Zombie Tsunami has over 150M downloads and Fruit Ninja has 1.5B downloads). Interestingly enough, the one that did best on Kickstarter had very little reach (Vikings Gone Wild) but a very strong retention and an old community.
For 2018 we are focusing on mid-core games, with at least 30-40 hours of average playtime. As for Zombie Tsunami and Fruit Ninja, they will be in retail in 2018, where they belong for their audience, and we believe they will do well in that channel.
Will you be at any upcoming 2018 conventions?
Yes! Cannes Festival, UK Game Expo, Paris est ludique, Essen, BGG Con & PAX Unplugged.
In regards to your upcoming Chronicles of Crime, you wrote: “It’s the perfect mix between board game and digital technology.” This is an exciting premise! I still recall going to a local fair in the 80s and tried virtual reality. Back then it was blocky and by today’s standards a total mess, but I will never ever forget the emotions I felt and the excitement has stayed with me for 30 years. What is it that motivates you to push the pencil meets tech boundaries?
I met David, the author of Chronicles of Crime, in February 2017 during the Cannes Festival. He already presented us other games in the past, but this time he had a much more ambitious project. A “hybrid” game.
At first I was on a defensive stance just hearing the word ‘hybrid’. I had invested, as a business angel, in a tabletop publisher specialized in hybrid games in the past. Unfortunately for my money, the company went bankrupt 6 months later. It was an expensive lesson. But a good one.
Needless to say that the day we finally sit down, I am full of preconceptions.
He lays out the demo material on the table, and within 30 seconds of the explanations I am hooked. We start playing, moving to locations, interrogating a couple witnesses. He then pulls out of nowhere 3D VR Glasses and setups the phone. I am in awe. My mind is blown away. At this point it is clear: I want to publish this game.
I explain this in details in a blog post on BGG (https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/7153/lucky-duck-games-board-game-stories).
Do you host any game nights at your home or at a local store/eatery?
We organize regular game nights at the company as well as weekly play-tests. We have a strong need to play and play again our upcoming games, so we always have people in our office!
What is your favorite adult beverage (we are I’m A Social Gamer after all)?
Corona Beer 😉
Do you have any sneak peeks you can mention here for your fans?
Beside Chronicles of Crime, which is a strong focus for us, we are working on a very exciting competitive card game. Based on an online game license called ‘Mutant Galactic Gladiator’, we are in full developement of the game at this point.
Below is a draft box visual! More to come in the next months!