Unsurprisingly, 2020 was all about the pandemic for Freeform Games.
2020 had started well, with sales in January and February building on 2019 (which was a good year for us). And then in March the pandemic properly reached the UK and USA and our sales dropped off a cliff…
We’ve been doing these reviews since 2013 – you can read them all here.
Learning to play our games online
With lockdown, our amazing customers started playing our games online—using Zoom or Discord or Google Hangouts or whatever system they found easiest.
That inspired us to both create games specifically for online play, and also to learn how to play our “normal” games online.
So for most of 2020 that’s what we’ve been doing – learning to play our games online. And also sales dropped off a cliff in March, things picked back up. Not to 2019 levels, but our sales for 2020 were similar to those in 2017.
2020 brought a change to our best-selling games, with new online game Reunion with Death coming third (close behind perennial favourite Way out West). A Will to Murder topped our best-sellers list in 2020.
Overall our top three games accounted for a hefty 35% of our sales. It’s noticeable that in 2020 our smaller games have been more popular, which is I think a reflection of the smaller games being easier for online play.
Three new games
We published three new games in 2020.
Reunion with Death by Mo Holkar. Written specifically for the lockdown, and set in a hotel where everyone is locked in their rooms. We also produced a festive version, Christmas Reunion with Death (but I’m not counting that as a separate game).
Death in Venice also by Mo. Another lockdown murder mystery, this time everyone is locked in their cabins aboard a luxury yacht.
The Food is to Die For by Anastasia Kulpa, set in a restaurant. This has been close to publication for a couple of years now, and in 2020 we finally rolled up our sleeves and published it.
We also updated Under the Big Top, to bring it into line with our newer format.
Last year’s goals
We set ourselves a few goals in 2020:
- Improve our website: We made a few improvements this year:
- We improved the look and feel by as increasing the overall type size and line spacing
- We improved the right-hand menu on the games pages to make it easier to see new and best-selling games.
- We changed the style of our game cover graphics for our new games – we’ll update our earlier games as we go along.
- Our blog became more important as we posted lots of stories and advice about how to play our games online.
- Publish The Food is to Die For and Murder on the Istanbul Express. So a partial success as we published The Food is to Die For. Murder on the Istanbul Express will have to wait for 2021.
- Finish updating Under the Big Top: This was originally planned for 2019, but we updated it in 2020.
Plans for next year
- Improve our website: Our website is key to our business and so we’re always looking to improve it. I don’t think we’ll ever not have this as a goal.
- Publish Murder on the Istanbul Express: With The Food is to Die for published, we’ll concentrate on Murder on the Istanbul Express. And after that, we’ve got Death at the Derby lined up.
- Another new online game: Even if the pandemic disappears (and I think that’s for the long-term), it seems there’s a space for online murder mystery party games and so we’d like to publish another.
So although 2020 was bad, we weathered the pandemic and have learned more about playing our games online.
As the vaccine is rolled out and normality returns, hopefully we will return to playing our games in person.