Frontline Marketing

Washington Redskins’ Tress Way Kickstarts Trivia Game With Universal Appeal

Group of people having fun throwing WYB playing cards into the air
Group of people picnicking while playing WYB

By | August 11, 2017 |

Even in the digital age, tabletop games are making a big comeback, and if games like Cards Against Humanity are any indication, they can grow from modest Kickstarter projects into huge brand names.

Way Fun Entertainment is a company that was founded by Washington Redskins punter Tress Way, but the game it’s developing goes far beyond football and sports. Its debut title is a trivia card game called What’s Your Bid?, and even though its association with the Redskins might lead people to think that it will be all about sports, the company is working to get the word out that it’s a trivia game for everyone, including people who don’t like trivia games.

What’s Your Bid? began its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in July, and it has almost reached its goal with about three weeks left to go. Backers will get the game first, and the game is expected to release in November, in time for the holiday gift-buying season. The game can be purchased from the official website, and it’s already approved to sell on Amazon. Way Fun Entertainment plans on approaching retailers after the Kickstarter campaign ends, using the campaign as proof that there is strong interest in the game.

Chad Theis, COO at Way Fun Games

Two teams come together to compete in What’s Your Bid?. Each question has multiple answers, and teams bet on how many answers they can get right using game chips. If a team thinks it can provide five correct answers, it can bet five chips. However, if team members provide even one wrong answer, then their opponent wins the bet. The first team to win 30 chips wins the game. Players as young as six have been able to play, making it truly family friendly and approachable.

“People who don’t like trivia have usually said that they love this game,” Chad Theis, COO at Way Fun Games, told AListDaily. “So, we’ve been able to market to anybody. I’ve played with my 12-year-old cousin and my aunt and uncle—who are in their 60s—all together.”

Theis is joined by Ben Habern, chief marketing officer of Way Fun Games. Both are college friends of the four-year veteran punter. The duo joined AListDaily to talk about how they’re using crowdfunding to grow interest beyond the Redskins fan base and attract a broad audience of players.

What inspired Tress Way to create a trivia game?

Theis: It started with one question when the Associated Press came out with the top college football teams of all time. Tress went around the Redskins locker room asking players how many from the top 10 they could name. He kept track of how many right answers each person got and drew up a ranking. Everybody liked it and asked Tress for more questions. Now, we’re at the point where we have 500 questions and we announced five expansion packs with 100 cards each. We all loved games growing up, and we’re all college buddies who went the University of Oklahoma together. We’d have game nights where we would get together on weekends and play everything from card games to board games to hang out. The time spent together is what motivated us [to make this game] because we want to bring that to other people.

Habern: In college, Tress was kind of the leader in bringing us together game nights. He always had a passion to create some kind of board game, and he’s got ideas for future games. So, we all knew that he would create a game someday, and he realized he had something going with the first college football teams question.

Ben Habern, CMO at Way Fun Games

This seems like a project a game publisher might back. Why go with crowdfunding?

Theis: We thought crowdfunding was a good idea because with Tress we have the sports aspect, given his association with the Redskins, but that only appeals to so many people. Board games are very popular on Kickstarter right now, so we thought it would be a good way to tap that market. We wanted to use Kickstarter to market the game, so people could learn more about the game, and how to play. We wanted a backing from the games side instead of relying on Tress’ name, and it’s a good way to reach an audience that we didn’t have before. Also, we hosted a livestream on Kickstarter Live to show what What’s Your Bid? is about because it can be hard to explain games through Kickstarter pitch videos.

Besides Kickstarter, how else have you been reaching audiences outside of the Redskins fan base?

Habern: We’re using social media as much as possible—posting quality and engaging content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That’s been a reach for us, in addition to friends and family. We’re also very fortunate to have Tress and his relationship with the Redskins. He has some connections with media and PR outlets that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Tress also played football at Oklahoma and we were teammates, so we have the Oklahoma football reach, too. Those have been our main channels for getting the game in front of as many people as possible. We also believe that this game will sell itself, so we want to get it into people’s hands and in front of their faces so they can see how much fun it is. Our goal and hope is that the word will spread by people playing it.

Theis: We’ve also been using targeted ads on social media not just for sports fans, but tabletop gaming fans as well. We’re also using sites like reddit, which has huge sports and gaming communities to spread the word. The hardest part about marketing the game is that you need to get the game into people’s hands, and we think Kickstarter helps that way. Once people play it, they love it.

Is Tress’ involvement a kind of double-edged sword? Do people think it’ll be a sports-heavy trivia game?

Theis: I assume people will think that it’s sports heavy because you’re marketing toward the Redskins NFL market. But our message is trying to get away from that, and it says it’s “trivia for everybody” on the box. We always emphasize that we have five different categories, which are science and animals, sports and entertainment, food and drink, statistics and history. So, it’s very general knowledge that covers almost all subjects in everyday life. That’s what we’re focused on in every single interview and marketing ad, instead of how the Redskins punter is doing a game.

But Tress is still asking his friends on the Redskins to help promote the game, right?

Habern: Yes, and to your point, it is a kind of a double-edged sword, where we want to market it to everybody, whether they’re Redskins or sports fans, or not. That’s the ultimate goal, but certainly, we’re leveraging Tress’ connection with the Redskins, his teammates and himself. He has a pretty good social following, and some of his good friends on the team are supporting us as influencers. They’re reposting stuff that we put onto our What’s Your Bid? account, and like we said, Tress has media and PR connections. We were recently in the Washington Post, and a Redskins blogger wrote about the game on ESPN.com. So, we’re utilizing those connections and we’ll continue to ask Tress’ friends to help us promote the game. They play in the locker room every day, and I think they want to see it succeed, so that’s why they want to support it.

Theis: They play the game more than any of us, including Ben and I, because it all started in the locker room during training camp last year. We don’t necessarily have to approach them to ask them to do things. They often come to us saying that they want to help, which is fantastic. It’s not just the players, either. It’s also the Redskins staff and management. They’re all willing to help with anything we need, and we really appreciate their support.

You said that What’s Your Bid? is a trivia game that appeals to people who don’t like trivia games. How do you reach that audience?

Theis: “Trivia” is a word scares people off, so we’re trying to incorporate messaging about strategy. [What’s Your Bid?] isn’t about specific knowledge, per se. It’s all about team strategy. Some of the questions include, “who are the presidents on Mount Rushmore? What were the six most diagnosed food allergies in 2016? What are the nine NFL teams with the most Super Bowl wins? And what are the seven best-selling soda brands in 2016?” Most everyone can get one or two answers right for every question. So, people learn that it’s a game everyone can play so that they’re not scared off by the word “trivia.”

Habern: It goes back to our goal of getting the game into people’s hands, and that’s why we’re excited about the Kickstarter Live video. We think that helps bridge the gap. People need to see how the game is played and how the questions are general knowledge and not, “who won the Oscars for best male actor in 1980?” Which isn’t very fun or engaging. Our goal is to show people that this is a fun game with questions that cover things that you think you may know, but it gets more challenging when you have to give several answers. We want to show larger groups, with 10 people playing on two teams, so people can see how fun it is and spread the word. Games generally sell by word-of-mouth.