9 December 2016
In this series, I highlight some of the interesting choices made by recent crowdfunders regarding their project’s reward levels, stretch goals, and overall campaign design (the projects themselves, not the content or product). This isn’t an endorsement or promotion.
- Not a Retail Product: I think the biggest takeaway from this project is that it’s not a retail product, and it’s not trying to be. Kickstarter is perfect for this type of product. As a result, the creator isn’t trying to balance a retail version of the game with the Kickstarter version (and all of the various decisions that follow when you’re trying to appeal to both audiences).
- Black Friday: This project was launched on Black Friday, an audacious (and thematically appropriate) move. Black Friday is a day known for people spending money on things that they can get by Christmas, which is not the case for Kingdom Death (some elements of the game aren’t scheduled to be delivered until 2020). But it was kind of a brilliant move, as not many projects launch on Black Friday.
- Gambler’s Chest: Some of the stretch goals are unlocked by a random die roll. Again, this is a nice thematic element, as it demonstrates the impact of die in the game.
- Mega Projects and You: I always worry about the lessons new creators learn from mega projects. As is the case with many of these projects, the creator of Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 has done some brilliant things, and the success is well deserved. But there are also a number of elements here that would have sunk most projects that have so much pent-up demand leading up to the campaign. So if you’re studying a mega project for elements to incorporate into your campaign, please read this first.
- When Another Company Buys You: In an announcement on Wednesday, Pebble–one of the most successful Kickstarter projects/companies ever–revealed that they were being bought by Fitbit. If you’re negotiating an acquisition for your company and you’re wondering about how it might impact backers, read Pebble’s update and some of the backer comments for a lesson about how not to do it.
- Backer Input: If you want to learn about how to improve a product during a Kickstarter campaign, the read through the updates on the Pieces Board Game Cafe campaign. I’m so impressed by how they listened to backers (both publicly and privately) and incorporated key elements of that feedback into the cafe.
- Preparation: This isn’t anything new to readers of this blog, but I just have a lot of appreciation and respect for creators who prepare for months and even years leading up to their first project. It’s just neat to see someone’s passion manifest into such diligence, and even better when it results in a successful campaign. Mark prepared extremely well for his Feudum campaign. You can see this in various ways on the project page, and he was also really active in various Kickstarter Facebook groups and at conventions over the last year.
- Team Spirit: I’ve written in the past about how anthology projects can be effective because they potentially leverage the reach and expertise of dozens of people instead of just one. The key, though, is that the creator is really the only person responsible for the project (and the only one benefiting financially in most cases), so it’s not fair for them to expect that the anthology participants do anything. As one of the designers who has a few pages in the Wizards of the Tabletop book, I think it’s neat that Douglas has sent out several updates to the designers (as a group) during the projects. By doing so, he’s created the feel of team spirit without imposing anything upon us, which is great.
- Second Printing Crowdfunding Considerations: Reprinting a product on Kickstarter is a precarious choice, as you risk alienating retailers who like to be able to sell future printings of popular games. The creator explains his choice in the FAQ: “I had a great deal of pre-orders and money saved from Gen Con in a PayPal account. PayPal decided the liability of the pre-orders was too much and moved my money into a reserve to protect against chargebacks. It took some convincing and they still haven’t released all the funds. I have a bridge loan and in fact printing is already rolling, but some people said they still wanted to show their support, so I built this campaign.”
- Upgrade Pack: I always think it’s great for revised versions of games when a creator makes an upgrade pack for those who want the most up-to-date content without having to buy the entire product again. It’s no small task for a creator to do this–trust me, it’s much easier not to, but it’s often the right thing to do for the community you’ve worked so hard to build. Patrick offers a $10 upgrade pack and a $35 upgrade pack + miniatures, and those rewards have garnered over 1000 backers.
- Less Waste: An alert reader shared with me that this project is offering backers a variant pledge level called the “ECO Edition.” Instead of coming in a fully printed box, it’s sent with minimal packaging.To date, their reasoning has resonated with 953 backers, so they might be onto something here: “Why is this a good thing? Well, first off it saves you some cold hard cash cause we don’t have to charge you for manufacturing packaging for your copy of the game! Perhaps even cooler than that is you also help reduce the total amount of waste material your friendly local recycler or landfill will have to deal with.”
For those gamers who read this, when you buy an expansion, if the contents fit into the original game box, how often do you throw away the expansion box?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the projects mentioned in this post, as well as any other projects you’ve seen recently that have been thought-provoking.