27 October 2014
Before I get to today’s entry, I want to thank the amazing group of St. Louis gamers who played games with us today at our Extra Life game day at Arch Reactor. We told everyone that Stonemaier Games would match every donation dollar to dollar, which resulted in a total gift to the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals (specifically the St. Louis Children’s Hospital) of $738. I am so, so thankful to be part of such an amazing gaming community in St. Louis and beyond.
The other day I was in some random conversation on Twitter about Kickstarter, and someone mentioned that they flat-out wouldn’t support a Kickstarter project (specifically a tabletop game project) if it didn’t have exclusive content. The person mentioned the exclusive resources in Euphoria as an example.
I replied to say that while I love the resources in Euphoria and I appreciate that they eventually blossomed into a product I can share with everyone (the Treasure Chest), in the long run I’ve regretted the decision to have Kickstarter exclusives of any type on that project. Since then I’ve decided that Stonemaier Games projects would no longer have exclusives–we’re a company that encourages inclusiveness, not exclusion.
The person replied, “I understand the stance, but see no incentive to back a game that will make it w/o my $$.”
So they’re basically saying that if a project has already funded, they see no reason at all to back it if there are no exclusives, because otherwise they’ll just wait for the retail version of the game.
I replied that I bet I could list at least 10 other reasons that someone might want to back a project. My intent isn’t to try to change the buying behavior of that one individual or any other backer out there–rather, this list is geared towards creators so that they consider all these other things they can do to provide a better experience for their product in the long-term than to succumb to the “fear of missing out” allure of exclusive content. Also, if this inspires a few backers to look at Kickstarter a different way, that’s a nice side effect.
Before I begin the list, here’s a short quote from this post explaining the heart of why I think exclusives are a bad idea for creators:
“While exclusives might help a single campaign and create a fun experience for the backers, if you’re trying to build a company and a lasting brand from that campaign, they end up doing more harm than good. They alienate anyone who discovers the game after that very slim window the game was on Kickstarter.”
10 Better Reasons than KS Exclusives to Back a Kickstarter Project
- Funding Need: Many products have a required minimum print run, making the “tipping point” of Kickstarter really important (and different than a pre-order system). The project probably needs your funds even if it already reached its funding goal–every little bit really does help. Those extra dollars are going towards making the product and getting it to you, not towards rum and Ferrari’s.
- Discounted Price: The project probably offers a lower price for the product than you’ll get at retail, especially because at least some of the shipping costs are included in the reward price.
- Improve the Product via Stretch Goals: If the project has stretch goals, every bit of funding makes the product better for everyone, including you.
- Influence the Final Product: If the project offers polls and discussions about certain elements of the product, you have the power to shape the future of that product.
- Receive It Before Retailers: The project hopefully offers backers the product well before it’s released to retailers and distributors.
- Optimized Shipping and Customs: By supporting the project from its inception, you create an opportunity for shipping optimization. When I decide how many pallets of my games I send to Canada, Australia, Asia, France, the UK, or Germany for fulfillment within those countries or regions, I base that number on the formula (# of backer games + # of extra games in case the backer games get damaged or stolen). If you’re not a backer, there’s a really good chance you’ll have to spend much more on shipping and customs to get the game from the US.
- Limited Supply: Just because something isn’t exclusive doesn’t mean it’s not limited. Publishers and other creators can’t make infinite numbers of things–everything is finite. The only way to guarantee you’ll get one of those finite things is to pledge to it now, especially if it’s a special edition that may not be produced again.
- Belief in Creator: Do you believe in what the creator is doing? Sometimes you might just want the thing, and that’s fine. A lot of the time, though, this is the creator’s dream–not just to create something for them, but to create something for you. Something that you will cherish and treasure for a long time. If you believe in what they’re doing, Kickstarter is the time and the place to support them.
- Engage with Community: Sure, if you back a lot of projects, you don’t have time to be an active member of every project community. But from my experience, every now and then a project comes along that I really want to talk about with people who are just as excited about it as I am, and the time I spend on those comment threads is worth every second.
- Promo Content Included Now for Free, Later at a Price: There are ways to get content that feels exclusive without it being truly limited to Kickstarter backers. Sometimes its in the form of promo cards that a creator only offers during the project, at conventions, and through special promotions. Other times it’s in the form of alternate art. Or if you want to go big, creators can separate many of the stretch goal components (which are included in the project rewards) into a separate “enhancement pack” to sell by itself post-Kickstarter. You’re getting something for the same set price now that others will have to buy separately in the future–but at least they have the chance to get it.
Now, in full disclosure, I do offer one key Kickstarter exclusive: Our money-back guarantee. As I note on my article about the results of Euphoria’s money-back guarantee, I think it’s the best type of exclusive–you’re giving backers something special without negatively impacting anyone who buys the retail version of the product later.
What do you think? Are those 10 reasons enough for you to back a project that doesn’t have KS exclusives? What are the top three most compelling reasons on that list for you? You can vote on three options on the poll below and talk about your choices in the comments.