3 Innovative Strategies Used by Current Crowdfunding Projects

25 April 2017 | 21 Comments

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.

Clans of Caledonia

  • 110% Money-Back Guarantee: In one of the most bold, audacious strategies I’ve seen in a long time, Karma Games is offering a 110% money-back guarantee to backers who pledge to Clans of Caledonia within the first 3 days of the campaign (then 105% for days 4-7 and 100% for all other backers). So if you pledge $42 to get a copy of the game during the first 3 days and you decide to request a refund or return your game, you get $46! As early-bird strategies go, I think this is a really creative way to inspire backers to pledge for a copy of the game as soon as they hear about it, and backers who miss out on the “early bird” don’t lose anything.

Dead Man’s Doubloons

  • Stretch Goal Paths: Big thanks to Daniel Zayas for sharing this with me, because it’s a brilliant and thematic way to engage backers. ThunderGryph Games is letting backers (or anyone, really) vote on BoardGameGeek for different stretch goal paths. Each path ends the same way (with a big, exciting stretch goal), which then begins a new ballot, and the little goals that aren’t along the selected path may show up on other paths later. On top of all that, for each vote there’s one path that has a KS exclusive item, so backers can choose if exclusivity is important to them or not.


  • Pricing Strategy: I was really curious how Roxley Games would offer two different versions of Brass on the same campaign. Both Lancashire and Birmingham are heavy Euro games with mid-range price tags ($59 USD)–would they end up with backers heavily choosing one over the other? Not so much, due to a very clever pricing strategy that Gavan implemented. There are separate $59 (+ shipping) reward levels for both Lancashire and Birmingham, AND there’s a $99 (+ shipping) reward level for BOTH games. It’s as close to a no-brainer price as you can get, as indicated by the 5,711 current backers at the $99 reward level (technically it’s $132 CAD, but I’m American, so I only see things in USD). I think $99 is becoming a real sweet spot for combo/collector’s rewards.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on the projects mentioned in this post, as well as any other recent crowdfunding techniques that have inspired you.

Also, just a quick note that I’m a contributor to The Dice Tower’s new bi-weekly “Crowd Surfing” segment (first episode here). I’ve been filming 2-minute videos in which I discuss key aspects of many of my Kickstarter Lessons, and I’ll post them on older entries at some point.

Leave a Comment

21 Comments on “3 Innovative Strategies Used by Current Crowdfunding Projects

  1. Hey Jamey, I am curious to know what you think about Archon games loyalty program. They are currently running a campaign called Re-LOAD. How their loyalty program works is if you have backed one of their projects before, and then back there newest project now, you get a speacil reward for being a loyal customer. For instance , as I backer of there previous LOAD campaign, if I back RE-LOAD I get a free board that is available to others for $15. This is Archon’s 3 rd game, so as a backer of their first game I get the free board. For backers of their second game (which I am not), they get an exclusive miniature (new character) for this game if they back RE-LOAD. Personally, I like the benefit I am receiving for being a loyal customer because it doesn’t add anything new (someone can spend $15 and get the same thing), I do think it is unfortunate however that some people will get something that myself and others have no access to. What do you think about this loyalty program? Thank you for all the great things you do for the tabletop community :)

    1. John: Thanks for your question. That’s a really interesting strategy! If I’m reading it correctly, it sounds like even though you get a special component for free, a new backer can add it on to their pledge for a fee? If that’s the case, I think it’s great. However, if those items really are exclusive to previous backers, I think that could actually create a barrier to entry for welcoming new people into the Archon community.

      1. Sorry, I understand that my comment was confusing. After reading through the comments on their project page I found out that the miniature WILL be available for purchase during the pledge manger. So Archon’s loyalty program gives previous backers free components which ARE available to other backers for a slight cost ($10-$15).

        Another thing they do to keep people engaged in the project is after every second stretch goal or so, they have a vote between 2 different EPIC models for the game. The EPIC models people can add on to their pledge, but they are just bigger, and have different art then the original figures (they don’t add gameplay). They are able to do this because they make their own models. This as been neat because a) it keeps people coming back to the page to vote (because their opinion matters) and b) it also gives people a reason to back now without missing out on anything substantial (they can still purchase the add on, they just don’t get a vote on how it looks).

        These are some neat things I think Archon is doing.

  2. Thunderstone Quest by AEG used a similar quest path for its stretch goals going into its final days, with a whole lot of little stretch goals to make up a quest. It was an interesting take on it and it helped them clear that final stretch goal hurdle.

  3. I really like the path idea for stretch goals. During my campaign I’ve found my community has suggested many things they would like to see (as stretch goals) and it’s always difficult working out which people really want and which are just cool ideas. This could certainly be used to find out what people really value more.

    I’ve tried to engage people through offering a “cooperative adventure” creating teams on BGG, Twitter, Facebook and Kickstarter, getting people to work together on their platform to move characters around a map revealing tiles. It’s certainly been an interesting experience and resulted in hundreds of comments and interactions across all of the platforms.

    I wrapped it up with the final challenge (Update 17) where they had to uncover the rest of the tiles, but each person could only contribute one action. This has resulted in hundreds of comments with people actively campaigning to get backers to join in and complete the task together to get the prize.

    I feel these 2 ideas could be pulled together to create an interesting, interactive, community driven rewarding event during a campaign. Something to try out next time!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience on The City of Kings, Frank! The cooperative adventure is really cool, and I like that backers had to work together with only one action per person to solve the puzzle.

      1. @Jamey It has really surprised me how passionate some people have been about completing the puzzle, it’s really shows the level of community that exists within Kickstarter, seeing people chat over multiple projects for hours on end.

        @Shannon, I’m really glad you like the Okol (Penguin), when I first came up with the idea I think the word crazy was used several times. But the team really pulled together as always and created something amazing, I’m so pleased we got to share it with you all and how well received it has been!

  4. Dead Man’s Doubloons reminds me of the stretch goal path for Mages of Mystralia, which just finished. They used a map to illustrate progress of their goals.


    While a lot of their campaign page was busy and confusing, that was the stand-out image that caught my attention.

    Getting people to go vote on BGG and thus increase their hotness tracking AND give backers ownership over stretch goals is brilliant though!

      1. Hey Jamey, just a follow up (you are probably insanely busy with origins right now, but that above post “ken” was mine).

        Thanks for this blog. I am currently using this in my Kickstarter, offering backers the opportunity to vote on the next path of stretch goals. Each stage, I am giving them a continuation of a narrative, which itself echoes the story that happens when they play the game.

        It has so far been really successful! I regularly get 15-30% of my backers voting on the options, and have had a number of comments saying how impressed people are with the idea. I send them here of course! It also helps me gauge what backers are after (and what those vocal backers who comment want too!). I will only know at the end of the campaign just how successful it was, but I will report back when I have more intel.

        Until then, if you did want to see the “stretch goal voting path”, the campaign is here:

        1. Shannon: Thanks for sharing those stats! It’s awesome to see so many backers engaging in the polls. I really like how the stretch goal paths feel like a choose-your-own-adventure decision.

          1. Thanks Jamey: It seemed fitting for the theme! :) It’s awesome to see so many backers vote too. Really makes the whole thing feel real, to have excited people talking about variants and future goals.

  5. I loved Gonzalo’s idea for the Stretch Goals on Dead Man’s Doubloons. I’m a big fan of letting backers make choices, whether on design, illustration, mechanics and now, Stretch Goals. Also, thanks for pointing out Clans of Caledonia, I’ll keep an eye on that campaign to see how it develops ;)

  6. Have you checked out Gloomhaven’s newest campaign? It is for a 2nd print run, but there are upgraded components for those of us who own the 1st edition. But, the interesting strategy to keep 1st edition owner engaged is a “mini-campaign” with a choose-your-own adventure style. Basically, it is inviting all 1st edition owners to play the same scenario with a vote deciding the choice at the end of each segment. Isaac then writes the next segment based on the outcome of the vote. This has a dual purpose in keeping 1st edition owners engaged while making new backers salivate at the prospect of getting the game. Plus, Isaac is making each segment a pdf, so backers can download and keep. He won’t reprint this mini-campaign post-Kickstarter, so in essence this is the only “Kickstarter exclusive” in his project.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I talked about the Gloomhaven project from a distance in a recent post about reprint campaigns, but I didn’t mention this “mini-campaign” aspect, which is very clever!

  7. I’m getting an “Oops! That page can’t be found.” on the “this series” link.

    That aside, the ideas from these KS projects are brilliant. The 110% seems ballsy but really well thought through. That risk is lower, especially for day 1 backers, but even if people opt for the refund the exposure to the project’s overall goal is minimal. I wonder if the effect for this is as profound as when you offered your first money-back guarantee.

      1. Thanks Jamey :) Your advises and your strategy guide have always been of great inspiration for when it comes to thinking outside the box!

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