3 Polls about Shipping Options, 3D Printers, and Stretch Goals

3 September 2020 | 36 Comments

Today I have 3 small topics I’ve been pondering recently, each followed by a 1-question poll. Thanks for sharing your perspectives!

Shipping Options

Yesterday we launched the preorder for Tapestry: Plans & Ploys. A few days before the launch, we tried to implement something new as an experiment, but we discovered that we needed a little more time to sync properly with our US fulfillment center.

Basically, we were going to try to offer US customers the ability to choose from a few different shipping options. I’m sure you’ve seen this on many other webstores: There’s a default option, and if you want to pay a little extra, you can choose other couriers or shipping speeds.

I’m curious how often you upgrade your shipping options when placing orders online. I think the results could be enlightening both to companies like mine and to Kickstarter creators (who typically just offer one shipping option).

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3D Printers

On a recent Facebook Live chat, someone asked me about the widespread nature of 3D printers and if it’s time for them to be used to create plastic components for games (instead of including those components in games).

My response was that I’m not aware of the majority of people (or gamers) owing and having easy access to 3D printers. However, that’s definitely a complete assumption on my part, so let’s find out!

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Stretch Goals

We’ve seen various projects take backers on a journey with choose-your-own-adventure style stretch goals, including on the recent Token Sesame project. I love seeing creators implement creative, engaging, interactive stretch goals. Here’s a full article about various options.

At the same time, stretch goals are one of the top reasons why I stopped using use Kickstarter as a creator in 2015. I want to present the best possible product to customers from the start (and if I want to make an even fancier version, I can offer a deluxe edition, but it would also be the best possible deluxe version from the start). And if backer feedback results in some tweaks or additions, that’s great too.

I still avidly back Kickstarter campaigns, especially for tabletop games, and I’ve found myself caring a lot less about stretch goals and a lot more about reward pricing (with certain factors a given, like exciting mechanisms, clear communication, beautiful art and graphic design, etc). I still enjoy when projects reveal information about the game in small doses via project updates, shining the spotlight on specific elements to get me excited about it. That’s what I try to do with our design diaries when we announce a new product.

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Thanks for responding to these polls! If you’d like to expand upon your answers, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

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36 Comments on “3 Polls about Shipping Options, 3D Printers, and Stretch Goals

  1. All of the topics are very interesting.

    Stretch goals are one of the most challenging parts of creating a KS campaign for us. You need to add value to the product but at the same time every stretch goal takes away a bit of the profit by sharing the success back to the community.

    The production cost will be lower once you surpass important milestones like 5’000 or 10’000 copies. The production and logistics for stretch goals will always eat up much more of what you get back by printing more.

    I’m pleased to read that on this survey people prefer having a final product, but at the same time I wonder if this result is mainly because your audience have been used to pre-order already produced games from you.

    Would you mind if I ask the same question to our community (which is very used to our KS campaigns) and see the results on that survey too? I’m very interested to know.

    1. Gon: You make some great points here about how the size of the print run helps with economies of scale. Though the production cost of making 10k games versus 5k will be lower regardless of whether or not you have stretch goals.

      I would be very curious to hear how your audience answers the same question. :)

  2. Regarding the use of 3d printers: I would avoid purchasing a game if it would have a requirement to print core components on my 3d printers. However, should a game come with something like wooden cubes in the box so it’s entirely playable, but then have an optional $5 purchase for 3d printable components as upgrades I would do that in a heartbeat. I love using my 3d printer to upgrade my games and their storage, but that means it’s something I choose to do when I choose to do it. Needing to print components for a game before it’s something I can ever even play means I will never play that game even if it is just the one time I’d need to print it.

  3. I always prefer the option of faster / better shipping being there. Even though I voted “rarely”, its always nice if I find the perfect gift or need something specific for an event and being able to get it here on time vs having to find something sub par just because they didn’t offer the option is disappointing.

  4. On shipping options, I chose rarely, but for certain sites that offer options I ALWAYS upgrade because the default option is one I do not want (DHL, FedEx SmartPost, etc)

  5. I back KS projects for the unique game materials and ideas because basically retailers can’t stock everything on the market today.

  6. I much prefer kickstarters without too many stretch goals. What’s started annoying me more and more, is developers listening to some ideas from backers and then choosing to go along with them which in turn delays the project for all backers.

    Foundation of Rome is the latest. Early on the campaign was great and the stretch goals although vast were always going to happen and some were driven by the community. My bug bear however was the introduction of an add-on wash option for $50. The price is reasonable for what you get (I still don’t want it) , but for 3 months now we have been waiting for examples before the pledge manager closes, it has now changed to another method (sun-drip I think it’s called) all in all the optional extra I don’t want has delayed the game from Dec/Jan back to March. That’s 14 months after my $202 outlay.

  7. Thanks for the shoutout on Token Sesame, Jamey :D
    One idea on the 3D printing could be to link customers directly to a 3D print-and-mail service for your files like 3Dhub or Shapeways. It’d make it pretty easy for those without printers!

    1. I’d actually say that this is not a great idea. Cost-wise, those sites are relatively expensive. For example, a miniature I can print on my high resolution resin printer for less than $0.25 would cost me $5+ dollars on Shapeways. Unless they already have their own printer, It would be much cheaper for the customer if you created the pieces and included the cost in the game than having to print them at an external source.

      That said, I love the idea of the game including 3d models of upgraded tokens that I could print if I wanted to.

  8. Regarding 3d printing… my main use related to games is for organizers (Paladins of the West Kingdom) and maybe sometimes upgraded parts (usually upgrading cardboard tokens to 3d ones).

    Indeed, very soon after Pendulum was released there were 3d prints to hold the components by player colour along with token tracks to keep the pieces from shifting around on the game board.

  9. I feel that I may have skewed part of your poll. I love just north of Champaign, IL, so any time I’ve gotten a shipping notice from your web store, the product arrives the next, if not same day. Because of this, I would likely never buy any expedited shipping from your company in particular (other than being a Champion, of course).

  10. I would have no problem backing a game without stretch goals. But it would have to be cheaper than retail or offer something that I can’t get retail, or be not available at retail. Stretch goals are pretty meaningless to me as once I make a decision to back, I do not routinely go back and look at the campaign.

  11. Stretch goals are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I don’t hate it if a project has them, I just dislike the fake nature of them. If you’re offering things like additional artwork or functionality, why not just include them for a start instead of artificially removing them to try and get people to back.

    I much prefer campaigns that state up front: here is what you’re getting. We’re making the best possible version of this, and we’re going to let the campaign live or die by its strengths.

  12. Loved the idea of shipping options, and look forward to seeing something on that front in the future. SmartPost to Alaska is the WORST! While I rarely splurge for expedited shipping, if the transport method was clearly identified as SmartPost, I would definitely consider it. Our servicing post office is in WA state – we can add 2+ weeks to shipping estimates via SmartPost.

    1. This is actually one thing I had to figure out (when I was still working at GTG) when dealing with standardized shipping. Smartpost (or really all non USPS options) are considerably slower and more expensive when shipping to any non-continental US address, including military addresses. Currently all of our orders over 1lb going to Alaska should be going USPS Priority Mail as that tends to be both faster and cheaper.

      As a shipper offering free (or flat rate domestic) shipping, it’s a tricky thing to balance as regardless, it’s considerably more expensive to ship to Alaska than to say, locally in St. Louis (for an extreme).

  13. While I would probably never take advantage of upgraded shipping it seems a change you could implement that would make some people happy without making others unhappy. I do though make all my purchases directly through your website to directly support you, and although I’m okay paying a higher price vs amazon that on top of shipping costs would be a lot. To explain you introduced the idea of champions getting a 10 dollar discount to shipping. For bigger purchases I feel this would be detrimental, and also while I wouldn’t do this it would encourage people to unnecessarily make several smaller purchases even if they intended to make a bigger one to save more on shipping.

    As for relying on 3D printers for game components I’m vitriolically opposed to the matter. It would make access to the hobby prohibitive in an already expensive hobby that takes up space in ones dwelling. I definitely think it would reduce sales, exposure to games, and new people trying the hobby. I truly don’t see the market for shipping an incomplete product. Even if in some magical world everyone owned a 3D printer and knew how to use it and wanted to take the time to use it before playing their new game, I still think it would be terrible for consumers.

  14. Too many stretch goals (and add ons… Kickstarter exclusives etc) actually significantly disincentivize me. I’ve had a few projects I’ve opted out of because… I’m over stimulated… maybe? Or there’s just… too much. The stretch goals often either feel like they are not adding inherent value to the game but rather are just something designed to make me panic about missing out or on the flip should really just be part of the game but we’re held back to provide goals, which feels disingenuous. I’d rather just be told what I’m getting and what it will cost and I have ZERO interest in me getting something special that people who didn’t back won’t get to have.

  15. Shipping:
    I went with Often in upgrading shipping. But it all depends on the product I guess. I would have upgraded shipping for Pendulum. I am really excited to get this one to the table. But the Tapestry expansion I would have been fine with regular shipping. I’m excited about it but not in the same way as Pendulum I guess.

    3D printers:
    I voted no because I don’t have one. But as long as games come with all the necessary parts and 3d printers and left mainly to upgrade parts, then I’m fine. I wouldn’t want to buy a game only to be required to 3d print or provide key components.

    Stretch Goals:
    It’s a combo for both Yes options. I’ll back a board game if it looks interesting. Stretch goals don’t really come in to play for me as much. I think add ons play more into it for me. I might opt for some upgraded components but that depends on how I’m feeling at the moment, haha. I did opt for the metal coins and realistic tokens in Scythe.

  16. I have Amazon Prime and am a Stonemaier Champion, both are yearly memberships which provide discounted/free shipping. This is how I ‘upgrade’ my shipping.

  17. I pay for upgraded shipping more often than “rarely” and a bit less often than “often.” Where is the “sometimes” option?

  18. I like when a kickstarter has daily unlocks that arent gated by funding. Its a lot of fun to follow along with the project when seeing new announcements for included content every day. Much prefer that method than stretch goals but I understand its not feasible for every project.

  19. I have multiple packages that I am waiting to be delivered to me by the USPS. Packages that normally took 3 days or less to arrive, are now taking 10 days or longer, IF they even arrive. Everything sent FedEx or UPS, arrives on time and in decent condition. At this point in time, I will gladly (and have) pay extra for shipping if it means the sender won’t use USPS.

    1. This may be a regional issue. I curre tly have the opposite experience in Northern California. USPS, is on the ball with shipping while FedEx and UPS seem to take days longer than intended.

  20. I’m about to take the leap into Kickstarting a tabletop game. These polls are great, especially the stretch goals and shipping info.

  21. I will actually often pick slower shipping, on the assumption that it might lead to the retailer to improve conditions in the fulfillment centers. I don’t care about the frequent digital coupons, but they don’t hurt with picking the slower speed.

  22. I see a lot of kickstarters doing timed releases now kind of like the design diaries. Everyday they release some new or additional components to the game.

    I definitely like this approach as it feels like the game is not missing anything.

    My biggest problem with Ks now is the shipping costs are getting really high and it’s making less sense to back.

  23. Even if people have 3d printers, it would still be a bigger environmental concern to have everyone print stuff (requiring you buy the specific materials and make it less efficiently) than to just have one manufacturer print it.

  24. I think for your last poll, it may have resulted in very different answers if the question asked was “do you prefer a project you are considering backing to have stretch goals” — I often prefer some stretch goals, but it won’t prevent me from backing if they are not there. Sometimes it might encourage me to back (and other times it might deter me, depending on what those stretch goals are and if they seem reachable)

      1. I have access to 3D printer but printing parts is a pain in the neck for the most part. I sometimes will Pitt “upgraded” parts for a game if I can find good models. I printed Birdhouses to replace cubes in Wingspan and printed upgraded structures for Scythe, but if the game was sold without and depended on me to print, no thanks.

        Stretch goals seem stupid to me. I have never backed anything on Kickstarter because I just don’t like the business model. Stretch goals seem like a gimmick to make me back something because I am going to miss my opportunity. So the game really doesn’t need that stuff because the retail version lacks it. Don’t manipulate me into backing your project, just make what you are going to make, if it is a good value I will support with my $. Don’t us manipulative marketing to try and convince me to buy.

  25. While I do not care for Stretch Goals, I do like Kickstarter “exclusives.” By that I mean, feeling like I am getting something for free. Example: I back a game that includes a exclusive mini or promo at $60. The MSRP for the game is $60 once it’s released for retail, but that exclusive mini or promo sells separately for $10. So the total cost for a retail purchase (at release) will be $70 to get the same stuff I received (hopefully at least a couple weeks earlier). Also, I am fine with the retail price dropping later (about a year) and retail buyers being able to snag the “kickstarter edition” for cheaper than I paid.

    1. Re: shipping

      I’d upgrade if it meant NOT using SmartPost or USPS and the price wasn’t that much extra. $2-$5 to not use those is an easy yes for me.

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