23 September 2014 | 46 Comments
Today I’m going to test out the first of a new series in which I highlight some of the interesting choices that current Kickstarter creators have made regarding their projects. I’m not looking at the content or product itself; rather, I’m interested in decisions creators made regarding reward levels, stretch goals, and overall project design.
This isn’t meant as an endorsement of these projects in any way (I don’t do that on this blog); rather, I’m looking for unique elements of projects that might inspire other creators. I like some of these ideas; others, not so much.
1. No Stretch Goals (Skyway Robbery)
Skyway Robbery, a game by Philip duBarry, is attempting something I haven’t seen from a tabletop game project in quite some time: It’s trying to fund without any stretch goals. As the project page says, “Skyway Robbery is totally pre-stretched with the best components we can get — springy ivorycore cards, thick 4mm punchboard tokens and player boards, beautiful laser-etched custom dice, a huge full-color game board. Skyway Robbery is excellent, right from the start!”
I like the spirit of this idea, but in practice I wouldn’t recommend it. The problem is that with such a vast number and high quality of components from Day 1, the core price is higher than what it would have been if the game had started with fewer and lower quality components. By keeping the price lower, you make the project more accessible to people early on, and that momentum translates into more backers, more funding, and more/better stuff through stretch goals.
Despite being a beautifully illustrated game from a very talented designer, Skyway Robbery is struggling to reach its funding goal. I think there are several reasons for this (high international prices don’t help), but I think that the lack of stretch goals and resulting price points are a major factor here. Stretch goals really do make a project exciting and engaging, and they’re a key differentiating factor between a Kickstarter project and a pre-order system.
2. Identifying the Shipping Subsidy in the Reward Text (Apocalypse: Galactic Arena)
This is a concept I discussed recently, but I think this is the first project I’ve seen to implement it. The idea is that it might be a good idea to highlight the shipping subsidy in the reward level text so backers know how good of a value they’re getting. Here’s how the word their $42 reward level on Galactic Arena:
1 full copy of GALACTIC ARENA. *This pledge includes the $12 fee for shipping to any address worldwide.
I think they got it half right. This method is the most effective if you also list the MSRP (or KS MSRP). And there needs to be a note about stretch goals. Here’s how I would have worded it:
1 copy of Galactic Arena with all stretch goals. This price includes $30 for the game and $12 for worldwide shipping. MSRP: $50.
3. Include Another Thematically Similar Game as a Stretch Goal (Bomb Squad)
The other day I received one of the more interesting newsletters from a game company in the last couple of years. TMG currently has a game called Bomb Squad on Kickstarter. After about 10 days, the project had almost reached its funding goal when TMG sent out a notification saying that by sheer coincidence, soon after they launched the campaign, they received another game submission called Bomb Squad Academy.
TMG loved the game, so rather than create another Kickstarter for it, they added it to the Bomb Squad Kickstarter game as a free inclusion if the project reaches the $60,000 stretch goal. This announcement provided a burst in pledges that pushed the project over the funding threshold.
TMG has actually done something similar to this on the Ground Floor Kickstarter campaign. The special thing about what they’ve done is that they’ve made existing pledges better–backers are now getting 2 games without having to add anything to their pledges. While this may not work for every scenario and every budget, it’s a great illustration of the power of stretch goals and of being flexible as a creator during the campaign.
4. Using the “Risks and Challenges” Section as a Creator-Backer Contract (The Orcfather)
I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen this. The Risks and Challenges section on the Orcfather project details what the creator (Lost Games Entertainment) is responsible for, what they can’t control, and what the backers are agreeing to. It ends with a legalese-style disclaimer saying that if you back this project, you’ve read the Risks and Challenges and accept them.
I particularly like the sections about shipping. As a creator, your responsibility is to ship to the address the backer provides to you. As a backer, your responsibility is to provide an address where the package can safely and securely be received. I like that Lost Games put that in writing on the project page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these out-0f-the-box ideas!
If you see any intriguing elements of current Kickstarter projects that might inspire other creators, please notify me in the comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Projects can be in any category.