19 November 2018 | 19 Comments
A few months ago, fellow game publisher Fantasy Flight announced a concept that boggled my mind (in a good way): They were releasing a new game called KeyForge in which every single copy of the game is one-of-a-kind. They labeled it a “unique game.”
To clarify, each copy of KeyForge is a preconstructed deck of 37 cards. The cards aren’t completely random–there are 12 cards from 3 different factions (out of 7 possible factions), plus a reference card.
That’s pretty cool. But the most incredible aspect of this game–and the primary reason I think it’s worth talking about one-of-a-kind products in today’s article–is that the back of the cards in one deck is completely unique from the back of the cards in any other deck (icons, image, and text). For example, see my decks here:
This is truly a feat of modern production. Fantasy Flight details the process in this article, with the two key elements being (1) generating and storing the unique digital files and (1) using a digital print process to print each deck of cards.
Today I’d like to briefly discuss the value of one-of-a-kind products as compared to the logistical hurdles required to make them possible, as you might be thinking about developing or offering such a product on Kickstarter or beyond. Here are a few examples and the value they add.
- KeyForge: Uniquely printed deck of cards intended for use by one person against a variety of other players. The uniqueness creates a strong sense of ownership and individuality. I’ve seen so many people sharing photos of their decks names with pride (and sometimes horror, as there are a few unfortunate names). The downside, of course, is the processing power required to create a product like this at scale.
- Discover: Lands Unknown: Uniquely printed/assembled game intended for use by several players. It’s possible that those same people will then play a different copy of the game and have a new experience, but I suspect that the sense of pride as compared to your own special deck of KeyForge cards is significantly lower here. I think Board Game Quest says it well here: “This is primarily because my copy will never interact with another version of the game.”
- Signed products: A copy of a product signed by the designer. For those who value signatures, I think there’s a special feeling knowing that the designer handled your specific copy of the game and made their mark on it. Logistically, though, this is much more difficult than it seems. I offered this for 200 copies of Euphoria a few years ago, and it took me all day to go to the warehouse, open each carton, open the shrinkwrap on each game, sign it, wait for the ink to dry, put the games back into the cartons, and take a selfie (see photo).
- Individually numbered products: A copy of a product with a unique number (e.g., 52 / 1000) printed on the front. Of all of these options, this is by far the easiest to implement as compared to the value it adds. It doesn’t cost much at all, yet it captures that one-of-a-kind feel.
- Individually personalized products: A copy of a product with the person’s name printed on the box or in the produce (like this book). I brainstormed this concept with our ambassadors a few months ago, and the responses were mixed (see graphic below). The main challenges are (a) it might make it difficult to sell the product on the secondary market if you don’t like it and (b) it creates logistical issues for a fulfillment center, as they need to match each product with the proper recipient.
My overall conclusions are that if you want to add a one-of-a-kind feel to your product, by far the easiest way to do this is to individually number the boxes. Beyond that, the uniqueness can add a sense of ownership and pride to the right product, like KeyForge, with the focus there being “the right product.”
What are some other examples of creators in any category offering one-of-a-kind products, especially if they’re at scale? How do these products make you feel? A related article is We Are Collectors (KS Lesson #200).
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