Kickstarter Face-Off #1: Exclusive Content

5 January 2014 | 42 Comments

Note: You can listen to me talk about this subject with Kickstarter expert Richard Bliss for 20 minutes here.

It’s a new year, so it means we’re going to try out a new series of posts inspired by The Dice Tower Showdown podcast, which I really enjoy. You’ve read my thoughts on Kickstarter for over a year now, so every week or so I’m going to turn the spotlight on a few Kickstarter backers who have strong opinions about certain ongoing crowdfunding debates. Kickstarter is all about the backers, so let’s hear what they have to say.

These two debaters were randomly selected from a group of people who signed up to be a part of this series. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, you can fill out this form.

Pro: Sam Klein

Sam KleinMy name is Sam Klein and I’m a rabid–I mean, avid–Kickstarter backer. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Kickstarter over two and a half years ago. Since then, I’ve been a proud supporter of projects spanning a range of categories. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the Games category–both boardgames and videogames. My most recent backing–Board Game Storage Chests, Tokens, Inserts & More–is evidence of that. Along the way, one of the lessons I’ve learned is that Kickstarter exclusives add tremendous appeal to any campaign.

Here’s why:

1. They increase backer interest and interaction.

Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale is an excellent example of a campaign that simply oozed exclusives. The more exclusives that were provided, the more backers joined the campaign. As additional backers showed their support, yet more exclusives became available. It was a frenzied and passionate cycle that helped achieve all of the stretch goals and bring the campaign close to 140K in funding.

Some of the exclusives required backer participation of sorts. The project creator, Alexander Lim, was quite creative in fostering interesting methods of acquiring these exclusives. He also provided multiple opportunities throughout the campaign to score them. One such example was to provide a caption for one of the cards–simple, yet engaging. Other manners of participation included Facebook sharing and liking, as well as backer voting and commenting. By actively involving the backers, Alexander Lim created a sense of community around Fairytale Games.

2. They generate additional replay incentive.

Exclusives come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from tiles to cards to miniatures. These items can greatly enhance gameplay options as Run, Fight or Die did. Exclusives included a co-op scenario, unique miniatures and additional component cards. Jason Maxwell, the project creator, wrote “We make sure our KS rewards are not just ‘extra’ components thrown in at the last moment, but game components that we spend months developing. We still believe it important to give extra attention to those who purchase through Kickstarter.”

3. They add real world value.

The law of supply and demand determines the worth of physical goods. Exclusives, by nature, tend to be rare and, oftentimes, highly desired. Look no further than the behemoth known as Zombicide for proof. Raising almost 800K, Guillotine Games crafted a campaign full of exclusives–some of which were free, and others that were not. Recent sales on Ebay for each free promo mini have clocked in at over $100. One of the minis that cost $10 during Kickstarter recently fetched over $300. Simply put, the inherent value added to these exclusives make them quite collectible.

For project creators, exclusives are an excellent way to propel a campaign’s momentum, while rewarding those who help it become a success in the first place. Euphoria by Stonemaier games is a testament to this fact. From realistic tokens to an alternate art box sleeve to a double-sided board with exclusive dystopian artwork, Jamey Stegmaier has done a terrific job of designing exclusives that feel unique and special. As a result, backers feel genuinely appreciated and have an item that truly shines. That should be the goal for every campaign, and exclusives are just one of the tools to achieve it.

Con: Itai Rosenbaum

Itai Rosenbaum, 28, is graphic and UX designer by day and a game designer by night. He enjoys mostly medium-weight games for the “serious nights” and story telling for when you’re looking for a lighter evening. He’s always the traitor; even when a game doesn’t have one. Recently he’s backed Brew Crafters (because beer + board games makes perfect sense) and Coin Age (because who doesn’t want a game that can fit in their pocket?).

Itai’s random thoughts and musings can be found in his not-updated-nearly-as-often-as-it-should-be blog.

1. Wasted Funds and Time

Itai RosenbaumExclusives cost money to produce. By their nature, there will be a smaller quantity of them and they will (most likely) never be produced again. This means that some of the funds gained from the Kickstarter will go towards funding these exclusives (whether it’s moulding and casting a miniature, printing extra art prints, etc.). These funds could be used to enrich the gaming experience in a more long-lasting fashion. Perhaps increase the component level, or improve the art quality. Board games are not cheap to produce as it is, and such a large chunk of capital can be used to greatly increase the quality of the game overall, rather than spend it on a couple extra trinkets for a select few. Additionally, they greatly increase the production time of the project.

2. Game Dilution

Exclusives are superfluous additions to the game. If they were absolutely necessary – they would be a part of the game experience. At some point, the exclusives become unnecessary to the point of hurting the game experience. Take Zombicide, for instance – there were so many exclusive characters offered in the game’s Season 2 campaigns, each of the individual characters loses their uniqueness. What’s a fast, evasive character worth when there are 7 other characters who act the exact same way. Furthermore, it seemed that by that point, every stretch goal turned out to be another exclusive character. At the end of the day – I don’t want nor need 40 characters to choose from, as they don’t really add anything of value to the game itself.

3. False Entitlement

This point is not so much about the campaign itself, but rather about the people backing it. Giving people a truckload of exclusives is bestowing upon them a false sense of entitlement. It has gotten to a point where people will not back a project unless it provides them with something shiny that no one else has. We must remember that at its core, Kickstarter is a funding platform, not a storefront. You are investing in a product as a show of good faith, you should not be rewarded for it. That goes against the concept of “faith”. Your return would be the successful funding of the project you believed in. Saying “I’m not going to help you unless you give me something in return” is petty and not in line with the general “spirit” of Kickstarter.

Counterpoints: Each of the debaters got to read the points made the other and respond. Here are their counterpoints:

Pro: Sam Klein

If a Kickstarter project is properly planned and managed, there should be minimal to no waste of funds and time–regardless of whether exclusives are offered.  Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale provided backers with a plethora of exclusives ranging from additional cards to miniatures.  As Alexander Lim puts it, “Since we are running these games as one large print run, our vendors are giving us a great discount on overall inventory.”  Furthermore, he followed up The Battle Royale campaign with The Miniatures campaign “so the production run would be a lot more beneficial and efficient.”  That is the essence of proper planning.

Moreover, exclusives often push a campaign’s final tally higher than the lack of said exclusives, because they motivate more people to back the project as well as to spread the word.  So, these “wasted funds” might not actually exist otherwise.

Run, Fight or Die was just one case in point of avoiding game dilution.  Fallen by Watchtower Games is another.  The creator, Tom Green, explains “We pared the game down for some of our tests to the retail version of the game.  We wanted to make sure everything still flowed well and remember what the retail content felt like.  The good news:  everything still worked well and there was plenty of content in the retail game.  The great news:  when we added the Kickstarter content, the game was loaded with options.  Thick decks of treasures and creatures and a huge stack of Story cards are in store for you all.”  Again, planning and preparation are key.

Kickstarter is indeed a funding platform; however, there is no one path to success.  As such, creators have adapted their campaigns to maximize the potential to succeed.  Some have merely adjusted their expectations to fall in line with these adaptations.  Ultimately, it is up to each individual to determine his or her reasons to support a project.  One would be remiss to judge another for his or her unique motivations.  After all, to me, that is the beauty of Kickstarter–it brings together people from all walks of life who believe in something enough to help it become reality.

Con: Itai Rosenbaum

While it is true that exclusives can (and probably will) draw backers towards the project, those very same exclusives may very well drive others away. Many of us in the board game hobby (and assorted geekery in general) have a collector mentality. This slight obsession with having everything associated with our respective hobbies. However, due to the nature of exclusives, and the fact they often incur an added cost – some gamers who simply cannot afford them will decide not to back a Kickstarter.

Whether or not this “all or nothing” attitude is a healthy one is a discussion for another day, but the fact that it exists still stands. Many backers had to opt out of giant campaigns such as Kingdom Death or Zombicide (particularly the second season) which offered so much in various exclusive add-ons – that one ended up paying more for them than the actual pledge. Furthermore, once the campaign is over and the exclusives are no longer available, new gamers discovering the project will refuse to purchase it, knowing they can’t possibly have everything associated with their game.

It is quite possible to back a Kickstarter purely in order to resell the exclusives at a much higher price point. To be quite blunt though, if that is your intent – then I’d rather you not have the exclusives. This kind of move capitalizes on the excitement and opportunity Kickstarter allows purely for personal gain. This too goes against what I like to refer to as the spirit of Kickstarter. The whole point of the platform is to provide an avenue for like-minded people to help bring forth projects that would otherwise not be able to see the light of day. To take advantage of this to make a few bucks is pretty low.

All of this is not to say that I don’t like getting free extra stuff. Far from it. I enjoy the thrill of unlocking a stretch goal just like any other, and when Myth reached that extra Dragon boss monster, I was fist pumping along with all the other backers. I just don’t see why these things have to be exclusives. Why, in a hobby that is already pretty niche, do we need to create this extra and artificial level of separation. I get plenty rewarded for being a backer by getting a lot of stuff sooner than the general market will, plus the various stretch goals usually mean I get more than my money’s worth. I really don’t need to have something no one else will have to feel special and fulfilled.


Euphoria retail components
Euphoria retail components

This is Jamey–you didn’t think I’d stay out of the debate, did you? I’ve written about Kickstarter exclusives here before, and my opinion continues to evolve. It’s something I deal with on a daily basis–people who play the Kickstarter version of Euphoria want that version of the game, but I won’t give it to them because of the promise I made to my backers (not to mention that I don’t have any to sell). I’ve had people who play Euphoria and love it tell me flat-out that they won’t buy it because they can’t get the upgraded Kickstarter components, despite the fact that the retail version of Euphoria contains all custom components as well (the photo on the right is the retail version of Euphoria).

I actually talked about exclusives extensively with Richard Bliss on his Funding the Dream podcast the other day (the episode isn’t available yet, but I’ll link to it when it’s live). The conclusion I’m moving towards more and more is that 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.

I discuss two potential solutions on the Funding the Dream podcast with Richard Bliss. I’m sure I’ll revisit them on the blog in the future. For now, thanks so much to Sam and Itai for sharing their backer perspectives in such an eloquent and insightful way. We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

42 Comments on “Kickstarter Face-Off #1: Exclusive Content

  1. Sam’s first point regarding “Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale” has not aged well – I hadn’t heard of this game before and was interested in what it was about, what the gameplay looked like, so I checked out the campaign now… There are a LOT of VERY unhappy people still commenting on the project that they have not received anything they were promised, and Alex Lim has not been active on KS since 2016… So, in terms of that being a shining example on the pro side for exclusives bringing in backers, the project itself has to be considered a massive set-back for KS in general, as it has left a lot of supporters angry and frustrated (the word “scam” is mentioned a few times)… This is not just bad for Alex and any potential brand he could have had, it’s not even just bad for Board Games, it’s a poor reflection for KS in general…

    Personally, I like getting exclusives on KS Projects, but I know that most of that is driven by FOMO too… I feel that overall Exclusives are a negative for the industry, but can be a boost to an individual campaign… I’m currently developing my first game and I plan to not be including exclusives, UNLESS, the first campaign doesn’t go well… If I need to reboot because I cancelled or didn’t reach my funding goal, an exclusive or two might be the drastic change that my project needs… That said, if I’ve learned anything from your other blog posts on this topic so far, it’s that I shouldn’t just assume what I need to change, I should rely on the feedback from my backers to know what I could do better…

    I hope to not ever feel like I have to offer exclusives, but I’m still okay when other projects do (even if I miss out on them)…

  2. As something of a footnote to the Battle Royale cards and miniatures, it seems that the creators are working on the miniatures from the first KS, but not their second. On top of this, the creators are taking a loss on the project (I know because they told me). We still don’t know if this has all paid off, so we’ll see how BR goes once it hits retail.

    CMON’s celebrity knock-off KS-only exclusives are there to avoid IP issues. That is, if they have the figure as a KS exclusive, they can easily remedy any IP problems (eg. Miramax’s letter regarding two of the Zombicide exclusive celebrity figures) by altering the sculpture during the KS campaign, or offering a refund. Had these exclusives been in retail product, they would have to recall product, etc. etc.

    Donald X. of Dominion fame and some BGG promo creators made a good argument for promos, and therefore exclusives. Sometimes a game designer will have a fun idea for a game, but this this idea or mechanic may have suboptimal gameplay, not fit in with the theme of the game, or have additional rules or issues that make the game more complicated. Promos and exclusives are a reasonable way for game designers to share these variants with gamers, without diluting the gameplay of the game were they an integral part of it.

    Personally, I find exclusives to be irritating. I cannot evaluate a game until it hits retail, and, by then, exclusives are unavailable. Also, after years of Magic, I’m no longer interested in chasing down promos or other hard-to-get cards. I’ve pretty much turned off CMON projects because of their exclusives. Although I *do* want that Gordon Ramsey figure. :D

    1. I should also mention that Eurogames should not have exclusive content. Exclusive content sends a signal that the game designer did not concentrate on making an efficient design, but spent part of it on additional content that is not necessary. Many BGG’ers, who are primarily Eurogamers, are against exclusives and EB’s. Additionally, exclusives and EBs complicate a KS, and many BGG’ers don’t want to put up with the circus some KS can become.

      With Ameritrash games and bling… eh, different story. :)

  3. I think I probably represent the “average” consumer as far as board games go. I buy probably an average of 1 game ever 1-2 months. I love board games, and wish I had the time and money to buy every well-received game that is on KS and isn’t, but it’s just not realistic in my situation. I would argue that there is a large non-vocal constituent of consumers just like me, who probably haven’t stumbled upon this discussion or are even aware it’s going on. I browse KS for new games, but I am new enough to the hobby to not yet have had the opportunity to back a board game.

    My opinion on KS rewards pretty much matches the conclusion reached by Jamey on this blog post.

    If I see a game on KS that I am really interested in, and I have the money to purchase it, and I am in the market for a game at that time, AND I think it looks cool enough to be worth the risk to back rather than purchase the multitude of other games that I really would like to add to my collection – then I’m likely to pick it up regardless of exclusives.

    On the flip side, if I miss a KS campaign (very likely), or I encounter a game that has been kickstarted and is now retail that I am unable to purchase the exclusive content for, I will likely buy one of the other games that I would like to add to my collection that I know is “complete”. I too have a completionist tendency, and it grinds my gears to know that I will be missing certain features to the game. I would venture to guess that many gamers have this tendency. While the lack of exclusives may not detract from the experience of the game overall, I will always have the knowledge that I don’t have that one sweet unit or whatever that could make this game so much cooler. So, I will probably buy a non-KS game, or a KS game which I know does not have gameplay modifying exclusives, or a KS game which I am able to purchase an expansion that includes those exclusives.

    I think upgraded components and art are a great KS exclusive item. Those items, plus the pride that one can have knowing they took part in the launch of a new game that will bolster the hobby, plus the receipt of the game ahead of the general populous should be enough of a reward to back a project that you are interested in. But I think that gameplay-type exclusives (new roles in Coup, different characters/units/scenarios in Zombicide for example) will hurt sales of the game in the long run for consumers in a situation such as mine. I would just rather buy a “complete” game at retail, and with so many great games available, I have plenty of opportunities to spend my money.

  4. Jamey,

    I just posted over on the podcast page, but thought I’d weigh in here as well, but with fewer words.

    I think if you could simply set things up differently, you could still offer exclusives in the form of limited editions while not keeping someone who buys the game later from being able to get playable content. I think the real problem comes in when you promise pieces that will never be available again.

    Offering the same components, at comparable quality, but with a different design. Offering ways for people to ‘earn’ exclusives after the campaign. Offering other, unique limited edition runs in the future. These are all ways I see of being able to provide limited edition items without making customers feel like they’ll never have a chance to get their own copy.


  5. For Viticulture version 2 on Kickstarter, where is the URL? I can’t find out where it is on Kickstarter.

    Also, what is part of the kickstarter for v2? Is it possible to get all the expanisions as part of funding the project?

    1. EditorD: I think you’re referring to Tuscany, the expansion pack for Viticulture. It’s not on Kickstarter yet (you can learn more about it on the Tuscany tab at the top of this page). You will be able to get Tuscany + Viticulture on the Tuscany Kickstarter.

  6. Jamey

    I truly hope that you consider this with Euphoria and your future games.

    I will be honest, I’m very sad that I missed out on the KS for Euphoria and I am so envious of those resources.

    I like the thought of no gameplay-exclusives or at least have them be KS exclusives with the understanding that they would be available, most likely at a higher cost with additional KS for expansions and the like.

    Component timed exclusives are nice as well with a delay to gauge the demand for those components.

    1. Ms. Gwyn: For our future games, I think we’ll do the method I described in a comment above (my response to Trevor). For Euphoria, if we do a Euphoria expansion Kickstarter, I would be able to offer the Kickstarter exclusive components through that campaign while still respecting my promise to the original Kickstarter backers to keep those components available through Kickstarter only.

  7. People demand the newest, latest and greatest, and they demand it now. Look at the fury of activity over pre-order systems. It’s not just a few people, it’s large enough to be nicknamed the cult of the new. Some people in our hobby go crazy to complete their collections, and won’t touch that which cannot be completed in a reasonable fashion.

    The balance between Kickstarter exclusive and commonly available need not be a fight of one versus the other, they can both exist in a fashion. Exclusivity need not be forever – if a campaign is clear and upfront, and indicates additional content will be made available X months after *all* backers have their copy (or at least shipped) as an aftermarket purchase, how would it impact reception? Backers get 100% of the base right out of the gate, while non backers have to wait to get that additional content. It’s still available, but at an additional cost of both money and time.

    Is that not a reasonable middle ground, to appease both groups of potential buyers?

    1. Hi Trevor–I think that’s an elegant solution. The only problem with it is that you’re going to build up all this hype about the game leading to the release (a lot of it coming from Kickstarter backers who are excited to get the game), and then when that excitement builds to a peak and you ship it to backers, you have to tell distributors and retailers that they have to wait X number of months before they get the game. That’s very different than a delay of a few weeks to make sure the backers get their games before retailers do, and by that point the hype will have died down.

      I really do like the idea, but I’m just not sure it’s a great retail strategy.

      A hybrid solution that you touch upon (this is kind of a spoiler for the Funding the Dream podcast) is this:

      –Offer a Kickstarter version of the game to all backers for, say, $45 (including shipping). It includes all stretch goals, some of which are exclusive to your company (we’ll call it Kindree Publishing).

      –Offer a retail version of the game post-Kickstarter to distributors and retailers. MSRP $60, and they’ll probably discount it down to $45 (plus shipping).

      –Offer a add-on pack exclusively through your website (not through traditional distribution) that includes the special stretch goals. Charge about $20 for it.

      That way, everyone (backers and non-backers alike) have access to the special materials. You’re respecting backers by giving them more stuff for less money. You’re also still encouraging retail sales, and if retail customers want more stuff, they get it directly from you, where you control the price (that way the special materials can’t be marked down below their Kickstarter value by retailers).

      1. I’m in the “no gameplay-exclusives” camp, by the way. I do understand that it is used to get more backers and some won’t back unless there are exclusives (even if it’s cheaper to get via KS than actual retail later on). Still, I feel that the best way is to somehow give it enough value to buy now vs. later (cheaper, early expansion, non-gameplay exclusives), which don’t punish people for not being on KS because they didn’t know about it.

        @Jamey. I actually thought about that idea too. Promos only available via your website and at greater cost through separate retail than via KS. I think Level 99 kind of does that with their stuff (promos available on their own website store, although you might have to buy the game from therm directly).

      2. Hi Jamey,

        I wrote my earlier comment on my phone (why do I do that, when it’s so much more difficult to type?), so I likely wasn’t as clear as I would have been otherwise.

        My original *intended* line of thought was almost identical to what you’re discussing.

        Simply from a timing perspective, I was thinking more along the lines of the following:
        Start – Ship backers their product. Base game + Promos + Exclusive product.

        Start + 4 weeks – By this time, backers should all have their product. Base game would be released into distribution channels, might take another 2 weeks to get onto store shelves. Stragglers in shipping would (should?) be picked off at this time, and hopefully most shipping issues would be corrected before widespread availability.

        Start + 26 weeks – Base game would have been fully through distribution channels, all people who wanted the game would have had an opportunity to acquire said game. The upgrade kit (from Base Game to Kickstarter Edition) would then be released.

        This gives incentive to be a backer – lower cost product (Base Game + Upgrade Kit should be, in an ideal world, just higher than the KS edition, so discount stores marking off by 20% are comparable to KS cost) and earlier release (of both base game and exclusive content). For those who can’t for whatever reason (ie: lack of KS visibility, personal/financial reasons), they aren’t penalized forever, but simply a short period of time.

        Another benefit would be to gauge quantitative requirements. In the 4-5 months between when KS Backers get their copy and when the upgrade kit is available, ratings, reviews, and general chatter should reveal the requirements for the upgrade kit, which could dictate how it be sold. In all cases, the upgrade kit should be available directly from the publisher’s website, but for higher-demand product it could also go through normal distribution channels. The bridge between backer and retail purchaser is reduced – it’s no longer a “who has what components”, everyone is capable of having the same product. Backers feel appreciated, possibly saving money but definitely saving time. Non-backers aren’t missing out.

        For some campaigns, this opens up the options which they might include as stretch rewards – scenarios, miniatures, higher-end components, cards. For titles which make the upgrade kit retail-possible, the store exposure draws additional attention (and sales). A hot game gets a refresh without a full expansion, boosting sales with minimal effort, yet not be seen as a cash grab. “It should have been in the retail version” is a critique which can be rationalized by many at this point.

        1. Trevor: Ah, I see. I like that idea a lot. The only part I’m unsure about it the lengthy delayed release of the bonus pack. But that’s a small detail that a publisher could adjust as needed. Very well said–thanks for sharing your idea!

          1. I agree that 26 weeks might be too long. With how quickly this industry moves onto the next big thing the game might have already left the spotlight.

  8. I know for myself I have lost interest in games with too many exclusive add ons. If I feel I am missing parts of the game because I cannot afford all of your exclusive add ons I will lose interest and lot back your game.

    1. LOL We are all so different! After 2 years on Kickstarter and 285 projects backed, I can say it’s a pretty rare tabletop game that I got excited enough to back if it doesn’t have any KS exclusives.
      1. I love pimped-out games. Incredible components of the designer’s choice thrill me and make me want to play a game more often.
      2. Why should I pay much higher than online-retailer prices a long time before I can lay my hands on the game if there’s nothing special in it for me? Sure, I love to be in on the process, but after backing over 200 games, and with most project creators not communicating very well (rare exceptions: Jamey, Dave Howell, and TMG), I’m sort of bored with the “backstage glimpse” promise. I know how it works at Panda and a few of the other major game manufacturers. I actually could probably assemble a pretty good Panda company phone list from all the people mentioned in various updates. :-)
      3. I buy so many games on KS now that I’ve stopped caring nearly as much as I used to about retail versions of the games. If it came from KS, I want the KS version, most of the time. There are some rare campaigns that I would have liked but that I missed (Legacy: Gears of Time comes to mind) but then I sometimes manage to score the KS-equivalent copy by talking to the designer at BGG.Con and paying full price. I’m OK with that.
      4. I have no problems with a game’s KS exclusives being add-ons to further campaigns IF the project creator is super-clear about it. If you promise it’s this campaign only, it had better stay that way, or I will be really hesitant to back again. Be clear and honest. Always.

  9. It is funny, I was just thinking about this earlier today. I agree, it is a short term boost, but really ties your hands later as a designer. As a consumer, I hate finding out about a kickstarter after it has ended and realizing I missed out on something really cool like the Euphoria components.

  10. Thank you all for sharing your comments and perspectives. Tiago, I like your point about human nature–it’s a good reminder to creators that they need to give backers reasons to back a project NOW instead of wait for later.

    Chris–I think it’s great when stretch goals are used to make the game better for everyone, as you said. We strove to do that for Euphoria for almost all stretch goals (except for the ones that added a significant cost–we couldn’t have afforded to make all copies of the game the Kickstarter versions).

    As for Myth, I’m surprised they would get any backlash at all for offering Kickstarter exclusive rewards on a future Kickstarter. As long as those rewards are available exclusively through Kickstarter, I think that completely meets a creator’s promise to his or her backers. That’s the solution I will probably use in the future for Euphoria, but I’ll take a different approach for new campaigns.

  11. I think the subject of exclusives is a difficult one, as for me personally, a project doesn’t require them for my interest. On the other hand I do enjoy seeing it when goals are hit and it strengthens my desire to stay backed despite hiccups. In this sense I don’t mind, as I get something special for my copy of the game, and certainly with Euphoria I love that I have special resources that aren’t available otherwise.

    Something that does bother me however, is seeing the stress it causes some people when they can’t pick them up (At least not for an acceptable price). When I’ve backed a project and helped it get funded, I think it really sucks that only part of the game is made available to others, I actually feel a bit betrayed myself when I’ve put my money in to support a projects success, and it’s not all been used to make the game better for everyone. I feel that to demand exclusives, I’d be denying the creator the opportunity to truly bring their project to the world, and ultimately, that’s the reason they want the funding.

    Recently in the unnofficial forums for Myth, I saw some debate about exclusives potentially being available in a future kickstarter campaign so that those components can be expanded upon with future quests/character advancements. This frustrated a few people, but I think it’s absolutely great. The concept of making (at least some) things available again in expansion campaigns so that they can be expanded upon is awesome, and I like that people will get another chance to pick up these awesome things (Albeit likely at a great cost than the first timers!). I’d actually like to see this more often, as it’s still something of a timed-exclusive (at least a year till the 2nd chance) and with (a small, hopefully for those who’re interested!) extra cost, so I have absolutely no hard feelings about it – Interested if anyone else agrees!

  12. I didnt get in on the Viticulture campaign and so I wasnt able to snag a KS version. Its quickly became one of my favorite games. If I absolutely need the KS version… Ill turn to ebay. A year or two from now I probably wont be able to find it… but thats always the case with Out-of-print editions. I firmly maintain that exclusives are the perfect way to reward your backer who put enough faith in you to invest in a product far before it became a reality.

  13. This is indeed a very interesting question and one which like many other things in life there is no right or wrong answer. When we ask whether exclusive content is good, are we referring to the projector creators, backers or post-kickstarter consumers?

    I think for the last one, the answer is pretty obvious. If you’re late to the party, you can’t get the most of it. How much less you are getting depends on the kind of exclusives.

    For projector creators, I think ultimately, they do increase the chance of a successful funding. We, as species, tend to be very short goal driven, and stretch goals are exactly that. They trigger something in our brains that make us press that little green button. However, Jamey introduces an excellent point. If you’re in this for the long run, KS exclusives may get back at you later. So, think carefully about what you want out of your campaign.

    Finally for backers, everyone is different and opinions will certainly diverge. For me, a small amount of exclusive content is good. As long as it doesn’t affect gameplay and does not substantially increase the cost, it will make backers feel special. However, suffering from the completionist syndrome myself, I really don’t like finding a project that I am interested in, only to discover that in order to get the full edition I need to sell my car.

    1. There is another perspective that should be considered too – Retailers.

      Retailers already have an issue with Kickstarter games, but i understand those in the know have particular pessimism about stocking games that had a lot of exclusives.

      If you want to sell your games via retail after the KS sale phase this should matter to you a lot.

      Jamey have you had or heard any feedback about this issue from retail channels below Aldo?

      1. Kim: In regards to your question about retailers, I haven’t heard any complaints so far. However, I’m sure retailers would like the games they sell to be relevant to as many people as possible. I think the solution Trevor and I mention will drive retail sales and give publishers an outlet for selling the premium materials to those who want them.

      2. I actually just noticed a project on Kickstarter that is using a method very similar to the one we’re discussing. Look at the stretch goal chart on Fief ( It has Kickstarter “free” items that are included in every Kickstarter game, but they’re clear to note that those items will be available at a premium after Kickstarter as long as they remain in stock. That’s perfect.

    2. I think I’m with Itai.

      If you intend to sell your product post KS via retail I just don’t see why exciting stretch goals can’t be designed to make ALL versions of the game better (ie not KS exclusive). That motivates me far more than feeling I’m getting stuff that other people won’t get because i backed the KS, so I can feel special, brag about it or trade stuff at high prices. And as Jamey said, I think it is the soundest long term approach for the game, the publisher but also the relationship between them and distributors and retailers ongoing.

      I much prefer other types of engagement / backer participation and slight discounts as KS rewards over exclusivity.

      It would be interesting to if someone could statistically analyse what % backer bonus exclusive content actually gained you between very similar projects. (difficult I know).

  14. Hi folks, Itai here.
    I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Jamey for letting me take part in this and for Sam for providing excellently argued and eloquent points.

    Looking forward to rest of the series!

  15. I think KS exclusive privileges like Eminent Domain’s “name a planet” are perfectly okay, but I think genuinely exclusive content isn’t.

    Unless your KS campaign blows up to absolutely thermonuclear levels, more people won’t back it than will. People who buy the game retail (and who know about the KS exclusives) will ALWAYS feel like they’re missing out proportional to how good the exclusives were. It’s obviously bad business to deliberately adopt a marketing campaign that makes people feel bad about giving you their money. You want people to feel awesome about throwing money at you. So exclusives are bad.

  16. I like the way this was presented, but in the end I disagree with game exclusives. I’m not a major collector, and seeing as how I’m (almost) just as happy to play a print and play, I don’t get the “gotta have it all”mentality, but I definitely recognize it exists and don’t think it’s a good thing to plan on excluding those customers after the campaign ends.

  17. I would join in the debate, but I lack strong opinions either way in general. I’m actually more of a counter-debater or devil’s advocate~

  18. Two years ago I headed up a little bit of a charge against Exclusive Game Content on Kickstarter (blog post:, BGG post: – and it sounds like you’re coming around to the same conclusion I had back then – as you put it, “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.”

    1. You’re ahead of your time, Seth! That’s a great article. I absolutely agree on gameplay content–I learned that lesson with Viticulture. Now with Euphoria, which has no exclusive gameplay content, I’m still experiencing the same issue with component upgrades. I’m curious to hear what you think if you listen to the upcoming podcast with Richard.

    1. Fill out the form and we’ll see. :) I know that John Wrot (The King’s Armory) is definitely on the side of “don’t cancel” too.

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