30 September 2016 | 20 Comments
I had the good fortune of having dinner a few night ago with Scott Morris of Passport Games while he was in St. Louis for business. You may know him as Tox from his YouTube channel, Crits Happen.
Scott had a lot of great stories and wisdom to share, but there’s something he said that I instantly identified as a great concept to write about for the 200th Kickstarter Lesson:
“Publishers often think they’re selling games to gamers, but that’s actually not true,” Scott said. “Most people who buy hobby games are collectors.”
I would take this a step further and say that most backers are collectors too. Let’s talk about this.
Are You a Collector?
I think almost every person is either one or both of the following, even if they don’t realize it:
- You collect things.
- You collect experiences.
If you’re a gamer like me, you probably have a big shelf of games, and you’ve played maybe half of them (obviously that’s a broad generalization). If you love books as much as I do, you probably have a number of books you haven’t read and a number of books you’ve read once and will never read again. Or maybe you like to have the latest gadget even if you don’t use it very often. And so on.
Or maybe you collect experiences. I play a lot of board games exactly once, and after I do, I feel like I’ve checked something important off an imaginary list. I like trying new restaurants or traveling to new places, even if I’m highly unlikely to return. Even as a Kickstarter backer, I’m collecting the experience of backing a bunch of different projects (193 and counting), even though I actively engage in a small percentage of them.
What Does This Mean for Crowdfunding?
I’ll start off by saying what it doesn’t mean. Knowing that many backers are collector’s doesn’t mean that your only job as a creators is to put together something that looks cool on a shelf, regardless of how fun or functional it is. It also doesn’t mean that you run a buzzworthy campaign but you stop communicating after it’s over.
Rather, it means that creators are in a position to offer backers the best of both worlds. You can engage backers during and after the campaign, making them feel like they’re part of something special, and then you can produce something that looks great and functions well.
How to Appeal to Collectors
I’m not going to go into detail here about how to create a good experience for Kickstarter backers, because that’s pretty much this entire blog. Instead, here are a few thoughts and ideas about things to consider when designing the product so it appeals to the collector in each of us.
- visual appeal: This goes beyond good art and design that enhance your shelf. It’s also about the experience of opening the reward for the first time. The very first project I backed on Kickstarter–a novella–arrived in this static shield packaging. It was a small touch, but it made the experience special, and I’ve kept it ever since.
- special editions: While I don’t think a project needs to offer special/collector’s editions of the product, it’s certainly a good time to make them, particularly if you leverage the concept of the premium option.
- must-have component: I remember when I first saw the special tuckbox in Heroes and Tricks–instantly I wanted it, just for the sake of having it. I’ve had this experience a number of times, and I bet you have too. It’s because we’re collectors, and we want unique, beautiful things that we can show off. I’ve written about this in detail here.
Note that Kickstarter exclusives (things you can only get if you’re a backer, then never again) aren’t on this list. The misconception may be that collectors want KS exclusives. However, when’s the last time you looked at your shelf with pride and though, “Man, I’m really happy that I’m 1 of only 2000 people who have this exclusive miniature.” I think it’s exceptionally rare that a backer feels more satisfied as a collector purely because they know most other people won’t have it.
That’s a short list of ideas; I’m sure you’ll have some other good ones to add in the comments.
I love the idea of embracing ourselves as collectors, both as creators and as backers. There’s a certain freedom in looking at your bookshelves with pride instead of shame or your photo album with bewilderment. These are the things and experiences that make us who we are, and I appreciate crowdfunding for exposing me to such a wide variety of interesting projects.
What makes you proud to own or experience something? What makes you excited to share it with friends?
Also read: This great interview on Geekdad with Kickstarter employee Luke Crane.