20 March 2017
During my Kickstarter campaign for Euphoria, I made a calculated decision to add a new reward level that included extra dice and blank-faced recruit cards. 1794 backers ended up pledging to that reward.
This wasn’t an impulse decision. Rather, it was informed by backers every step of the way, and I let backers know the varies factors I had to consider. You can see a detailed account of the process here.
Recently I read an article on one of my favorite blogs, The Psychology of Video Games, about perceived fairness. The idea is that following certain guidelines can increase the perception of a decision as “fair.” The primary example in the article is how Blizzard changed a character in Overwatch.
The author lists five steps to follow when making a change to your project or product (these are quoted verbatim in bold). I think the Euphoria story works for each of these steps, so I’ll use it as an example for each point.
- Give players a chance to voice concerns and participate in the decision-making. I encouraged Euphoria backers to share their ideas in the comments, and when I sensed there were more than a few people with the same request, I launched a poll for all backers.
- Be consistent in your application of the changes. All backers had access to the new reward level, not just backers who responded to the poll or those who had already pledged.
- Be transparent about why you decided what you did. Before the decision, I wrote a detailed update about the factors I had to consider when adding a new reward. When I added the reward, I wrote another update detailing why I combined the dice and faceless recruits into the same reward, why I chose $59 as the price, etc.
- Appear (and in fact be) free from bias toward or against one group of players. This was tough, because I really had to step out of my shoes and put myself in the position of backers who wanted things that I didn’t anticipate. I knew the logistical complications the change would cause, and I didn’t look forward to them. But I made a concerted effort to present the option in a way that was free of bias, and I committed to making the addition if the data supported it.
- Offer recourses for bad decisions. The “bad decision” in this case is that I launched a project without the optimal spread of rewards. I was more forgiving with backers who meant to upgrade but forgot until the projected ended.
I really love these steps. One last thing I should mention is that despite this procedure, the decision is yours. You know your project and product better than anyone else, and you’re responsible for making it as good as it can possibly be on budget and on schedule. If you go bankrupt trying to add something that backers voted for, everyone suffers as a result.
Have you seen projects follow a similar procedure when making changes during or after the campaign?