Kickstarter Lesson #249: The Frequently Asked Questions to Answer in Your FAQ

19 April 2018 | 12 Comments

A long, long time ago in the days of 2013, I wrote a blog post recommending that creators prepare their FAQ before launching their project. But…I didn’t actually offer any specific questions that backers frequently ask.

Flash-forward to the present. I heard from JR Honeycutt that in preparation for the launch of Fireball Island on Kickstarter, he was examining the FAQs of various projects. I invited him to write a guest post on the subject. Thanks JR!

***

Hey friends, I’m JR Honeycutt, Tinker-In-Chief at Restoration Games. I’m a part of the team for the Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar campaign (currently live on Kickstarter), and have been involved in quite a few other Kickstarter campaigns, like Feudum: The Queen’s Army (Odd Bird Games), Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up (Artana), and Millennium Blades (Level 99 Games).

I’ve found it useful to imagine campaigns from the perspective of my backers–people with very little emotional attachment to me or my product. For instance, despite considerable nostalgia for Fireball Island, we worked hard to use our KS page to showcase the game for what it is now, outside of the context of the original game. What if they’d never played it as a kid, or never heard of it at all?

Campaign pages are a storefront, where people walk in off the (digital) street and see what I have for sale. What questions will they ask me? How will I gain their trust, both in myself and the product I’m creating?

To that end, here are 4 questions I’ve seen backers ask consistently over the years, accompanied by examples of how I and my collaborators have addressed them:

  1. Why should I back your project now, instead of waiting to see if it’s any good and buying it after it’s released?

In my experience, it’s because my collaborators and I need support to make the best possible game. Big games like Millennium Blades (campaign run by Brad Talton of Level 99 Games) and Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar have a lot of room for additional content. Being able to gauge demand through Kickstarter led to plenty of stretch goals on both projects, which introduced new game content that may not have existed without the campaign support to allow for it.

Savvy backers want to know what they’re going to get as a reward for their support. This may be Kickstarter-exclusive content (something Jamey has covered extensively here, here, and here), or it could be a discount on product, an early delivery, or inclusion in the game in some way (like printing their name in the rules).

2. Will there be a pledge manager, and if so, how will it work for this project?

If the answer is yes, backers benefit from having the process explained in the campaign page on launch. For example, Feudum: The Queen’s Army campaign, Mark Swanson included a list of all of their available products, with the discounted price backers would receive when they used the pledge manager. This helped backers calculate how much they’d like to spend, and made payment through PayPal possible for backers who wanted it, provided that they pledged at least $1 during the campaign.

This was a reward for backers who supported him during the campaign, since only folks who pledged would have access to the pledge manager. It allowed Mark a reference to point to when backers asked, which saved him time during the campaign.

3. Can you ship to [country]? Why are the shipping costs the way they are?

Kickstarter has taken steps to make shipping details easier to communicate to backers. Part of setting up a campaign includes pricing shipping in regions you’ve selected, and backers are required to select from that list when they pledge. I’ve found it useful to present that information in an infographic (preferably more than just a copy/pasted excel tab) for easy reference.

For Fireball Island, we only have the rights to sell the game in English to the US, Canada, EU, and Australia. Many of our backers have requested the game in other languages, to which we can only respond, “we don’t have the rights to do that”. It’s an unusual case, but we stated it plainly on our page and in our communication to help affected backers.

4. Is it language independent? If not, will it be available in [language]?

I consider language independence to be a development task alongside component design or mechanisms in the game. For Tesla vs. Edison: Duel, we developed the game until all actions could be represented by a small set of symbols. This made the game more accessible for our backers, since they needed to read less during play. It also kept the cards text-free, except for the names of the cards.

Localization partners can help translate and distribute games where needed. When possible, I recommend arranging those partnerships before launch, so those partners can be listed on the campaign page as a reference for backers. It’s not unusual for localization partners to reach out during or after a campaign, which may require an update to backers that a new option is available.

***

Thank you, JR! JR also went on to talk about how there are questions specific to each project. By putting yourself in backers’ shoes and trying to determine these questions–and your answers–in advance, you may be able to prevent confusion and discover some new opportunities. He offered 2 interesting examples of this:

  1. If a backer adds on one of my existing games to their pledge, will that game be shipped separately when the campaign is over, or together with the game when it’s ready? What if it’s for a product that isn’t available until after the campaign is over?

Asking this question led us to speak with our distribution and fulfillment partners about getting backers our games (like Downforce: Danger Circuit and Dinosaur Tea Party). Addressing this early likely saves us (and the backers) money in fulfilling these orders, and gets games to our backers as early as possible.

  1. Can I create a single box that holds all the planned content for my game, both in this campaign and from any past or future projects? If not, will I work with partners (like Broken Token) to create custom products during or after the campaign?

Asking this question prompted Artana to include a Broken Token insert in the Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up campaign, which was widely appreciated by backers.

***

Thanks JR! Remember, you can’t populate your FAQ pre-launch, but you can have questions and answers prepared in advance. You can also add new questions and answers during the campaign.

Do you have any other frequently asked questions you would add to this list? Keep in mind that the project page itself should contain a wealth of information. I view the FAQ as a repository of topics that some backers are curious about, not information that all potential backers need to know when deciding if the product is a good fit for them.

Also read: Anatomy of a Great Kickstarter Project Page

12 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #249: The Frequently Asked Questions to Answer in Your FAQ

  1. I wonder how often backers know to look in the FAQ, instead of commenting their question. I imagine a lot of the times it is the latter. To this end, answering the questions in the FAQ almost helps you the creator quickly reply with the same answer you gave in the FAQ and maintain consistency.

    1. In my experience, the FAQ is seldomly something people read. It seems to me like is something the “power backers” of the project go over when they are hanging out on the page later. We put together an FAQ in advance for the Elder Dice: Unspeakable Tomes campaign as well, to go over points we knew from experience would come up a lot:

      https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/infiniteblack/elder-dice-unspeakable-tomes-cthulhu-mythos-themed/faqs

      We also copied and pasted certain questions from the FAQ to the updates when the questions were relevant to the update and/or certain questions had been coming up a lot.

      But, yes, in our experience, people prefer to just ask their question in the comments section, send a Kickstarter message, or post to Facebook rather than get into the FAQ. I have found you just have to be prepared to answer the same questions many times on many different platforms. That is just part of Kickstarter.

      1. They wouldn’t be frequently asked questions if people didn’t keep asking them. It’s a great problem to have :)

        1. It is a good problem to have, that is true. But it would still be better if there was a way to disseminate information to people more efficiently. Kickstarter’s FAQ page doesn’t really do that. Plus, in our case, a lot of the most frequently asked questions are not really about our project, but about how the Kickstarter system works. (“How to I upgrade my pledge?”, “How do I make an add on?” “How do I select the item I want?”) I can only imagine that these questions are frequently asked Kickstarter-wide and so I am sure many creators have had to answer them many times. I answer them on every project.

          I don’t blame the backers for having those questions, because Kickstarter does not make the answers to any of them obvious. If they did a better job on that, it would greatly reduce the number of questions we have to answer. That would let us focus more on our project, rather than answering questions about how the Kickstarter platform works.

  2. Thanks JR. How’s your cool road trip? And congrats on Fireball Island!

    I like the part about imagining the campaign from the perspective some with no emotional attachment.

    Does anyone ask about a post-KS payment option that is “open” right after the campaign? Do you think that would have the negative effect on people to waiting to see the final amount of stretch goals unlocked? Would it slow down a campaign?

    1. Gerald: In my experience, I did have quite a few people asking if they could pledge for $1 and upgrade their pledge later (I noted on the project page that we wouldn’t be using a pledge manager, but people still asked). I definitely think it’s a negative if you have people waiting to pledge instead of pledging now (at any point in the campaign), which is why I tried to make it very clear that only the retail version of the game and the ala carte accessories and promos would be available post-campaign.

  3. Before my campaign, I went through a number of other campaigns and had a look to what they added. Every campaign is different with some information kept for the FAQ and some put on the campaign page itself. Other than the ones mentioned in the above post I saw/added to my FAQ:

    If it is a card game, having the card stock in the FAQ section is a good idea. As well as other things like size, and if you sleeve the cards, will they fit in the box?

    Although, some people put it in the campaign page, I saw a number of campaigns having a FAQ section for retailers/distributors with contact information (if they do the back for $small amount and pay direct after campaign method).

  4. Hi JR and Jamey, may I ask about your ideas about the expansions? Did you think about a smaller box for the main games only instead of a very bigger box to hold expansions in the future to save cost? Or 2 options for backers, one is for the main games without room for expansions, and the other is a bigger box with enough room for new expansions? I remember Jamey’s other blog about to customize the board games. Tks.

    1. Annie: I can’t speak specifically to the Fireball Island expansions, but when I think about expansions in general, I think about packaging them separately (but, if they’re made at the same time as the core game, leaving enough space in the core game box for the expansion components).

Leave a Comment

© 2019 Stonemaier Games