23 January 2014 | 13 Comments
Note: Most of the Kickstarter Lessons apply to all kinds of projects, but this post specifically applies to tabletop game projects.
With our upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the expansion pack to Viticulture, Tuscany, coming up in mid-March, I’ve been working on the project page for a few weeks now. A lot of the decisions I’m making are a result of other expansion campaigns I’ve followed in the past, so I thought I would formally compile that data and share it here to help other Kickstarter creators.
This is a very specific category: Kickstarter projects for expansions to games that were originally funded on Kickstarter (thanks to Matt Wolfe for brainstorming some projects that fit this category). My research felt a little bit like the case studies I did on reboots of failed Kickstarter projects.
Let’s get right to the data, and we can see what we can learn from each of these projects. You can view the data and even add future projects here.
Among the Stars: The original game was actually on IndieGoGo, but the data still seems relevant. Two things to note are that they doubled the funding goal for the expansion pack (from $8k to $15k) and the cost of the expansion ($26) was less than half of the cost of the original game ($55).
Pixel Lincoln: This one is fascinating because the original game did so well ($41k), but the expansion tanked ($10k). Perhaps it might have something to do with the expansion ($35) costing more than the original game ($25)?
Eminent Domain: This was one of the first games ever on Kickstarter, and they waited the longest of any of the other campaigns to launch their expansion (2.5 years). I think that’s probably too long, but TMG does a good job of continuing to get their games in the public eye well after the initial hype, so it worked for them.
Zpocalypse: Like Pixel Lincoln, the expansion campaign for Zpocalypse actually raised less ($190k) than the original ($210k). I think that’s an indication that there was either something wrong with the quality of the original game or with the expansion campaign, because the expansion campaign should bring in more people, not less. I can’t speak to the quality of Zpocalypse, but I can say that the reward levels on the expansion page were so confusing that I couldn’t find the one that represented the actual expansion.
Sentinels of the Multiverse: I cheated a little bit on this one, because the original game of Sentinels wasn’t funded on Kickstarter. However, their first expansion campaign, Rook City, feels a little bit like an original KS project because there is a reward level just for the original game. They had an interesting reward level that just involved hard-to-get promos from past versions of Sentinels.
Zombicide: The big boy of the bunch. The original campaign raised $781k, and the follow-up eclipsed $2 million. What’s interesting here is that they actually raised the price–the original game was $75, but both expansions cost $100.
Flash Point: On the original campaign, the game was $35. On the expansion campaign, the expansion was $32, and the game plus the expansion was $100. I don’t quite understand the math, but the result was good: The expansion campaign raised over $177k.
Fleet: The price of the Fleet expansion ($25) was a little higher than the original game ($20). Fleet is a good example of using anchor prices to drive backers towards premium levels.
Dungeon Heroes: As several people in the comments pointed out, this was a really unique expansion campaign because it was launched just 1 month after the original campaign. The original campaign didn’t meet a key stretch goal that a subset of the backers wanted, so Crash Games wisely created a new campaign just for that stretch goal.
Alien Frontiers: This may have been the first game on Kickstarter, period. The game got rave reviews, and they followed it up with an expansion campaign a little over a year later (and then an even bigger 4th edition campaign 2 years after that).
Patterns and Trends
The major trend I notice between all of these expansion campaigns is that the creators appear to have learned some sort of lesson the first time around. For example, all but one of the funding goals increased for the expansion campaigns. Many prices went up as well, almost as if they charged too little the first time around and didn’t want to make the same mistake.
For the most part, all expansion campaigns raised more money and drew more backers than the original campaigns. It makes sense–if you have a game on the market for a year or so, more people will be aware of it and will want a piece of the pie. But I think it’s harder than it looks, because you have to appeal to previous backers and buyers as well as new backers. The previous backers just want the expansion at a great price and full of great stuff, and new backers need the full game and the expansion, which is a much higher barrier to entry.
- Pricing: Price the expansion at a lower price than the original game, and offer the two together at a slight discount.
- Timing: Launch the expansion campaign about 12-18 months after the original campaign ends. Do not launch the expansion campaign before you deliver the original game (credit to @RMBLees for pointing out that’s what Zpocalypse did).
- Focus: Keep the focus on the expansion by only offering the original game as part of a combo pack, not by itself. If people just want the original game, they can order it from your website, but ordering it off the Kickstarter by itself will overinflate the funds you need to actually make the expansion.
- Parity: Don’t assume everyone knows about the original campaign. Make it very easy for them to learn about the original game by linking to reviews, videos, rules, etc.
What do you think? If you followed any of those expansion campaigns, what did you learn from them?