Kickstarter Lesson #84: Coordinating Staggered Launch and End Dates

6 March 2014 | 36 Comments

Today’s lesson addresses a problem that currently doesn’t have a solution. So I’m going to try to make one.

The Problem

On March 12, 2014 at 9:30 am CST, I’m launching a Kickstarter for the Tuscany expansion pack to Viticulture, a Euro game about owning a vineyard. Tuscany features a legacy-style unlocking system for the 8 expansions it contains.

Like any other Kickstarter creator, I know that the Tuscany Kickstarter will overlap with dozens of other board game Kickstarters, including other Euro games. That’s totally fine. The array of projects on the Kickstarter ecosystem is great for creators. We’re not competing against each other; rather, we’re all bringing backers to Kickstarter where they can back a variety of projects.

However, I believe there is one exception to that rule: When your project launches on the same day as another project in the same category. I think this creates a problem for both projects.

There is a reason that movie studios coordinate release weekends so that the same types of movies don’t hit screens on the same day. This applies to Kickstarter as well.

Why? Because of buzz and momentum. Buzz is hugely important on Kickstarter, particularly among tabletop game projects. If you launch a zombie-themed game on the same day that I launch a zombie-themed game, they compete against one another for launch-day buzz from people who like zombie games, and they will inevitably be compared even though one project creator lives in Cornwall and the other in Boise.

The momentum created by a successful launch day is also incredibly important for a Kickstarter project. If two projects within the same subcategory (say, party game) launch on the same day, one of them is going to gain more momentum than the other. It’s inevitable. Backers have limited resources–in fact, even the same backers who might be willing to pay $100 for a miniatures game this week and $50 for a Euro game next week are going to be less likely to shell out $150 to back both projects on the same day. That matters for a project even if that backer eventually backs both projects, because the momentum from the project they chose will snowball into more pledges and more attention than the other project.

A lot of the suggestions I make about on this blog are geared towards incremental changes that will increase your project’s chances of success. So I would recommend not launching on the same day as another project in your project’s subcategory. In fact, I wouldn’t even recommend ending your project on the last day of another project for the same reasons–lots of backers will click the “remind me” button during the project and will show up to make their decision in the last day or two.

However, currently there is no way to know when other projects are going to launch or end while you’re planning and announcing your launch and end dates. Sure, you might know when some projects are going to launch if you read a lot of blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and BGG forums, but even then, it’s impossible to know about ALL other projects. I think I have a solution for this.

The Solution

Okay, prepare to be not all that impressed. But I do think this will make a big difference for table top game creators on Kickstarter, at least for now. This is only going to work if other project creators use this resource, so please share it on places where other project creators can see it (or even share it directly with project creators you know).

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter Launch and End Dates Google spreadsheet for tabletop game projects. You can use it to share your intended launch and end dates with other creators. Although it’s rudimentary, the spreadsheet format helps to give you a “big-picture” view of the tabletop Kickstarter ecosystem at any given time.

Keep in mind that there’s nothing binding or official about this spreadsheet. If someone else has a launch date for a micro game project on the same day you wanted to launch and you want to disregard my recommendation, enter your information on the same cell. Just don’t delete anyone else’s information–this is a resource to help creators, not sabotage them.

I find it’s helpful to get notifications when people update a Google doc. To do that, go to Tools/Notification Rules on the spreadsheet and choose your notification preferences.

***

What do you think? I’m open to suggestions about how this works. Perhaps the spreadsheet needs other subcategories, or perhaps launch and end dates should be on the same spreadsheet instead of separate tabs. I’d love to hear your feedback, and I appreciate you sharing this with other project creators. There’s also this great list on BoardGameGeek.

Also see my KS Lesson about project timing and length.

36 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #84: Coordinating Staggered Launch and End Dates

      1. Hey Jamey, do you find that at this time in 2018, more creators are using your spreadsheet for launch/end dates or not? I have your spreadsheet and will not mine on there when it comes time, I just want to make sure it’s relevant and if I still need to look for other signups, like on bgg or if you’re Spreadsheet is the only one

        Jessi

        1. Jessi: While I don’t actively maintain the Google Doc, it does appear that people continue to use it. There’s also a list somewhere on BoardGameGeek that features all tabletop game Kickstarter projects.

  1. the past 7 days has been insane, i think march is the month of KS this year. so many games, only saved up enough budget for 3-4 worth of games. arg. Really wish they were more spaced out.

  2. Hi Jamey,
    Long time First time. Unfortunately it seems Pay Dirt is Launching on the same day as your KS, maybe you are aware of this already? Most likely one of you will suffer. I think it will be Patrick from Crash games and Pay Dirt. I guess it’s not too late for one of you to change. Also, at one point you asked everyone who had a KS copy of Viticulture and that you will email us all about something special. Has that happened yet? Thanks,

    Mark T.

    1. Mark: Indeed, Patrick’s announcement of Pay Dirt’s launch date a week or so ago made me start thinking about this (I announced Tuscany’s launch date 2 months ago and have been heavily promoting it–we’re not going to change it, and I wouldn’t expect Patrick to change his date either). I think we’ll both be fine, but I think this solution will help to prevent that in the future.

      I’m so glad you reminded me about that Viticulture announcement! I shared the news a few days ago with original backers, but I forgot about that list. I’ll send out an e-mail today about that.

  3. It’s a good idea Jamey… I hope eventually Kickstarter will grow into a more advanced platform, where for example you would be able to obtain such data, and structure your campaign to fit the current situation.
    Of course you could say this is up to the creators alone, but if Kickstarter want to make crowd funding a viable business strategy in the future, it might be such things that needs to be possible.
    As a project creator, I find that I do incredibly many things in “the blind”… besides all the great brainstorming I have with you ;)

  4. As a reviewer, I try to offer up reviews for upcoming games specifically on Kickstarter. A schedule like this would also allow for us to have them so reviews could be out their for the games/designers as well as those looking to see if they would be interested. Let me know if I can assist in any way at all.

  5. If we as backers of projects know the date or speculated date of an upcoming project, do you think it’s ok for us to add it in, or should it be left to the individual creators to decide. (MERCS: Recon should be launching on Friday for example).

    It could be more complete that way, but also may get some incorrect/out-of-date speculation, just wondered how others feel on it ^^.

  6. If I wasn’t leading up to launching something myself, I might try to put together an app that would have a prettier interface than this.

    The spreadsheet works since there’s nothing else out there to facilitate this, but it wouldn’t be that hard to put something together that looks a bit nicer and is easier to use.

  7. From a discussion I just had on Reddit about game types, I’m curious to get your opinion on where a dice game falls in this? Initially I was thinking a Thematic game, but I suppose a thematic board game may not be considered direct competition with Dungeon Dice or Dragon Dice.

    1. I think it depends on the type of dice game, as it can fall into a number of categories. Alien Frontiers is a Euro game with dice. Dungeon Roll is a light game with dice. Elder Sign is a thematic/Amerithrash game with dice. And so on.

  8. I just entered our new game launching on 9/28 onto the Google spreadsheet. Having not used this form before I accidentally bumped another project that was already there and cannot figure out how to put them back. Can you help?

  9. Hi Jamey,

    I was reading through your kickstarter lessons about the timing of a project and couldn’t really find an answer to my own question: Should smaller creators stay away from overlapping with big name kickstarter campaigns that or on the same niche? For instance, if I have a zombie game should I wait for Zombicide to pass that month?

    I have a sci-fi strategy game that will overlap with Deep Madness that’s a great up and coming thematic game with lots of miniatures. I feel like I have no chance that month and I will be in the shadow no matter what. How much do my chances go down if I overlap the campaigns?

    Waiting is not going to help cause in reality the next window is only next year. And even then there may be another big overlap and so on.

    Thanks!

    1. Vladimir: Thanks for your question. I would answer the same as I did on this post: The overlap matters a lot less than the launch date and the end date. If you stagger them, you should be fine (if you’ve done everything else to increase your project’s odds of being successful).

      1. I have a similar concern being a first time publisher developing an indie game. I have seen campaigns fail because people withdraw pledges to support bigger name games when you launch during a major window. Not sure if staggering the start/end date is the key. Jamie your spreadsheet is awesome ! Thanks for that, but can you help us indie gamers in the US with the pointers on how to choose timing?

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