6 March 2014
Today’s lesson addresses a problem that currently doesn’t have a solution. So I’m going to try to make one.
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.
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.