16 October 2014 | 25 Comments
The KS Experiment series is a new type of blog entry where we feature a different, new, or innovative method for Kickstarter projects to be more attractive to backers and creators. We’re not advocating these ideas–we’re just putting them out there to get feedback in the polls and comments.
If you’ve read Roald Dahl’s classic book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” you know the concept of the golden ticket. In the book, 5 golden tickets were randomly stashed inside ordinary chocolate bars. If you were lucky enough to open a candy bar with a golden ticket, you were able to take a tour through Willy Wonka’s factory.
The concept of the “golden ticket” was actually something we considered for Tuscany. The idea we discussed was to have our factory put one “golden ticket” for a trip to the real Tuscany in one of the boxes for a backer to discover. For various reasons as I’ll mention below, we decided against it.
Flashforward to yesterday when I was poking around on BoardGameGeek’s page for the Terra Mystica expansion, and I stumbled upon the photo on the right. At first I thought that’s what the pieces in the expansion looked like, but then I learned that they’re actually hand-painted tokens inserted randomly into 5 copies of the German edition of Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice being released at Essen.
Today’s KS Experiment is all about this golden ticket concept. Can it work? Is it a good idea for Kickstarter creators? We’ll find out based on your votes.
Insert something special into 5 random copies of the Kickstarter versions of your product.
Unlike the other KS experiments, I wouldn’t necessarily say this idea addresses a specific problem. Rather, it might help to generate more press and buzz around a project that people are already excited about, and it might give people an extra reason to back the project now instead of waiting until the retail release.
The Full Concept
- Announce to backers from day 1 that there are going to be 5 extra-special versions of the product randomly distributed among all backer copies.
- Create the special components and ship them to your factory during production.
- Have your manufacturer place the special components in 5 random products. You would have to make sure that you have a backer version of the product and a retail version (separate SKUs).
Here are some ideas of various golden tickets for the board game space (though this would apply to any product category:
- a special paint job as seen on Terra Mystica (this would also work with miniatures). The challenge here is that your factory would have to send the painter the components, which adds expense and potentially time
- a special version of some of the components (i.e., metal dice). Ideally this wouldn’t change the overall weight of the game by more than a few ounces
- a special set of custom clay resources or meeples
Why It Might Work
Do I think this would have a significant impact on a project? Probably not. A project would already have to be very popular for people to even care about the golden ticket items.
However, I think it would be a lot of fun to try this or be involved in a project that does this. Can you imagine opening a box and discovering components like those pictured above? It would be a magical moment. We’re in the games business–it’s all about creating fun, memorable, magical moments.
Why It Might Not Work
That said, I see the potential for several negatives:
- Completionists: Many gamers–Kickstarter backers in particular–are “completionists,” meaning they want the whole, complete game…or nothing at all. So I wasn’t surprised to see the following comment on the Terra Mystica golden ticket thread: “So what you’re saying is that when this comes out only 5 people in the world can have a complete Terra Mystica set, and the rest of us will have incomplete sets.” This is unfortunate to me, because it sucks all the fun out of an idea like this, but I do have a solution: If you commission an artist to make the special pieces, you can share that artist’s information with everyone up front to say that if you don’t receive the golden ticket version, you can still pay the artist to make special pieces for your set too.
- Creating lots of “losers” and very few “winners”: This is at the core of why I don’t like early-bird reward levels. You’re creating a system of winners and losers. This may not bother most people, but if you back the project because you want the extra special resources, you might just prefer to pay for them up front as a special reward level.
- Kickstarter guidelines: It is possible that this idea would violate Kickstarter’s nebulous “no contests” policy. It don’t really consider it a contest, but there is an element of randomness to it, so it’s possible.
- Laws against lotteries and sweepstakes: It’s also possible that this idea would violate state or local laws against lotteries.
- It’s expensive for minimal gain: The 5 special copies of the product could end up costing you hundreds of dollars each. Is that worth the chance that you might attract more backers?
- Creating hype at the wrong time: Sure, a golden ticket strategy might create some hype around the project during the campaign. But that hype will climax when 5 people actually open their games to discover the special pieces inside and proceed to post on BGG, Twitter, Facebook, etc. At that climactic point, it will be too late for people to back the project to have a chance at getting those items.
What do you think? Would you like to see project creators incorporate the golden ticket strategy into their projects, or would you prefer for extra special items like this to be included at expensive reward levels instead?