New Strategies and Methods Used for the Wingspansion Launch and 2019 Charity Auction

7 November 2019 | 10 Comments

With our Wingspan European Expansion preorder and our 2019 charity auction currently in progress, I thought I’d share a behind-the-scenes look at what I did differently and why.


For most of our new products launched over the last few years, my method has been to (a) reveal details about the product and then (b) announce the core details (MSRP, SKU, and retail release date) at the same time as our preorder launch. However, I combined (a) and (b) for the Wingspansion for these reasons:

  • I wanted to release the expansion in time for the holidays, which–particularly for some of our partners–meant a November 22 retail release date at the latest. I like to give retailers and distributors around 2 months between the reveal of the core details and the retail release date, so I needed to bump up the announcement to early October (our September focus was on Tapestry).
  • By providing those core details up front, we were also able to give distributors their allocations right away. That gave them more time to (hopefully) communicate allocations to retailers so retailers would only sell products they know they will receive.
  • I knew that our units of the expansion wouldn’t arrive at fulfillment centers (US, Canada, UK, and Australia) until late October, and I only like to sell in-stock inventory. So I couldn’t launch our preorder in early October–it needed to wait until early November.
  • Even though I knew retailers would start accepting sales nearly a month before our preorder began, I was curious to see the impact on our direct preorders. So far I would say it’s been fine. We haven’t sold out of our allotment like the mad rush that was the Tapestry preorder, which means that we might be able to actually have inventory on our webstore for the holiday season.

One other thing I did differently because of the early reveal of those core details was that I revealed the product page for the expansion back in early October (instead of waiting until the preorder launch). People could enter their e-mail on that page to get a notification in early November. Having this link available also enabled me to give advance reviewers a lot more flexibility as to when they shared their opinions on the expansion.

In an adjustment to the methods used for the Wingspan and Tapestry preorders, I set aside a specific quantity of the Wingspansion for Stonemaier to sell directly, but I didn’t limit the preorder to a specific time period. It’s a small change, but I think it’s good to leave the preorder period open in case we do sell out of the expansion faster than expected.

Last, I initiated a “no cancellations on preorders” policy for the Wingspansion (it’s noted on the product page). It’s just a huge hassle whenever a customer places an order and then cancels it an hour or a day later, as all orders immediately go into our fulfillment queue. Cancelling the order requires the fulfillment process to stop so someone can track down the label (or the package), which impacts many other customers. I’m willing to make exceptions (a few people have contacted me to say that both they and their husband/wife ordered the expansion by mistake), but hopefully this policy will help issues created in the past by indecisive customers.

2019 Charity Auction

I’ve talked about our annual charity auction in the past, and all of the details are on this page if you’re curious. I’ll just focus on the one small change I made this year.

For most of the previous charity auctions, I heard from a number of people who wanted to contribute in some way but just weren’t able to afford the $300-$500 that winning bids usually entail. So this year I decided to invite anyone to fill out our 2019 demographic survey, and for each person who does so during the charity auction (through Friday), Stonemaier Games will donate $1 to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the items we put on the charity auction are all Wingspan-related).

So far we’ve actually had fewer people fill out the survey than last year when I offered a prize to a few random correspondents, so perhaps charity isn’t the best motivator. But we’re still getting some good data, and I look forward to making a healthy donation to a good cause.


What do you think about these strategies? Would you like us to use similar strategies in the future?

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10 Comments on “New Strategies and Methods Used for the Wingspansion Launch and 2019 Charity Auction

  1. I took the survey but I don’t feel it accurately portrays my gaming experience. I regularly play games with my kids and separately play games with my gaming partner. I also buy games regularly online, direct from the publisher, and from my local shops/bookstores. A lot of that depends on where I can get the game soonest or who even has it in stock. It’d be great if there were options for multiple selections.

  2. Same here. I only subscribe to the Champion’s newsletter. I didn’t even realize there was another newsletter!

    And quick question – if one bids in the charity auction, does the charitable contribution come from Stonemaier Games to the charity, or does it come from the donor (or is it split). I have a giving streak with my charity of choice and I’d like to keep in tact, but I’d still like to bid!

    1. Eric: To ensure the donation is made in full, we ask for the winning bidder to send the funds to us, then we double that amount and make the donation. Given the right circumstances, we could work around that, though.

  3. There’s more!
    I think the reason I ‘forgot’ to read the newsletter email was the Champion email came round a few days before it and it looked very similar so I mentally dismissed it. The Champions email did not reference the survey so maybe that has happened with others.

  4. Like Keith, until I read this article I was unaware of the survey, so maybe it is more about it’s visiblity rather than the charity/prize difference?
    And, yeah it might have been nice if some of the questions allowed multiple options but I understand how difficult that makes it to interrpret results.

  5. Survey completed! I’ll say I actually prefer the donation per survey option. I will also say I was aware of the charity auction but I know I would never be able to cover a winning bid, so I glossed over it when discussed.
    My point being is I totally missed there was a demographic survey of it was discussed in conjunction to the auction, and I wonder if others did as well. That might not actually be the reason, just something I thought.

    1. I also only realised about the donation-per-survey because of this article, as I too glossed over the auction bit, knowing I couldn’t afford anything.

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