19 September 2016 | 42 Comments
One of the foundations of Stonemaier Games that we’ve offered from the beginning to the present is a money-back guarantee on Kickstarter rewards. Today I’m going to talk about the results of that offer for Scythe.
Now, before I share the numbers, I want to say that I almost didn’t write this entry. The goal of this blog is to help crowdfunders. Does it actually help other creators to know how many backers used the money-back guarantee for a game that raised $1.8 million on Kickstarter and is ranked #13 on BGG? It’s an outlier, for sure.
But I decided to write it anyway, because like any product on Kickstarter, some people don’t like the game (or what the game represents: me and/or Stonemaier). Plus, people paid a lot for Scythe. They stand to lose more than usual by keeping a game they don’t want.
And yes, anyone can try to sell Scythe on the secondary market. I think the money-back guarantee is more geared towards people who don’t want to deal with the hassle of reselling something. If they’re done with Scythe, they’re done with it–it’s much easier for them to put it in the mail to me, no questions asked, and get a full refund (including return shipping).
Here’s how our money-back guarantee works: If you pledge to receive one of our games or products on Kickstarter, starting from the moment you make the pledge and extending until 1 month after you receive your reward (I’m not particularly strict about the date range), you can return it to us for a full pledge refund for any reason, including return shipping fees.
For all of our fulfilled projects to date, we’ve had a total of 37,823 backers who received physical rewards. A handful of them canceled before even receiving their rewards. As for the ones who received their rewards and chose to send them back, here are the totals:
- Viticulture: 0
- Euphoria: 2
- Tuscany: 3
- Treasure Chest: 2
- Between Two Cities: 6
- New Treasure Chests: 2
- Scythe: 7
- TOTAL: 22
I usually don’t ask backers why they want to return their reward, though sometimes I’ll ask in such a way that gives the person permission not to answer at all. Here are some of the reasons I got (some of which were unsolicited) from backers who returned Scythe:
- “I returned it as certain events came up in my life and needed some extra money.”
- “It is all about translation, I do not mind playing game in English, but my gaming group does, even if this is only small amount of writing.”
- “We’ve had it for almost a month and found it’s just not for us.”
- “After playing it two times I’ve realized that it’s not for my gaming group.”
- “This combination of euro and area control just did not work for me.”
- “The only reason I am returning is that someone else got me the game as a gift and I don’t need two copies.”
I have replacement parts helpers in Japan, Australia, Canada, Spain, the UK, Germany, and the US, so the returned games were usually sent to the closest of those locations. Also, I did two things differently for Scythe than I have for other games, both with a common theme: I didn’t always ask for the backer to return the game to us.
- I asked the backer to hold the game for a few days while I found a new customer for it, which wasn’t difficult given the demand for Scythe. I would sell the game to the new customer and have the backer mail it to them. If I did this, I included the game in the data above.
- I recommended to the customer that they sell the game and make a profit. Of course, I assured the customer that if they’d rather just mail it back to us, that was totally fine. I just had a feeling that some of them didn’t realize they could make money off of it, and I wanted to let them know about the potential. If I did this, I did not include the game in the data above. I have on record 2 instances of this.
There were only a few hiccups in the returns process for Scythe. These aren’t big problems, but they’re things that I wasn’t overly pleased with.
- One backer received a game and immediately requested a return. This is the customer who said, “I returned it as certain events came up in my life and needed some extra money.” I politely asked the customer why they didn’t just cancel the game before it was shipped, and they said they don’t check their Kickstarter e-mail address or subscribe to updates–they didn’t even remember they were getting the game.
- One backer in the US spent $42 on return shipping (it should have cost $20 at most via USPS). This was a signal to me that perhaps I should create the return label for backers instead of asking them to do it on their own.
But overall, I thought it went very well. I’m glad our backers have the option of returning our games to us. After waiting 8 months to get their Kickstarter reward, if it turns out to be something they don’t like, they had the freedom to return it. I’d prefer that than for them to begrudge us every time they see Scythe taking up space on their shelf! :)
I know it’s scary for creators to offer a money-back guarantee. I’m not saying it’s a good fit for you in the same way that it’s a good fit for us. But I want you to have some data for one company (Stonemaier Games) that has consistently offered this guarantee on our campaigns so you can make an informed decision.
What do you think about these results?