16 August 2016
At Gen Con last week, I had an interesting conversation with a game designer and future Kickstarter creator. He posed a question that completely stumped me, so I thought I’d share it here.
The numbers below are hypothetical, but they roughly represent the actual scenario. [Update: The designer, Denny Weston, has revealed his product with lots of details in the comments. You can search this page for “Denny” to see his comments.]
The designer has an expensive dexterity game that he would like to fund on Kickstarter. I won’t go into details, but it’s expensive for a reason: For the game to function, it requires very specific components that cost a lot to make. It’s not a lot of components, but the components require specific materials for the game to function.
If the designer makes fewer than 10,000 units, the price per unit skyrockets. So that’s his threshold. The price per unit with even just the slimmest of profit margin is $100 (including shipping costs). That’s a $1 million funding goal.
The game looks great. But I struggled to believe that 10,000 people would spend $100 for it (at least up front–it might have quite a long tail). I wanted to try to help the creator lower the funding goal and the price per unit to increase the chances of success.
I asked all the key questions that I could think of:
- Does it really need to be a minimum of 10,000 units? (yes)
- Could the components be made out of different materials? (no)
- Could it be manufactured cheaper elsewhere? (no)
- Could you first launch a “humble” campaign for a completely different game to help build an audience? (maybe)
So we’re back at the beginning: A product that costs $100 to make at a minimum quantity of 10,000.
Now, there is the possibility the designer could make fewer games at a price point of $150-$170. But at that higher price point, he’s potentially eliminating a large audience of people. There’s a big psychological game between a $99 game and a $170 game.
This left me with only two solutions:
- When the designer is ready, run the project with an accurate budget (a funding goal of over $1 million). Sure, it may not fund, but at least he doesn’t lose much by trying.
- Try to sell the rights to the game to a company that specializes in this type of game. Perhaps they have a way of manufacturing it most cost-effectively.
Neither of those solutions seems ideal, so I wanted to hear your thoughts and questions. I’m going to share this with the designer so he can respond in the comments.