The $1 Million Question

16 August 2016 | 105 Comments

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

105 Comments on “The $1 Million Question

  1. Two concerns I’d have. First, those components better be cool as hell. They better be Blood Rage mini cool. Hard to justify the cost otherwise (for me at least).

    Second, if he is a first time publisher running a campaign that big, I’m not going to have confidence it will be well run. I’d be really hard pressed to fork over that much dough for a large KS unless it’s an established publisher.

  2. Can the game be Scaled down to allow cheaper versions? although this would probably add complexity (and therefore cost to package)

    Can any components be eliminated?

    Can the components be made with a different process? Hollow Casting for instance to decrease raw materials?

  3. Well if it’s $100 to MAKE, it’s $500 to BUY, that makes for a $400-450 Kickstarter pledge Tier. That’s 2,500 backers to get to a mil. He’s gonna need to have the most amazing art EVAR, BIIIIG name reviewers, surely minis out the wazoo, and possibly some gold dust as a Kickstarter exclusive.

    I don’t think he’ll get 2500 backers at $400 each. I do think he can get 50 to 100. Maybe he custom makes the components out of wood from Broken Token or Nuggit Games, makes the price point $750 (really, what’s the difference at that point), and sells only 40. Dream come true?

    With Kickstarter being what it is, even with the big JS behind him saying he’s legit, I don’t think any first timer can pull this kind of haul. I’d suggest a sell, or backburner it to project #4 or 5.

    Frankly, the Stonemaier brand would have a hard time with a game at a $500 price point. There’s just not that many big spenders out there.

    Maybe the game can be broken into 4 parts, and each sold and released successively as it’s own game that stacks on the previous release? Just a wild thought.

    Hope I help mystery designer!

    1. I think he was looking to price it around $150-$170 on Kickstarter and in retail. I agree, though, that’s expensive, and the margins are tight. The game only has about 20 components total–they’re just very expensive to make.

      1. Then he’ll need 6,700 backers… Sounds like it’s just not the route for him at this time. …or its time to take the catalytic converter out of the game.

        1. John, thanks for making me chuckle. That’s a great analogy – catalytic converter. There is no doubt we are in a precarious position. We have tried so many different scenarios to remove the converter’ – changing the size/material of balls, changing the weight or type of wood, bag vs no bag, 2 person or 4 person game. But after extensive play testing, the current format yields the best play-ability. We have our work cut out for us to figure out the model that works. I appreciate your honest feedback and your humor. When I read your post below, I laughed so hard. Thanks.

          AH! Dexterity…. yeah… those don’t do very well either. : P Poor guy. Hehe

  4. That’s a really tough one. My answer would be either A + A or A + B.

    A + A is to run a Kickstarter, it will fail, and he loses nothing. Relaunch with some good day-one momentum prepped from the first campaign, and the second campaign will have a better chance of funding. Still, $1 million is a lot.

    A + B is to run a Kickstarter and then become noticed by a company that specializes in that type of game. If it doesn’t fund (likely), the company will pick up from there.

    In both cases, the first Kickstarter campaign is actually a marketing tool. It’s not free marketing since running a presentable campaign can be costly and intensive, but it’s far, far cheaper than trying to do a print run, especially for this type of game.

    The third option is to self-publish some smaller, more manageable titles and try to build up to a point of having a fan base that will support such a large campaign—but there are many successful companies that haven’t hit $1 million, so this is a tall order.

  5. I think your solutions are the only two sensible options, but I’d flip them. Approach a few companies that ‘might’ be interested, people that specialise in grander projects and see if they think there’s a market for it/can take the project on.

    If that fails or results in no interest, the go for a sensible budget allowing production on Kickstarter. Give it his all, and stay passionate about his product. If it doesn’t find then he knows the market isn’t ready for that ‘right now’. Times change, as do manufacturing processes, so the production of the project may be easier or cheaper down the line.

    I say go ahead and test the waters now though.

    Shep

  6. Would this be the only game in which the components could be used or could it be the first in a series exploiting the components. Are we talking a mechanism? Is it utilising 3-D printing? If not would this be a way to produce a smaller number albeit at a higher price? I remember noticing the Codex Silenda, currently on KS with a $175 price-tag for the complete book which looks to be something really quite special.

  7. To me this sounds like the necessary components produce a physical experience (e.g. a dexterity game). Minis would be easy to substitute and aren’t necessary.
    It’s ok to have a higher price point for a physical game compared to an abstract game (which is implemented in physical cardboard etc).
    People understand that physical material costs.
    If it creates a strong and good experience then I think it might stand out and grab attention. But it needs to be brilliant. How much does a crokinole table cost? 150 USD+, which many are willing to pay.

  8. If there are miniatures included, could punchboard items on stands do the job?
    If there are punchboards included, could there be a thinner quality with a stretch for thickness?
    If there are cards included, could he minimize the size/quality? Or double-sided cards?
    If there are lots of tokens included, maybe some kind of counter to replace/reduce them?
    If there is a lot of artwork included, trying to find less known artists to do the job? (some prove to be surprisingly good)
    If there are rights of a theme included, maybe a version that SEEMS LIKE and not IS LIKE the original idea? (I don’t know, Postbusters :P )
    If the industry is located in the cheapest region of the world, would removing the extra carton from punchboards beforehand reduce its size and weight? (Scythe could gain about a kilo for example)

    I know all that seems like “Oh no, Scrooge Mc Duck is here”, but we are trying to reduce the cost, right?

  9. I think it is an impossible question to answer without knowing anything about the “special component”. There might by cheaper way of doing it looking outside of boardgame manufacturer and in the broader plastic industry (assuming it is in plastic).

  10. I’m assuming the components must have some sort of electronic equipment or GPS attribute to them. Or, maybe some VR item that the users must wear or activate.

  11. And why can’t he get to a million? There’s precedence right. Look at the Cthulu Wars KS. It hit around 1.5 million. And IIRC, then highest backed level was around $500 and I think there were 1200+ backers at that level. That game and the mini’s are absolutely amazing.

    If the game itself and the components themselves are great, as JS has stated is his opinion, then it will sell itself. The real hurdle IMO is getting the message out to enough people that would fall into loving that type of game. Again I will fall back on Cthulu Wars. That KS did well partly because of the awesome mini’s and gameplay, but also partly because of the Cthulu Mythos itself. There’s a large market in the world for that type of game.

    So, how big is the possible market for the game itself and will the components make backers get excited about the game? If both of these answers are yes, then it shouldn’t be hard to hit the 1 million mark or more. And there will be plenty of backers that will back at a higher $ level because of the excitement the game may bring.

    1. Samuel: It’s certainly possible, though I’ve never seen this type of game raise that much. It’s a dexterity game. The market for it could be quite big, though there are a few other games that are kind of similar.

      1. Samuel, Harry and Jamey

        Thanks for the positive remarks. As you mentioned Samuel, there have been successful Kickstarter campaigns at this level…so I know it can be done. I agree, the challenge will be getting it out to enough people. If you or Harry have any thoughts on how to accomplish this feat, I’d love to hear about it? Also, I agree with Jamey in that this could be a huge market. I just have to show how unique my game is compared to its competition. I believe the fantasy component and the high quality is what really sets my game apart from the rest.

    2. But as Jamey has mentioned in the past, using runaway megaprojects as an example for what you should do doesn’t really work, because of the one-off confluence of factors involved in creating them. If I understand the reasoning here correctly, Jamey is saying that the market for the game *at this price* is smaller than what the game would require (because the price is high as it is, but for a Kickstarter it’s especially so), which is something I think comes down to a judgement call without data?

  12. If self publishing is a dream of theirs then they can try the campaign with a mentality of “it is what it is” and hope for the best. It would be nice to improve the odds of success, though. Publishing something else first might help, but only if it is good and it gets delivered on time. A reboot also tends to get more support than an initial campaign if things don’t go well. Warquest’s kickstarter campaign is an example of this, though they only raised $84k with a similarly expensive item.

    Partnering with another established Kickstarter veteran could help reduce risk for their potential backers, but this might feel about the same as selling the rights even if they find a willing candidate.

    I wonder if the entire package has the minimum print run of 10k or if a portion of the game can be manufactured at 10k units while the complete game is only produced based on initial kickstarter demand. That could possibly lower the total cost a little, if they are willing to use all of their margins to pay for excess component inventory.

    There’s nothing wrong with pitching the design to a publisher. Even if they can’t get it done cheaper, they might be able to work out a financial scenario that isn’t available to a single game publisher. Also, if they had a failed Kickstarter that showed significant demand, that could help their pitch.

  13. Option C is to partner with an experienced KS campaigner. He would have to give up some points, but has a better shot of making his game come to fruition as he envisions it. I believe something like this is how Posthuman had its successful KS run.

  14. I wonder if at that price some sort of technology might be involved in the needed components. Personally I wonder if the designer has truly thought through any and all options for the components. Perhaps the game is simply beyond the current market demand.

  15. 10,000 units seems very aggressive to try to build on the first go. This seems like a project to hold in your back pocket (similar to what Richard Garfield did with Robo Rally).

  16. I actually can’t think of anything that fits those parameters. It’s far too expensive to be sane custom electronics (and there are well known small sized run point companies/options). Miniatures / boards cost nowhere near that amount (and can obviously be made cheaper / easier). Outside of requiring X of a well known priced material with unique physical properties I’m stumped.

    Maybe look for someone that makes a similar product that could be re-purposed? So basically 2 with a twist. Doesn’t even need to be gaming related.

    There’s very few things I’d pay $400-500 for on kick starter, but if it’s awesome / unique enough it wouldn’t be impossible to hit. Even running option 1 to gauge interest would be worthy as market research to assist with option 2 (although remember kickstarters rules about working products).

  17. I am in this situation with one of my projects. What I decided to do was delay the expensive Kickstarter until I was confident that my support base could handle the project. I then bit off a couple smaller projects that I could handle in the interim as I built my supporters trust. It would be difficult to show up out of nowhere and be given a million dollars.

  18. Another question: let us assume the expensive component is a glove. For a 2-4 player game, the average of the market, You need 4 gloves. So the 10000 minimum production equals to 2500 copies of the game. I mean, the expensive part is unique and only one per game? in my example the minimum is not 10000 games but 2500.

    And a selfish question: Jamey, would YOU try to publish a game like that?

  19. Patrick of Blue Peg, Pink Peg here. Is the consumer market really the place that this game needs to be? I don’t know all the details, but I used to work in therapeutic recreation and we often employed games of this sort (at least I think, of this sort) that were very expensive.

    Is there some way that he could develop and bolster the product in a way that doesn’t relate to the item, but it’s utility? Meaning could he develop way to use the game with certain populations and in order to achieve certain learning objectives or therapeutic goals? Could he create resources for camps, escape rooms, event planners, etc. that would allow them to get use and value out of the product.

    There is a much larger market for items of this sort than he might know. And he may be able to use this initial… let’s call it, institutional run to…well, kickstart a “go to market” second run.

    This idea might be a non-starter, but I wanted to provide this slightly out of the box way of conceiving of the challenge on the off chance it might find purchase.

    1. Patrick: I would say this is more of a recreational game. You bring up an interesting point about framing the game to fit a market where expensive games are more normal. There is one game that is somewhat similar–a very popular game–and it costs about $120. (I’ll let the creator decide if he wants to say what the game is, but it’s not a tabletop game–it’s a dexterity game with big components.)

    2. This brings up an interesting point, actually, about identifying people who might be interesting in your project beyond the direct userbase. I wonder if there’s a good way to go about tapping into that.

  20. I think Harry Haralampidis hit the nail on the head. Perhaps the best strategy is to share the details about what he’s trying to do and ask for advice. Engage enough people with the problem that there’s not only a curiosity about the game, but also a sense of ownership in bringing it to life. He’d have to be willing to share the idea and what’s involved (which might be uncomfortable), but if it’s truly so difficult to produce, maybe he can rest easy that no one’s going to steal his idea. Especially if he’s been all over KS forums talking about it.

  21. Jamey,

    An interesting conundrum for a KS Creator. I’m an avid reader of the “Kickstarters doomed to fail” thread on BGG. The #1 moniker you do not want with an outrageous Funding Goal: 0 Backed / First Created. While I don’t know this individual’s KS history, running a $1M KS, which isn’t a video game, is extremely heavy-lifting. As others have pointed out, whatever he has decided to put into this game must be truly remarkable.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    1. If it who I think it is, he has had a couple/three successful KS projects and has earned a positive reputation with me. My son didn’t receive his rewards initially, but the project creator worked diligently to fix the issue.
      Unfortunately, I’m dealing with a loss of nerve control in my extremities, so a dexterity game is not something in which I’d be interested.

  22. Quick clarification: The designer (who I think will be joining us soon) told me that the price point of the game is $100, including shipping. As I recall, that price point allows for a very slim margin. He could make fewer than $10,000 units, but the price would jump to $150-$170.

  23. I agree with Andrew Wilson’s third suggestion in particular (“self-publish some smaller, more manageable titles and try to build up to a point of having a fan base that will support such a large campaign”), with the additional suggestion that he could use some of those earlier titles to offset the price of the one he wants to do.

  24. I think it would be pretty difficult to get order of magnitude 10k backers for a $100+ dexterity-based boardgame on KS. It’s conceivable, especially if the creator worked with some kind of publicist – getting a mention in the mainstream media with a favorable link from somewhere like the Verge and HuffPo, instead of just shout-outs in random gaming podcasts, might find some traction.

    But ultimately I think the question isn’t one about kickstarters in particular, but about the market. Is there a big market for a $200 (minimum, right, assuming a manufacturing cost of $100) game in general? Not much of one, and the ones that exist tend to be big miniature / art production things or nostalgia bombs or both. If it’s a game from a relatively-unknown creator with limited initial networks, it may have troubles.

    OTOH, if the components are beautiful and well-crafted, there’s room to cross into coffee-table design-wonk stuff. At that point, you’re moving out of the tabletop market and into a much deeper one. Soooo, maybe? Run the campaign at the bare-minimum financing level, but do a lot to push it into that design / hipster space and you might get lucky.

    1. pfooi: I looked into a similar product for reference, and there does appear to be a market for this type of game at a $100-$120 price point. I can’t speak to how big the market is, but I’m sure if I named the game I’m comparing it to, everyone here would know it.

  25. He would need to be able to generate some serious excitement for his game. With the big ticket board games the selling point has typically been artwork and concept. With a dexterity game the selling point is going to have to be the gameplay itself. This is where a dexterity game will have its advantage: a video of people playing the game has much more potential to generate excitement than that of a more conventional board game. If he can put together a well crafted video the compellingly makes the case for his game it might be possible.

  26. Honest answer? You don’t make the game. If margins are that thin & costs are that high, another company isn’t likely to be interested unless this is the next slinky and fits perfect.

    A $1MM Kickstarter is fine to build a following for future (different) products, but would likely be a disaster if successful for a first-timer. Even Kickstarter pros get burned when shipping costs go up unexpectedly, costs are more than expected, or a “hiccup” occurs (customs, container damage, etc.).

    It takes something extraordinary or a huge pre-existing audience to walk in and make a million on Kickstarter. If it were a million on a card game, easy. Highly specialized high cost components for someone who hasn’t done this before…

  27. What is the MAX minimum price per unit? or another way to ask, what is the cost to make a Prototype and therefore the cost per unit for a micro “print run”?
    My next question is, what are the prices-per-unit, if any, in between the Prototype, and the 10,000 unit run?

    The next question is, will it be harder to find $1M in pledges at the lowest price, or, just for instance, 50 pledges at the highest price?
    I suspect these lines of reason have already been weighed; it was mentioned that the price per unit “skyrockets”, but I don’t know what sort of order of magnitude “skyrockets” implies. 2X? 10X?

    Perhaps the more fundamental question: is this meant to be a career maneuver, or a passion project? (I assume both, but in what ratio?)

  28. Andrew and Brent mentioned the path forward I would highly recommend: Put this game on the shelf for a bit and make a few simple games that are more easily funded. Prove to those backers that you will deliver a great product on time, and eventually you’ll have a crowd that will be behind you for “the big one.”

    That’s exactly what a friend of mine, Colin Thom, is doing right now with a $1 game on KS (Space Base Mutiny) that already has almost 1000 backers. He made a “postcard game” first even though he has more passion for a much bigger game that he has been developing for years. He’ll do that one eventually.

  29. “The game only has about 20 components total–they’re just very expensive to make.”

    That would mean 5 pieces each for 4p or 4pieces for 5players. Assuming it is a dexterity game, it doesn’t have something to do with the 5 senses.. ? I mean something to touch/smell/taste/see/hear? That could be expensive, but I don’t know if 10k people would like it

  30. To me it seems like an important question would be “does the game have a ‘million dollar hook’?” because of how psychology works, people love to “back a winner” and “be in on the ground floor of something big”, but don’t love to be the first to jump on board a sinking ship, right? So, if it’s something that people can look at, immediately grok, and think “wow, this is so innovative/cool/unique, it’s going to be a huge hit” then I think it’d be much easier to reach the tipping point than if people look at it and think “hunh, this looks fun, I wonder if it has a chance…?”, or write it off entirely because it seems like an impossible goal.

  31. The goal of any business venture is to make money. If at $150 the margins are small then the support for the game will be small and margin for error in producing/shipping is small plus the person isn’t making enough to put the hours into the game publication process. Work your costs work your profitable margins and you get your overall cost. If the overall cost is more than the perceived value then you don’t have a product just a cool idea. Rework, Rework, Rework until perceived value is equal to total cost.

    Now with that said Yeti sells for $40ea and Ozark at $10 and they are the same thing. Just perceived value is higher for Yeti. Marketing solves perceived value issues. You need partners, good video overview, and reviewers buzzing about how cool this game is and you will meet your goals.

  32. If you are worried that you won’t be able to sell enough, the answer isn’t to take less margin. You should take more margin. Charging enough to make your business/project sustainable/possivle isn’t greedy.

    Instead of trying to sell 10,000 @ $100, try to sell 100 @ $500.

  33. So… Kickstarter is not the only option to raising money to create a cool product… Not really knowing exactly what the game is, I have a couple thoughts.

    -If it is a good idea with market potential, he could look into Business Accelerators in his area and form a company and get an angel investment to manufacture the products. He would just have to prove the numbers and do good market analysis.

    -At least in Oregon, a lot of pubs and breweries will pay a lot of money for outside/big fun games that add a cool aspect to their location. Popular breweries will pay upwards of $500 for such games. As I think other people stated, maybe his target market isn’t gamers on Kickstarter.

  34. Thanks again Jamey for posting about my dilemma. The game Jamey speaks of is called “Kingdoms Lawn Game”. The game is an outdoor/lawn game that has a fantasy-based theme. The game is made of several large wooden pieces as well as several high quality resin pieces that are all carried in a heavy cotton canvas bag. Producing 10,000 games allows us to offer the game on Kickstarter (including shipping as of now) for approximately $100.00. If we produce 1,000 games or so each game increases to approximately $175-200 on Kickstarter. We are currently working with businesses overseas to ensure the most competitive price for components. If you’d like to see some pictures or learn more about the game, please go to http://www.kingdomslawngame.com or post any questions on the blog.
    Note: the website is still being built….so more changes to come.

    1. Denny, could you get bigger buy in by creating a “Starter Kit”, where people just buy the instructions, bag and any story/quest components from you (you say it has a fantasy theme) along with instructions to self create the chunky wood components?

    2. What needs to be high-quality resin in all of that? This sounds more like a “want” than a need. Sure it would be awesome, but there has to be a way to replace it with a rubber piece.

      As for your website, flavour text is fine, but you need a paragraph or two that explain the game in plain English. I wanna know what you’re selling. Also, white text on a very pale background isn’t the easiest thing to read.

  35. So it’s a dexterity game with about 20 large components that is more recreational, and not a boardgame. That to me says either a backyard game, something that could be knocked off by some overseas company.

    Either way, it seems like the designer should either produce some on their own, or try and market to a larger company.l

  36. Now that I’ve seen the game, I’m afraid I am a bit more pessimistic about it at the $150 price point. Don’t get me wrong: it looks pretty neat. But, a bocce set can be had for ~$40, and it looks like you’ve got some painted piece of 4×4 lumber in the photos there. I’d be willing to bet there’s a hard sell there for doing that at $150, unless there are some missing materials not in the photo. You will have a significant shipping cost, though. That doesn’t look lightweight.

    That said, you could maybe approach the campaign the way Cheapass did the Tak one. The rules for Tak have been free online for some time, and the campaign was upfront about wanting to produce really nice pieces with which to play this interesting game.

    Random thoughts: Make the canvas tote an addon or stretch goal. Make material quality a stretch goal – if you get 10,000 units you’ll have to do real manufacturing, but if you only get 100 orders you can DIY the parts with a ripsaw and spraypaint. That sort of thing.

    All of this is meant by way of encouragement – I like the core idea of approaching the lawngame market. I’d bet there’s some real room there. I’m not an expert in that segment, but it feels like there’s room for a new game to run out and grab some market – look at how that tennis-ladder game caught on. Bocce at its heart is fun because it’s enjoyable to hurl heavy things around outside, so making this a bit more complicated seems like a good idea. I’m just not sure it’s a $150 idea. If you could sell this for $60, though, it would probably do pretty well. Pony up to the GRRM machine and sell it with stark / lannister / etc branding.

  37. I agree with most of the above comment.

    I think the lawngame market can handle $100+ games.

    With your kickstarter, I would substitute the canvas bag for something cheaper, with the canvas being an optional buy-up. I would also look to see if you could substitute the wooden pieces for something in plastic. I’m assuming that the bocce balls are the main price driver though and may not be easily able to be reduced cost wise.

    Overall, though, this seems like a game that could be outsourced to a company that already makes lawn games, or worst case, (as I mentioned in an earlier comment), something that they would see and then knock off since they could swap in bocce balls they already make.

  38. Sometimes the hard answer is “some games are not meant to be done in mass production”. I saw a game with glass beads sold in a Japan game center. You simply cannot mass make it because it has lots of glass components and this lots of potential for things to break.

    You seem to be talking about a dexterity game. Is it comparable to other 100$+ games like…Scythe? People would gladly spend 2+ hours playing with it? If so, I would say he needs to make a lot of buzz. People must know about this game in advance and be hyped before KS starts.

  39. How about using multiple fund residing sites? Ive seen several Kickstarter campaigns also use Indiegogo and other sites at the same time. They keep a running total from all sites and update that daily on all pages near the top, saying this total is what needs to hit the funding goal. That way you get a lot of people who refuse to use a particular fund raiser site by offering it on the one they do use.

    I’ve seen this done enough times to assume you’re not just locked into one site via ToS while running a campaign?

  40. Jamey,

    Just coming back here as I saw something rather remarkable and it fits with the conversation regarding expensive games and if there’s a market. Sandy Petersen launched a new KS, entitled “The God’s War” which is quite incredible. Several years ago, he reached out to me as he garnered information on how to run a KS. He’s had quite a few successful ones since then. This one, is no exception…with 29 days to go, he’s surpassed his $100K Funding Goal, which currently sits at ~$270K. He has nearly 400 Backers at the $450 Backer Level and 50 Backers at the $1,000 Level. It’s impressive, but it’s also Sandy Petersen.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  41. If he decides to go for it, would you consider giving him a plug here? I’m intrigued, and would most likely support him. :D

  42. First off, I appreciate everyone’s honest feedback. Your ideas and comments are giving me a wealth of information to digest. I’ll try to answer all of your questions and concerns as you post them.

    PART 1
    Specifics on the components: Kingdoms Lawn Game has 16 wooden blocks made from high quality grade lumber (less imperfections) with a low wood density. The blocks are sanded, stained, and then images branded with a custom branding iron. The game also has 16 100% 76mm resin balls (think billiard balls, but the size of a baseball). There are a few other minor components such as a rulebook, stakes and bag.

    The issue I have with making a few in my garage or DIY as some have mentioned is cost, weight and quality. The original kingdoms set was made of bocce balls and low quality lumber. As someone already mentioned above, a low quality bocce ball set is $40 for 8 balls. Kingdoms has 16 balls. So for the original set, I had to purchase 2 sets of low quality bocce balls worth $80.

    Buying a piece of construction grade 4×4 eight foot piece of lumber can range from $8-10 at Lowes. Furthermore, the lumber offered at this price is usually a Southern Pine, Douglas Fir, etc. which has a higher wood density.

    After buying stakes, spray paint and a bag to hold all the components, you’re looking at $100.00 or so. I understand why people think a “DIY” version of the game would be cheaper, I thought the same thing at the beginning, but it’s not.

    The weight and size of a “garage made” kingdoms game is also an issue. Bocce balls are typically 90mm to 120mm with a hefty weight. Kingdoms balls are smaller and lighter to allow all ages to play as well as provide a smaller bag to haul around and ship.

    1. Did you answer your own problem? Could Baseballs be your answer? They are durable (designed for impacts in excess of 100 mph). A quick search and you can get a Dozen for about $30 which puts 16 at $40 or $2.50 each. If you were buying in the bulk from the manufacturer, I’m sure the price could go down a bit. Maybe even with your own branding on them.

      I know it would have a different feel to them, but this could (literally) add a curve-ball to your game…

  43. PART 2

    I do have other games (board games and card games) that I plan on launching. It was our intention to launch Kingdoms first to gain attention and stand out among the sea of gaming companies and Designers. But perhaps going that route to create a base of supporters and then launching years from now is smarter. Thoughts?

    Some of you have also mentioned making the blocks plastic. We’ve looked into making the blocks plastic, but there are two issues. The cost of the molds for the injection molding process is in the thousands. Second, durability is an issue.

    Quality is a big deal to me. If anyone is going to spend top dollar on a project, they want to make sure it can last. I’ve spent the last two years working with manufacturers overseas to create high quality samples to ensure the best product and at the lowest price.

    I’ve entertained pitching the game to a larger more successful company as some of you have suggested. But I like the idea of producing it myself….or at least trying before I go that route.

    I do think the target market for the game is larger than just the gaming community. I taught physical education for the past 3 years and the kids at my school loved the game. I love the idea of pubs, camps and any therapeutic outlets as potential markets. I definitely agree with the posts about getting the game out into the public to create a following. I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts are in terms of the gaming community’s interest? If it was at GENCON 2017 or other gaming expos would you play? Do you think having it at gaming expos would increase interest/build a base? Thanks everyone.

    1. I have seen the game on your website, my initial reaction is “Why can the components be made out of cheaper materials?” You could use resin for the blocks as well.

      “Could the components be made out of different materials? (no)”

      Lets work around it then, I would feel it would be better to work with manufacturers who already use tons of the same materials. Have you perhaps tried to sell this idea to Ikea? I could see it being sold as a lawn set there, made from the same materials they already use.

      But as you mentioned, you would prefer to stick with it on your own.

      Here is my take on the potential strategy:

      1) Sourcing: If you insist on quality but the cost is a huge factor as well, you can explore making it sustainable and create jobs. A recent example is this: https://loudbasstard.com/blogs/news

      See if there is a community you can reach to and provide them with the job opportunities. Since it is for kids, maybe target charities that are looking for income supplement for kids/single parents?

      You will have to be very very hands on for this manufacturing approach.

      2) Engage the potential user community. Make a limited run by hand (if you can), and start distributing them to schools. Sell them the “basic” rules set and see if the idea really sticks with the kids.

      ASK if you can record play sessions and get the kids feedback. I trust it is really fun right now, but i am sure potential backers will have their doubts.

      If your main target is parents/schools, you will need to address these needs and concerns. (is the paint safe, is it fun, what will my child learn/experience)

      3) “Why can’t I just make the same set with tennis balls and Lego bricks?”
      At some point, you will run into the issue of copies or straight replacements that consumers can source themselves. That is where I hope point 1 will help you to retain some demand in the long run.

      If it is the tactile sound and feel, maybe go do some research into it? If your set can make that satisfying KLICK and KLAK that no other solution can, maybe this is another good selling point.

      4) Non-product receiving backers.

      Not many Kickstarters leverage on this yet, but you could also pledge to provide the sets to needy charities/schools. So backers can just throw in a certain amount they are comfortable to just support providing these games to children with needs.

      These backers might not want to have a set because they are not the target market, but that doesn’t mean they would not like to support a good cause as well.

      Maybe Jamey can provide some advice on the legalities on this?

      Again: You need a strong strong communication on the benefits for kids on this one.

      5) Home set: From an Asian perspective (Hong Kong), we hardly have any lawns at all. Given our small small houses, it will be nice if there is an indoor version in the future?

      1. Also regarding item 4, Kickstarter ToS specifically states: “Projects can’t promise to donate funds raised to a charity or cause”…which may complicate the “needy school” suggestion.

    2. I have seen large production items on Kickstarter (I host the Kicking the Table podcast) and our biggest criticism for these large items is that the shipping and production costs are so high that they end up being ill-suited for Kickstarter. I would definitely suggest you take this concept to the convention circuit so you can SHOW the quality. Also, in your Kickstarter campaign page, explain why everything is expensive, be super-transparent. As this is a wooden product, offer different stains or finishes, those go a long way to selling to a wider audience. I would pay $70for a high-quality ultimate tic-tac-toe board if the quality is there… (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/732415737/ultimate-tic-tac-toe-game-board-and-tokens/description)
      Use the convention buzz to generate traffic to your first Kickstarter and have a print-n-play option where people can make a DIY version. This might get you extra money or buzz…

  44. Ok… So here is a question. What is the next price break in production? I know that moving 10k games is a big accomplishment but if the game is that good then let’s figure out how to get the price point more in line and have a bigger target audience… Sometimes taking risk means going bigger to get to where you want.

    Also what about rolling on Kickstarter… And then doing a second campaign on indiegogo? I know several games that have successfully funded on Kickstarter and then having a sale on indiegogo… Just food for thought. Have you thought about going outside of the gaming world for production?

    Ryan

  45. I’d fund this game based on the info you provided in this article alone :)

    In other news: Thanks a bunch for Scythe collectors edition!! Absolutely loving it! The intriguing game mech(anics), wonderful art, solid metal coins, stunning resource tokens!

  46. I’ve just read through the article, the comments, and about the game. And I agree that it may be a hard sell because of the high price, but another problem I see is that it sounds very similar to a lawn game called Kubb ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubb ), which is about $20 at your local store.
    Maybe Kubb isn’t that popular in USA, but in Europe, or at least norther Europe that is a quite normal game.

    1. Kyrre Havik Eriksen,

      Thanks for the comments and your mention of Kubb. Before moving to Virginia, my wife and I lived in Minneapolis for three years. Kubb is pretty big in Minneapolis as well as Minnesota. We actually attended the annual Minnesota Kubb Loppet Tournament this year. I agree that there are a few similarities to Kingdoms Lawn Game. Both games are attempting to knock down blocks of wood. However, there are many difference between the game including:

      Set-up:
      As you may know, Kubb has a standard set-up in terms of components and the playing field which makes each game the same. There are also two distinct sides of the playing field from which play occurs (similar to horseshoes) in that one team stands on one side while the other team stands on the opposite side.

      Kingdoms has a random set-up in terms of components as well as a playing field that varies from game to game. This makes each Kingdoms game truly unique. Furthermore, with Kingdoms, all players play from one side of the playing field.

      Game play:
      In Kubb, one team throws all 6 batons from their side of the playing field. If all 5 blocks on the opposing end are knocked down, the team can then attempt to knock down the KING block in the middle of the field to win the game. Once, all batons have been thrown (assuming the game isn’t over) it is now the opposing team’s turn to throw the dowels. However, before they can attempt to knock down the opposing side blocks, they must re-throw and knock down their own blocks in what is called the “upfield” or in laymen’s terms, their half of the field. If they are unsuccessful in knocking down their own blocks, the opposing team can then throw the batons towards the opponent’s remaining back line blocks from the spot of the block in the upfield closet to the king- giving them an advantage. This process continues until one team knocks down all opposing team’s blocks as well as the KING block in the center of the field.

      In Kingdoms, each team takes turns throwing 1 ball at a time until all balls have been thrown. They are then collected and thrown again. Once a block has been knocked down, it remains down for the duration of the game. When a player is eliminated from the game, their balls are then controlled/thrown by the player who eliminated them for the duration of the game.so your army of balls gets larger the better you do. The kingdom with the last block standing wins the game.

      There is also a fantasy component:
      Each kingdom has a unique story/personality traits, a custom image branding into the blocks and a special ability that corresponds to their Kingdom’s personality. Alliances can also be formed and broken and formed again. This component of the game is huge in terms of creating relationships and bringing the story to life.

      Balls thrown vs dowels thrown:
      As I explained above, Kubb uses batons as throwing objects whereas, Kingdoms using balls as throwing objects.

      The number of players and/and or teams:
      Kubb is a two team game. Kingdoms is a 4 team that can increase to 12 teams if you have the second and third sets of Kingdoms.

      The number of components in the game: there are 6 batons, 10 blocks and 4 stakes in Kubb. There are 16 balls, 16 blocks and 7 stakes in Kingdoms

      We met and played Kingdoms with a ton of Kubb lovers and Kubb owners. Most of them, saw the two games as completely different and room for both in the lawn game market. Let me know your thoughts?

  47. $100 per unit as a cost- in a run of 10,000 is extreme. The economy of scale should kick in very well around 2500-5000. 10k even more so. Cost per unit has to be lowered. I would not run a KS seeking 1 million in funding- especially if that 1 million was my break even point. Unless cost per unit can be lowered- it is simply not a viable product. At retail, COGS X 6 or 7.5 is roughly required to handle distribution pricing and get it into stores. So, it would also be cost prohibitive to sell it anywhere but direct. I’m sure it’s a cool game, but, maybe sell a few one-off prototypes- and- I’d agree with your suggestion to try and sell the rights to a larger company who either prints / makes their own stuff to get rid of the manufacturer’s multiplier inherent in what we pay for components- or- scrap the idea.

    1. cewargames,

      Thanks for the post. When I think about 10,000 games I have the same reaction- extreme. With their being 16 balls and 16 blocks in the game, even at .25 cents – 1 dollar amount per component has a drastic impact on the overall price of the game.

      At this point, to save the customer cost and because of our slim margin, we plan on treating Kingdoms Lawn Game as a project, rather than a sustainable business product. Meaning, we will create only enough games to cover the original backers and produce a small inventory of games at retail (sell directly). We then plan on investing whatever profits we have in promoting the game and our company. The following summer, we will then launch a 2nd Kickstarter campaign for Kingdoms Lawn Game with the second set/expansion offering 4 new kingdoms. We then plan on repeating this step again the third summer with the third and final set/expansion.

      After all three sets have been Kickstarted, we plan on one of three actions
      1. Financing more sets of Kingdoms through financial intuitions/partners
      2. Selling the rights of Kingdoms to a bigger company
      3. Letting it rest until there is a large enough demand to Kickstart the first set again.

      We than hope to use the success of Kingdoms to promote and catapult our board games. We thought “what’s the best way to set ourselves and our company apart from the sea of game designers and companies?” “How about launching a lawn game first – to gain attention and credibility. There are a multitude of routes to take and just trying to find the most effective way to break into the industry.

      What would be the largest funding goal you would consider when launching a Kickstarter campaign? Thanks.

  48. Just read all of the comments above… I should do that before I reply next time ;)

    Based on the designer’s input- what I’d suggest is this…… go to Kickstarter… but… don’t sell a physical game at all. Sell the plans to make it along with the rules- maybe the rules are even a hard-copy format. It sounds like the type of project that backers may be interested in making themselves- and those backers will be a select market of DIY types interested in a lawn game- I suspect that’s a small niche. You then do not need to worry about production, shipping, or 10,000 units, nor a crazy high funding goal. DIY backers may jump on it for an inexpensive buy-in (buying plans, rules to play)… then they can go to their local store and get the materials you specify to make the game themselves. This would solve a lot of headaches and potentially set up the project for success. It also gets your game out there. You can then use that and show people playing all over the world using KS as a test market for the game. Then take that to a larger company who may be interested in taking it on.

    If the profit margin is slim anyway (and it sounds like it is)… take production out of the equation.

  49. Denny, I think KS is the wrong marketplace for this game…

    Perhaps you should target schools directly. Market via education seminars, continuing ed, teaching magazines, etc. Build a pre-order market by going directly to educational institutions and day care centers. Those are the kinds of places that would be willing to sink $100-$150 into a game for the kids that can be used for years. (Which is where your premium components would be a bonus, not a detriment).

    Once you get a foothold in that market, then you can target the general market.

  50. Costs a lot to have a physical copy made but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be made. I don’t know what the component is that costs so much but why not take it to the digital realm. VR is becoming very popular and certainly can have a dexterity component to it with the proper equipment. Or take it to a mobile platform. Lots of “dexterity” games on that.

    Or, if could be considered a yard game or some sort of sport game like ping pong, he may be able to sell it that way.

    Really hard to come up with ideas when we don’t know all the specifics.

    1. Just read the description from the designer. I would say stick with the custom made version and try and sell the game to a manufacturer that produces yard games and/or also try and make video game versions.

      Your market may be larger than board games but the people that you are looking to purchase aren’t necessarily on Kickstarter. The board game community knows to go on to Kickstarter to look for games but the bulk of the people that would want your game may not be.

  51. Hi Jamey!
    Can’t he do a “lighter” version of the game that delivers initial powerful emotions but leaves the itch and makes the players want more?
    Thus, a lighter game will lower costs and backers will not spend so much in a first approach. And if they like it, they will go for the whole peach later which could be a follow up Kickstarter campaign.
    Try to put together a sort of expansion but that doesn’t leave the core game without the thrills!
    Best!

    Ps. Want my t-shirt!

  52. @Denny, you need to create a wave effect, something that’s often not mentioned, but look at Cody Miller’s or Issac Childress’s 1st projects. Cody’s had a super high funding level. So you need to get this game recognized buy a large talking head, that will spread the word. Or do something in a similar way to spread the word. Cody’s Xia spiked right after Tom Vasel praised it. You could go that route. If the game is unique and special it has to get its’ word spread, getting it mentioned it on here is a good start.

    1. Thanks for the comments Jwspiker. I will definitely take a look at Cody Miller’s or Issac Childress’s 1st projects. As far as Tom Vasel and the Dice Tower go, when I spoke with Tom at GENCON 2 weeks ago, he seemed interested, but would not review it unless it is already published (a new Dicetower rule). Any suggestions for other podcasts, groups, or reviewers I could contact? Thanks.

  53. I’m scratching my head at this a bit. The problems are seemingly big, but on reflection of the actual product perhaps not. Here are my thoughts:

    – I see nothing wrong with a lawn game at $100 if the quality is high and the game is fun.

    – *However*, selling a game like this is all about building a community around the idea before you attempt to make it. You need to get Youtube videos going that show it off, be present at public events, basically generate a lot of buzz.

    – The boardgaming community may not be the right community for you. Their expectations are misaligned with what you’re trying to build. Try crossing over into other communities like health and fitness. You may be able to generate a greater buzz that way. (Remember the big splash that Wii Fitness caused back in the day? That’s the type of impact you’re going for.)

    – 10,000 units is a rather massive run. As another poster noted, economies of scale should kick in far below that. I suspect that you have not yet connected with the right manufacturer(s), though it’s hard for me to say without knowing more about the situation. Since you’re working in wood, you’re looking for a specialized skillset that you’re most likely to find in a small town shop – not out of a large scale manufacturer. A professional workshop could probably crank through a hundred units a day or so. (Doing some dirty BOTE calculations, if they can produce ~10 units an hour and have a cost of $50/hr, that’s about $5 a unit. Double that to be safe and you’re still at $10 a unit for wood working.)

    The hardest problem is *finding* these guys since they’re guaranteed to have minimal web presence. I hate to say it, but trawling yellow pages might not be a bad option if you’re looking for a small workshop.

    – You’d then have to pair that with a large order of off-the-shelf bocce balls to complete the order. You’re going to want to source a large scale order, possibly from China. In fact, Alibaba seems to have a page just for bocce balls… (Go figure?)

    https://www.alibaba.com/showroom/bocce-ball.html

    That will help put you in contact with a potential manufacturer. Just take your time and talk to someone who’s done this before as there’s a whole lot of ways to screw up a China order…

    – I know a lot of folks are not fans of Early Bird Specials, but I see nothing wrong with offering a quantity of your product at a lower price to generate buzz when you do go on Kickstarter. Assuming that you’re thinking your manufacturing is ~$20/unit, you could give $50/unit for a few hundred units. You could even tier and have a number of units at $75/unit before getting to $100/piece. Especially if $100/unit is considered the retail MSRP, you should give your backers some amount of discount to acknowledge the risk they’re taking.

    – Keep in mind that you don’t *have* to make 5x cost per unit on Kickstarter. The 5x figure is intended to be inclusive of a retail presence. So backers are still expected to pay less than that. And if the numbers come in tight, consider using post-campaign pre-orders at full price to fund the ongoing retail presence. Your Kickstarter is still a part of the hype train. If you do well, you could generate a lot of post-campaign interest and orders. That’s what’s going to sustain your business.

    – Worst comes to worst and you can’t figure out the manufacturing from others, it might be worth taking stock of what equipment and training it would take to do it “in house”. i.e. Source professional equipment, get woodworking training, hire employees, etc. Only go this direction if this is something you’re looking to have a lasting retail presence!

    Those are my thoughts of how I’d approach the problem, anyway. As with any advice on the internet, take it with a grain of salt. I don’t know you or your situation all that well, so I could be talking out of my arse. But hopefully there’s something in there that can point you in the right direction. Just remember to check, double-check, and triple-check everything before you pull the trigger. The scale of this project has a tremendous potential for going off the rails. Good luck!

  54. My suggestions:
    – lots of high profile demos
    – find an advertising partner as part of the Kickstarter or a straight preorder campaign
    – if this is an outdoor dexterity game, it will need to be branded as high energy, and partner with someone like Red Bull
    – if it is a game like Bocce or frisbee golf or some other game with specialized materials, then consider making a scaled down low quality kid’s version where precision will not matter so much to fund company growth
    – after high profile exhibitions of product, pursue angel funding
    – really, an effor of this size is not suitable for anything less than a major commercial effort, with a company built around this product or series of products

  55. Okay. I’m having to surmise quite a bit from looking at the pictures of the game online…

    First off, I’m not sure the final price point is a problem. I would probably be willing to pay $100 for a high quality lawn game if I had a stronger indication of how fun the game would be. Someone suggested YouTube vids as a possible promotional tool, and I also think releasing DIY instructions is a good idea. I don’t think you need to worry too much about protecting your IP. If you can’t produce the game with quality components at a lower price point, chances are that nobody else can, either… and you certainly have a head start if the market is primed. Get some people playing the game by hook or crook. Some buzz needs to develop before you offer the finished product at the $100 price.

    The other thought I have is that it looks like the game could be subdivided. It LOOKS like the set is designed to handle up to four teams of players. Perhaps you could offer a two player / team version at a lower price point with the other two teams’ components offered as an upgrade with the canvas bag? Maybe there are two versions of the two player set (red/yellow and blue/orange) and two sets are required to play the four team game?

    1. Bruce,
      Thanks for the comments. We looked into the idea of dividing the games into two halves….it was one of the first thoughts I had when trying to lower the cost. The issue I have with it is it dramatically changes the game play. We found the game to be significantly less functional and fun with only two kingdoms. We want the game to be as enjoyable as can be. With 4 kingdoms in a set, the total number of players can easily be 16. We actually play 4 people to a team quite a lot at BBQ’s, parties, reunions and when I was a physical education teacher.

      As far as DIY goes, I’m not sure people could make a set for much cheaper than I could offer. I wonder if someone did find a way to make a DIY set for even $50-60, what need, if any, would they have for a real Kingdom’s set? With “print and play” games, you know the version will not last and there will eventually be a need for the real copy. And second, they are pretty low in cost (just printing). I have a hard time seeing someone spend $50-60 on their DIY set and then another $100-150 on the real version later on. Thoughts?

  56. I just wanted to chime in to say that you all have presented some truly excellent ideas and questions for Denny. I’m sure he’s taking lots of notes and getting some good ideas. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I am incredibly honored that you would pose my complex situation to your audience. I have gained a world of insight and feel so energized by all of the feedback. Every response has been so well thought out. Thank you all for your critical thinking and honest reactions to my project. I can’t tell you how much it means to me and my hopeful success in the future. I will continue to respond to all future comments on this post. Thanks again Jamey. On a side note: any new updates about Charterstone?

  57. PART THREE

    WOW! I really appreciate all the feedback, both positive and negative. I know it takes a ton of time to read through the posts…so thank you for making the effort. Here are a few more details and answers to some of the questions you’ve been asking:

    I wouldn’t consider Kingdoms Lawn game a “kid’s game”. Now, that being said, do kids love it? Yes, of course. But the game is designed for all ages, the same way a game like “Ticket to Ride” or “Between Two Cities” can be played by all ages. (Side note: if you haven’t checked out, played and bought these two games- you should, they’re great gateway games.) Kingdoms Lawn Game has been played by:

    – Families, including my own

    – My colleges buddies and I. When we play we always bring a cooler full of adult beverages

    – gaming groups….board gamers, magic the gathering players, etc. There are (optional) special abilities with each of the kingdoms for those who want the fantasy theme to come alive or who those looking for a challenge.

    I plan on marketing the game to a wide audience. I’m not saying the board game community as a whole will love the game….but I think there’s enough gamers, based on our research 2 weeks ago at GENCON, to merit marketing to gamers. Thoughts?

    I agree that the community piece/public presence needs to be exceptionally strong to generate the kind of support I need. We are currently working on bringing the game to the public’s eye in central Virginia where we currently live through a variety of events, festivals, fairs, The University of Virginia, etc. It was our hope to launch Kingdoms Lawn Game next summer. Part of our campaign was a summer tour that would take us to festivals and large events to drum up attention and support. Events such as GENCON 2017. The Three Rivers Regatta in Pittsburgh, The 4th of July celebration in DC, Origins 2017, etc.

    In terms of manufacturing, It was our intention to keep all production in the states. After extensive research and dialogue with several wood making companies and sawmills such as Brown Wood Products, Robbins Lumber, Moslow Wood Products, Genesis, The James Wood Company and Glacial Wood Products to name a few. We ran into a few issues concerning the production of the blocks. Either companies did not have the set-up, in terms of equipment/manpower/skill to take on our project or the cost was too high. The cost of the wood itself, cutting the wood, sanding the blocks, the cost of the stain, the staining application and the branding process is more than I or most people assume. We ran into the same issue when searching for bocce like balls in the states.

    We’ve spent the last two years searching and screening dozens of overseas manufacturers from China. After the last 2 plus years, we have a solid relationship and tons of samples to show for it. It is our intention to have all supplies shipped to a packaging/warehousing/assembly company in central Virginia called “Technipak” where the blocks will then be branded and the bags will be packaged and shipped out to customers. We have been building a relationship with this company for the past year to build a solid relationship to ensure maximum efficiency when production begins.

    At this point, the rulebook will be produced in the States through a Company in Portland Oregon called “Scout Books”.

    In addition, we plan on using a company such as Bakerkit (who we spoke with at GENCON) to assist with the Kickstarter Logistics.

    1. Thanks for the details, Denny! It definitely sounds like you’re working the manufacturers and trying to get the best results. Looking at your website, I’m really shocked that they couldn’t do better. It seems like a basic lumber milling and shaping task. And if treating and sanding is problematic, it seems like a solid clear-coat would be a more effective approach that maintains the wood without going through all the trouble of treating it.

      But then again, what do I know?

      Just one last question:

      I assume the general shape and weight of the blocks matters to game? Have you considered a hollow block? i.e. Make it out of cut pieces of 2×4. There are two ways I could see you accomplishing this:

      1. Use 5-6 pieces (4 walls and 1-2 caps depending on if you’re ok with the bottom being open) and glue metal weights on the inside to ensure correct weighting.

      2. Use 4 walls, one cap, and pack the remaining gap with slats of 2×4 until it has a solid core.

      In both cases you could probably get a solid product by gluing them together. Should be no need for nails. A bit of power sanding to round the corners, a seal coat, and you’re good to go!

      You may have already looked into this, but I just wanted to suggest.

      1. Jerason,
        You’re welcome for the details. I love sharing my game with others. I appreciate you putting on your thinking cap and trying to work out the issues with me. The more questions, the better. We briefly explored using wood trim/joints to create the blocks. The issue was durability and labor. I don’t want to create a product for half the amount I’m looking to charge…let’s say $50-60 only for it to break right away. And when the balls hit these kind of blocks, that’s exactly what is going to happen. I’d rather create a quality game that is going to last 10 to 20 years. The first set I made 5 years ago is still in good condition. There’s also the cost of putting all the pieces together in terms of labor.

        If you have any more questions or want to be put on our future mailing list, feel free to email me at Arthurs.board@gmail.com. Id love to hear about any more thoughts you have on the issue. Thanks again.

  58. Apologies firstly if any of this has been said (about to hop on a plane) but as mentioned above it seems very similar to Kubb which is a Scandinavian game.

    Initial feelings are that manufacturing in the USA is always going to be more expensive. I’d personally be looking at a place with cheaper labour and materials. It mightn’t actually be China as their labour costs are increasing rapidly.

    Also, although keeping it American may seem highly beneficial, as an Asian-Australian I don’t feel any sense of patriotism or favouritism towards American-manufactured products — hard to say if this is a cost-effective move if you end up selling far more to the non-American markets.

    As far as the actual production I agree that having a teaser version (e.g. free rules and DIY) is a good concept. Although could you take this one step further and have a cheaper and less durable version of the game that helps to subsidise the higher quality version of the game?

  59. If anyone is interested in joining a future mailing list to keep up with Kingdoms Lawn Game in terms of development, future play days, conventions, as well as our Kickstarter campaign, email me at Arthurs.board@gmail.com

    Thanks again for all your insight and support. I will continue to respond to posts on this blog.

  60. Without questioning the premise of the design decisions, I’d take this to a VC investor who has already done a few good games. They will know if its viable or not, and may even have some alternate solutions.
    JiaoshouX

  61. […] I had the pleasure of chatting with Denny Weston at Gen Con 2016 about a game he was preparing for Kickstarter. It was no ordinary game; rather, it was a lawn game for which Denny had extensively researched and tested the components. He asked me a key question about high-cost products that I couldn’t answer, which lead to a fascinating conversation on this blog post. […]

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