The Current State of Stretch Goals (2016)

19 January 2016 | 70 Comments

Kickstarter and crowdfunding are used in ever-evolving ways as creators innovate and backers’ tastes change. It’s fairly common to see advances in one project category impact the methods used by creators in other categories. Today I’m going to talk about the current state of stretch goals on Kickstarter and where they might be headed.

The traditional stretch goal system is one that increases the quality and/or quantity of components based on the funding level. The underlying concept is that when the manufacturing cost per unit goes down based on number of units produced, creators can re-allocate those marginal costs to improve the product.

Over time, creators have innovated and enhanced the stretch goal system in various ways. Please note that the following is simply a list, not an endorsement of these methods (in fact, some of them I heavily discourage):

  • Backer Count Thresholds: Using the number of backers as thresholds for unlocking new goals in addition to the funding level. (Euphoria)
  • Inclusive vs. Exclusive vs. Promo: Inclusive stretch goals are those that improve every copy of the product. Exclusive stretch goals are those that only backers receive. Promo stretch goals are included for free in every Kickstarter product and for an additional cost post-Kickstarter. (Scuba)
  • Timing of the Reveal: Some projects show all of their stretch goals from the moment they launch, while others show none (or only some) until their funding goal is reached. (Toast)
  • Graphic Design: While some projects display the list of stretch goals as a text-based bulleted list, others feature eye-catching illustrations. (Steampunk Rally)
  • Backer Voting: Allowing backers to influence the order in which the stretch goals will unlock or the contents of those goals. (T.C. Petty and Get Adler)
  • Global vs. Limited: Stretch goals apply to some rewards but not to others. (The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction)
  • Pre-Order Continuation: Stretch goals can continue to be unlocked after the project ends if the creator continues to accept pre-orders.
  • Add-Ons: Some projects unlock new add-ons (at a cost) or even decrease the cost of add-ons as stretch goals are unlocked. (Avignon)
  • Achievements: Give backers a bunch of different types of achievements and unlock new goals when sets of achievements are achieved. (Exploding Kittens and Treasure Chests)
  • Timed Goals: Unlock a goal if and only if the funding goal is reached during a set amount of time, like within one week. (Trickerion)
  • Daily Goals: Reveal a new goal every day of the campaign. (Scythe)
  • No Stretch Goals: Don’t include any stretch goals at all. (Hocus and The Legend of Korra [which revealed new information every day])

Separate from those ideas and methods are two global certainties:

  1. Stretch goals should be budgeted and planned in advance: This doesn’t mean you can’t add goals on the fly as backers contribute interesting ideas (just make sure you run the numbers before adding them). But most should be planned well before you launch your campaign.
  2. Backers love to improve the product via stretch goals: In a poll I ran in 2014, the #1 answer to the question, “What are the top 3 most compelling reasons for you to back a Kickstarter project today (instead of waiting for the retail version)?” was “improve the product via stretch goals.”


While stretch goals are an extremely effective tool at getting backers to support a project, from a creator perspective, they can be a bit of a beast for the following reasons:

  • In theory, the core product–the version with which you launch your campaign–should be good enough to entice backers to support the project. It should be a version of the product that you’re proud of. By itself, it shouldn’t need stretch goals to make it playable or usable or fun. But it’s really tough to draw that line. Some component enhancements that might make a product truly special–despite not being necessary for functionality–are expensive.
  • Ideally, stretch goals would be a source of engagement and excitement throughout the entire project. In a way, they serve as a carrot on a stick. If the carrot is almost entirely eaten on Day 1, it stops serving its function. However, creators have no idea about how quickly their project will fund. We have estimations and projections, but it’s really a shot in the dark, and it can result in the carrot being eaten too soon. I’ll give you an example: On my Tuscany project, I had high hopes that the project would reach $50,000 in funding on the first day ($20k funding goal), so I had small stretch goals at $30k and $40k, and I made the $50k stretch goal a big one. But Tuscany exceeded my expectations, raising $156k in the first 24 hours, resulting in 7 stretch goals being unlocked (including 3 big ones). While this was temporarily exciting for backers, it mean that those “carrots” were yesterday’s news by Day 2. There was no build-up of excitement for them.
  • It is possible for creators to use economies of scale to precisely calculate every stretch goal funding level. But this doesn’t always align with backer expectations. Like, I’ve found that backers want something big to happen at key numbers like increments of $100k. But in terms of production, that’s just an arbitrary number. Similarly, backers seem to want an ongoing stream of big stretch goals. I get it–I’m a frequent backer too–but from a production and budgeting standpoint, it simply isn’t possible. Creators have to mix little goals in with the big goals, just so there’s always something within reach. Last, I’ve heard some backers bemoan that if all stretch goals aren’t unlocked, they’re not getting a complete product. This is a logical fallacy, of course–something that doesn’t exist yet can’t be “incomplete”–but it’s a perception that creators have to manage. I experienced that frequently on Scythe despite the the significant value offered even in the core product with no stretch goals, and it was frustrating. It felt like no matter how good I made the product, it was never going to be good enough for some backers.


Where does this leave us? Well, I had a bit of a revelation the other day while browsing through Kickstarter: Games are the only project category with widespread use of stretch goals.

My first thought when I noticed that was: Really? All this time and the other categories still haven’t caught up with games?

But then I realized that something important was happening. Yes, stretch goals originated in the games category. And yes, creators in other categories have had plenty of time to adapt stretch goals. But they haven’t. They’ve simply created something awesome and are offering that one thing in all of its awesomeness. They either fund that one thing or they don’t, an all-or-nothing proposition.

I’m not saying that stretch goals are done. But I do think it might be time for tabletop game creators to start learning from creators in other categories. They might be onto something here.

So for my next project (Token Trilogy), I won’t be offering stretch goals. I’m simply going to offer a complete and final version of the product from Day 1. Doing this feels so different from a Kickstarter campaign, though, that I won’t be using Kickstarter at all–I’ll be using the pre-order platform Celery. It won’t be for a few months, but I’ll talk about it here when it goes live.

What’s your perception of the current state of stretch goals? What would you like to see more of or less of?

Leave a Comment

70 Comments on “The Current State of Stretch Goals (2016)

  1. Jamey,

    As a KS consumer, I agree with many of the other folks in that I’ve never backed a project because of the Stretch Goals but they certainly inform other things about the project. As a designer, my thoughts and ideas are also informed by how we proceed with Stretch Goals.

    My advice, which worked exceptionally well, during the TAU CETI campaign, was to significantly reduce the “bling” associated with the game…the Strickland’s first attempt at KS meant that they were trying to make what eventually became their game right out the gate. That’s an impossibility for most, if not all, first-time creators. Instead make, in this case, a great game, with very sound rules and allow the Stretch Goals to make the experience and tactile nature of the game better. I’ve never come across, and I’ve backed or reviewed hundreds of titles, a game which was enhanced by the Strecth Goals…meaning the game itself was made better. Now, what we and others have done have certainly improved the experience by thicker card stock, linen finish for the cards, and cool-looking dice. So, in short, almost without exception, we tried to follow this formula of Component Upgrades and Additions, small goal batches, and all tied to financial goals.


    1. Joe: Thank you for sharing your experience with Tau Ceti! I agree with your assessment, as it’s not in the creator’s or backers’ best interest to relegate something to the stretch goals that the game needs to function well.

  2. I think there’s a likely explanation for why stretch goals haven’t permeated as quickly or broadly among non-game projects: They are themselves a form of game. It’s no wonder game designers found a way to gamify KS.

    Also important to note that, while some have commented that they don’t back a project for the stretch goals, no one I’ve met declines to back a project Just for having them (assuming they’re handled with any sort of thought). They can be a powerful tool for scooping up some backers.

    We’re launching a KS for Stop Thief! soon. Here’s the thing, we’re doing it predominantly to gauge the number of units to produce and to build our fan base. So we’re using stretch goals in a little different way and, generally speaking, not as a way to “bling out” the game, which is already complete.

  3. I decided not to do stretch goals for my latest RPG project (, but the game funded rapidly and is still growing, so I felt obligated to add a new backer reward every week or so.

    My ‘problem’ is that I feel weird pushing the Kickstarter now. I want to grow the community around the game, which is what I mention in my shares and updates, and I’m confident in the strength of the core product, but it feels weird to say “come back my Kickstarter” when I’m so far over the needed funding (521% as of this writing) and there are no ‘stretch goals’ to push.

    Are there good ways to promote an over-funded product with no stretch goals?

    1. Mark: So, I would think of it this way: There are people who will get a lot of joy from playing your RPG. Some of them are backers. Others have never heard of it. If Kickstarter is the best or only time for those non-backers to get the RPG, your job is to help them find out about it now so they can get it before it’s too late.

  4. Stretch goals act to game’ify fund-raising and as a result they are a natural fit for the games category. It makes sense as it almost makes a game out of fund-raising, and games are why people are on the page in the first place. Interestingly there have been some high profile projects that used stretch goals (such as micro drones etc) but the takeaway on those is that the increase in cost to the project compared to increase in value from each backer means its not as strong a value proposition as in the games sector.
    In games there is an addition of some new IP, some art or a new card, but in say a drone you may need a total recode of the flight systems , as an example.
    Imagine two lines on a graph, – the increase in value per backer, (to the project) in relation to the increase in cost to the project; so whereas in games there is a nice distance between the two, more and more stretch goals can totally bury a ‘conventional’ product. Im not sure of exact coolest cooler specifics, but as a high profile failure project, – the additional features made it impossible for the product to come in at the price per unit.
    I’ll try and put a study of that and some line graphs, likely on the Circle of Geeks website in the next few weeks, at least when the website is fully up and running. W’ere quite keen to add some value to the kickstarter community.

  5. Hi Jamey. I am using a manufacturer that don´t have a minimum order of quantity so I am highly considering to only have Backer Counted Thresholds for my stretch goals. I feel I have more control over the budget that way. What are your thoughts about that? Do you think that will bother the backers?

    1. Petter: If you have complete control with no limits for backer count, I think that could be a valid method. Backers may try to abuse the system by just backing for $1, but I think if you explain to them that the stretch goals are very precisely based on the number of games you make, they should understand and support that. Keep an eye on the feedback you get as your proofreaders look over your project page to see if they aren’t getting it.

      1. Thanks Jamey. To avoid that people will abuse the system I will clearify that the backer count is only based on the actual number of game pledge sand not the 1$ pledges.

  6. Ah, I see. You are correct. The d20 dice the article stated as problematic weren’t stretch goals. D3 and d5 look to have been the 65k and 70k stretch goals.
    On the KS page, the creator indicated that he had seen football dice in another game, and felt rockets were very similar. You might be right that it was a failure to get a good demonstration from the manufacturer.
    When I read the article, it sounded to me like a warning bell to KS creators. It looks like I heard the wrong warning. :) I wanted to bring it to your attention, in case you felt your audience could benefit from your applied wisdom.

    1. Thanks Chris, I really appreciate that. It’s a lesson I’ve learned over time with the treasure chest tokens–I want to make sure that we can create all of them in the exact way we represent them on the project page BEFORE we launch the project. :)

  7. Jamey,
    You’ve discussed stretch goals extensively on this blog already, but I wonder if there is room to discuss what happened with Game Salute and the rocket dice. I wasn’t involved in any way with that, and from the short discussion they posted, it sounds to me like stretch goals (and manuf challenges resulting from them) killed this project.
    They have my respect and admiration for offering full refunds to everyone who backed the project. Many KS creators can’t do that, though.
    Anyway, just a thought for you. Here’s the website, though I imagine you are already aware.

    1. Chris: Thanks for sharing that with me–I wasn’t aware the project was dead. Do you perceive the issue to be related to stretch goals? I don’t see any stretch goals on the project page (though I may have missed them). It sounds more like they ran into a problem that many tech/design projects encounter before Kickstarter started requiring a functional prototype: They had a great design, but they didn’t have a proof of concept from the manufacturer.

  8. A.L.: In general, yes, I would recommend the use of stretch goals if the model is a good fit for your project (you can check out my other entries about stretch goals for more info).

  9. I see lots of interesting and valid points here, some pro strech goals, some against them, but there is one question that I cannot figure out: Knowing that this is a complex subject, should a KS newcomer try to add strech goals to attract backers and push the pledges? Because, right now, I’m not sure if (even done propiertly) strech goals damage or help funding a unknown creator project.

  10. Jamey: cool! more excitement is always good. We were also trying to upload a .gif for the “Project Image” since it said upload a JPEG, PNG, GIF, or BMP. But the GIF wasn’t moving on the project page. Oh well. We thought it would be neat if the image was moving when you looked at all the current projects at once.

  11. So Tantrum House is trying something new for their stretch goals in Steam Court – Relaunched. Well I haven’t seen another campaign do it yet. Tantrum House is releasing a new video with each upcoming stretch goal to explain exactly what it is. And each time a new video is released another stretch goal is announced. Do you think this helps or hurts?

  12. I find that stretch goals get me more interested – and it’s more about the quantity. Your pledge level stays the same but you are getting more stuff. Who doesn’t like the idea of that?

    1. My unresearched gut feel is it also makes the game more attractive as an ‘asset class’ to what could be called ‘game speculators’. Thats people who may buy multiple copies of a game to push up the stretch goals and then sell the enhanced value game copies at a later date. So buying 20 games, perhaps as a retailer and the selling them on 3 months after K.S. end, with the exclusives, does make a degree of sense. I’d like to run study of that but lack the raw data.

  13. I think the place on KS were the big companies have hurt the small ones is the Miniatures side of things, purely because of the expecation of the additional product that will be acheived with stretch goals.
    The big companies (for the most part) will have experience of what they can afford to give away especially considering the economies of scale they create with backer volumes but the small ones feel they have to emulate this and over stretch themselves.
    They either end up going to the wall as a result or just about managing to cope but having to sell the product at retail to generate funds to make/deliver KS rewards.
    Having the guts to hold back on stretch goals in order to keep within budget is something a lot of these creators need to find.
    I suspect a lot of the time the majority of backers will understand and back anyway for the core product from a niche creator.

  14. There was a project recently where I raised my pledge to the deluxe version and a $100 “creative input” add-on to make sure we got the stretch goal. It was a small Kickstarter, less than 200 backers, and the final total was less than $100 over the stretch goal. So it can make a big difference in some projects.

    Some of the White Wolf projects grew a lot in stretch goals; the World of Darkness Dark Eras went from nine chapters to seventeen, with an additional 3 in a companion book that all backers would get in PDF. Deluxe Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition didn’t grow as much, but they had some interesting expansions based on a gaggle of achievements, like getting so many pictures of a Changeling book with a landmark, or cosplay, etc.

  15. Loren: Thanks for your comment–that’s great for you to look out for the little guy!

    DeadshotOmega: I’m glad you like the coins! They were actually part of a premium reward level, not a stretch goal (they’re too expensive to use as a stretch goal).

  16. Personally I back projects that I like regardless of stretch goals. However, the way you described stretch goals as a way to improve a game (metal coins, wooden tokens and so on) I can’t help but think I’d be a little upset if that went away. The Tuscany coins are still some of my all time favorite pieces from any game.

  17. Of the 68 Kickstarter projects that I have backed so far I don’t think I have ever backed a single project due to their stretch goals. I look mostly for board games that I want to own and I want to help them fund. I also look for games from “the little guy” and try not back mega companies on Kickstarter. On a side note, I have never canceled a singe pledge. Although, it is nice to see stretch goals unlocked that increase the quality/quantity of my final product!

  18. EddY: Thanks for your comment, and congrats on the success of Karmaka! I’m glad to see it doing so well.

    Indeed, I ran out of stretch goals for Scythe, and I didn’t add more after that. I like the way you phrased it: “thanks for helping us achieve 100% of our vision”

    Thanks for the heads up about the Secret Hitler stretch goals. Very odd that they didn’t list them on the project page.

  19. Super interesting and thoughtful post, thanks Jamey!

    This is something on our minds a great deal at the moment, as we’re 6 days into a campaign and have unlocked a good chunk of the stretch goals we had planned. Not complaining about that (at all!), but we’re brainstorming to invent more, and it feels artificial; I’d rather not go there. So we’re considering saying “thanks for helping us achieve 100% of our vision” and ending the stretch goal train. I see you did this for Scythe, and I’m curious if you got much pushback from backers on this, or a lack of enthusiasm at the end. To me it seems like a great thing for everyone, but maybe some are really attached to “the chase”…?

    btw, big news for Stonemaier that you’ll be launching a new project off of KS! Sounds reasonable if you know in advance exactly what you want to make, and can do it. Congrats and good luck!

    btw, Secret Hitler did have stretch goals. (See Looks like they just didn’t include them on their main page. An interesting decision in itself.

  20. Zach: That’s a great point about how some stretch goals can confuse people. I’ve found that to be the case even when I run them by lots of people before launching!

    Matej: Thanks for sharing your perspective on the value of the adventure of Kickstarter. I like that word a lot, and it is fun to share in the little victories of stretch goals together with your fellow backers.

  21. Hi, Jamey and people!

    Sorry if it has been mentioned before, but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I felt like I should add my point of view.

    I think one of the reasons why people like and back KS game projects is because it is sharing of an ADVENTURE. People love to buy emotions – and what else is a good KS campaign full of SGs than a triumphal emotion for the creator and for all the backers alike?

    Personally, for me the big games that provide lots of SGs give me the feeling that me and the other backers are doing our best “fighting” to win the next SG. (This feeling especially escalates during the last 24 hours.) It is just an illusion in some way, I know, but nevertheless, for me it is like an awesome movie with an epic ending lasting up to 30 days.
    Well, some of the projects I backed in 2015 were definitely something like that. And I am glad to back them to share the feeling of victory. :)

    I hope I brought a new point of view to the discussion. :)

    – Matej Gaba

  22. Great post! I agree with Jamey, BGO Tony, Geoff, and Chris that stretch goals have little impact on whether I will back a game or not. I like to support a game because it looks fun, engaging, and will be enjoyable for all to play. The stretch goals generally do not sway me much. Sometimes they even confuse me. I personally do not like when certain backers get a “higher quality” version of the game or when people only get it if certain conditions are met. I would actually like to see stretch goals toned down a little bit.

  23. Michelle: Oh, there’s no need to apologize! You’re always welcome to share any opinion you want here, and I do appreciate your excitement for Stonemaier to try a different method for our next project. :)

  24. I’m sorry, I may have not come across the way I was intending. I was happy to see him expanding outside of KS more to set an example than because I don’t want Stonemaier Games on KS… I wouldn’t consider Stonemaier Games an entity that should not be using KS, but I do appreciate their looking outside the box and considering when its beneficial and when it is not necessary. Sorry if I offended in my initial comment.

  25. Michelle,

    Over the last several years, I’ve witnessed, like you, a growing trend among established companies to market and provide to the community of Backers their games, miniatures, etc., and quite honestly I thought that it was a bit disingenuous to do so, crowding out (please pardon the pun) the individual project creator. However, the evidence points to the fact that more and more gamers are turning to Kickstarter which brings them in contact with a great many designers, including the otherwise “established” ones.

    Interestingly, however, larger, established companies are not immune to the vagaries experienced by others on Kickstarter. For instance, a 35+ year company, Chaosium is at present, 27 months late in producing the 7th Edition of their Call of Cthulhu RPG. They’ve had a change at the helm, and while they’ve kept people abreast of what’s happening, the bottom lone is that a number of creators miss their “expected shipping date” with great frequency. I must admit, I would much rather have a Stonemaier Games production out on KS than any more churn-them-out-zombie-games or yet another series of 100+ minis for $150…but one of the great leveling features of KS is that’s a pure market…the Backers, not the creator determine the demand.


  26. Thanks for your perspective! I agree that there is a certain amount of risk when backing a project and that the most effective KS projects are those that stand to benefit from the platform (things like stretch goals, etc.)

  27. I read that when it came out, but just reread it now. I think we basically agree, but are stating it in different ways, maybe. Though I mainly agree with the con stance, there are definitely points in the pro list that I agree with as well. KS projects should be those that stand to benefit from the KS platform. There ARE certain companies that pump out games like they’re candy on KS, it’s a bit ridiculous, they don’t need KS, and I don’t back games from them anymore. I’ll wait till retail after I find out if they’re any good or not. There is a certain amount of risk of backing a game on KS (which you curb slightly in your guarantee that you provide), so if you don’t need me, and I’m not providing anything to the game in backing it, then I’ll just wait.

  28. I think you’d enjoy reading this:

    As for the original purpose of Kickstarter, here’s how Kickstarter puts it in their own words: “Kickstarter is a community of people committed to bringing creative projects to life.” Also, their first and foremost guideline is “Projects must create something to share with others.” There’s really no caveat about amount of funds, size of the company, or whether the thing would exist without Kickstarter.

    As for well-established companies hurting individuals, I don’t think there’s evidence of that. In fact, the evidence seems to be the contrary: Bigger, more visible companies and projects bring more people to Kickstarter, and a percentage of those people end up backing other projects as well from all types of creators.

    I’ve seen very few projects on Kickstarter that are truly a pre-order. A defining feature of a pre-order is that it’s already complete and ready to print (or even in production), meaning (a) it’s a sure thing and (b) it is not subject to change, evolve, or improve. The Pandemic Legacy example I used is a classic pre-order. That’s actually why I consider stretch goals the biggest differentiating factor between a pre-order and a crowdfunding project, and most Kickstarter projects in the game category feature stretch goals.

  29. Ok, nevermind, we don’t agree then, ha ha. I agree that the benefits of KS have the potential to benefit anyone, whether an individual or a company, but the original purpose felt to be to help bring to life products that couldn’t have come about without the KS backers, for lack of funds. The backers funding the project literally make the project happen. And the increased use of KS by well established companies really hurts the individuals trying to get a project going. I find that really sad. KS should not be used as a pre-order platform, and it seems that is happening a LOT in the gaming industry right now.

  30. Michelle: Thanks for sharing. However, I have a different point of view about Kickstarter. I think Kickstarter is great for building community, gauging demand, raising funds, making the product better via stretch goals, and generating excitement for a specific product. Those qualities are beneficial for any creator, whether it’s an individual or a company.

  31. I am so happy to see you moving off of the KS platform for your next project. I’ll be excited to see how it goes for you =) I totally agree with you on your comment. I believe KS should be for helping get projects up and going that may not otherwise come about. Established companies should not have to use KS to start all their games anymore. Stretch goals have a great place for those projects from new creators, but like some others have mentioned, mainly for component upgrades. Obviously if they JUST meet their goal, they may not have the best components, but if they gain more and more funding, they can increase their components to higher quality ones.

  32. Great post, as usual, Jamie.

    I’ve been doing traditional pre-orders for video games since 2009 (we used it to fund Natural Selection 2 to the tune of about $1M). It works great, IF you have an audience. I’m not sure most people launching their game have that audience.

    I imagine that something like Celery is a lot less hassle than KS, if you have enough eyeballs coming to it.

  33. Love this, Jamey. I feel validated. I didn’t know about stretch goals until AFTER we had begun our first KS, and then I felt pressured to add them in, making the mistake of non calculating them in advance. I felt like it cheapened the project, and it definitely ruined my budget. The first project I saw that openly stated there would be no stretch goals, and they were simply going to make the game the best it could be all the way around, was Side Quest by Steve Venezia. I have much respect for that game and that team, who absolutely crushed it on their first day. That’s the kind of model I’d like to be able to replicate with my current/upcoming project.

  34. For my view on Stretch Goals, I largely agree with Jamey on the point that the SG shouldn’t be what makes the product. And perhaps they can distract from how good the original product is but I personally am a fan of SG’s. It drives me to be an active participant and to check in frequently and makes the process both an investment and an event. As well as adding more bang for my buck, and doesn’t love more value for your dollar, especially if you were part of making that value happen. This way your not investing, your earning and that’s a great feeling.

    Lastly, I want to commend you Jamey for your courage. Your expanding, innovating, and taking risks and thats how business men become entrepreneurs.

  35. @JohnWrot! Took a look at your project page. Thought it was great, your investment in the graphics has certainly paid off and I love when people include $1 pledges. Only piece of advice for improvement is the audio of the video, little bit of an echo. But everything else looks great and I was more than happy to back the project.

  36. Very interesting! I think the stretch goals do somehow add an element of fun, but they don’t really affect my backing…although I tend to back later in a campaign when I can see how well they are doing. I do worry sometimes if they add cards or content like that that either the game might have been “incomplete” without the stretch goal elements or that they might actually make the game worse, having not been planned out as much (like some random promo card that’s nifty but doesn’t add to the game). I definitely appreciate the upgraded components as that makes the game experience more rich and feels like it adds value without really changing anything about the game. But then again, I find myself assuming every new game I come across that has really nice components must have been a Kickstarter ;).

  37. It’s not about safety or comfort; it’s more that I still see Kickstarter as a place where I put games that have room to grow through stretch goals–that’s one of the biggest differentiators between KS and a pre-order. So if I’m not doing stretch goals, I might as well make it a true pre-order off of KS.

  38. Jamey: Oh I must have missed those examples in your post. Very interesting. Would you consider dong a KS campaign with no Stretch Goals? Designers such as yourself could influence change to reduce the expectation of them… if you were so inclined of course. :)

  39. Chris: Sure, there have been game Kickstarters without stretch goals–see the examples listed in the post above. :) (Though, note that the Secret Hitler project would have been very successful with or without stretch goals.)

  40. Stretch Goals are nice, but they have no impact on whether I back something or not. The only type of stretch goal I’m interested in is “higher quality components”, and I’d be willing to just pay for it if it was pointed out in a premium version of the game or something.

    I would be interested to see how a KS for a game would do with no Stretch Goals at all. If it’s already happened, what were the results?

  41. Tim: That’s a really interesting point about having stretch goals improve the add-on–I very much like the idea that it communicates (“the core product is complete, but let’s make the add-on/expansion better!”)

  42. When writing the project page for ‘Toast!’ I felt it was important to show the first couple of stretch goals, so I could share the exciting plan in my head with the backers from the off. I actually wish I hadn’t mentioned them at all now, for a similar but converse reason as Jamey experienced with Tuscany – they start too look increasingly silly if the project isn’t funding comfortably!

    A backer has suggested an interesting idea – to convert the stretch goals into mid-project micro goals. I think that will go down well with the backers, but it does mean visibly changing the published plan – and in hindsight there was probably no advantage to sharing it so early in the project.

    Also, in connection with the issues around whether game is perceived as complete without the stretch goals, I’m quite taken by the strategy of making the stretch goals improve the add-on, not the main game. That felt a little like playing hard-ball at first, but actually I think it sends two great messages: “the game is complete as it is” and “the add-on is offering increasingly better value for money”. My hope is that making the add-on better with stretch goals (or micro goals in my case) will convert a tranche of backers to the add-on, which will raise money to reach then next improvement, and so on. Fingers crossed it’ll work as expected!

    Very interesting to learn that other areas of KS don’t embrace stretch goals so much, when it’s so wired into the board game community. I still do think that they’re missing a trick, if only based on the backer engagement it gives you, based on Jamey’s 2014 poll.

  43. There’s also the distinction to make between Board Games and Miniature Games as well. Obviously miniature games where more armies, models and other accessories may be possible only with a larger initial funding.

  44. I feel the same way about stretch goals. As a consumer, I’m either backing the game based on design, form factor, aesthetics, theme, etc. or I’m not. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve thought to myself, “…well, if only there were extra X, I’d pay Y more for a copy of the game.” However, I haven’t done an empirical analysis, so I could be in the minority and stretch goals as a percentage of total funds raised are actually not on the margin. There is a pretty good blog post about stretch goals @ the kickstarter blog

  45. I fund projects based upon their current go-to-market game. The Stretch Goals can be a fun bonus/addition to a game; but my backing is not contingent upon what COULD be…I’ll back based upon the core concept of the game.

  46. Jamey,

    The other folks here have made some great, valid comments. I’ll simply add that our expectations, as Backers, has changed in the intervening years. Project ‘A’ offers Stretch Goals implies something better than Project ‘B’ which doesn’t offer Stretch Goals…whether the Stretch Goals ACTUALLY improve the game in some fundamental way requires a bit more analysis and a more savvy Backer.

    Interestingly, to John’s point, a recent book that I backed with authors writing Lovecraftian-type short stories used Stretch Goals to increase the size of the book by enticing other authors to to contribute their literary work. While Stretch Goals are not exclusively used by the Games arena, there are a number of things that one can do with a game (improve card stock; upgrade special dice vis-a-vis stickers to actual inscribed dice; add to the card decks; etc) that remain simply unavailable to other areas.

    In closing, I’m afraid that Backers’ expectations have been formed by those creators who have catered to these whims, and it will take a seismic shift in the way creators craft their wares moving forward to take us back to a time before the Stretch Goals.


  47. Quality of product is far more important than adding a few cards. I would much rather a super successful project used the unexpected funds to upgrade cards, components, make a stronger box, and above all else offset shipping – a real pain when you live in Japan.

  48. I think that I’m in the minority as well. Stretch goals can be nice, but I don’t back a project based on what they might add or improve. I back it based on what I think of the product as is, just in case only the base funding is achieved.

  49. Lots of neat points. I think the Stretch Goal engine has gotten out of hand. On our new campaign (launched today, ahem) i’m proud to say that we have a fairly normal list of non-glitz-and-glamour stretch goals. The classic route of: Certain funding level = can afford an upgrade. The achievements thing (especially the social achievements), the timed release capsules, and all the …glitter… I guess it can be fun, but I really just like “here’s what we want to do to upgrade the game if possible”. I am an addict for backer involvement though so we’re doing voting on the last stretch goal. …”last”… it was hard to call it that, but another detail of the SGs… how and when do you cap them?

    I think SGs still belong in indie games. I think once you make it to a certain level (cool mini or not) you don’t need them anymore, they’re goofy there (cause you don’t need Kickstarter either), so it’s good to offer a fully stretch campaign at go. For first through …3rd? Timers running moderate campaigns, I think they’re very helpful and smart and fun.

    As for other categories, they don’t all stretch as well as gaming. Theater: “If we over-fund we add an Act 4…?” hehe. Though some do, such as Technology and whatnot.

    Overall, and any way you slice it, it really is a neat and very complicated thing, and I’m happy to see this post re-exploring them. I think it’s time we step away from the glitter and offer games again. – But who am I to argue with someone that talked people into posting 12,000 pictures of their cat tapped to their chins and raised half a billion dollars doing it? : P

    John Wrot!

  50. Maybe I’m in the minority, but to be honest, I don’t care much about stretch goals. I get it that they are there to build excitement over a 30 day campaign. However, I don’t back to up the stretch goals. I back usually because i’m either too excited about the game to wait, I’m getting a better version vs retail (exclusive stuff) or I’m getting a much better deal than retail (discounts). That’s pretty much it. I usually tend to skim email updates from KS I’m backing.

    And I also feel like there are some games out there that purposely pull things out of the game just to be added back as stretch goals. Give me a reason to back your project now vs waiting for retail is all I need.

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