4 December 2017
Stretch goals are one of the blessings and curses of Kickstarter.
As a backer, I love stretch goals because they make me feel like I helped to make a product bigger and better as a part of a greater community effort (and that I’m getting more stuff for the same pledge amount). Stretch goals are great for creators too–they’re a huge source of momentum for a project, and they make a great discussion topic for backers.
But when I was a Kickstarter creator, stretch goals were also a source of stress. There’s the budgeting, the planning, the selection of milestones, backer expectations and demands…you can read about this in depth in the 2016 report about stretch goals.
There are dozens of different methods for employing stretch goals, all of which I list on the 2016 report. Instead of rehashing them here, today I’m going to present the stretch goal method I would use if I ever returned to Kickstarter. I’ll call it the Root Method, after the Kickstarter campaign that inspired it.
Here’s how the Root Method works:
- Divide stretch goals into two types: component upgrades and component additions. Component upgrades, if unlocked, will go in every copy of the game. Budget carefully for these upgrades using economies of scale. Component additions, however, will all be separated into an expansion that is included for free to all backers. Budget for these as well, but these additions come out of your per-pledge profit margin, not economies of scale. This gives you a lot more flexibility in the short run (Kickstarter margins are bigger than retail margins) without impacting the long-term marketability of the game. The expansion will be eventually be sold as a separate retail product.
- Reveal goals in small batches (2 or 3 goals, each batch ideally containing at least 1 component upgrade and 1 component addition). This gives you full control over the milestone thresholds, especially early in the project when you may fund much faster than expected or in the middle of the campaign when funding may have significantly slowed down.
- Use financial goals for most of milestone thresholds. If at some point you need to show progress and have a nice backer count number coming up (e.g., 1000 backers), assign it to a component addition stretch goal, as those types of goals don’t correspond to economies of scale.
- Among the component additions, have a mix of small and large additions. It’s fine to, say, have a stretch goal for 3 new cards–every goal can’t be huge. But there should also be some big goals–new miniatures, meeples, dice, factions, players, etc.
- It’s okay to have a hard stop if it’s communicated in advance. I’d never want to add anything that would add anything that would bankrupt me or significantly delay the project, so at a certain point I think it’s good to say, “These are all the stretch goals!”
I really like this method because it’s great for backers and also gives the game (and expansion) room to thrive in retail. There’s nothing exclusive about it, but backers still get to feel really special that they got an entire expansion for a pledge that was originally for a complete retail game.
What do you think about this method? Is there anything you’d add to or change about it? There are lots of other methods listed here.