2 May 2019 | 16 Comments
It’s been a few years since I’ve written about Kickstarter stretch goals, so I thought I’d revisit the topic today.
The last Kickstarter campaign I ran was in 2015, so it’s been a while since I’ve used stretch goals as a creator. As exciting as it was to have milestones to mark a project’s progress and to instill a sense of collaboration among the backers, there were many times when I wish I could have just done what I do now: I try to make the best version of the product in relation to an appealing price.
I delve into more of the core issues and dilemmas surrounding stretch goals in this article, including launch day uncertainty, enabling toxic backer entitlement, and unfair manipulation of backers.
While I focus on stretch goals much less as a backer than I used to, I appreciate that they are an integral part of the Kickstarter ecosystem, especially for board games. The following is a fairly comprehensive list of stretch goal methods and considerations, starting with some of the newest techniques.
- Story Voting: Rather than vote on the goals themselves, backers vote on decisions to be made by characters in the world, and those decisions result in unlocked game content. (Runika and the Six-Sided Spellbooks)
- Grouped Goals: Group together similar components so each goal is substantial, and require several different targets (funding, # of backers, social media, etc) to be reached to unlock the goal. (Anachrony: Fractures of Time)
- Earned Stretch Goals: Backers “earn” badges by unlocking a variety of goals, then poll backers to spend the badges on the first stretch goal or save up for a bigger goal. (Fail Faster)
- Funding Quests: Reveal a new goal every day even if the previous “quest” is incomplete. This allows you to highlight each goal while conveying progression on incomplete goals. (Dice Throne Season 2)
- The “Root” Method: The core game would be 100% complete on launch day. All stretch goals are included for free in all core reward levels, and they would be compiled to form an expansion for the game. There would be no exclusives, just early and free access to the expansion content. (Root) I describe this method in more detail here.
- Story Reveals: Start with the best possible version of the product, but reveal a new element every day, either systematically (like The Legend of Korra) or by allowing backers to make story-driven decisions (Nanty Narking).
- Backer Count Thresholds: Use 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 (promos and inclusive stretch goals are my recommendations, not exclusives). (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.
- Social Media Goals: Unlock new elements when you reach a certain number of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Instagram fans, etc. The downside to these is that you might end up with a bunch of fans who don’t actually care about your content.
- 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)
- Flash-Funding Goals: Unlock a goal if and only if the funding goal is reached during a set amount of time, like within one week. (Trickerion and Infinities: Defiance of Fate)
- Daily Goals: Reveal a new goal every day of the campaign. (Scythe)
- No Stretch Goals: Don’t include any stretch goals at all. (Hocus)
What do you think about these method? What are your favorites?
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