18 February 2014 | 33 Comments
Last July I posted the results of Viticulture’s money-back guarantee. Viticulture was my first board-game Kickstarter project, so it was a bit of a trust-building exercise. One of the ways I established and built trust was to give backers the opportunity to return their copy of Viticulture to me within a month of receiving it for a full pledge refund, no questions asked.
The results? Out of 1300 copies of Viticulture sent to backers, 0 were returned.
More importantly, other creators on Kickstarter started offering the money-back guarantee as well (most notably, Game Salute). I’m glad our little experiment was able to help backers of other projects.
So when it came time to launch Euphoria, although we had starting establishing trust in Stonemaier Games, I wanted to continue offering the money-back guarantee for the following reasons (as well as the reasons I’ve previously discussed on KS Lesson #22):
- It’s a great response to people on Board Game Geek. There were quite a few times during Euphoria when someone would post a thread on BGG asking, “Should I back Euphoria on Kickstarter?” Some people would chime in with their thoughts, and I would want to say something too. But there’s not much more I can say to sell the game than what I’ve already put on the project page–either someone connects with my game or they don’t. BUT that’s why it’s great to have the money-back guarantee. It’s a clear and easy way to respond to those types of questions on BGG. Should you back the game on Kickstarter? Maybe, maybe not–but if you back it and realize you don’t like it, return it and I’ll refund your pledge.
- It’s the best type of exclusive. You’ve probably seen all the recent debates and discussions about exclusives on this blog. The money-back guarantee is the best type of exclusive–you’re giving backers something special without negatively impacting anyone who buys the retail version of the product later.
- It encourages people to play the game right away (and hopefully rate it on BGG). I play games a LOT, and I still have tons of Kickstarted games on my shelves that I haven’t played after many months. If no one’s playing your game, then no one’s talking about your game or rating it on BGG, things that make a big difference for retail sales. The 1-month timeframe of the money-back guarantee gives backers a gentle nudge to actually play the game. Of course, there are many other reasons to play a game (i.e., make a good, accessible, beautiful game), but just like you want to give backers a reason to pledge now, not later, you also want to encourage them to play the game now, not later.
A month has now passed since the last of Euphoria backers got their copies of the game (if you’re reading this and realized that you never got your game, e-mail me at email@example.com), so let’s get to the data:
The number of returned Kickstarter copies of Euphoria (out of 5700) is: 2.
I was actually relieved when someone finally contacted me to return a game, because I thought that there was something fundamentally flawed about the money-back guarantee. The person said that they played the game once and just didn’t see it fitting well with their gaming group (they volunteered that information–I didn’t ask for a reason).
When the second person contacted me, I was like, “Here it comes! Prepare for the onslaught of hundreds of backers requesting a refund!” I immediately ate copious amounts of chocolate.
And then…that was it. 2 out of 5700. Not a problem. Without question, Tuscany will have the money-back guarantee.
If any other project creators who have tried the money-back guarantee would like to share their data in the comments below, that would be awesome.