The Top 3 Mistakes I Made on the Between Two Cities Kickstarter Project That You Can Avoid

18 March 2015 | 56 Comments

After each of my projects, I like to write a post to show that despite 6 successfully funded projects, over $1.2 million raised, and 143 Kickstarter Lessons written, I’m still kind of an idiot. That is the case on my most recent project, Between Two Cities.

Nne of these posts are meant to downplay the project itself. Yet again we had an awesome group of backers–at 5,287, more than any before on one of my projects–a well-overfunded project ($221,265 on a $20,000 goal), and lots of fun engagement during the campaign. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to publisher our first game not designed by me.

Mistake #1: Not Revealing Stretch Goals to Ambassadors on the Preview Page

About a month before I launch a Kickstarter campaign, I’ve fully created the project page. I start by sending it out to our advisory board, then our 500+ ambassadors, then retailers, then the press. Each step of the way, I take in the feedback and improve the page.

stretch goalsOne strategy I tried on Between Two Cities was to not reveal the stretch goals on launch day. There were various reasons for this that I won’t go into here (though I think it was a good idea). I wanted to get feedback on that strategy, and I did.

However, I should have also revealed the full list of stretch goals to those various groups, because I think people would have pointed out a mistake I made with them: Many of the stretch goals involved small variations in the art for each of the 6 tile types (see sidebar illustration).

What I should have done–as backers pointed out during the project–was for each “variation” level to include a new variation for each tile type. That way if we didn’t reach our top stretch goal, there would still be a wide variety of tiles across all types.

I really don’t like to change the format of stretch goals during the project. Honestly, there’s no need to do that after having so many people look at the project in advance.

Solution: In the future, I’ll show everyone who previews the project page the full stretch goal list even if I don’t reveal it on launch day.

Mistake #2: Asking Backers to Provide a Delivery Address Where Someone Can Personally Receive the Game

On all of my projects, I’ve lost thousands of dollars due to stolen packages. When a nice big package from Amazon sits in front of your door all day, it’s inviting people to steal it.

200171280-001Not only does that cause problems for me, but it detracts from the experience for backers too. Imagine getting a tracking notification saying that the game you’ve waited months to receive has finally arrived, only to come home and find it’s no longer game. This happens all the time.

When the backer notifies me, I always send them another copy, but I always ask for a more secure address. It’s expensive to make and ship one board game, much less two. Plus, we print a limited number of the special editions of our games, so at a certain point we simply run out of games if we have to send too many replacements.

So on each backer survey, I’ve gotten progressively more specific about my desire to have a secure address. This culminated in me adding a question to the Between Two Cities backer survey that specifically asks, “Is the mailing address above an address where a person will be able to personally receive the shipment during the day? (If your answer is “no,” please change the mailing address.)”

However, some backers read this as, “We will not deliver the game to you unless you are personally home all day to sign for it.”

All we’re trying to do is make sure the games are delivered to a secure address. Our intentions are good. But the consternation caused by that question isn’t worth the trouble.

Solution: In the future I’m just going to put a little note at the top of the survey that says, “Please use a secure address to reduce the chances of theft upon delivery,” and I’ll leave it at that.

Mistake #3: Not Generating Enough Creative Energy Around the Project

Kickstarter board game projects are a bit of an oxymoron. You want to reveal as finished a product as possible to inspire consumer confidence and let people know exactly what they’re pledging to receive. You also want to deliver it as soon as possible–with every month you add to the estimated delivery date, the less compelling it is to backers (marginally–I think the real tipping point is 12 months post-project).

At the same time, some of the funnest, most engaging projects are those that leave enough wiggle room for backers to engage in their development.

I talk about this as the 95% rule: You want the product to be 95% complete, and you can engage your backers to create the remaining 5% so they feel invested in it (and make it better in the process).

The "Between Two" portion of the campaign was light and fun.
The “Between Two” portion of the campaign was light and fun.

Between Two Cities was a complete game at the start of the Kickstarter campaign. It had been playtested thousands of times by over 250 people. The art had been in the works for months, and our graphic designer was putting the finishing touches on the rules.

Knowing that I needed something with which to engage backers, I employed a two-pronged strategy:

  1. I left one stretch-goal component (a seating randomizer deck) completely undesigned, with the intention of designing it with backers. I did something similar on Tuscany when the backers collaborated to design the function of a new special worker meeple.
  2. I created two significant talking points about the future of Between Two Cities (horizontal and vertical expansions).

I thought this strategy (along with other smaller questions and some fun activities) worked well. However, you can’t manage creative energy. In fact, by trying to manage and contain it, you end up shutting it down.

That’s essentially what happened with Between Two Cities. There wasn’t a lot of discussion about the game itself because the game was complete, and I made sure backers knew that. Usually the points that were brought up were about the art and graphic design, not the game design, but we were already so entrenched in both of those elements that I wasn’t as open to feedback as I should have been.

The key constraint was time–if we entertained any of the backer ideas, we would add time to the schedule. After delivering Tuscany 1-3 months after the estimated delivery date to many regions, I didn’t want that to happen again.

Solution: I still contend that it’s important to come to Kickstarter with a tested, well-developed project and a clear vision. However, in the future, I’m going to add a lot more time to the project schedule post-Kickstarter. Even if we don’t end up using that time, at least it’s there so we don’t have the same pressure to deliver at the expense of all the great backer ideas that could have arisen from discussions about the game.

***

Now that I’ve said all that, I’ll add that I’m very pleased with the Between Two Cities Kickstarter project. I think it’s a great example of a streamlined project (20 days, 4 reward levels) and a well-defined project page, and each of the project updates kept people engaged and involved.

I’ll be back soon to report on the project statistics, but that’s all for now. If you have any thoughts on these mistakes and solutions, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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56 Comments on “The Top 3 Mistakes I Made on the Between Two Cities Kickstarter Project That You Can Avoid

  1. Just as anecdotal evidence, we had zero theft from 500 or so rewards sent, but then our package was a large letter format so I assume didn’t get left on many doorsteps.

    I wanted to ask, now that its long past fulfillment, did between 2 cities suffer significantly fewer reported thefts? If it didn’t then this question looks pretty pointless anyway. I think that with 20/20 hindsight its a pretty horribly worded question, whatever its intentions it reads like if you didn’t have someone to collect your package and it went missing the responsibility would be being put on your shoulders as a backer. Generally I wonder how many people would change their address if you asked them to put a secure one? What I mean is, don’t even the people who have their packages stolen generally think they live in a safe neighbourhood and that their front doorstep is secure?

    The biggest issue I have with the question is that I’d assume I had to wait in for the delivery to sign for it, I’d probably track it and then take time off from whatever else I was doing, possibly paid work, to collect it. If it turned up and I didn’t have to sign for it and so actually didn’t need to be physically there to collect I’d be pretty angry.

    1. I don’t recall there being many theft reports for Between Two Cities, but it’s been a while. You’re right that it may not change backer behavior, but I think by requesting a secure address, you’re possibly helping them think about how good the address is that they’re choosing.

  2. Jamey, Thanks for this and all of your tremendously helpful posts! There does not seem to be much in the way of reliable data on how many packages are “lost” by USPS, UPS or FedEx. But the data that does exist seems to indicate that somewhere between 0.55% and 1% are normal expectations for packages not making it successfully. The numbers you posted are 10x what they should be.

    I wonder if any other KS campaigns are seeing the same kind of numbers for stolen packages?

    1. Roger: I agree, I can’t seem to find data on that either. However, the numbers I mentioned aren’t just for lost packages–they’re also for stolen packages or packages delivered to the wrong address (if the backer didn’t update their info) and couldn’t recover the game.

  3. So I just did five minutes of research (which I should have done before I posted). It seems as though its only possible to have a package shipped to an Amazon locker under the following conditions:
    1. Have an Amazon account
    2. Your order must:
    Be sold or fulfilled by Amazon.com
    Have product dimensions smaller than 16.5 x 13.8 x 12.6 inches
    Have a shipping weight that is less than 10 lbs

  4. In regards to secure shipping, can you work a deal with Amazon to have their secure lockers available as a shipping location? I know that isn’t an option for everyone, but it could save a few lost packages. Also, I believe the question was totally justified.

  5. When I ship packages to myself in Australia from the US, I use FedEx or DHL, with signature required. It usually costs $30-50.

    Kickstarters charge that much for international shipping, and so I expect them to provide the same security.

    I get my packages delivered to work, and still some go missing. So definitely not stolen from the doorstep. I assume dodgy guys at one of the airports.

    In this age of EBay, if it doesn’t arrive, we assume it was never sent.

    Every international package should have tracking. When shipping is my responsibility, I arrange it. In Kickstarters, it’s the seller’s responsibility. If the seller doesn’t arrange tracking, then they are taking a big risk. Yes, it costs more. If you decide to take the risk to save money, don’t complain when the inevitable happens to a few deliveries.

    You can do what you like for domestic US shipping. I know you guys are strange and often don’t follow the logic of the rest of the world. I’m only talking about international shipping.

    1. Jarrah: Absolutely, we track every package, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the recipient receiving the package. A stolen tracked package sent to an insufficient address is always something that could have been prevented by a more secure address.

  6. Doesn’t other countries have some kind of post office where you pick up packages? In Sweden most packages are delivered to a nearby pickup spot, where you show your ID and receive your package, basicly no risk for theft.

  7. Yes, it was “a streamlined project (20 days, 4 reward levels)”. I don’t think that there have been any comments on running the project for 20 days, rather than the (I think) more usual 30ish.

    I think that, given how much work had been done, and demand generated, before the the KS started, 20 days worked well: adding 10 days to the project might only have added 10 days to the almost inevitable mid-project lull.

    I was interested to see #3 on your mistake list. I felt that, when the KS started, it was too late for backers to have any significant influence on B2C.

    Other post-campaign remarks, including some on stretch goals, at:
    https://changingway.org/2015/03/17/kickstarter-congratulations-and-commentary/

      1. Jamey,
        I suspect that you had to have the game pretty much done by February in order to be confident of a November ship date (and to have October be the most likely ship month).

        So, to do it differently, you’d have to do one of four things.
        1. Have a later ship date. Probably a bad idea: some want the game in time for the holidays, or “this year”; you can’t risk manufacturing slipping toward Chinese new year;…

        2. Cut the time between finished game and shipping game. I’m sure you’re exploring this all the time.

        3. Start the Kickstarter earlier, when the game is a little less finished. I’d pick this over 1 (dangerous) and 2 (probably wasn’t possible for B2C). I can think of objections to this 3rd option, but I won’t state them, since it is my favorite.

        4. Something else? Not sure what to put here.

        Without knowing the many constraints you face, I can’t make a firm recommendation. But you see that I would back option 3 above. And I think that option 4 might be interesting if it became more specific…

  8. Have you considered tracking addresses that you had to resend to? If you get a “stolen” report from the same address for two different deliveries then perhaps you should blacklist that address and tell the customer they need to find a better one.

  9. I actually appreciated the question being included in the survey. It made me think twice about providing my regular mailing address. The courier services don’t have access to my new apartment building unless they arrive at the same time as the postal service, and it often leads to undelivered packages that are returned to the sender or held at the nearest processing facility.

    I’m lucky that my job is open seven days a week, and they’re a large enough small business to not mind us having personal packages sent there. The question comes from a good place. It made me think twice about the delivery method, it will make help to ensure I can play Between Two Cities for years to come, and it reaffirms my faith in Stonemaier Games. I think it was fine.

  10. I’m another who was put off by the shipping question, but ultimately decided to ignore Jamey’s demand to buy a new address. I absolutely cannot have things shipped to the office (the bomb sniffers are really put out by the extra work), but USPS has access to the locked mailroom at home and any other courier I can buzz into a cage (remotely).

    The only delivery folks I’ve had a problem with in the past couple years are one FedEx Home contractor who twice misread the address and delivered it to the hotel down the block and *every one* of the private Amazon couriers, who just throw packages over the fence rather than using the intercom.

    This might be something that you should address during the campaign, like the growing number of projects that refuse to ship to Brazil/Russia/etc. under any circumstances. Establish up front that you won’t reship any lost packages, or perhaps have a second tier of (signature required) shipping that you will guarantee. I think that a couple of the Mantic projects (probably Loka and Deadzone) had an option like this. And Dave Sim is using multiple shipping methods on his series of Cerebus projects, although none get to signature required (I think).

  11. Ive never had a package stolen, though I have reported one package stolen where it turned out UPS had delivered to a neighbor one street over with a similar but not at all identical address. Your question made me do a double-take because I initially thought you meant “where someone will SIGN for it”. Well, that’s not normally the case here but I would have dealt with it somehow if I had to.

    Do you track who has had packages stolen? With repeat backers as you have, if it happens to someone a second time, I would consider it within your rights to email them and say, this is the second time, we won’t ship to this address again. But that is a logistical nuisance! Still, raising their awareness — this is a small company and replacing packages costs real money — is a good thing that I do support. Always tricky to get this right.

    I would have liked the stretch goals better if they were “updated art for 1 of each tile type,” “upgraded art for 2 of each tile type,” all the way up to “upgraded art for all building tiles.” That avoids the issue you had. I do wish the tile to tile differences were greater. If all the Offices are predominantly BLUE with similar roofs, I can handle the building shape being different, not just the people and flowers and cats. I am glad that there will be cats!

    You have set the bar for Kickstarter campaigns very high, and it’s hard to not watch your campaigns, trying to figure out what NEW thing you were going to do. So when you just hit your normal excellence, people yawned a little. “Awesome and not insanely exciting” is better than “train wreck on fire” in my opinion. LOL

    1. Julia: So far I haven’t tracked how many packages have been stolen in any official capacity (perhaps I should have). Though I personally deal with all of those requests, so it’s easy for me to identify patterns. To my knowledge I haven’t encountered any backers who have reported a stolen package more than once.

      Just as common as theft is the situation where backers don’t update their mailing addresses. That’s why I really emphasized in update #9 that backers save our e-mail address in their contacts–on Tuscany alone, I probably encountered 30-40 people who didn’t update their address and said they didn’t get the e-mail…until they looked in their spam folder. So I’m really trying to cut down on that happening this time.

  12. I must admit I read the question as Jamey intended, but then my reality is my place of work don’t mind deliveries for staff.
    There are definitely different cultures concerning deliveries, here in the UK actually having the option of the courier leave the package with a neighbour is not even a choice, they just won’t do ‘leave in the shed’ and unless you live in a large city having stuff delivered to a holding place is not an option as there are few places that offer that as an independant service, one of which closed last month due to lack of private customers willing to pay for the service.
    Our Royal Mail offer a PO box service but that however will not accept deliveries from other carriers or couriers, even their spin off company which delivers parcels! It also associates your address with the PO box and delivers EVERYTHING there so even you boring bills and other everyday letters have to be collected.
    Another problem is that a lot of vendors won’t allow the option of delivering to an address that is not the address associated with the payment method used – ‘sorry your address does not match those held by the credit card you used’, thankfully this does not seem to be an issue with KS as the payment and delivery are independant of each other and so I would guess this makes people reluctant to use such an option for what in a lot of cases will be limited deliveries.

  13. Dean,

    You say “crazy courier” but here in the US, it is standard to leave packages on the front porch unless a signature is required. Typically UPS won’t even wait to see if you come to the door. They give the doorbell a ring, drop the package on the porch and they are off. The postal service sometimes doesn’t even ring the doorbell. :-/

    1. Thanks for that, I’d been curious about how it differs in the US. I wonder why it’s different in the UK? Especially as the likes of Fedex operate internationally. Certainly puts a different spin on things as that would seem to suggest package theft must be a sizeable problem in the US, and maybe that’s why the ‘secure location’ thing might make sense to a backer in that context. But elsewhere in the world the delivery culture is different and the notion of needing a ‘secure location’ seems kind of insane! Remember what I was saying about not understand the reality of other groups…. Think I just did it!

    2. For the record, I worked at UPS for several years, and have several friends who deliver packages for a living (one recently hit the 30 year mark.) They arent trying to be rude people. The reason they dont wait to see if someone answers is because they dont have the time. They deliver 300-500 packages a day, with usually over 100 residential. If they waited 30 seconds for each one, think of the amount of time that adds to their day. Yes, they are paid hourly, but generally work 10-12 hour days (in fact, where I live, if you only want to work an 8-hour day that must be requested, and you only get 3 of those per month.)

  14. Does Amazon Fulfillment allow for delivery to Amazon Lockers? I’ve started having all my Amazon Purchases shipped to a Locker a few blocks from my house after I’ve had two packages stolen in the past six months (one of which was a Kickstarter board game, incidentally.) (which the author was kind enough to send me another copy of). (Thanks, Monikers!)

    Anyway, I’d love to have my copy of Between Two Cities shipped to an Amazon Locker. If you could make that happen, that would be amazing. The alternatives are far less convenient.

  15. I picture being a package thief … sneaking up to steal some exciting valuable amazon products! Hopefully it’s a watch, or a pack of new Blu-rays that I can hawk on ebay! *rips though packaging* … A BOARDGAME????????????????? SUCK! haha.

    (I also think these people should be taken into a small room and beaten… but that’s just me. I get fiery about injustice and inter-human offense like theft. *shivverrss* – And Heaven help the people that are just lying to you. They deserve a double dose of the beatings. …maybe triple.)

    1. LOL I know. I have thought this so many times. I’m pretty positive not many package thieves are the kind of people who would enjoy board games. Saddest thing is though…. that package probably went right in the dumpster or got tossed off the side of the road when they realized what was in it. :-( Such a shame.

    2. Not to mention the “##&%@!!” when someone discovers that the juicy Amazon box that they’ve just nicked is full of gluten-free pretzels, calcium tablets, and tampons. ROFL It does amaze me, though, that Amazon ships new Kindles in slim packages that say “Kindle” on the outside. Kindles are $250-500 items so I can’t believe that tons of them don’t get stolen. But they must not, since Amazon makes no effort whatsoever to disguise them. I’ve bought at least 8 Kindles so far over the years and every time, I marvel at that good luck in shipping. :-)

      The US *in general* has much less property crime than the UK does, per capita, so the packages on the porch thing here doesn’t surprise me too much, nor does the signature required in the UK shock me. My Norwich, UK-based mother-in-law (now ex) expressed great surprise that I had never in my life experienced a house or car break-in (despite often forgetting to lock them both) and I had a similar feeling of shock to learn that her double-locked house had been broken into three times THAT YEAR. OTOH, despite being a pacifist, there’s a non-negligible risk of me being killed by gunshot in any given year, where it would be incredibly unlikely in the UK.

      Honestly, Jamey, I think some people must be taking advantage of you. This would be a much bigger problem for Amazon, eBay, and other companies that ship to people’s houses all the time, to the point where they would have addressed it and fixed it if it happened more than 1-2% of the time, or even less than that. If hundreds of your packages have gone astray out of thousands, you are talking about a MUCH higher rate. Your boxes are plain; they don’t say in 144-point type “Expensive Shiny Thing!” on the outside. They are being delivered by the exact same boring US Mail or UPS trucks as everything else we all get at our homes and apartments. Of course, some boxes DO get lost, probably more than truly get stolen by a guy in a black hoodie sneaking around neighborhoods in the late afternoon. But something doesn’t “smell” right here and I’d vouch for your integrity LONG before I’d trust a bunch of people from Kickstarter, many of whom are cry-babies about all kinds of things.

      I am really saddened that some people are taking advantage of Stonemaier Games. If anyone is trying to do right by people, it’s you guys. There are, sadly, some boardgame publishers I won’t name who run some or many projects on Kickstarter who are nowhere near as kind or considerate of their customers as you guys are… but their stuff’s not being reported missing all the time. I thought boardgame people were better than that. What a bummer.

  16. We discussed it in the comments, but as far as I’m concerned I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it was just two extra words: “Is the mailing address above an address where a person will be able to personally receive the shipment during the day? (If your answer is “no,” please change the mailing address *if possible*.)”

    The pain point for me was hitting that “please change the mailing address” – my brain just goes “to what?” because no address is going to have someone able to receive the shipment all day.

    1. It’s rare that we see Jamey upset by something. But you could smell the personal angst behind that line. And who can blame him? (Only those who don’t take the moment to understand where he must be coming from, I suppose.) But good to look forward to with The King’s Armory shipping in a few months. : P DULY NOTED!

  17. /take with a grain of salt

    I have to say Jamie, and you know I’m a fan, but my reaction looking at your KS page for Between Two Cities on launch was that it felt like a step backwards against all previous KS pages from you. The video felt flat, the layout felt flat, and honestly it felt mailed in. I am always excited to see what you do next on a KS page, since you set the trends, but it honestly felt out of synch with the level of execution in the KS market today which is rapidly improving. This has nothing to do with the issues you listed.

    I spoke to many others about it and they tended to agree (because I was so surprised by it). It didn’t feel like it was loved or a passion project. I know this isn’t the case and you care a ton about the game, but in the future, you might consider pushing the designer / creator of the project more and spend more time leveling up you visual execution. Having played the game, and liked it, I still didn’t feel like you guys really need me at a backer level.

  18. Re: Mistake #2, I had two other projects send out surveys yesterday which asked this exact question, almost word for word, and got a *lot* of blowback from it with backers. Not having backed B2C myself (Sorry! Definitely backing Scythe, though!) I wondered whether this were a new default question in the Kickstarter survey, or something coming from some sort of third-party post-campaign management company the two seemingly-unrelated project might both be secretly using…

    I now see that it was all your fault! ;)

    One project sent out direct KS messages to all 2k+ backers to apologize & explain what they meant (same as you, they only wanted to help avoid missing/stolen games), the other sent out a quick project update. Either way, I’m glad you addressed this here—hopefully other project runners will learn from your collective mistakes.

    Thanks again for this blog; the more we work together & share the lessons we learn (both positive and negative), the better we’ll all do in the future.

    1. Teel: Yes, I know the projects you’re talking about, and I felt bad for leading them astray. Our intent was good, and I was a little surprised at the backlash–we’re trying to make sure packages aren’t stolen! That’s a good thing–but I understand that people were confused, and part of our job is avoiding confusion. :)

  19. I was extremely happy to see the question about the secure address… although I see it from a project creator’s point of view. As both a project creator, and a website e-commerce site owner, I deal with this on a weekly basis. It is extremely frustrating that some customers provide addresses that clearly aren’t secure (because later their packages are stolen from their doorstep or otherwise don’t make it to them) and yet they (of course) expect that the shipper be held responsible for that and pay for more product and the shipping for that product to send them out a second package. We do it. Mainly because if we didn’t they would start riots. :-) But of course we also want people to receive and play with the products we’ve made. We want them to get what they ordered… we just don’t want to lose money to do it. We just want people to be responsible and choose an address that someone will be there to personally accept the package, or send it somewhere otherwise secure. We can’t possibly know the situation at that address so I personally feel it is the buyer’s responsibility to choose a secure address, or accept the consequences if they choose to ship it to an address that is not secure and the package is stolen. It seems so simple to me but few people see it that way… I don’t know why.

    I was trilled to see that question in your survey… if anything just to point out to people how expensive it is for us to reship packages and to put the responsibility where it belongs… on the buyer, to choose an appropriate place for shipping, if even it means shipping it to somewhere they don’t normally get mail delivered. I’m sad that you have received so much backlash. I feel you are absolutely justified in your request. Being mindful of the huge losses a company like yours would incur should something be stolen from my porch, I never, ever have anything shipped to a location that does not have a person there who can personally accept my package.

    1. Cynthia: I’m so glad a fellow creator who has experienced this chimed in! Thank you. :) Do you think there’s another way I could phrase the question to cause less backlash? Or do you think my proposed solution of simply noting it at the top of the survey will help?

      1. Jamey, I wish I knew. Chris and I talk about this issue often… I don’t doubt your numbers at all… thousands of dollars spent is exactly the range I would expect given the size of your projects, and the weight and expense of your products.

        In addition to the problem of insecure locations, we have also seen a number of people who make mistakes in filling out their address. Or, when paying with paypal, don’t take the time to make sure that their address with paypal is up to date. Often these people also expect us to ship out a second package to a correct address when it was clearly and entirely their fault for not making sure their address was correct. We sometimes get the packages returned to us, but many times we don’t as they are often delivered to the wrong address and those people do who knows what with the package… but it is extremely rare that someone recognizes it is their mistake and offers to pay for another package to be shipped to them. When they do, I pretty much always send it to them for free, for being a reasonable and decent human being. :-) It makes me smile when that does happen, thankful that someone sees our point of view, and is willing to take responsibility for their own mistakes. It is sad though, that those times are so few and far between. :-(

        I wish I knew what the answer was, I really do. I feel like asking people to be responsible for their shipping situation and give the best possible address they can (even if that means getting a service that accepts packages for them if they don’t have another secure location) is completely reasonable and fair (or ask them to be willing to accept responsibility if their insecure location results in a stolen package)…. but clearly many people don’t see it that way, so it doesn’t seem asking that will win favor points with any customers. (except me!) :)

        Cynthia

      2. If I’m understanding all you’ve said here, Jamey, your intent is to -encourage- backers to ensure they’re providing you a relatively safe delivery address, rather than -require- them to do so. Perhaps provide a check-box for them to confirm just that: “Please check the box to confirm that you consider the address provided to be safe for package deliveries.”

        1. Bengt: Well, it’s somewhere in between, as it kind of is a requirement, because both backers and creators suffer when an inadequate shipping address is provided. As for the survey, I think that’s a nicer way of phrasing it than I did.

    2. Sorry but as a backer to me this survey question completely read as “give us an address that a person can sign for this package. NOT “Have you had a problem with stolen packages.”

      Please reread the wording used “Is the mailing address above an address where a person will be able to personally receive the shipment during the day? (If your answer is “no,” please change the mailing address.)”

      If you follow the wording you have to have someone that can be personally at the address to get that package, if there isn’t give us an address of someone that will. Who has that anymore?

      I didn’t fill out the survey till today as I wasn’t sure what to do as I don’t have an address that can guarantee some one will be home everyday.

      On the shipping side this seems like something to me the laymen as why you buy package insurance? You weight the risk and decided if you can afford eat the package. Also the shippers don’t work with you to set requirement on leaving a package or tracking address with problems of missing packages? I’ve had packages in the past that ask me to sign for them to leave the package or go pick them up. These seems like the solution to your problem, but again I’m a layman on this.

      The data person in me does wonder how your number of missing packages stacks up, do you mind sharing how many packages you had to replace? It would be interested to see the break down of country and game as well. How does this stack up vs other vendors?

      1. AdamJ: I don’t understand the first question, as I don’t buy package insurance (I don’t have that option when shipping through Amazon).

        I have no idea as to the exact number of missing packages. Definitely in the hundreds.

    3. I’ve maintained through all this that if a courier leaves a package outside your door, they’ve not delivered it! I mean, surely if doing that was okay, they’d just do it to everyone, whether you’re in or not, it’s faster, surely? I don’t know if it’s a location-based difference but the service pretty much every courier offers in the UK is: try to deliver, if no-one is in, push a card through saying we’ll deliver the next day, or phone/go online and arrange a convenient date for you, or come pick it up. They’ll try up to three times, after which you can only go pick it up, or they return undelivered. The only circumstances where things get left on doorsteps is the courier not doing their job. It happens, but everyone knows it’s not allowed.

      As to the question of why the backlash. I get where it’s coming from and I get why people like you and Jamey are so confused. It’s the weird different worlds/competing realities thing. Plenty of people can get personal items delivered to work. Those who can assume that’s entirely normal. They assume it’s something everyone can do. It’s not. Plenty of companies don’t allow it (and the more sellers push for people to get stuff delivered to work, the more stuff will get to delivered to people’s work, and the more businesses will stop allowing it, as it starts to have a tangible effect on their operations – that’s exactly what happened where I work. We were allowed until five years ago.)

      Similarly, lots of people have families, where there’s someone in the house during the day 90% of the time. Again, that’s reality to you, that’s life, you assume it’s normal. It’s not. Plenty of people live alone, or are joint-working couples. It’s great that you “never, ever have anything shipped to a location that does not have a person there who can personally accept my package” but if you didn’t have that option, can you honestly tell me you’d never have anything shipped to you ever?

      Millions of people don’t have that option. That’s where the backlash is coming from (and yes, the demographic of board gamers happens to be quite heavy on 20-something young professionals who live alone!). You can chose not to sell to those people, but I’d bet you’d see a 30% or so hit on your bottom line (maybe that’s a question for your next survey Jamey – “do you have a secure location we can deliver to – it’s okay if not, I’m just curious.”)

      It’s an easy mistake to make, it’s the sort of mistake we make all the time. We see our reality, and the reality of our friends (who tend to be in similar social groups) and assume that it’s *the* reality. Same way I talk to people and go “been to any good gigs lately?” and they go “oh I don’t really go to live music” and I’m momentarily stunned, because my family and all my friends do, so I assume everyone does.

      And that’s where that backlash comes from. Because you write the survey, and the update from what you think is a reasonable and understandable point of view that your backers can relate to, but you’ve actually not realized that for a huge portion of your backers, it’s not. It’s entirely foreign. At best, it feels like being ignored, at worst it can seem like actively being judged for not living a lifestyle where you do have that option (“oh no darling, you work somewhere that won’t let you have parcels delivered and live alone, whatever are you doing with your life?”). You won’t ever hear that sentiment written out in the comments, but I’m almost positive that’s where the genuinely angry (rather than confused) responses come from.

      [PS – Jamey, the discussion around this has been well worth the momentary affront from the survey!]

      1. Dean,

        It sounds to me like you would be ok with requiring a signature confirmation (requiring that someone physically take possession from the courier in person). However, I am positive that many people would be very angry about this (we occasionally even get irate emails from people who mistakenly think a notice on their door was because of our package when in reality it was something else they ordered. Many people want the package left, even if no one is there, in plain sight on the doorstep rather than be inconvenienced by having to go down to the post office to wait in line. Those people want this because they don’t intend to take responsibility for it financially if the package is stolen, so why would they? In addition, with USPS it costs a little over $2.00 to get signature confirmation added to a package. Insurance would cost even more than that. People often don’t want to pay for this either. You can say that the shipper should pay for it but as with everything, the end user is who really ends up paying in the end… the shipper would just need to charge more for the item in order to cover that extra expense.

        One problem with this is that there are two different types of backers/customers. One who sees it as their own responsibility to make sure they have a secure place to accept a package, even if that means opening a post office box, for a fee, if they don’t have such a place at their home or workplace… or if they choose not to, they are willing and wanting to pay for insurance…

        The other type of customer feels they should be able to ask for a package delivered anywhere, and if they don’t personally end up getting it because it is stolen from their front porch they think the seller should pay to ship them another, period. They don’t want to pay for insurance. They don’t want to have to sign for it because that is quite inconvenient (I agree… I hate going to the post office and waiting to stand in line to get a package… so I get that)… and they don’t want the cost of having a secure place to receive packages (a post office box or other such unit at a local mailbox company). They just want the seller to pay to ship it as cheap as possible, and ship it again if necessary.

        And the problem in a kickstarter project is you have to serve both types of customers with the same service. Is it really fair to charge everyone several dollars more to insure every package even when some people know they will receive it safely because others can’t say that with certainty? Is it fair to make maybe hundreds of people go wait in line at the post office to pick up a package when they would rather take the risk of it being stolen, even if that responsibility falls on them?

        When running a kickstarter project you are having to come up with one solution that works for all your several hundred or even several thousand customers. That is almost impossible, it seems.

        I’m not saying that I can’t imagine someone not having a secure location to receive packages. But I’m saying that if they don’t, they should create one (this is a service offered in almost every town in the US at least.. perhaps not in some other countries, I know), or they should not expect packages to be reshipped at the project creator’s expense when that big shiny, tempting package is swiped from their front porch after sitting there all day.

        That just isn’t morally right, in my opinion.

        1. It’s not something easy to do in the UK, but then as I say, over here you can’t get stuff just left out on the step even if you want it to be! They won’t do it, because things get stolen! It does seem like things differ from country to country.

          Same thing I raised elsewhere to Jamey though- you’re blaming the customers for the packages being stolen, but how do you know that is what is happening? Because the courier told you? You have no way to know if it was stolen from a porch, delivered to the wrong address by the courier, lost by the courier, stolen by the courier… is there any way to check that? And if not, are you that surprised that when you ask the courier they give you the one answer that gets them off the hook and puts you on it?! I’m sure at some point you’ve had packages not turn up and contacted the seller to get a replacement sent surely? I’ll bet you the courier reported those ‘stolen’ too. And maybe it was, maybe it was delivered while you were out at the shops and someone swiped it before you got home?

          But yeah, I’d charge people a few dollars extra for insurance. Is it fair? No, but do you charge a flat fee for US shipping even though some locations cost more to send to? And group countries with shipping costs that vary by a few dollars into groups and charge one price so some subsidise others? If so, you’re already doing the same thing already.

          If the morals of it bother you that much just make it clear on the page that people need a secure address and if they don’t have one they should go away. You’ll lose more business than it’d cost to replace the ‘stolen’ packages (and you will still get stolen packages reported by the courier) but you can just not replace those and point people back to the secure address note. You’ll be happier with your morals then and don’t have to worry about catering to different groups of people.

          1. Dean, indeed on things being left on the step just doesn’t happen in the UK. Heck, are there any couriers left in the UK who will deliver /anything/ without requiring a signiture? (I tend to prefer Royal Mail to private couriers for this, since I know where the local sorting office is, it’s just about walkable, and it’s open until 7pm for delivery)

            Some if no-one’s in will attempt a delivery to a neighbour and then put a card through saying “We left with number 7” or whereever, wound up taking a delivery for a neighbour from a courier who did that a couple of months ago.

            Likewise, I’m kind of astonished that couriers leaving packages on doorsteps is a thing in the US…

        2. Well said, Cynthia–thank you for replying in detail.

          Dean: I’m not playing the blame game at all–you’ve mentioned in a few places, and I think it’s pretty clear by this point that I’m not blaming anyone (except maybe the thieves).

  20. Congratulations on another success. I also noted you finished the Kickstarter campaign in just 19 days, and not 30 like most people shoot for. That’s awesome. I am sorry to say I missed it as I am working in my own project and I end up missing many other good stuff going around while I am focused on my project.

    Regarding your “Mistake #2: Asking Backers to Provide an Delivery Address Where Someone Can Personally Receive the Game” topic, I will start by saying that I am stunned by the amount of money you say you have lost due to stolen packages that have been delivered. Unbelievable. Really!

    I am assuming your games are delivered with a tracking number. I also assume you don’t want to have “signature required” to avoid causing any discomfort to your backers.

    I wonder why do you feel responsible and send a new game, free of charge, to those that claim they never received it, even when a tracking number states it was delivered? I will again assume here that you do it for customer service and because you believe all your backers are honest people that will not claim a game not received just to get a “freebie”, am I right?

    Possible solutions I may suggest if you keep your “delivery guarantee”:

    (1) Have you asked for feedback on this matter with fellow game designers? Do they have the same issues, and have they applied any successful solution to mitigate this that you may apply in the future?

    (2) Have packages insured for the cost of the game. Since I do not have the amount of money you have lost due to stolen packages, if adding insurance costs is less than what you normally lose for theft, you might lower your loss.

    1. bonfire: Believe it! :) Packages are stolen all the time. I don’t necessarily feel responsible, but I’m the one who needs to get rewards to backers. Couriers aren’t accountable for stolen packages–if they deliver the game to the address provided, they’ve done their job.

      One fellow creator actually just chimed in on the comment below–so yes, I’ve definitely talked to other creators about this.

      I like your solution-based thinking, but it’s tough to do this kind of thing at scale. Amazon fulfillment doesn’t offer that option.

      1. One last question for you Jamey – “Couriers aren’t accountable for stolen packages–if they deliver the game to the address provided, they’ve done their job.” If the person never gets the package, how do you verify if was delivered to the address provided? How do you know the courier didn’t just lose it and is fobbing you off? Or delivered it to the wrong address, and the person living there just decided “free game, great!” ? If they’re not requesting a signature, then how do you even know packages are being stolen?

        You asked me if I’d ever had packages stolen from my address. I said no, but thinking about it… I’ve ordered stuff a few times that hasn’t turned up and the company have had to re-send it (I’m talking like 2 out of 300 or so packages). I’d always assumed it was that they got lost in the post, that they went missing somewhere between them and me. That happens. But could a crazy courier have just left it on the doorstep and someone came by and stole it? I guess so. I’d never know!

  21. I was a little shocked at the “Is the mailing address above an address where a person will be able to personally receive the shipment during the day? (If your answer is “no,” please change the mailing address.)” question.

    I decided that I would give my address that I use anyway, as it is very secure. If the order was marked ‘signature required’, well, then I would be ready to drive to Earth City and sign for it, but I assumed you actually meant ‘Is this a safe place to deliver things to?’ since you didn’t actually say it would have to be signed for. I briefly considered getting it delivered to my office, but I don’t like doing that.

    As to the Stretch Goal mistake? I was happy with the stretch goals as they came, and didn’t mind them not showing up until later. I personally think that staggered stretch goals are by far the best way to handle them (the Reaper Bones Kickstarters, for instance, managed to make Kickstarter updates feel like Christmas morning). I do think you should probably show them to everyone that previews though, just for sanity checks, typos, and gut feelings.

    For the creative energy… that’s a tough one, and a hard one to deal with. I like the concept that you add in a few months to deal with any great ideas, and if that time isn’t needed, it gives you more wiggle room (or… GASP! … the ability to deliver a KS projet early!). You can’t really predict when a project will provide you with something that screams for more development, so having that hidden in the timeline is probably the best way to handle it.

    I can’t wait to get the game! I’ve been looking forward to it since Design Day!

    1. Marshall: “Is this a safe place to deliver things to?” is a better way of putting it–that gets to the heart of the question.

      Thanks for your input here, as well as your input about the game at Design Day!

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