Top 10 Lessons Learned and Data Points from the Treasure Chest Kickstarter

13 July 2014 | 46 Comments

2014-07-13_2127After all of my Kickstarter campaigns, I like to publicly reflect back upon the experience to help myself and other project creators. It’s been a few days since the Treasure Chest Kickstarter project ended, so I’ve had some time to collect my thoughts. Here are the top 10 things I learned from this campaign:

10. A 1-minute project video works wonders. With Tuscany, I thought we might be seeing the end of the relevance of project videos. It turns out that people still want videos–they just want shorter videos.

Tuscany’s project video was 2 minutes and 20 seconds long. 10,558 people watched it, with 34% of them watching the entire video.

In contrast, 11,648 people watched the Treasure Chest video (despite the campaign being 12 days shorter), with a whopping 60% of viewers watching the entire video. This wasn’t a testament to the video, which was rather bland. Rather, I’m confident it was the length–the Treasure Chest video was exactly 60 seconds long.

60 seconds isn’t much time to say much of substance, but perhaps that’s the point. It’s just an introduction to the project with a few good visuals and the most exciting elements. You can include other videos lower down on the project page.

2014-07-13_19519. The allure of possibility is just as strong as the appeal of impactful input. I tried something I’ve never done with my previous Kickstarter campaigns: I finalized every aspect of the Treasure Chest before the project started. The sculpts for the resources were complete and my artist was already midway through the art for the box.

However, to me, Kickstarter is all about building a community, so I wanted a way to still make backers feel engaged. Plus, I wanted to give them an outlet for the input they had. I knew people would say, “Why don’t you add ____ to the Treasure Chest?” It’s a fair question, and I wanted the answer to go beyond, “The design is complete.”

So I created a backer survey for a hypothetical Treasure Chest 2.0. Any backer could submit an idea for a new realistic resource token for us to create in the future, and I’d add it to an ongoing poll. The results would serve as a guide when we sought to prioritize the next Treasure Chest (assuming the first one is successful).

The poll (which you can see part of on the sidebar; it garnered over 7,400 votes) worked amazingly well for two reasons. One, it gave people a platform for feedback, thus deflecting any annoyance they might have for not being able to offer input on the Treasure Chest 1.0.

Two–this was the biggest surprise for me–the sheer possibility that there might be a future Treasure Chest and their feedback might make an impact on it was a reason that some backers pledged to the current Treasure Chest. I call this the “allure of possibility,” and I won’t underestimate its power again.

8. Past success does not predict future success. You may not believe it, but I always have huge doubts when I launch a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve seen great companies and creators with established track records stumble on certain campaigns, and I get really nervous that I’m missing something or I’ve communicated something poorly or I’ve priced something too high.

However, I’ve also been very fortunate to have success on Kickstarter, and I’ve been spoiled a bit by it. This came to light on the Treasure Chest’s launch day. My previous project, Tuscany, reached its $20,000 funding goal in 16 minutes and raised $140,517 on launch day (according to Kicktraq). So when I launched the Treasure Chest after talking about it for months and offering a lower price point than Tuscany, I thought it might follow a similar trajectory.

That did not happen.

The Treasure Chest did well, but Tuscany had overinflated my expectations. The Chest took about 2 hours to fully fund its $25,000 goal, and it raised $40,709 on launch day (Kicktraq). Which is great, of course–that’s still a ton of money.

But it really helped me put things in perspective. Each project is different, and I should do everything in my power to make each project as compelling as possible for its target audience. Having a robust mailing list doesn’t mean that everyone will want the next thing we put on Kickstarter. And an accessory product–which is new to Stonemaier–is very different than a game.

It was a bit of a gut-check, and a much needed one. I’ll definitely carry it with me in the future.


7. Stagger exciting announcements throughout the project for current and previous backers. As you can see from the chart above, the Treasure Chest campaign had a unique pledge curve. A strong end and a beginning are typical for projects. but what were those strong days in the middle of the campaign?

2014-07-13_2018Even though I didn’t want to change the Treasure Chest itself, during the first few days of the campaign I gauged demand for an external pack of wooden stars. I knew we had to make at least 1500 of them, so I wanted to see if there were enough interest to justify that print run.

By around Day 5 or 6 I knew we were close enough, so I announced the addition to current backers. That resulted in a nice bump. I also added a pack of 16 updated recruit cards for Euphoria to every Treasure Chest at the same time, and my update to Euphoria backers prompted another nice bump. A few days later I sent an update to Tuscany backers as well.

I was particularly sensitive to the fact that there are a number of backers who supported the Euphoria, Tuscany, and Treasure Chest projects (see sidebar), so I made sure to never post more than 1 project update per day on any project, past or present. My goal is to make sure they stay subscribed to those updates by not pestering them.

6. Bundled rewards are incredibly compelling to backers. I must admit that I’m no longer a big fan of reward levels where you get 2 copies of a product at a discount. At least in the board game category, it doesn’t cost less to make a second game, so why should you charge less? Just offer the lowest price you can for each game, and additional games should cost the same amount. (Even combining shipping doesn’t save you more than a few dollars–you still have to pay for the added weight and the pick-and-pack fee if you’re using a fulfillment service.)

However, I discovered with the Treasure Chest that bundled packages work really well. They create a win-win situation for both creators and backers.

For the Treasure Chest, you could pledge to receive a copy of the Treasure Chest with early adopter shipping for $39 (a TT with non-early adopter shipping was $33). You could also add a set of metal coins for $19 and/or a set of wooden stars for $9. The full package ($39 + $19 + $9) would equate to $67.

We charged $59 instead. I love reward levels that end with “9”.

We created the $59 reward level mid-way through the project, and I would have been happy if 100 people selected it. Much to my surprise, the reward attracted 798 backers.

I think the success of that reward level goes beyond the price–it’s also more convenient for backers. It’s still really confusing for many backers to manually increase their pledge total to account for an add-on. You can make it a lot easier for those backers if you have a bundled reward they can click on and check out without any additional hassle.

5. You probably don’t know your best pitch. I always seek a lot of input on the project page from our advisory board and ambassadors before we launch a project. But I don’t think I fully appreciated the value of their input compared to my biased intuition until now. It has reinforced the value I placed on that early feedback.

I ordered the Treasure Chest project page in a way that I thought prioritized the most compelling elements of the pitch at the top. However, someone mentioned that the most compelling graphic was pretty far down on the page.

I’ll be honest–I dismissed that first person’s feedback. I had spent hundreds of hours honing the project page. What did they know after looking at it for 5 minutes?

But then someone else said the same thing. Then someone else. So I moved the graphic up on the page. Other people still commented on it, so I moved it higher up on the page. It ended up being a marquee feature on the page, one that a backer extrapolated into a well-populated list on BGG.

The point is that you probably don’t know your best pitch because you’ve been looking at it from the inside for so long. Trust the feedback of those who take a quick glance at your project preview page, because that’s the same impression backers will get after you launch.

Here’s the graphic I’m talking about:

replace these with these

4. BoardGameGeek ads make a difference. I’m pretty excited to share this data, because this might be the most unbiased BGG data you’ll ever get. Kickstarter tells you the websites where backers come from, but you can’t tell if backers discovered your game’s page on BGG or if they clicked on your BGG ad. Other than the list I mentioned above (which mostly only backers knew about), the Treasure Chest doesn’t have a BGG page, so almost all of the BGG click-throughs came from the 11-day ad we paid $700 for.

Here’s the data:

    • As of midnight on June 27, before we activated the BGG ad, Kickstarter showed that 44 backers had discovered the Treasure Chest through BGG for a funding total of $1,593.
    • As of midnight on July 6, before we activated the BGG home-page takeover, a total of 79 backers had clicked over from BGG for a funding total of $3,675.
    • When the Kickstarter project ended, a total of 129 backers had come from BGG for a funding total of $6,627.

Thus it would appear that the $700 ad directly created approximately 85 new backers for a funding total of $5,034. That’s a 700% return on investment, which is excellent.

A BGG ad isn’t going to guarantee you extra backers on a board-game project, but if both the ad and the project are compelling, I think it’s absolutely worth the money.

2014-07-13_21193. Air freight as a premium option. My love for the “premium option” on Kickstarter is well documented. Set an anchor price for the core product, then establish a better version of it for a higher cost. It works really well for creators and backers.

I struggled with this for the Treasure Chest, as I only wanted to make one version of the Chest for various reasons. Finally I stumbled upon an idea: Why not give backers the option of including their product on an air-freight pallet instead of the standard, slow ocean freight? It would speed up the time it would take for them to receive the product by 3-5 weeks, which in this case coincided with the 2014 holiday season.

In the end, the ocean-freight option ($33) attracted 1792 backers compared to 1214 total backers for air freight December shipping. Not quite as many backers upgraded to the $39 early-adopter level as we thought, but it’s something I’ll consider again in the future if the price is right. I don’t think it would work well for a bigger, heavier game because of the high cost of air freight, but for something smaller like the Treasure Chest, the numbers are more compelling.

We’ll see how well it works out in December, though. I’ve basically promised December delivery (this isn’t the same as the typical estimated delivery date on Kickstarter), so if I can’t delivery as promised, I think the ethical solution is to offer the early-adopter backers a partial refund.

2. Instead of having an early-bird reward level, make the entire project the early bird reward. This has become my rallying cry on my KS Lessons (and this KS face-off. And this KS interview). Instead of offering an early bird price for a limited time during a limited-time project on Kickstarter, make the entire project the early bird reward. Thus you reward backers for a set price that’s locked in during the project no matter the stretch goals unlocked, but after the project you still offer the product for pre-order on your website for a price that better reflects what the product grew to become during the Kickstarter campaign.

The key to this, in my opinion, is to run a short campaign. I outlined a number of reasons why the Treasure Chest was a short (16.5 day) campaign on this project update. One of those reasons was to create a sense of urgency behind the project–back it now for the best price. Early bird rewards do the same thing, but they do it during the project, a time when you should reward every backer equally (in my opinion).

I don’t think a short campaign works for every project. If you’re hoping that backer engagement will help the product grow and evolve during the project, you need more time to make that work. But I’d still recommend this early-bird method over the traditional way. Plus, if you use ShopLocket, it’s really easy to offer the product on your website after Kickstarter.

1. Basing stretch goals on backer count instead of funding total does amazing things. The biggest lesson–and revelation–to me from the Treasure Chest was the way people responded to stretch goal system we created.

Here’s how it worked: For every 100 backers who pledged to the Treasure Chest (at any reward level), we added 1 resource token to every Chest. Simple as that. No limit, no other shenanigans. The only addendum I made was that I would round up at the end of the project so there would be equal numbers of each resource. As a result, the Treasure Chest ended up growing from 120 tokens to 156 tokens.

My favorite thing about this stretch goal structure was how inclusive it was (more about that on this project update). We’re only making one version of the Treasure Chest, so backers were making the Treasure Chest better for everyone, not just themselves. I love that we attracted over 3200 backers who supported that concept.

Near the end of the project I considered adding one funding stretch goal, something to add a little frenzy to the final 48 hours. But I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t. On past Kickstarter projects, some backers have continued to add more and more stuff to their pledge just to reach more stretch goals. I really appreciate that, but it never leaves me with a good feeling to stretch some backers that way. I want to make backers feel like their original pledge is perfect just the way it is instead of continually asking them for more and more. The backer-count stretch goal does this perfectly.

The only downside to it is that it creates some confusion around group pledges. I based the backer-count stretch goals on the visible backer tally at the upper right of the page. I think that was the right way to go since I was rounding up anyway at the end of the project, but I did have several backers asking about that.

I hope this long Top 10 list has been helpful for you. If you have any feedback about this concepts or anything we did for the Treasure Chest Kickstarter campaign, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Also see:

The Top 3 Mistakes We Made on Tuscany That You Can Avoid

5 Kickstarter Mistakes We Made on Euphoria That You Can Avoid (and 1 Regret)

5 Kickstarter Mistakes We Made That You Can Avoid

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46 Comments on “Top 10 Lessons Learned and Data Points from the Treasure Chest Kickstarter

  1. I would love some insight on finding a manufacturer. I have some ideas, but I have no connections in China and feel that might be a bad direction for me. US might be more expensive, but I feel it is much easier to do business that way. What are your thoughts?

  2. Jamie,

    Loved this article! When I try to share the power of “data” to my colleagues, I think most “know” its valuable, but never invest any thought into “how” its valuable. This entry goes a long way in helping those involved in Kickstarter to actually ~see~ how this data can be absolutely invaluable to building and funding a project. When you both have and understand the data in front of you, you become exponentially more empowered to make the right choices to get your kickstarter to the most successful point possible.

    As I said before, really enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for the information (data! ;).

  3. I can not count the times that I have lost interest in a project because they want me to pay an overprice just because I did not see the project on day one. Especially if there is really early bird, early bird, somewhat early bird and then an unlimited level 15 dollars above hwat they have revealed to be the right price.

  4. Jamey, thanks for sharing this list, I think it’s very insightful although I don’t agree with your analysis on early birds – I thought I could lend some insight as to why we at CMoN do these:

    1. It rewards existing customers for keeping in contact with us via Facebook, Twitter, email list etc. One of the hardest parts about marketing is making people care.- this is effective for us since we’ve got a core of existing backers to communicate to.

    2. It helps create momentum on launch day – those that are committed to the new project have an incentive to pledge day 1, rather than later. Strong momentum at the start of the campaign increases unsolicited coverage elsewhere, sometimes in unexpected places (hence reaching new audiences). Momentum is also a factor in the way a project is perceived during the campaign, which is critically important.

    3. It creates a decent floor to funding which can be important on slower campaigns, and also discourages protest cancellations as there is a perceived cost (loss of additional discount) for that behavior.

    4. Finally, it encourages continued engagement during the campaign – we have lots of backers lurk to grab abandoned early bird pledges – many announce their triumphs and near misses at grabbing a slot in the comments.

    1. Hi Chern,

      Thanks so much for your comment–it’s great to hear from the source! :) I respect your opinions, and obviously they’ve worked out really well for CMoN so far. Here are my thoughts to consider:

      1. “One of the hardest parts about marketing is making people care.” I completely agree with that, though I think it might be more accurate (in this instance) to say that “One of the hardest parts about marketing is making people pay attention.” You can have 20,000 e-newsletter subscribers, but if 90% of them don’t read your monthly e-newsletter, that overall total doesn’t matter. I can see how early bird discounts encourage people to pay attention to the e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The problem, though, is that we’re dealing with a global economy here. I might receive the e-newsletter at 6:00 pm CST, but someone in Germany is likely sleeping at that point, and someone in Australia might be at a morning meeting at work. So, from my perspective, I’d rather include content in the e-newsletter that is interesting and exciting for subscribers (so they continue to pay attention), but not based on very specific timing.

      2. “It helps create momentum on launch day/increases unsolicited coverage elsewhere.” There’s no denying this–early birds create a frenzy on launch day. The question I’d encourage you all to consider, though, is: “Are early birds the only way to create a frenzy on launch day?” CMoN is an established, well-respected brand–people get excited about your products with or without a $10 discount. People want to be a part of your projects. Take a look at Tuscany’s launch day on Kicktraq. No early birds, very few limited rewards, just a lot of hype, excitement, and trust that resulted in over $140,000 in pledges on the first day. You all have shown that you know how to make a KS campaign an experience–people want to be a part of that from Day 1.

      3. It “discourages protest cancellations.” This is really interesting–I hadn’t ever thought of that. From our perspective, if a backer wants to use their ability to cancel to protest the project, I fully support them doing that. I don’t want them to hang around in the comments, spreading negativity, and then requesting a refund a few months after the project ends (our full money-back guarantee extends until a month after the project expires).

      4. “it encourages continued engagement during the campaign.” I love engaging backers and creating community around a KS project, and I’ve seen the same from your projects. Do you really think you’d lose that engagement–particularly the kind that makes backers feel excited about the project and about CMoN–if backers weren’t incentivized to vulture over dropped early bird pledges?

      Again, I really respect what you all are doing (I recently wrote an blog entry solely about Zombicide 3: Thanks for sharing your opinions. And I should note that just because I’m against the current form of early bird rewards doesn’t mean I’m against experimentation of other forms in the future. Even with the Treasure Chest, as you read above, we treated the entire campaign like one long early bird, opposed to Tuscany, where we allowed people to pre-order the KS-limited rewards at a higher price after the project ended. I’d be curious to try a project where the reward pricing escalates throughout the project based on the stretch goals.

      1. Our communications through all channels alert our subscribers to when, and at what time a Kickstarter is launching – and launches are typically planned at 3pm EST on Sunday, a happy compromise for Europe and the USA (sorry Asia Pacific).

        In building momentum, every little bit helps. Our funding goals are typically higher than other projects and the early birds help us reach those quickly – not every project performs like Zombicide especially if it’s a brand new IP.

        Protest cancellations are things we face on longer campaigns – “I hate this update! I’m out!” followed by a visible drop in pledge numbers – with these same backers coming back later. Occasionally, this can become critical on slower campaigns and anything that can help reduce this is useful.

        In my opinion, early birds have provided us an overall net positive effect. Obviously this can’t be quantified – but even a 3% boost on a large campaign is significant.

          1. I think it did a tremendous job, and from my basic research here’s my opinion for what it’s worth.

            I believe Tuscany did very well because Viticulture is a very good game – I don’t know your distribution numbers but I suspect they are far higher than the number of Viticulture backers – which creates an audience of Viticulture/Tuscany evangelists primed for the Tuscany Kickstarter, even those that weren’t involved in the first one. Having the collector’s set for sale also pushed your average pledge to above $100. Without having the original Viticulture in a bundle, your total raised would have been half that amount, assuming those without the main game would have still backed.

            I’ve noticed on Kickstarter introducing a new IP or concept is always more challenging than doing a sequel of an existing, successful one.

            Even in the videogame category, sequels and spiritual successors of old favorites are usually the ones that break the $1 million mark. This is just reality – if I liked Wasteland (1988), I think I’ll probably like Wasteland 2. If I never heard of it before, I would be more cautious. Even if I never played Wasteland, but I came across lots of sites and people waxing nostalgic about it, it might push me to back number 2.

            This type of positive effect from prior products/projects doesn’t make the jump even internally to another project from the same creators/people unless the concept is largely the same (i.e. spiritual successor or small twist to existing idea – e.g. Viticulture in Space!). We’ve launched 12 Kickstarters and each new IP has had to build its own audience as should be the way of things. Branding only takes us so far, which I think you also experienced with Treasure Chest.

            So, on our projects, having early birds on new IPs, and not having early birds on sequels/expansions of successful games simply creates additional confusion for no significant benefit either to backers or ourselves. Since we’re committed to always push new ideas, we’ll doing early birds for the foreseeable future.

          2. “Viticulture in Space” That’s awesome. :)

            Thanks for the evaluation (I wasn’t fishing for compliments, though I do appreciate your kind words). I agree that launching a new IP is riskier and presents a broader range of projections than an existing IP. And it makes sense that even with existing IPs, staying consistent with past projects avoids confusing backers.

            In the end, I think it’s great that we’re both looking out for backers’ best interests, even though we’re doing it in different ways through our perspectives on early birds and exclusives. I shouldn’t even really be comparing our companies, as mine is very small and CMoN is extremely successful, so most of all, I appreciate you taking the time to share your insights here. Thank you!

  5. After much doubt, I decided to back only for a toast. The Euphoria cards changed that. Now I am in for a chest and the stars. And the toast, just to see how Jamey will manage a Danish tongue twister.

    1. That was actually a big part of the reason why we created the updated recruits. They’ll replace the cards that were in the original version, some of which were overpowered. The new ones were tested to make sure OP is no longer an issue.

  6. I can say that I was on the fence with this project from the beginning.

    Since I have been enjoying my kickstarter Euphoria I did not have the “Need” to upgrade my retail copy.

    What made me want this Treasure chest was the one two punch of the extra backer cards and the upgraded shipping with the “Complete package”

    I am a sucker for upgrading my games and I even more enjoy getting everything that I can from the kickstarter without paying an arm and a leg.

    You had me at the thought of expanding my game that I love, and you clinched that with knowing that I would not have any regrets later on.

    My only question now is with more recruits how are we going to make sure there are no OP recruits in the game?

  7. Very interesting points and great to hear it from your perspective as the creator as always!

    Just a few thoughts on the points made…Sorry it’s such a long read just for a few comments :S

    10. I really think shorter video’s are a great path to be going down. The reason, as far as I’m concerned, is that the video should be an introduction, a taste to whet your appetite – If you want to explain the whole game that’s great, but put it as a separate video on the page, or just explain it in the text!

    9. Absolutely, in fact it’s possibly better for a project like this, as it gives confidence that the product is finalized and ready to go. Much as it’s a fantastic feeling to have input on a project, it comes with a tinge of worry that it’s not yet ready, and this is certainly a great alternative.

    8. Yup =P Particularly if it’s a different type, or even if it was a different genre of product. (Xenoshyft vs Any of CMoN’s miniatures projects for example – Still a success, but a different magnitude).

    7. Absolutely, leaving out the fun updates too long can even risk reversing progress as people get uncomfortable and pull out – a steady stream of excitement is important!

    6. Bundled things are indeed very attractive, and your point about making it easier is a strong one – I was tempted even though I’m already getting coins and have wooden stars for Euphoria!

    5. True, no comment ^^.

    4. I think they’re very good for spreading publicity, but I think they’re more of an ‘in the long run’ proposition – It’ll kill or cut profits from the project, but the wider scope of people that see the project will almost certainly lead to a hefty amount more sales in the long run.

    3. I very almost went for the air-freight option, but figured it could just be an unecessary strain on timing. I guess I figured that leaving my pledge to be ocean shipped would be less stress for you as the person who’s got to deal with it (I mean, not that the drop in the water my pledge represents would make a difference, but it’s not like I actually need it sooner ^^). Maybe I’ll go for it next time as $6 is a more than reasonable ask for faster delivery.

    2. This is just how I’ve always viewed all kickstarter projects…never quite understood the ‘early bird’ pledges, particularly when everyone pays at the same time so it’s just an arbitrary bonus for who see’s a project first… (As I mean…a pledge isn’t an obligation until the end of the project anyway, so you aren’t even offering anything more up than anyone else to get the bonus.

    1. I don’t really like backer # stretch goals if I’m honest. While I’m not the kind of person to throw more money in to hit stretch goals, it’s a rather disapointing feeling to know my $33 does no more than a $1 pledge in terms of supporting the project.

    An amalgamation of both is perhaps one of the cooler routes, as everyone can help out no matter how much they put in, but those who happen to have taken a higher pledge level can still feel rewarded. It does lead to confusing stretch goal graphics though (Most projects I’ve seen them on either interleave them awkwardly or have 2 separate graphics, which can be easily missed)

    1. Chris: Thanks so much for your input. This is very helpful. I can see what you’re saying about BGG ads–I agree that the benefits are probably more in the long run than short term.

      It was considerate of you to take into account the impact on me for air freight. :) Honestly, the more, the better–that’s why I included it at the $59 level. I didn’t want to send any partial pallets via air freight.

      I see what you’re saying about backer # stretch goals. From my perspective, it fits the “every backer matters” philosophy really well, but perhaps backers who pay more matter more? I’m curious about the amalgamation idea you mentioned on your previous comment–I think that could be really compelling for creators and backers.

      1. Ah, see now I’m obligated to take the air freight option next time you offer it ;)

        One of the most attractive things about kickstarter is the ability to support individuals/companies in producing products they otherwise wouldn’t. What people can forget, however, is that it’s also about supporting the thousands of other individuals that have pledged alongside you. One of the most attractive things about stretch goals is that when a project has a higher level that I want, not only do I get more physical rewards for it, but I get to support the other backers with it as I know I’ve pushed the funding that bit further, and that can mean as much to me as the physical bonuses.

        With Euphoria for example, I backed at Supreme. Why? Because I got to help that little more towards stretch goals for everyone, and get some extra rewards asides (Which I may never use, but are still of value to me for what they represent).

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not about whether a backer matters more, but about how that backer feels about their pledge! (This also changes the feel of it, I felt like I was pre-ordering the treasure chest and getting it cheap in a selfish sense, rather than being a part of a larger community as always…That sounds worse than I mean it to, but it makes the point I think).

        1. That is a very interesting point Smoothsmith.
          Your post made me wonder about the means of encouraging backers to put more.
          One option that comes to mind is to offer additional copies at a discounted price. I am leaning towards it as in my case the minimum order quantity (MOQ) is 1000 & being a 1st timer (so expected around 300 backers) I consider to offer additional copies for discount just to not have to store them :)
          Though Jamey argues it right that there is not a big difference between two send in one bundle vs separately, as the bulk postage costs are usually marginally cheaper. Thus, maybe it would be right to offer it straight away at a lower price?
          Yet I still think it makes sense to offer the 1st box for a bit more and than offer all additional boxes for less as a means of awarding backers.

          I am not convinced about making a few versions of one game, unless the producer would count them all in a single MOQ. What is your experience guys with this approach? Did your producer required two separate orders or were the few game versions included in one MOQ?

          All the Best.

        2. Smoothsmith: “it’s not about whether a backer matters more, but about how that backer feels about their pledge!” I think that sums it up really well. That’s definitely the feeling I was trying to invoke through the Treasure Chest campaign.

          Konrad: I’m not completely against discounted pricing for additional units, but I prefer for it to happen at a higher threshold (for the Treasure Chest it happened at 10 copies). For lower quantities, it doesn’t make much sense, particularly because you’re only asking people to pay shipping once. So an international backer is getting a discount on it (first copy: $50 + $10 shipping; add another copy for $50, but they don’t have to pay more shipping).

  8. I agree #2. I am not much into exclusive. I do like them, but I want the company to make money and if everything comes with the game in KS and retail then more people will buy the game.

    I believe you had the right confidence in how much success would come. Your appeal, customer service, and openness in board games are part of the reasons for Euphoria and Tuscany’s instant insane success. Treasury was a different beast. It was accessory and luxury item that people had to discuss with themselves or SO to purchase.

    180k with the highest backer being around $60 is awesome for any kickstarter.

    1. Gabriel: I really appreciate that philosophy–the idea that you want your favorite companies to do well post-Kickstarter, and you see inclusiveness as part of that.

      A friend pointed out that the Treasure Chest doesn’t tell a story like a game does. A story can really draw people in. That’s a good lesson for me to learn.

  9. As a backer of Euphoria and Tuscany, I want to thank you for something you mentioned in #7 – only updating 1 project at a time…and, if I remember correctly, only doing 1 or 2 updates for Treasure Chest at all in those projects.

    I’ve backed a number of Kickstarters and it typically doesn’t take long for me to unsubscribe from updates. Most Project Creators tend to use their past project updates to constantly update you on their new project. I don’t mind the first one, but typically, once they’d tell me about it, I’d go check it out and if I decided the project wasn’t for me, I’d still get bombarded in the past project thread. Now I end up unsubscribing, so I’ll never hear about any of their future projects.

    I feel your approach of a quick mention, and then nothing else was fair to allow you to use a distribution system you built on a past project, but not irritate a backer to unsubscribe.

    1. Hi Paul: Thanks, I’m glad you noticed what I was doing with the updates (and that you still subscribe to all of them!) My intention was to only update Euphoria backers once, but the recruit solution surfaced during the campaign, so I needed to follow up with another update.

      The key that I’ve found is to find a connection to the backers for the previous project and to make it part of a more robust update, the other aspects of which have nothing to do with the new project. I’m glad to hear it’s working so far to not annoy original backers (though I’d love to see the stats on unsubscribe rates after backers get those updates–that would be incredibly useful data to have!)

  10. I am constantly searching and wondering about the new ways of letting the backers feel this is ‘their project’. I believe you achieved it quite nice by threatening it all as the early bird. At first I was not completely decided about your approach & the early bird pledges, as I mentioned it a few times in our past messages. Though seeing the result I am certain to use the same approach & treat the project as one gigantic early bird.

    The adding of tokens for the number of backers is very attractive approach… a perfect one for this project. Particularly since it highlights the importance of the backers’ action while at the same time awarding their support. Similarly, I like approach where backers can share the project to lower the stretch goals. Since this allows, also to those who cannot put money, to help the project indirectly, by spreading the news & generating the buzz. I wonder what you think about this particular approach?

    My Congratulations & Thanks for the Lesson.

    1. Konrad: I’m glad you ended up liking that system (though I wouldn’t quite use the word “threatening” :) ).

      Yeah, I like social media stretch goals for that same reason. I think we were the first company to use them on Viticulture, and I integrated them into Euphoria in a new way. The trouble with them is that they’re not tied to the financial aspect of the project at all (backer total is at least indirectly tied to it)–500 Likes doesn’t translate into 500 more units made, therefore lowering the cost per unit by $0.05 or anything. So the social media stretch goals are a bit abstract and arbitrary. So I think if I did them again, I would limit them to something small early in the project, perhaps something that could unlock via social media OR backer total.

      1. Haha interesting typo indeed. Would be great if I was able to correct it. The intended word obviously was ‘treating’. :)
        You are right about the aspect of the social media stretch goals though they still can be used well. Particularly, looking from the perspective of a person who will make their first project (as myself) the social media stretch goals are certainly ‘necessary’ to get to new backers.
        Additionally, I believe that the priority when making the 1st project (and being fresh to the scene) is different then when you already established your name (or make a career of it). The 1st project maker should focus on getting it to as many people as possible rather than the amount it can generate.

        BTW: I wonder what is the next thing brewing in your game laboratory? :)

        1. Konrad: That’s a GREAT point about perspective, and it’s something I’m trying to remind myself of when I write these KS Lessons. Your first project is very different than your second or third project. I agree with your statement that the first project is all about getting as many people as possible to the project. I look forward to seeing how you accomplish that goal with your project!

          I have 3 games in development right now, and a fourth that someone else is developing with us (they’re the lead designer on it). I doubt all of them will end up being made, but it’s fun to jump around between them for now.

          1. Thanks for the encouragement. I guess I have no way back right now :)

            I enjoy working on few games at the same time as well. Particularly, during their conceptualisation stage, as while making one you come up with other concepts which actually are better fit for the other and so on. Though now getting close to finishing one I spend all my free time on it… it is unfortunate but one has only 24 hours a day :)

            Looking forward to learning more about the games when they are closer to publishing.

            PS: After finding few sections of your page (e.g. Mission Statement & Submission) I have a few questions. Though here is not the place for them and I will send them across to you by other means.

            Thanks again for your work & All the Best.

  11. I backed the treasure chest, but I did not like the number of backer stretch goal system. I’d rather have the money stretch goal. I’ve seen kickstarter projects where all the backers decide to up their pledge to reach a higher level. You can’t do this with the current system. I do like the uniformity in the stretch goals and the daily updates on the kickstarter page.

    1. Seth: Thanks for your input. I agree that it was a different approach to stretch goals. I think you’re touching on the idea that backers feel more in control of the stretch goals if they can simply increase their pledge, while in my backer-total stretch goal, the most they could do was share the project with friends and hope they back it. From a creator perspective, that’s actually one of the major reasons I liked this new approach. I want people to add extra money to their pledge only if they truly want extra stuff, not because of a stretch goal.

      That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t go back to a funding stretch goal system in the future, but there’s something about the backer-total system that felt really good to me.

      1. Could be cool to split the ‘Premium Edition’/”Retail Upgrade’ stretch goals to Backers/Funding. E.g. the more backers the better the retail copy, and the more funding the more component upgrades are in the box (Available later of course).

        1. Chris: Interesting. So the funding stretch goals would essentially be creating an increasingly more robust “enhancement pack” that would be included with the Kickstarter games and available as a separate, external purchase for retail buyers. I like that concept a lot, other than the funding frenzy it would create (which isn’t completely a bad thing–it’s helpful for any project to have more money. I just don’t want backers to spend beyond their means).

  12. i ended up jumping on board with this, mostly due to including the euphoria cards, Just FYI, if they weren’t included i don’t think i would have backed. It lowered the price entry by an additional 5$

  13. Andy: Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your perspective on the BGG ad ROI. Based on my overall margins (including economies of scale), I would rather have those 85 backers than not at all. It goes beyond the margins–those are 85 more people who will have the Treasure Chest to show to friends, gaming groups, strangers at conventions–each of those 85 people could result in several more sales. The more early adopters, the better.

    Also, this is based a little bit on the assumption that the BGG ads only brought in 85 people. In reality, that’s just direct click-throughs; there are probably at least twice as many backers who were influenced by the BGG ads.

    1. Thanks for your response. And I agree with your points. My comment was really more a caution to people to look at what it costs you to attract a customer. People often spend money on ads and then generate some sales and think “What a great investment!”, when the investment in ads might have sucked away a lot of their profit. Ads work great when a person buys something and then is a repeat customer. Or in your case where you hope that those people you spent money attracting also attract a lot of secondary sales. And I think you had a pretty good plan for a focused ad on BGG – which is your primary group of potential core customers!

        1. And I’m already in for a couple of the Treasure Chests – so I’ll do my best to help generate some of those secondary sales! Thanks for the blog – always an interesting read!

  14. Regarding point #4, I think your return on investment is a little different from a profit perspective. You paid $700 to attract 85 new backers. While that might have resulted in $5000 in funding – you have to deliver the product to those backers. If you divide the $700 you spent by the 85 backers, it cost you over $8 a person to attract those backers. I don’t know what your profit margin is on each chest, but if you make $8 on each chest in profit, you would only break even; less than $8 a chest and you actually lost money on the ad. And even if you make $15 a chest in profit, you only would have earned about $600 in total profit by posting the add.

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