17 April 2017
Recently I shared a guest post from James Hudson of Druid City Games about certain features offered by Indiegogo. James talks about his internal debate between Kickstarter and Indiegogo in the article and why he eventually chose Kickstarter. While we’ll never know how The Grimm Forest would have done on a different platform, it did phenomenally well on Kickstarter, recently ending funding with $405,145 in funding from 7,131 backers.
In an effort to hear Kickstarter’s perspective of why their platform is great for board games, James reached out to Luke Crane, head of games at Kickstarter. Here’s a follow-up guest post from James about his chat with Luke. Thanks, James and Luke!
As far as stats go, Kickstarter is the “go-to” platform for board gaming. Here are some staggering stats:
- $364 million pledged all time to tabletop games
- $114 million in 2016 alone
- 1 million backers
- Over 6200 successful projects, with a 55% success rate in tabletop gaming.
But any platform is about much more than about stats–it’s about the people running the show. Luke is a gamer himself and not only that, but he has been on several projects such as The Burning Wheel, Burning Empires, Free Market, Torchbearer and Mouse Guard RPG. He has also worked on two graphic novels and a 10-player Viking LARP. It is nice to know someone that can greatly affect the board game category has been in our shoes and has felt the ups and downs of a campaign.
One of the big differences between Kickstarter and Indiegogo is when the backer gets charged for their pledge. On IGG it is charged at the time of pledging, while Kickstarter waits until the conclusion of the campaign date, then all backers are charged at once. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both, but here is what Luke had to say about it:
“We don’t charge backers until a campaign’s funding period ends, which gives them plenty of time to adjust their pledges. We think this is good for backers, creators, and the health of the system as a whole. Backers tell us they enjoy the freedom to adjust as the campaign progresses and our data shows that backers are far more likely to increase their pledges during a campaign than to cancel them.”
The lack of a “flexible funding” option on Kickstarter also contributes to backer confidence, particularly for tabletop game projects. A minimum print run of a game has a specific cost, and if you don’t have those funds (from crowdfunding or elsewhere), you simply can’t make the game. Thus it doesn’t make sense for a tabletop game project on other platforms to accept funds if that goal hasn’t been reached, and backers know that.
A few years back Kickstarter saw the rise of board games and put them on the same playing field as the other categories. This was an important move for exposure and traffic to campaigns. Luke says, “As a platform, Kickstarter puts Games on the same cultural level as Music, Theater and Film. This is a big deal. When Kickstarter launched, there was some discussion in academia and on the conference circuit about the place of games in culture, but very few (if any) companies had taken the step of acknowledging that games were an equal part of the creative and artistic culture. I think the games community really appreciates that. But this equal treatment also means that when we’re looking at making changes to Kickstarter, we must consider the effects not only for games, but for the other 14 categories as well.”
Luke also tries to increase the exposure of tabletop game projects through the media side of Kickstarter’s platform: “I’m constantly working on getting games featured in our newsletters and blogs.” The newsletter that goes out every two weeks has 60,000 subscribers with 8-10 live games projects. It includes news about launches and events as well.
I mentioned on my previous guest post that one of the big advantages to KS is their internal user notification network. I have hundreds of people that follow me, so when I launch a campaign, they are alerted. The same thing happens when someone I follow on Kickstarter launches or backs a project.
As a creator, I want to know someone on the other side is listening to my feedback and making changes. I think we all have a few of our “pet peeves” we would love to see changed about the platform (let backers pledge to multiple reward tiers!), with that said, Luke is that force for change.
He had this to say about feedback and implementing new initiatives. “Part of my role at Kickstarter is to listen to the games community and represent their feedback internally to the curation and product teams. And I provide feedback to the product and engineering teams about the needs of the games community. You may not have noticed the changes, but largely due to feedback from the community, we’ve updated how our shipping works and added the ability to have multiple collaborators on a project.”
Luke said that there are quite a few changes that his team are looking to make to the platform in 2017 and they all stem directly from the feedback they receive from creators and backers. As the old adage goes, “it takes time to turn a moving ship”.
It is safe to say, that Kickstarter was first to the party and they have taken the ball and ran with it. I think there are changes that the gaming community on Kickstarter want to see made to the platform to better serve our needs. It was great to get some perspective from Luke on the challenges they face to make adjustments that would benefit gaming that might affect different categories negatively.
It is also comforting to know that they are listening and not only that, but Luke is a champion for our cause, he is in the offices of the people that can push these changes up the line and he is in his words “jumping up and down” when needed.
What other features on Kickstarter make it a great environment for tabletop game projects? Conversely, what elements of Kickstarter are you hoping to see improved?
(This is Jamey) I used to have a long list of improvements I hoped to see from Kickstarter, but that list has decreased over time. Here’s where that list currently stands:
- Allow creators to populate the FAQ in advance.
- Incorporate add-ons into the reward sidebar (or at the point of pledge)
- Nested comments
- Give creators more moderator control to reduce bullying and abuse