The Good, The Bad, & The Misinformed – Week 1

Each week, I will deliver insights as to the inner workings of three Kickstarter campaigns. My goal is to show you valuable case studies happening on Kickstarter right now to help future creators. Here you will find my opinion of current best practices peppered with my taste of bad humor. Keep in mind that this is always in good fun and that my listing these campaigns are almost always an endorsement for you to support these projects, no matter my critical commentary. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletters via the sidebar to never miss my commentary on a new campaign.

The Good – Spirits of the Forest

Disclaimer: Being listed as a “Good” campaign does not mean I think that any campaign is perfect. In general, this campaign at the very least displays competent knowledge of how crowdfunding works and can only really improve in minor or superficial ways.

Takeaways

  • Spirits of the Forest is a very straight-forward, polished campaign. Any creator can check off the boxes in their campaigns by seeing that this campaign has a Game Overview section, a Pledge Level section, and so on. I probably would have swapped Reviews and How to Play, but that’s an insignificant choice that I think is more a reflection of my taste than a flaw in the campaign.
  • Thundergryph consistently has one of the best intro video productions in the industry. Highly thematic, highly entertaining, and cleverly introduces the game, often without mentioning one gameplay mechanism. I love it.
  • Pay close attention to their In The Box section. Notice how the components are not to scale, but instead are a great showcase for the components “as big as they need to be to do them justice.” Don’t hide any of the components in your game trying to squeeze the images into one screen. Let people scroll. It can only make your game appear bigger than it is.
  • Make sure you tell them I think they are trying too hard to make shipping sexy. No amount of flowery map of the world can achieve that. 😉

The Bad – The Dice Tower – 2018

Disclaimer: Being listed as a “Bad” campaign does not mean I think the creators are failures or that you should not support this campaign. In general, if a campaign is mentioned here, it is usually because the creators have made at least one large error in judgment and I think they should know better. This usually is not terribly affecting the campaign’s trajectory.

Takeaways

  • The Dice Tower is arguably one of the most successful, if not the most successful, media entities in the board gaming hobby. So why is their intro video about as low-budget as humanly possible? Maybe part of the funding is to provide for better post-production standards.
  • One problem I have with this campaign is something echoed in the comments and is something to consider if you are going to have a complicated pledge structure. The Dice Tower is providing promo bundles as the most popular rewards, but they are bundling them in such a way to force supporters to buy more than one promo pack to get the ones they want. Tom will reply that this decision was for logistic reasons. If that is the truth, I would like to help him out. I would have simply offered the bundles in the current configuration, but displayed the higher individual costs of each promo if backers wanted them a la carte. Then via a pledge manager (or the fact that they work with one of the largest game e-tailers in the US), I would have given backers a chance after the campaign to allocate the money they pledged. Think of it as an add-on catalog used in many campaigns.
  • Similar to my problems with the production quality of the intro video, I’m just not that excited about the layout and graphic design of the campaign in general. The stretch goals are in plain text. The displays of the items for sale are way too repetitive for an online product experience. Even the dice and meeple page separators are generic and grey! Maybe the team thinks their success is always guaranteed and they don’t need to put in the effort, and if that’s true, what a disappointment. Try harder! Don’t phone it in! Your success is never guaranteed!

The Misinformed – TOKYO SERIES: JIDOHANBAIKI, METRO, & JUTAKU

Disclaimer: Being listed as a “Misinformed” campaign does not make the entirety of the campaign a lost cause. It usually means that I think the creator, whether through ignorance or miscalculation, messed up quite a bit of best practices, and I think the campaign has suffered as a result.

Takeaways

  • Do not launch on a Friday. Do not launch on a Friday. Do not launch on a Friday.
  • It is preferred that you do a timed stretch goal at the beginning of the campaign than an early bird reward or discount, but really? You put that stretch goal at more than double your funding goal? I sure hope it pays off, but that’s excessive and not worth the risk. Especially since they are already selling the metal coins as an add-on anyway (meaning the creator already has plans to produce them).
  • One of the stretch goals is that they will work with Panda Manufacturing. That is a non-stretch goal, and I am not just saying that because I work with LongPack Games. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Panda Games Manufacturing is not the best manufacturer in the industry because that doesn’t exist. Every manufacturer has their strong and weak points. Talk to any publisher who has worked with multiple manufacturers to confirm. This is true industry-wide.
  • The video is polished, EDM, millennial fare, but is about 2 minutes too long. I don’t have the data in front of me, but I bet the creator is not thrilled about video completion rates currently.
  • Shipping is being added to the campaign after it ends! Backers will be double-charged via Backerkit! Why does anyone ever think this is a great idea?! Guaranteed there are lost backers as a result of that decision. No question.
  • I do like the Japanese text at the end. That is on-brand and actually something I might have integrated more throughout the campaign.

Comments

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Daniel Zayas

Daniel Zayas is owner and curator of this website. He has been ranking Kickstarter game campaigns via the Board Game Badger for three years. Daniel runs a consultant business via this website as well. Feel free to reach out to him in the links below.

2 comments

  1. I disagree with your remark about the video for Spirit of the Forest. I agree that the production quality is high and that it tells a story and whets my appetite. I would like it to give me something about the game or why they need my money or something. Don’t you think that would be more valuable than a 1 minute voiceover-less animation of animals and leaves?

    • There are many ways to skin an intro video. The fact that it draws you closer to backing the project, or whetting your appetite, after watching the video in entirety is all you need out of it. Had you not finished the video, that would actually work against your capacity for backing the campaign right away.

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