Each week, I will show you educational case studies on Kickstarter. These are strictly my experience-based opinions on Kickstarter best practices. My listing these campaigns are always an endorsement of the product itself, no matter my critical commentary of the campaign. Enjoy! *Please note that I missed Week 6, 7, and 8 due to schedule complications.
Take your island with you. Play anywhere with this portable deck transformer game.
The Good: A word about preview content. A Rahdo preview can almost guarantee a funded Kickstarter campaign. Big thumbs up to the creators for pursuing and getting that preview content. Seriously, look down the line of Rahdo videos and point a failed Kickstarter campaign out to me. You’ll see my comparison to even The Dice Tower’s new preview arm below, but you as a creator need to take into account a reviewer’s track record. You also want to pay attention to a content creator’s views and comment sections. I generally don’t get many comments here, but the few I do get are mostly responded to. You want that level of engagement when selecting (and sometimes paying) a content creator.
The Bad: You as a self-publisher need to make a decision between creating a deluxe edition of your game or making the only game you are selling deluxe in the first place. I have helped run both types of campaigns. While deluxe on Kickstarter is usually the more popular option, I think Palm Island could have done without the basic edition entirely. For an extra $2, you get the game the creators actually wanted to make. Now the creators have a dilemma of mass producing likely 1000 copies of the paper card game, but only 300 were really interested in the first place. They have learned now that they could have easily gotten away with all-weather cards and been just fine with one less SKU to worry about post-Kickstarter.
The Misinformed: It is hard to justify anything as categorically “misinformed” when I regard the campaign overall as a resounding success. So here’s a softball critique, but one I think is valuable. Maybe when you have the inclination to post four updates on your campaign within the first 24 hours, just don’t. I know running a Kickstarter campaign is like riding a tidal wave of emotion but try to hold back and take your customers’ time seriously. Don’t negatively impact your campaign with oversharing. Hold back information so that you can have better quality updates throughout. In general, I recommend a few standard updates: The “Welcome to the campaign” update, the “we funded” update, and the “thank you for all your support in these last 72 to 48 hours” update. The rest of the updates can be sparingly spaced apart to maybe one per week or, at most, every couple days as you unlock big stretch goals.
Face your rival in a simple, smooth and relaxed way. Pichenotte Hockey is a surprising dexterity game for 2 players.
The Good: Funny thing, there were two dexterity games launched this week: the above Pichenotte Hockey, and Flicky Spaceships. Can anyone spot why one is funded and the other likely to cancel? If you said overproduced game compared to gameplay experience you are right! Pichenotte Hockey should by all accounts be charging more for their game. It’s WOODEN BOARDS! But I can get a large version for a cool $43. However, if I want Flicky Spaceships, I’m looking at double the price. If I wanted an $80 dexterity game, I’d buy PitchCar. Know your market, and know what prices actual products on Kickstarter sell for. Otherwise, you will be hitting the cancel button before you launch.
The Bad: Here’s where my praise of Pichenotte Hockey and their pricepoint gets a little dicey. The creators of this campaign made the conscious decision, as many others have before them, to separate shipping from the pledge level. While this is not outright bad for this type of campaign, they probably could have achieved better results with a different split. To the publisher, it’s all the same money when the check comes in from Kickstarter. If I make a game for $1 and make the shipping $50, I am still getting $51 per unit sold when all is said and done. The $50 in shipping is even going toward my funding goal. Where Pichenotte did a $43 / $17 split, I think they would have been better served with a $49 / $10 split. It ups the perceived value of the product, which already seems underpriced and a great value, while also not giving people as much sticker shock when clicking the back button and seeing the $17 in shipping.
The Misinformed: I am generally in the camp of fewer pledge levels is more, but in this case, I think the creators could have afforded to add a couple levels to clarify their Montreal pickup offering. Not too drastic as far as misinformed lessons go, but definitely could become a headache post-Kickstarter when they start to figure out fulfillment. If you do a local pickup option (or, as you’ll see many times in the Spring, Essen pickup option), save yourself some navigating the no reward section and just build a pledge level with worldwide free shipping rules. Be perfectly clear in the pledge level the terms for backing, and then be prepared for backers to have clicked that option by mistake, at which point you will need to charge shipping after the campaign. The risk of that happening is much preferred over sorting No Reward backers.
2-player Card combat that you can take and play anywhere without a table!
The Good: Now, I am possibly in the minority of believing earnestly that you the creator should be in charge of teaching people your game and third-party content creators should be in charge of broad explanations, pontificating, and promotion. The Guardian’s Gambit campaign does their video really well, even on an indie limited budget. It also gives the creators more screen time, which is always a net positive when backers are backing creators as much as they are backing for new games.
The Bad: I am trying not to make a negative out of what should have been a sound business decision. But when you look at the new Kickstarter preview offering by The Dice Tower, likely going for hundreds of dollars, and you see the severe lack of views on that video compared to Rahdo’s subscription to view ratio, and you see the lack of official engagement in the YouTube comments, you have to wonder about where that marketing budget could have been better spent. This is unfortunate because it shouldn’t have been a negative to the campaign at all. It should have been a resounding positive. I hope the Dice Tower team reads this and retools how they get the word out on paid preview content.
The Misinformed: This is one of those cases where you don’t need extra pledge levels, but the creator made them anyway. You as the creator can tell backers to pledge for whatever amount extra per extra copy and keep it all in one pledge level. Then you can sort it out with a pledge manager after the campaign. On a related note, the difference between the $75 pledge and the $250 pledge is a mention in the rulebook. That is a laughable attempt at providing added value, even if rich Uncle Lou wanted to give you extra money in the campaign. Keep it simple with the pledges and Uncle Lou can still give you what he wanted with one available pledge level.