There are those that say that Kickstarter will destroy the traditional Publisher-Distributor-FLGS model and there are those who say that Kickstarter will destroy the online stores instead. There are a few who say that Kickstarter will not destroy but create… create a new market for small independent games that could never make the shortlist for publishers or for a distributor, or even for your FLGS. On a good day, I believe the last. On a bad day, I hope that the last is true. I get a lot of use out of my FLGSs and I don’t want them to go away.
So I had final demo decks of Who’s for Dinner? ready and I felt confident that I had a game sufficiently developed for presentation on Kickstarter. I applied to start a project and waited nervously for approval.* It came in a few days… I should mention that when I submitted the project, I already had a website that had been up for a while, a dedicated email address and plenty of images of the prototype game pieces, both on my website and here. I’ve heard some horror stories from folks that have been denied and told their project was not sufficiently advanced to be posted on the site.
I was approved to start my project and I began building out the KS page. I had to record a video… I did one of myself talking about the history and development of the game, since I knew that Tom would be doing a preview video of the gameplay. I then worked on my backer levels, trying to come up with fun names for each of the levels and figure out rewards that would engage people. I put a lot of the stuff in the video onto the page itself… I knew I wasn’t going to be able to generate a super-high quality video, so duplicating important information for those who didn’t watch all the way through to the end was important.
Once I got all my rewards, story and video sorted out, I had to get Kickstarter to approve the project again. They were changing policies at the time, I don’t think a new project would go through that. I know it caught some people, like the Fleet guys off guard though.
I had made arrangements with Tom Vasel to have a preview video made, and I had also securing a shout-out on The D6 Generation. I didn’t know the exact timing of when these would come out, so I started the project a little earlier than I might have otherwise. However, Tom had some personal stuff trip him up a little bit and Craig went to New Zealand. Turns out I shouldn’t haven been in a rush, but it all worked out in the end. I decided to do a soft open for my campaign.
I had an idea about trying to get a viral thing going… I knew I would be offering at least one special promo card to those folks who sent me a code. I sent out a series of messages to different interest groups and sets of social networks, each with a different code. I also put up flyers in my local FLGS, each with their own identifying code as well. Early backers got personal codes as well. The viral thing never really caught on, I get codes from Tom’s video and from The D6G; but have received few of the FLGS codes and none so far of the personal codes.
My soft open did allow me to analyze each pledge as it came in, I learned that I was getting the majority of my pledges from folks discovering the project on Kickstarter… I got relatively few hits on my direct messaging, until I posted on the Geek and other news sites. Eric Martin kind of spoiled my announcement here… he mentioned it in his Friday newspost, and I had been waiting till Monday to make the first post here. Again, it all worked out in the end.
It’s been fairly consistent through the project, I get about 2 backers through Kickstarter for every 1 that come in another way. I think that’s about right… Who’s for Dinner? is a light game… a lot of heavy users of the big sites like the Geek are looking for something more meaty, and my smaller budget (due to a smaller price point) means I can only afford so much direct advertising.
I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned throughout this is that once you start a Kickstarter project, you’re in a zombie horror movie. YOU HAVE TO KEEP MOVING. If you stop (by not sending out updates, thanking each and every backer as they come onboard, not updating your friends and social networks), you die. I think that at least 50% of the failed boardgame projects are due to this… it’s a rare project that can continue to get pledges day after day on it’s original information, updates keep the interest up. Of course, too many updates and everyone starts ignoring them…
I had a last minute savior in the sense of a backer (Nick Seal, aka Sir Gamesalot yoda844) who put a lot of effort into making really good suggestions. Most everything that happened in the last couple of weeks was due to his great ideas. More on that next time.
Next time, artwork, non-game rewards, preproduction and the advantages (and disadvantages) of production on demand!