I may have gotten a little ahead of myself here, but assuming that the kickstarter funds and the manufacturing goes off as planned and the shipping works out and there are no nasty surprises in distribution and I'm not swallowed whole by the next game there's a chance that some copies of 404 will turn up in shops.
Since I'm waiting on various moving parts of 3DTotal to spin in the right directions I'm spending my time trying to work out what actions I'll take in various scenarios, so it's something I've been thinking about. As I've got into it and got in touch with distributors, stores and other interested parties it seems that there's a degree of bad blood between some local gaming shops and some kickstarter projects/backers. As best I can tell it goes like this:
KS "I risk my money on a project before it's been completed. I accept the risk that the project might never happen or that the game might not live up to my expectations. I make the game happen in the first place, where otherwise it would not. I shout out to others to get them interested in the game. I interact with the other backers and the project creator so that we can all have something more awesome together. I offer so much and all I want is to get the game a little cheaper, a little sooner and/or with some little extra bits"
FLGS "Times are tough for gaming stores, both the profit margin and the size of the market for board games are small. Spending is down and rents are up yet I do what I do because I love the hobby. There's more money and less effort to be found in other places, but I'm at the centre of my local community giving gamers a place to play and making sure that they can find each other to form whatever groups they need. I'm willing to stock things by small publishers and indie designers because it makes a difference to the hobby, I could make more by turning over most of my store to magic cards and whatever loss-leader Hasbro is going with this month, but I'm here to make gaming better. I offer so much and all I want is not to be made to look like a rip-off merchant charging my customers twice what their friends paid a few months ago for an inferior product."
This is one of these times that everyone involved is actually being pretty reasonable, but the realities of the world are going to make it hard to please everyone. My inclination as some creating a project is to make sure that I'm looking after the kickstarter backers, since those guys are going to be the ones who see whether the thing as a whole succeeds or fails. On the other hand if I can make an excellent game I don't want to give anyone a good game, so I'm finding that my attitude has moved away from supplying unique game components to kickstarter backers. This leaves me in a place of trying to make sure everyone gets the same game, but that the FLGS's end up charging more for it than the kickstarters. I don't want to leave them with an inferior product, but there has to be some sort of reward for being willing to get behind a project from the outset.
An obvious step is to add a gaming store level to my kickstarter, but realistically I'm not sure that I could get the word out to enough gaming stores at the project creation stage for that to be a reasonable compromise. Has anyone reading this tried that? How did it go?
There's also the issue of where to set the MSRP to see this happen. My inclination is to set it to be 10-20% higher than the kickstarter price, but since stores pay about 40-50% of the MSRP they could theoretically afford to drop the price by that amount (or more) and still make a profit, which leads to the nightmare scenario of a kickstarter backer finding the game cheaper in a store than they did during the project. On the other hand setting the MSRP high enough that this isn't possible makes the price for the game insane and hurts decent businesses who had no intention of doing any sort of deep discount.
I'm a smart guy and I'm used to being able to think my way around a lot of problems, but for some reason this one has been stuck in my head for a while and nothing that I come up with feels like a real solution. The closest I've come up with is to set the MSRP to match the basic "get the game" kickstarter level and then to raise it each time a stretch goal is met (currently the first one is a nominal £200 after success) so that the more the kickstarter folks contribute the better deal they get and that the FLGS are still getting an item of value proportional to what they pay for it. Is that adequate? What if the thing only just funds? What if it hits a bajillion stretch goals?
If anyone else has struggled with this, can you let me know what conclusions you reached? I think I might need more than my own brain power on this one.
A collection of posts by game designer Gregory Carslaw, including mirrors of all of his blogs maintained for particular projects. A complete index of posts can be found here: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/58777/index
22 Aug 2013
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