A great read, I backed at the print n' play level after an old college buddy (now a part of Enchanted Beard press) pointed me in the direction of your Game. I haven't had a chance to give the game a whirl yet because I'm spending all my print and play time on my own game I'm working on.
Since I'm planning to eventually Kickstart a game this was a great little insight into the process.
Your printing and shipping costs alone exceeded the $20k you raised. You mentioned that your original shipping estimate was less than the actual cost. Did the printing cost also end up higher than you thought it would? I'm trying to understand why you didn't set a higher KS goal. Was there anything that you didn't take into account originally?
I set the Kickstarter at $20k hoping to pay for the printing and shipping from China to the US. I expected to pay shipping directly to Kickstarter supporters. So I was able to use the Kickstarter funds to pay for what I expected.
Setting the Kickstarter goal to $20k when I expected to have to pay money to fulfill the project was a judgement call. Since KS is all or nothing, you have to set your goal to something you think you can reach, but high enough that you'll be able to follow through with your promise. Given the challenge to raise $20k, I think I made the right move to not set the goal higher, even though it meant I was footing some of the bill.
Now that I've established that I can create fun, high quality games and can deliver Kickstarter promises on time, maybe I'll be able to cover more of the cost through the KS for my next game
Why'd you order 1630 copies? Does that give you a better price per copy, or was that an estimate of how many you think you can sell eventually?
I ordered 1,500 (the minimum number from Panda GM), but they allow for up to 10% extra in case there are defective products, which is where the extra 130 came from. I didn't know how many copies of the game I could sell, so I just chose the smallest number in case the game didn't sell. (So far, it seems to be selling alright )
Was there anything that you didn't take into account originally?
I'm also interested in the answer to this question.
Also... what other services did pay to use besides shipping and printing? For my game my goal has been to "break even" with costs (excluding time) and revenue after Kickstarter, so what advice would you have given yourself, knowing what you know now, that could achieve that?
Oh and how much of your success do you attribute to advertisement? That's been a difficult expense for me to anticipate wanting to spend very much on.
Was there anything that you didn't take into account originally?
The biggest thing was definitely taxes. I figured I could just get the game started right after the Kickstarter concluded... I didn't even think of the KS money as income. So that was a kind of big hit. Given that it takes months to complete a print job, you really need to run you KS very early in the year to make sure you can spend all the money without it getting taxed.
The other thing is advertising. Running the Kickstarter was very stressful and I didn't think it would succeed for much of the campaign. After a week or two, I realized I was going to have to step up my outreach, and advertising seemed like the best option. I advertised through facebook, google, and board game geek. BGG was probably the only option that was worth it, but it was also the most expensive option.
If I were to give myself advice leading up to the KS, it would definitely be to attend more conventions. Face to face exposure is by far the best way to make connections with people. Plus, for a game like Corporate America, where the level of interaction and fun isn't necessarily obvious just by seeing the game or even reading the rules, playing the game or seeing the game played will easily communicate to people how good the game is. I tried communicating that information through the KS video, but did a pretty lousy job. If I'd started making personal connections and establishing word of mouth advertising earlier, I may not have had to worry about advertising during the campaign.
I also would recommend to release the PnP version for free before the campaign. I did get a number of backers to pay for the PnP reward tier ($10), but I think it would have been better to think of the PnP as advertising, giving people a chance to try out the game/see what they would be getting.
I think I covered basically all of the other services in the blog post--I paid artists for the art and The Game Crafter for making prototypes. I guess I also bought Adobe software for graphic design and rules layout, which was expensive but essential. Reviews/previews also cost money, and were also essential for communicating to potential backers that the game was legit.
Phew, I think that covers it! Best of luck with your game
1630 copies of Corporate America were produced and made their way from Panda GM‘s China factory to Game Salute‘s New Hampshire warehouses. Of those games, about 275 went to Kickstarter supporters, leaving me with around 1350 to sell. The game retails for $40, but it is quite rare that I will keep all $40 for myself. When you buy from Game Salute, I get most of the money, but for every extra middleman between me and a customer, my slice of the pie diminishes. The game sells to brick and mortar shops for $20, halving the potential earnings. It’s too early to say, but I’d guess I’ll average around $12-15 per game sold.
If I sell all 1350 extra copies of the game, I will definitely make up the difference between the cost to produce the game and money raised on Kickstarter, and will even have made a profit. But selling 1350 copies of any game is very challenging (even one as awesome as Corporate America), so that’s a big if.
The moral of the story: do it for the love, not the money. I know some people have turned making board games into a thriving livelihood for themselves, but it’s not easy, even with the support of Kickstarter.
That's a really important point to highlight to all our would-be kickstarter aspirants out there. Thanks a lot for giving it a voice.
Quick question(s) : -- How long do you think you'll take to get all 1300+ copies out of your hands and onto a distributor or retailer?
-- Based on third-hand "hearsay", I thought Game Salute can take all of that 1300+ copies, warehouse and distribute it for you?
-- Did you work up some kind of business plan (perhaps with Game Salute) to estimate the amount of time it would take to sell out these copies?
I imagine that the most problematic post-production expense is warehousing unsold/undistributed copies.
Game Salute is taking care of warehousing and shipping the games to both KS backers and stores. I can't get into the details of our contract, but the basic idea is that I still own the games they're storing and shipping. Every time a game sells they will take a cut and pass the rest of the money on to me. They also shipped a bunch of games directly to me when they got them so I could distribute games to local Kickstarter backers and promote it myself.
Game Salute is warehousing and distributing basically all of the extra games for me. I only have a few dozen in my closet to deal with myself because I want to deal with some myself.
I'm honestly not sure how long it will take to sell the remaining games. I didn't come up with a business plan or anything before diving into this. You could compare your game to similar games to get an idea of how long it will take to sell them all, but honestly you can't even know if you will sell any of them... board games are a fickle business.
That said, I'm expecting a sales report from Game Salute any day now, which will cover preorders and the first month of sales. That should give me at least some idea of how the game is doing.
I'm not sure about storage being the biggest post-production expense... shipping was certainly pricy. Because Game Salute is taking care of storage but not charging me directly for it, I'm sheltered from how much it actually costs.
I did compare numbers a little bit between going the traditional publisher route and doing a Kickstarter. Self publishing means you get to keep a higher percentage of your sales, which sounded appealing, but it also takes WAY more time and knowledge and will probably be harder to sell your games.
While money did factor into my decision, it was more a combination of wanting creative control, wanting to understand the whole process of making a board game, and impatience (not wanting to wait on publishers to accept the game and then polish it on their own schedule) that made me decide to go the Kickstarter route. Also note that I wouldn't do this for any game, but Corporate America is special--it features unique, really engaging mechanics and a theme that stands out from the crowd. We'll see if the board game community agrees with that, though
Honestly, I did a pretty bad job of doing my homework when it comes to distribution. I just posted a timeline of my self-publishing experience, and you'll notice that I didn't even start approaching distributors until after the printing was underway. In the end, I went with Game Salute because I had no time and no other options. Though Game Salute was not a bad match for me, I would recommend others exploring distribution options before even starting their Kickstarter.