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Subject: Kickstarter lessons from the successful Chaos & Alchemy campaign rss

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Michael Iachini
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I wrote up my experiences with Kickstarting Chaos & Alchemy, and I figured this might be useful for other designers who are going the Kickstarter route. I hope this helps!

http://onlinedungeonmaster.com/2013/09/06/kickstarter-recap-...

Michael Iachini
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Michael M.
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Thanks so much! As someone who plans on going the kickstarter route sometime in the next 12 months, I find this kind of stuff invaluable.
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Vandel Arden
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Interesting Report. Its strenghten my opinion to have upgrades early on
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Kim Brebach
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Great recap thanks Michael - very useful.

Question: What % of your backers were from outside the USA?
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Michael Iachini
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Well, 70 people chose one of the international shipping options, and there may have been some print and play backers who were international. But the international shipping options didn't come about until late in the campaign.

In any case, fewer than 10% of backers were from outside the US.

Michael Iachini
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Kim Brebach
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Thanks Michael and congrats too.

Certainly the high international backing costs stopped me backing your game - which I'll now wait to get via my FLGS.

I'm a believer that smart international fulfillment (eg via Amazon) bringing the international costs down generally to US levels will increase KS games international and thus overall backer numbers.

See Euphoria example here http://www.stonemaiergames.com/how-to-provide-free-shipping-... where Jamey increased his international backer numbers from 25% of total in Viticulture to 40% in Euphoria.

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Michael Iachini
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Kim - Euphoria isn't a "for example" when it comes to low-cost international shipping; it's the ONLY example that I know of. Jamey was amazing with that campaign.

In any case, everything to do with money (including international shipping) was completely out of my hands; that was a Game Salute decision. At launch, they didn't have any options for international backers - they wanted to run a US-only campaign. I'm glad they at least offered something, but yeah, it doesn't compare to Euphoria.

Michael Iachini
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Brant Benoit
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ChaosAndAlchemy wrote:
Kim - Euphoria isn't a "for example" when it comes to low-cost international shipping; it's the ONLY example that I know of. Jamey was amazing with that campaign.

In any case, everything to do with money (including international shipping) was completely out of my hands; that was a Game Salute decision. At launch, they didn't have any options for international backers - they wanted to run a US-only campaign. I'm glad they at least offered something, but yeah, it doesn't compare to Euphoria.

Michael Iachini
Clay Crucible Games


Myth's international shipping rates were very low, and would be another good example to pull the percentage of international backers from.

It wasn't as good as Euphoria, but even so $13 was really cheap.
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Travis Worthington
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kbrebach wrote:
Thanks Michael and congrats too.

Certainly the high international backing costs stopped me backing your game - which I'll now wait to get via my FLGS.

I'm a believer that smart international fulfillment (eg via Amazon) bringing the international costs down generally to US levels will increase KS games international and thus overall backer numbers.

See Euphoria example here http://www.stonemaiergames.com/how-to-provide-free-shipping-... where Jamey increased his international backer numbers from 25% of total in Viticulture to 40% in Euphoria.



I've looked at amazon for international fulfillment, and will likely use it. But its not anywhere near as cheap as US shipping, and incurs a 20% surcharge for VAT (which is not required for US shipping outside of your resident state).

Giving "free" international shipping is a huge cost, and while I am sure it increases numbers of international pledges it is likely causing the project creator to lose money on each of those shipments.

Sorry, but the cost of doing business in Europe and elsewhere internationally is just higher than doing business in the US, and its going to be reflected in the prices of those doing business there.
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Tom Razo
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T Worthington wrote:
kbrebach wrote:
Thanks Michael and congrats too.

Certainly the high international backing costs stopped me backing your game - which I'll now wait to get via my FLGS.

I'm a believer that smart international fulfillment (eg via Amazon) bringing the international costs down generally to US levels will increase KS games international and thus overall backer numbers.

See Euphoria example here http://www.stonemaiergames.com/how-to-provide-free-shipping-... where Jamey increased his international backer numbers from 25% of total in Viticulture to 40% in Euphoria.



I've looked at amazon for international fulfillment, and will likely use it. But its not anywhere near as cheap as US shipping, and incurs a 20% surcharge for VAT (which is not required for US shipping outside of your resident state).

Giving "free" international shipping is a huge cost, and while I am sure it increases numbers of international pledges it is likely causing the project creator to lose money on each of those shipments.

Sorry, but the cost of doing business in Europe and elsewhere internationally is just higher than doing business in the US, and its going to be reflected in the prices of those doing business there.


In addition, from the research I've done... International FBA also requires a trusted Importer of Record on the other end to play the role of consignee with Tax ID in hand.
 
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Kim Brebach
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Sorry Michael no intent to harass here - its just in review mode its good to well... review!

Martin Wallace's A Study in Emerald is another example of internationally standardized fulfillment. I haven't been able to tease the non-US backer % from martin yet though.

Yeah there are some complexities around VAT and other issues for sure but I think outside of that Jamey has successfully demonstrated that the costs to fulfill to Canada, UK, and Western Europe can be kept to the same price as the US or just a small fraction more via Amazon. Central Europe and Asia pacific are more problematic. Jamey is trialing some direct fulfillment from China (Shenzen where PandaGM are based anyway) to asia pacific / AU / NZ I think and will be able to update on that soon too.

The major hurdle that stops international peeps backing is the fact that the international charges are stacked on top of hidden costs for US postage (free postage in the US) so the real postage costs are often something like CA$25 vs US$8 or EU$35 vs US$8 etc etc. Sometimes it is so bad it doubles the cost to back a game. Now this has been shown to be avoidable its a real disincentive for international backers. I think many international backers are happy to wear a small extra cost if it is needed.

Its an issue I've noticed more and more with game salute fulfillment. Don't get me wrong I think they provide a great service for crowd sourced games but I think their fulfillment out side of the US is costing designers success and is constraining international interest and thus ongoing sales in non US stores that flow from local buzz about games. That's something I would hope their designer partners might take up with them . Given the volume of games they are pushing out I can't see why they couldn't investigate these issues and get some further efficiencies by batching international game fulfillment.

Sorry - apart from getting personally frustrated by not being able to justify backing cool games, I bang on about this because I think it unnecessarily limits the success of some games. And it seems somewhat avoidable.
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Michael Iachini
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Kim - You'll get no disagreement from me if you're talking about Game Salute's choices in particular. Their model is to keep administrative costs as low as possible. Dealing with international shipping raises administrative costs, thus they try to deal with it as little as possible.

It's a similar logic to their desire to avoid pledge add-ons (for instance, their choice not to offer custom dice bags, play mats, fancy material dice, etc. as super-premium pledge options for Chaos & Alchemy). Yes, it limits their potential Kickstarter fundraising, but they're okay with that.

To be clear, if I were running my own Kickstarter campaign as Clay Crucible Games rather than just being the designer on a game published by Game Salute, I would be doing things differently. If you're looking to get into a point-counterpoint on Game Salute's business decisions, you won't get that from me. They do things their way, and it's not the way I would personally do them, either.

The guy you want to talk to on this is Dan Yarrington, not me.

Michael Iachini
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Kim Brebach
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all good. and fair enough.
 
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Jonathan C
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ChaosAndAlchemy from the linked article wrote:
That’s an unqualified success in my book!


The completion of the funding goal should really just be the beginning of the Kickstarter process, not the finale. I wish more designers and publishers had this view when using Kickstarter, and judging the project final success or failure by the supporters' satisfaction after receiving the reward meeting their expectations on the projected timeline. As it stands today, so many Kickstarter project leads seem to share the view demonstrated here, that being one of sincere attentiveness to the backers during the funding drive, and then a careless approach to fulfilling the rewards or seeing the project to fruition later on.

/rant
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Jake Staines
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kbrebach wrote:

I think outside of that Jamey has successfully demonstrated that the costs to fulfill to Canada, UK, and Western Europe can be kept to the same price as the US or just a small fraction more via Amazon.


I was under the impression that it was still costing him a bit more to ship to Europe, but it just meant that he made a bit less profit on EU backers? All the same, from a consumer's point of view Viticulture was already a really good example and Euphoria is a new gold standard, presuming it actually gets to backers.

kbrebach wrote:

Sometimes it is so bad it doubles the cost to back a game. Now this has been shown to be avoidable its a real disincentive for international backers. I think many international backers are happy to wear a small extra cost if it is needed.


By coincidence, I actually wrote up the breakdown this morning for Alien Uprising, which I would have loved to support... and that actually ends up costing three times as much to back in the UK as it does in the US:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1034786/kickstarter-why-eu-s...

Which unfortunately equates to "not a chance in hell". I am more than happy to pay a bit more than US backers for shipping, but I'm damned if I'm going to pay that kind of extra, especially since a big chunk of it (the courier 'handling fee') I consider to be basically stealing.



EDIT: Going back over my history, a few other games provided really good shipping to at least the EU:

Sushi Go (free worldwide)
Fallen City of Karez ($5 to EU, $10 worldwide, shipped from within EU)
Ruse (Free worldwide)

To be fair, Sushi Go and Ruse are both card games, so their shipping costs will be much lower than whacking great board game boxes; Karez is a pretty huge box, though, and that one went for the same Amazon Fulfilment option that Jamey Stegmaier advocates.
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Michael Iachini
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looleypalooley wrote:
ChaosAndAlchemy from the linked article wrote:
That’s an unqualified success in my book!


The completion of the funding goal should really just be the beginning of the Kickstarter process, not the finale. I wish more designers and publishers had this view when using Kickstarter, and judging the project final success or failure by the supporters' satisfaction after receiving the reward meeting their expectations on the projected timeline. As it stands today, so many Kickstarter project leads seem to share the view demonstrated here, that being one of sincere attentiveness to the backers during the funding drive, and then a careless approach to fulfilling the rewards or seeing the project to fruition later on.

/rant


I'm talking about the Kickstarter campaign itself (the 30 days of fund raising). It was a success.

You're talking about the bigger process of making and shipping the game, which is also a useful and interesting topic to discuss. However, it's not what this particular blog post was about.

I love reading such posts from publishers who write them. It would be cool if Game Salute (the publisher behind this particular Kickstarter) eventually writes such a post next year when the games have been shipped. I have no idea if they'll do that or not.

My point is that such a post isn't something that can be written for Chaos & Alchemy right now because the project hasn't gotten to that step yet. Also, it's not a post that I can write since I have nothing to do with any of that (I'm the game designer, not the publisher).

I'm fine with people saying, "Cool post. I hope to hear lots more abut the post-campaign process." I hope to hear lots more about it, too! But keep in mind that I personally am not in a position to write about that process, as I have very little involvement with it.

Michael Iachini
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David Officer
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Thank you for that article, Michael.

How/where did you sell your 125 black and white pre-release versions of your game? At cons?

 
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Michael Iachini
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David - A few at cons, but mostly on my web site.
 
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David Officer
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ChaosAndAlchemy wrote:
David - A few at cons, but mostly on my web site.

Thanks, Michael. This is very helpful.
 
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Good post! Especially the part about cleverly reducing the number of dice. Also, Game Salute's dislike for add-ons is quite well founded - they can be quite the nuisance to a campaign creator, without contributing as much to make them worth the trouble.

Fulfillment of international rewards from Europe is a must, and certainly possible by publishers (many of whom are much bigger than us, Cray Crucible, or even Game Salute).

Amazon is a certainly smart way to do it, but not the only one - many fulfillment companies will spam you quite a bit once you create a project. The other way to do it is yourself, by getting organized and shipping from Germany. Of course, this doesn't scale very well without a lot of preparation.
 
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ChaosAndAlchemy wrote:
David - A few at cons, but mostly on my web site.


Great little write-up for a new company that is pre-kickstarter - thank you!!

What company/method did you use for the production of your pre-release versions?
 
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Michael Iachini
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The full post about production is here: http://onlinedungeonmaster.com/2012/08/15/making-the-game-pa...

Superior POD printed the cards (I wouldn't use them again - bad customer service). Dice were from Chessex. Boxes were from Uline. Assembly was from my own two hands (with help from my wife).

Michael Iachini
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One thing I don't understand about Game Salute is that they don't use their size to benefit from Economies of Scale when shipping to Europe. When the Chaos & Alchemy KS campaign was running, GS had nine (nine!) other kickstarters running at the same time. I (and I'm sure others) would happily wait a few extra months so that GS could ship all those European orders for all the campaigns in one bulk container and then distribute the games from within the EU.

But they don't seem willing to do that, so for me and many others they have become a US only publisher. Shame.
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Derry Salewski
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brattle wrote:
One thing I don't understand about Game Salute is that they don't use their size to benefit from Economies of Scale when shipping to Europe. When the Chaos & Alchemy KS campaign was running, GS had nine (nine!) other kickstarters running at the same time. I (and I'm sure others) would happily wait a few extra months so that GS could ship all those European orders for all the campaigns in one bulk container and then distribute the games from within the EU.

But they don't seem willing to do that, so for me and many others they have become a US only publisher. Shame.


Are you willing to pay for them to store piles of stuff for months?

 
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scifiantihero wrote:
brattle wrote:
One thing I don't understand about Game Salute is that they don't use their size to benefit from Economies of Scale when shipping to Europe. When the Chaos & Alchemy KS campaign was running, GS had nine (nine!) other kickstarters running at the same time. I (and I'm sure others) would happily wait a few extra months so that GS could ship all those European orders for all the campaigns in one bulk container and then distribute the games from within the EU.

But they don't seem willing to do that, so for me and many others they have become a US only publisher. Shame.


Are you willing to pay for them to store piles of stuff for months?



Warehouse space is certainly not the problem, it is negligible. It is the admin costs of running what is essentially another company for this that likely stop them, in addition to the added complexity of shipping & receiving in a different continent/market/currency. If they could, they would, or, they will.
 
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