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Subject: Kickstarter weirdness of the day rss

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Jerry
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Ok, I backed a game on KS. The game had an expansion available. You could get the expansion for free if you did some social networking stuff but only for a short period of time. After that the only way to get the expansion was to pay extra.

Fine. Been done many times.

I did my social networking duties and after the short period of time that option closed. After the campaign I submitted my proof of doing the duties as requested.

Everything normal so far.

The other day I got a KS message saying there was an error during production and some (I suspect all) copies were shipping with the expansion included. The message asked me to not say anything in the KS public comments so as not to piss people off who did the social networking or paid for the expansion. I don't know if this message went to everyone or just me but the wording makes me assume everyone.

I get that they don't want a KS riot on their hands and don't want all the complaints or refund requests, etc. but the request to bury it is still odd to me. The general shadiness of the request bugs me but what really makes my brain hurt is the thought process.

If they sent this out to everyone then the people they are trying to hide it from have just been told.

If they sent to a few or just to me how do they know I wouldn't be one of those who would be irritated? They know by my sending in my proof of networking that I did it and might complain about others getting it for nothing and past the deadline I had to follow.

Was this an error in recipient list or an accidental bad move? Or they just want to mess with me by making me stew on this a few days?

Thoughts on both the cover-up and the method?

FWIW: Nobody has blown the secret on KS so far so it must have worked. I'm sure tempted to say something though as it really isn't fair, especially to the ones who paid extra.
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Brendan Riley
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I think this is pretty shady - offering an upgrade for free to the people who didn't pay for it is nice, but not throwing in something extra to the people who DID pay for it is not cool.
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James Mathe
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I can see both sides and I really feel for them. Kickstarter backers can be really mean and harsh. I would play along as you really have nothing to gain by spreading the word that you got something for free that others paid for. Just enjoy the free expansion.

Words going to get out no matter what. So they are being nieve but there is no reason to throw more fuel on the fire.

James
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David E
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Bad move on their part. It would be a dick move to out them, because that doesn't really benefit anyone, but they should have done the right thing and admitted their mistake, then found some way to offer an extra bonus to the people who originally earned the free expansion.
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George
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I would email them back with your thoughts. Eg. Maybe that you think they should probably refund or provide some bonus to those who paid and that people are going to find out eventually so they better come up with a plan.
 
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Jerry
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RPGShop wrote:
I can see both sides and I really feel for them. Kickstarter backers can be really mean and harsh. I would play along as you really have nothing to gain by spreading the word that you got something for free that others paid for. Just enjoy the free expansion.

Words going to get out no matter what. So they are being nieve but there is no reason to throw more fuel on the fire.

James


No, there was basically 3 ways to get the expansion:
- social network and prove it with links to what you did
- pay for a higher pledge level that included the expansion
- do nothing, pay no extra, and get it by production error

I was one who did the required work to get the free expansion.

This is why I don't grasp why they sent me the message asking me to keep it hush hush from myself.

I'm not really upset about the thing as I did not pay more than a few minutes but I assume people who paid money would be mad. I have no plans on making moves on their behalf.

I'm really just trying to figure out the hows/whys of their hush request. It just baffles me and I want an explanation for curiosities sake
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reaching out from the in-between spaces...
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It's shady. Not being 100% up front with those who provided funds to get your game made is not the way to go.

Jorune
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Andrew Rowse
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If it was the case that everybody got the extra content, they really ought to offer a refund of the extra cost for those who paid, and a discount of that amount on their next product for those who social mediaed.

If it was only a subset of people who got the extra content, I wouldn't expect them to do anything special for the spenders. It remains the case that the only way to guarantee the extra content was to spend or work - opting out only gives a chance of free content.
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James Mathe
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I don't get the people who think that the company needs to "make it right" to the people who didn't get a free upgrade. They got what they paid for. The free upgrade was a mistake and cost the company money. Why do you think they need to loose more money so you get to feel you were given the same "unfair" value? You got what you pledged for why do you "deserve" more cause a company made a mistake and sent some other people more?

James
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Andrew Rowse
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RPGShop wrote:
I don't get the people who think that the company needs to "make it right" to the people who didn't get a free upgrade. They got what they paid for. The free upgrade was a mistake and cost the company money. Why do you think they need to loose more money so you get to feel you were given the same "unfair" value? You got what you pledged for why do you "deserve" more cause a company made a mistake and sent some other people more?

James


Have you met humans before? They often attach emotional weight to fairness and promises, and interpret betrayal when a promise of exclusivity is broken.

The extra content would (presumably) have been presented in a way that conveyed the message 'the only way to get this content is to pay extra'. That gets parsed as a promise, and if it was the case that all backers ended up with the content (cf just some - important distinction), the premium backers would have paid more for no benefit.

That the backers paid extra for nothing is through no fault of their own. It's the company's responsibility to make them feel okay about that wasted money, and that may be as simple as a 'mea culpa'. A 'don't tell anybody we messed up' is counterproductive.
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Brendan Riley
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RPGShop wrote:
I don't get the people who think that the company needs to "make it right" to the people who didn't get a free upgrade. They got what they paid for. The free upgrade was a mistake and cost the company money. Why do you think they need to loose more money so you get to feel you were given the same "unfair" value? You got what you pledged for why do you "deserve" more cause a company made a mistake and sent some other people more?

James


I would think the long-term viability of the company's ability to do kickstarters should factor in here. Why should anyone pay for an expansion next time they do a kickstarter.

Look at it another way -- a company that offers a freemium model (like the dice tower) is doing what it said it would. But if they said "in order to see our videos, you need to pay $10," and then after the kickstarter was over, they said "we changed our mind -- everyone gets the videos for free!" that feels like a bait and switch, and feels unfair.

I don't think they are morally obligated to do something for the customers who paid extra / did extra, but I think they ought to. And either way, they shouldn't hide it from people.
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David E
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What Andrew said. If I pay extra for something, then find out that the company gave everybody the same thing I paid for for free, I am going to be annoyed and ask why I paid extra. If a few people accidentally got a freebie, that's one thing, but if everyone got the same thing, and only some people had to pay for it, the people who paid are going to feel like chumps.
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Brian Franzman
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Yes, the company that messed up should have immediately admitted their error and said they were working to make it right somehow. Those backers who worked for it and those who paid for it are being slighted, but the company might not have the funds to develop another exclusive to replace the one that ended up non-exclusive. So that's a pickle.

They shouldn't have asked the OP to help them buy time or hush it up, in any case.
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JT Call
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Laporbo wrote:
RPGShop wrote:
I can see both sides and I really feel for them. Kickstarter backers can be really mean and harsh. I would play along as you really have nothing to gain by spreading the word that you got something for free that others paid for. Just enjoy the free expansion.

Words going to get out no matter what. So they are being nieve but there is no reason to throw more fuel on the fire.

James


No, there was basically 3 ways to get the expansion:
- social network and prove it with links to what you did
- pay for a higher pledge level that included the expansion
- do nothing, pay no extra, and get it by production error

I was one who did the required work to get the free expansion.

This is why I don't grasp why they sent me the message asking me to keep it hush hush from myself.

I'm not really upset about the thing as I did not pay more than a few minutes but I assume people who paid money would be mad. I have no plans on making moves on their behalf.

I'm really just trying to figure out the hows/whys of their hush request. It just baffles me and I want an explanation for curiosities sake


I think you just answered your own question: they don't want to upset the people that paid money for the expansion, and they figured people who got the expansion for free (by doing social media stuff) aren't going to be as upset as the people who paid upfront for the expansion.

As both a publisher and a frequent KS backer, I see both sides of the coin. As James Mathe pointed out, it may seem like the publisher is screwing over his backers, but the reality is that the publisher is getting screwed here. They were hoping to sell those expansions for an additional profit (which is one of the best [easiest] ways to recuperate profit losses on the base game), but an error on behalf of the manufacturer is going to deny them that alternate source of income. Add to that the fact that their backers may [will] find out, and the ones that prepaid for the expansion will suddenly feel like they got cheated and...well, you've got a big problem on your hands.

Giving those people their money back is just making things much, much worse for the publisher. They are already losing a bunch of money because of this manufacturing error, so they probably can't afford to lose even more money by refunding those other people their money.

At the same time, the people that bought your expansion are the ones who really believe in your game (or, at the very least, they are willing to invest more money in your IP than the typical backer), so those are the folks you want to keep happy. You don't want those folks to feel jilted (even though, as James noted, they are getting exactly what they paid for), and yet, the company probably can't afford to just give more free stuff to those folks (particularly when the publisher has already lost one of their avenues of profit).

I think it will ultimately come down to what the company values the most at this time. If they value keeping that small group of people happy, they will try to find a way to give them a bonus that makes them feel they got something extra for the extra amount of money they paid. Alternatively, if they feel the company can't afford an additional profit loss (and they are willing to risk souring their relationship with a few dozen backers), it may be better to simply shrug, say "mea culpa," and acknowledge there is nothing you can (or will) do to repair any imagined damages.

I'm inclined to agree with Amadan...

AmadanNaBriona wrote:
...they should have done the right thing and admitted their mistake, then found some way to offer an extra bonus to the people who originally earned the free expansion.


...but that may also be one of the reasons I'm not a particularly profitable publisher (unlike James, who is a wiser businessman than myself).

Whatever the case, though, I wholeheartedly agree that it was unwise of them to tell people about the manufacturing error...and then ask their backers not to tell the other backers about the error. That's just messed up, yo.

If they had plans to fix the problem, they should have been upfront and told everyone, then explained what bonus stuff the other folks would get (a promo card? a discount on their next game or an already published game?).

If they weren't going to fix the problem, they could have just waited until the game shipped to folks and then made a small update where they explained that "a manufacturing error resulted in some of our backers accidentally getting the expansion shipped with their game. If you were one of these lucky backers...congratulations! You skinned us for a free expansion, and (because we love you so much) we won't ask you to ship it back to us!" Then everyone will feel special and the people that bought the expansion won't feel too bad about having paid for it (because the implication is that only a handful of backers got the free expansion, while the reality is that EVERYONE got the expansion). That at least takes the onus off of the backers (because you're not asking them to keep your dirty secret).

An even better solution, though, would have been to simply step up and message anyone who backed the expansion. Tell them: "We've got some crummy news, guys. The people that didn't pay for the expansion are going to get it shipped to them because of a manufacturing error. That's good news for our other backers, but it's bad news for you guys (who actually had to pay for the content) and even worse news for us (because we are losing a lot of inventory and potential revenue). We wanted to be upfront, though, and let you all know about the error now. We'll let the rest of our backers know once the game starts shipping, but in the interim, we thought it best to advise you all (those who bought the expansion) of the situation. We understand if some of you are upset by this totally-not-our-fault error, but we hope you will be understanding of our situation. If this causes a real problem for any of you, we can look into getting you a refund for the amount you paid for the expansion."

If I got a message like that, I'd respond and say, "Keep the money, guys. Sorry to hear that you got screwed, and good luck dealing with the fall out. Thanks for letting us know."

Fin.
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Brian Franzman
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The funny thing is, it might not even take much money to keep the ones who paid for the expansion happy: a single exclusive promo card, a special scenario download, backer names on a "web page of glory", a poster... At least it would have shown that they were trying to do SOMEthing to make up for the problem.
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Jamie Specht
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Bokrug wrote:
The funny thing is, it might not even take much money to keep the ones who paid for the expansion happy: a single exclusive promo card, a special scenario download, backer names on a "web page of glory", a poster... At least it would have shown that they were trying to do SOMEthing to make up for the problem.


Or an unfront form of communication explaining the error.
 
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Arthur O'Dwyer
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Not directly related to your story, but a similar story from my own Kickstarter:

Colossal Cave: The Board Game was originally supposed to be just the base game, with an expansion deck ADV550 offered to backers in higher tiers. But in the middle of the campaign, the publisher (Game Salute) determined that it was actually pretty silly to manufacture the game and the expansion at the same time but ship them separately, because either Game Salute would have to print far fewer copies of the expansion or else they'd get stuck with a bunch of surplus copies of an expansion that wasn't playable without the base game. Also, if the expansion were to be sold separately, it would need a UPC barcode somewhere, which would require redesigning the tuckbox.

So Game Salute turned my expansion into an inspansion, similar to how Citadels: The Dark City ended up. Every copy of the game comes with the expansion inside. However, Game Salute did two very nice things when they did this:

- Each backer who pledged an extra $N to get their copy(ies) of the expansion received a coupon code for $N off any other games in Game Salute's online store.

- The Kickstarter-exclusive content (a single additional card) remained Kickstarter-exclusive; I still have a shoebox full of leftover "BACK" cards in my closet to prove it. :)

The downside to all this is that I think it ended up costing Game Salute a ton of money to give away all those coupon codes, on top of the ton of money the game was costing them already. I'm sure this is what was going through the publisher's head in your story too: "We should give people something nice as a consolation prize... but nice things cost money, and we like money."

I do agree that sending out an email telling backers not to snitch to each other was just a weird and unlikeable thing for them to do; clear communication is always a good idea, especially on Kickstarter.
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