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Subject: Replacing Kickstarter rss

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Chris
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I presume there are a few fundamental flaws in my thinking here, so have at it...

Kickstarter is not suitable for a board game preorder system, and it's unsuitability seems to be key to the stupid campaigns we see in it, that (may or may not) cause damage to the broader industry as a whole.

A killer point I saw the other day that I had not realised, was that it's not possible to reduce the price of a pledge level. And this fundamentally conflicts with the principles of economies of scale. As such if you want to make something better value, as your production costs drop, you are unable to reduce the money you take, instead you can only add things to justify the price, i.e. all that stretch goal crap. I don't know if that's why they exist in the first place, but that seems to be the only way to do a Kickstarter that, if significantly successful, doesn't end up with you taking more profit that you deserve.

So what is is about Kickstarter that makes people keep using it, when it's fundamentally inappropriate for the model of usage that most publishers would like to use it for? These publishers DO want a preorder system. And time and again Kickstarter itself tries to hammer home the message that that's not what they are. Not too loudly of course, as that 10% cut is sweeeeet.

Why is there no reputable boardgame specific alternative to Kickstarter? We have a semi-closed audience, so there is no massive need for a broad marketing strategy. Publishers merely to typically advertise to those already aware of these games, and just want to find out how to get on board. We don't need a globally known commercial brand to facilitate getting new games. Do we?

What's the reason some site couldn't be set up to be a 100% fully functional, unabashed preorder system? One that WOULD allow a drop in price every 2,000 copies ordered etc. I can't recall exactly when GMT take money for orders, however they've very happily been doing the P500 system for many years with huge success. Why could there not be a middle ground of P500 and Kickstarter to allow independent games designers to get their games made within a framework that can handle 10,000 copies of their game without having to wrap it in KS bullshit?

Would it not be able to be successful without being a houseishholdish name in general? I'd like to think not, but I don't know.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT... why could this service not also be a single point for sales of independent publishers games? You successfully fund, through the power of the internet, why could you not also then sell the majority of your additional stock also through that same portal? This could give some push back against quasi-monopolistic distributors who are controlling the flow of stock to online stores in the first place... *IF* a publisher wants to cut out the Distributor part of the equation, and is happy to do that role directly, why not? I can see some issues where FLGS's get involved, but maybe that's not a problem anyway. It seems potentially strange that maybe 75% of a games copies get sold without conventional distribution, yet the rest then often end up trudging their way through it to phyical stores anyway...?
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I think you may overestimating the magnitude of price drops and designer's desire for a price a few bucks less versus better content for the retail stream. I think a lot of times they've already planned out what the final product is going to look like si the stretch goals are filling up to how they wanted to do it rather than something extra. But maybe could work.
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Mat628 wrote:
I think you may overestimating the magnitude of price drops and designer's desire for a price a few bucks less versus better content for the retail stream. I think a lot of times they've already planned out what the final product is going to look like si the stretch goals are filling up to how they wanted to do it rather than something extra. But maybe could work.


I am reminded of the campaign (which I backed) for Heir to the Pharaoh which didn't actually make all of the stretch goals but since they had already been produced (or at least some of them), and so were included anyway in the campaign.
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Derry Salewski
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gmt only makes games with money they've already earned from selling other games. Because they have money.

Kickstarter creators generally do not have enough money to order thousands of games from a factory.

There isn't middle ground. Factories require payment.

If your actual question is "why can't queen, cmon, and a few others go somewhere else?"

Well, it's been beaten to death. *shrugs* Why fix what isn't broken. They like doing it. It's probably cheaper than making their own website for preorders. companies like tmg and scythe guy talk about why they move away from it. other companies clearly get benefit from it.
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
A killer point I saw the other day that I had not realised, was that it's not possible to reduce the price of a pledge level. And this fundamentally conflicts with the principles of economies of scale. As such if you want to make something better value, as your production costs drop, you are unable to reduce the money you take, instead you can only add things to justify the price, i.e. all that stretch goal crap. I don't know if that's why they exist in the first place, but that seems to be the only way to do a Kickstarter that, if significantly successful, doesn't end up with you taking more profit that you deserve.


Stretch goals exist to encourage your backers to advertise for you, same with the "social" goals of X number of shares or likes or what have you. Without stretch goals there'd be no incentive to take any interest once you've paid/pledged your money. They are possibly financed in part through the savings brought about by the ol' economies of scale, but I don't imagine we're talking massive savings. Even a "large" run of a game will still be small fry compared to mainstream titles.
Really not sure what you mean by "more profit that you deserve" though; profit is a measure of good business practise, not some arbitrary figure pulled out of thin air based upon some manner of moral accounting.

TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
So what is is about Kickstarter that makes people keep using it, when it's fundamentally inappropriate for the model of usage that most publishers would like to use it for? These publishers DO want a preorder system. And time and again Kickstarter itself tries to hammer home the message that that's not what they are. Not too loudly of course, as that 10% cut is sweeeeet.


I'm guessing companies have found they make more money this way?! The time constraints, hype and stretch goals create more excitement than any P500 system; some GMT games take years to fund and there are not many companies that have such a patient following as that. People want more stuff and sooner, or at least the promise of getting more stuff and sooner.

TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
Why is there no reputable boardgame specific alternative to Kickstarter? We have a semi-closed audience, so there is no massive need for a broad marketing strategy. Publishers merely to typically advertise to those already aware of these games, and just want to find out how to get on board. We don't need a globally known commercial brand to facilitate getting new games. Do we?


What exactly is your measure of reputability? Why reinvent the wheel?

TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
What's the reason some site couldn't be set up to be a 100% fully functional, unabashed preorder system? One that WOULD allow a drop in price every 2,000 copies ordered etc. I can't recall exactly when GMT take money for orders, however they've very happily been doing the P500 system for many years with huge success. Why could there not be a middle ground of P500 and Kickstarter to allow independent games designers to get their games made within a framework that can handle 10,000 copies of their game without having to wrap it in KS bullshit?


I've never encountered any preorder system that promised price drops as the volume of sales increases, GMTs P500 at least is a fixed, discounted price for the duration of the preorder window.
Kickstarter has a proven track record, the numbers are there for anyone to see; you can sort every tabletop game by $$$s and number of backers.

TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT... why could this service not also be a single point for sales of independent publishers games? You successfully fund, through the power of the internet, why could you not also then sell the majority of your additional stock also through that same portal? This could give some push back against quasi-monopolistic distributors who are controlling the flow of stock to online stores in the first place... *IF* a publisher wants to cut out the Distributor part of the equation, and is happy to do that role directly, why not? I can see some issues where FLGS's get involved, but maybe that's not a problem anyway. It seems potentially strange that maybe 75% of a games copies get sold without conventional distribution, yet the rest then often end up trudging their way through it to phyical stores anyway...?


If you remove the "now or never" sense of urgency, you will lose sales and have to wait longer to recoup your investment as a publisher.

Personally I'd prefer it if more publishers used Kickstarter, it'd be my handy, one-stop shop for new toys. One page to search through in chronological order, one account to handle and track all of my orders. Picking up the entire cycle of FFG's next LCG in one hit as a price-dropped job lot, rather than dither about looking for the next one every month or two.
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Creators offer SG's instead of price drops. If you use the rule of thumb of MSRP = 5x cost, it's a win for both creators and backers. If you only have price drops, the creator doesn't benefit. Informal restaurants do this *all* the time, when you see the larger sizes providing a greater increase in food than the increase in cost.

There IS a boardgame alternate to KS. The OLGS. Some gamers want all the stuff and will pay $100+ for it. Others are fine with the base game, that will sell at 1/2 the price at an OLGS sale. Amazon and OLGS's take pre-orders BUT the conventional retailer-distributor model takes pre-orders AFTER product has been created. Obviously, this doesn't work for creators who don't have the cash flow or risk.

I'll agree that there's a middle ground missing. KS does not help creators find distributors who will put their product into retail. KS does not provide funds that allow creators to make copies for retail. KS does not help creators estimate retail demand.

I am seeing a few nascent attempts at doing more than KS. Hasbro had some sort of crowdfunding event to look for new games to bring to the market. Outgrow.me is a site to sell crowdfunded products. Go see Stonemaier Game's Charterstone threads to get some idea how the company is *trying* to get distributors and retailers to help them determine how many copies to print. None of these are pre-order systems, but I've seen KS mature and change in only a few years, and I don't see it stopping any time soon.

http://fortune.com/2015/08/28/hasbro-indiegogo-gaming-partne...
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You're asking a lot of whys. If you think your platform is this viable you should research it and fund it yourself. You'll either be a smashing success, to which I say "good for you," or it'll be an utter failure and you'll realize that maybe it's not as simple as it sounds.

To put it simply the "Kickstarter bullshit" is why people go to Kickstarter. It's a steadily growing platform with a dedicated audience that's checking constantly. Stretch goals sell a product as we exist in a market that loves feeling like they're getting something special.

Furthermore independent publishers that aren't already established need the immediate revenue to get production rolling. GMT has a good system going but don't overestimate how well it works; one look in the monthly P500 geeklist and you'll see that there are games sitting there for years while the designer sees bupkis from it. And the discount from larger shipping orders isn't being pocketed, it's reinvested (hopefully) into quality assurance when customers ask for replacements and refunds.

Frankly the better Kickstarter is Indiegogo but that's not a viable platform unless you're asking for a few thousand dollars or you're famous enough to be instantly funded.
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I agree with everything Parp said.

Though I do see some flaws in Kickstarter as a publisher there is no way I would switch unless there were significant reasons to do so. That would require big companies switching away, which would not come easy as they will likely be of the mindset to not fix something that is not broken.

Kickstarter is sometimes the only means to getting a game published. Other times it is a way for publishers to determine how many copies of a game they should produce, and build a community for their games. Either way Kickstarter is here to stay and I personally feel the industry is better off for it.

I also was completely blown away by the more profit than you deserve comment. Companies have costs. We have to pay our employees/contractors, we need to pay taxes, we need to hire accountants and lawyers, and pay for marketing, we have to fund manufacturing and shipping. Even with Kickstarter these costs are still there. Some might be paid by the Kickstarter funding but some are likely paid out well before that happens.

Though ultimately a business might have the main goal of creating games the ability to create more products and better products requires a steady stream of cash. There is no such thing as too much profit and few if any companies would be willing to reduce their product's price (thereby devaluing it) just because their costs lowered. Oftentimes cost based pricing is ill-advised compared to value-based pricing anyways.

The only reason a publisher would do that is if they were overvaluing their product until they met certain metrics. Though, if that were the case the product would be the same price as normal, unless it sold next to no copies, in which case it would be more costly for the consumer.
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Mat628 wrote:
I think you may overestimating the magnitude of price drops and designer's desire for a price a few bucks less versus better content for the retail stream. I think a lot of times they've already planned out what the final product is going to look like si the stretch goals are filling up to how they wanted to do it rather than something extra. But maybe could work.


Oh absolutely, but you've only got to read CMON's lip service to what the KS system is, compared to what they're doing. They've clearly spent a lot of time working out what a *theoretical* base game is to then add all the extras back into it, and they happily give winks and nods to that effect.

So wouldn't it be nice to dispense with all that crap?
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parp wrote:
Personally I'd prefer it if more publishers used Kickstarter, it'd be my handy, one-stop shop for new toys. One page to search through in chronological order, one account to handle and track all of my orders. Picking up the entire cycle of FFG's next LCG in one hit as a price-dropped job lot, rather than dither about looking for the next one every month or two.


But wouldn't it be better if there was a *BETTER* one stop shop, i.e. one more suitable for our requirements. Aboslutely there could be one page to look through, but it'd work for the way games get made.
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scifiantihero wrote:
gmt only makes games with money they've already earned from selling other games. Because they have money.


GMT's P500 system charges before the games are ready. I assume they pay the printer with that money.
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A couple of underlying assumptions seem odd to me, can you elaborate?

First, how is KS fundamentally flawed when people are clearly voting with their wallets in favour of it? Board games are going gangbusters on KS. It seems like you're more talking about tweaking a successful model rather than replacing it wholesale.

Second, you mention "damage" to the industry. What damage do you think is being caused? My (highly subjective) observation is that people using KS mostly love it and use it as part of an ongoing commitment to the hobby. There are increasing numbers of good KS-origin games populating retailer shelves which surely helps the FLGS. KS promotes diversity of theme which surely only makes the hobby more accessible to more people. I'm drawing a blank on what damage it is causing, other than rare horror story campaigns?
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
parp wrote:
Personally I'd prefer it if more publishers used Kickstarter, it'd be my handy, one-stop shop for new toys. One page to search through in chronological order, one account to handle and track all of my orders. Picking up the entire cycle of FFG's next LCG in one hit as a price-dropped job lot, rather than dither about looking for the next one every month or two.


But wouldn't it be better if there was a *BETTER* one stop shop, i.e. one more suitable for our requirements. Aboslutely there could be one page to look through, but it'd work for the way games get made.


Better in what way though? As a customer - sorry, "investor" - Kickstarter seems to work just fine for tabletop games, for me anyhoo. The only change I'd like to see implemented would be an eBay style list of saved searches to make finding other crud-I-never-realised-I-needed in the other sections.
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Mat628 wrote:
I think you may overestimating the magnitude of price drops ...


At the very low end of the scale (i.e. where I'm looking) these are significant.

100 copies : $5.25 each
250 copies : $4.45 each
500 copies : $3.45 each
1000 copies : $2.60 each <- about half as much as 100 copies
2500 copies : $1.70 each
5000 copies : $1.30 each <- about a quarter as much as 100 copies

These are base manufacturing costs for the game I'm working on.

This excludes P&P (which is essentially constant per unit), making the situation less dire.
But it also excludes everything else - design and setup costs, advertising and so on. Most of which are fixed, and so inversely proportional to units shifted - which makes the situation worse. (Whether these costs are incurred before a kickstarter campaign ends is irrelevant.)
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rshipley wrote:
scifiantihero wrote:
gmt only makes games with money they've already earned from selling other games. Because they have money.


GMT's P500 system charges before the games are ready. I assume they pay the printer with that money.


They do not charge that far before shipping.

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scifiantihero wrote:
gmt only makes games with money they've already earned from selling other games. Because they have money.

Kickstarter creators generally do not have enough money to order thousands of games from a factory.

There isn't middle ground. Factories require payment.

If your actual question is "why can't queen, cmon, and a few others go somewhere else?"

Well, it's been beaten to death. *shrugs* Why fix what isn't broken. They like doing it. It's probably cheaper than making their own website for preorders. companies like tmg and scythe guy talk about why they move away from it. other companies clearly get benefit from it.


This is not true. CMON has money, but why spend their capital when they can spend yours. Kickstarter is a guaranteed no fail if you're established, a crap shoot if you're not.
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The first thing I'll say is kickstarter is not really for everyone. If it doesn't agree with your commercial sensibilities I'd suggest giving it a miss.

For companies that use it correctly it can be a great tool for either funding a game that has no other funding options or removing the burden of needing large capital reserves invested up front.

For customers it can provide access to projects that ordinarily wouldn't make it to retail or special content for games, which some people value.

Yes there are risk involved. Make sure you understand these and factor them into your pledge. If you are unhappy with the risk, don't pledge.

Remember to use of kickstarter for an individual is OPTIONAL!!
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scifiantihero wrote:
rshipley wrote:
scifiantihero wrote:
gmt only makes games with money they've already earned from selling other games. Because they have money.


GMT's P500 system charges before the games are ready. I assume they pay the printer with that money.


They do not charge that far before shipping.


Their own page says it can be up to 12 weeks, though it is usually more like a month in my experience. Plenty of time to get a game printed when you have done it before.
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GMT does not charge prior to ordering (and locking in their payments for) a print run. One month prior to end-user shipping doesn't remotely match the time frame for printing a game.
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lomn wrote:
GMT does not charge prior to ordering (and locking in their payments for) a print run. One month prior to end-user shipping doesn't remotely match the time frame for printing a game.


I agree, printing a game takes far less than a month.

Anyway, here's GMT's P500 details page:

https://www.gmtgames.com/t-GMTP500Details.aspx
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Certaine publishers love it, and why not? They have found a way to not have to spend their own money, and to get consumers to clamor to do so.
Big win.
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I think you vastly vastly underestimate the marketing advantage of just being ON kickstarter compared to an unknown new crowdfunding/preorder site.
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rshipley wrote:
lomn wrote:
GMT does not charge prior to ordering (and locking in their payments for) a print run. One month prior to end-user shipping doesn't remotely match the time frame for printing a game.


I agree, printing a game takes far less than a month.

Anyway, here's GMT's P500 details page:

https://www.gmtgames.com/t-GMTP500Details.aspx
Yeah, no. Here's the February GMT update, noting games with releases as far out as June already being at the printer. Start-to-finish printing processes take significantly more than a month, particularly if overseas.
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Maybe at one point KS was about funding projects but this is no longer the case, at least for games. Even though we call it "crowd funding," KS is now a marketing tool. KS does a few important things for creators, providing a central market, creating a sense of legitimacy for first-time creators. However, the biggest thing KS does is create a narrative. Because of the all or nothing model, KS is like one giant "limited time offer" type sales tactic. The KS campaign is time limited, and that creates a story and buzz in a way that traditional releases do not.
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Okay, lots to unpack here in terms of sharing opinions. And it's nearly 1:00 AM where I am, so this is gonna be quick and brain-dumpy:

- "Deserve" is way off base; should there be a cap on how successful or well-off a designer of an awesome game is allowed to be?

- While it's not possible to reduce the price of a pledge level, it IS possible to add a pledge level with a lower price, which I've seen campaigns occasionally do.

- KS is not fundamentally inappropriate for the model of paying for something ahead of it being made available on the market. It wasn't originally intended to be used in cases where this "preorder" isn't necessary as seed capital for development and production costs (i.e., needed to literally kickstart the endeavor), and it does bug me when companies use it as a preorder kiosk, but it's fundamentals are (perhaps annoyingly) well aligned to that use.

- Several reputable board game retailing sites do offer preordering.

- The 800-pound behemoth Amazon is functionally capable of being a "single point for sales of independent publishers games" just by virtue of allowing anyone to set up a storefront and sell whatever they would like.

- The middle ground between P500 and Kickstarter is razor thin, in terms of what specific differences in features would define it.

- The only feature you seem to be requesting is that your purchase price decrease as more folks place orders, that is, that the buyer (rather than the creator/producer/seller) capture the monetary benefit of the product's popularity (this is where "deserves" becomes tricky, as it seems to imply you feel that your side of the transaction "deserves" it and theirs doesn't).

- Even if implemented, this would likely not result in the intended effect. If a project creator could lower their preorder price, under what circumstances would they have a reason to do so?

KS is... little more than a tool. How people use that tool (on both the creator and backer side) is not really on KS, it's just how folks are choosing to use it. Where there have been gaps in what it can do (or do well), additional tools (such as Patreon) have arisen. This whole mess of weird new websites is, in the broadest possible sense, what the market does in being driven by demands of free participants making private decisions.
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