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Subject: The Kickstarter Conundrum rss

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Jason Glover
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Well, I just posted some of what I am about to write in a reply on another thread. Kickstarter seems to have made quite a few friends in the board gaming world and has seemed to at the same time let others down. Well, I want to explore what makes Kickstarter great and where it falls short. I also want to give a bit of advise to those who want to back a project but are not certain and to those who might want to launch their own kickstarter project.

(Note: I want to be upfront. I am a bit biased towards Kickstarter as I have a project campaign running right now on Kickstarter, but this does not make me blind to the flaws of Kickstarter)http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1243534184/plague-the-ca...

What makes Kickstarter Great

Let us start with the good. Kickstater allows a small company like mine to produce a game that would likely never see the light of day. Infact, I pitched Plague to a few companies and with no luck. Not because Plague is a bad game, but because it is a bit of niche game. Large publishers are looking to make 10,000 print runs or larger. There simply might not be 10,000 people out there that want to play a trick-taking game with a darkages theme. However, I wanted to make it and some people really like it. This is what makes Kickstarter golden.

I have seen a ton of niche projects get funded. Maybe not for tens of thousands of dollars and perhaps for only 50-100 copies, but people where able to back a project that fit their own tastes. To say there is no need for more gaming options is crazy. Choice is power for the consumer. Kickstarter allows us to back and own games and other creative things that we like and that might be quite unique to our own tastes. Kickstarter can also be an avenue for some people to get their game seen by bigger publishers. It is part of the ladder.

What makes Kickstarter Scary

I have read many threads in which someone has been burned by a project or they feel the game was far under par for what they paid. I take no issue with this as this is going to happen and it is a black eye for Kickstarter, but it is hard to blame Kickstarter. Blame can be spread everywhere to be honest. Kickstarters quality control guidelines? The Projects for not doing their math? The backer for their bad choice? I guess it is a bit of all three.

So how can we fix this? Well, Kickstarter is doing quite well for themselves and I do not see them making any big changes in the way they do their business. They could however do themselves a favor by making a more user friendly interface for their catalog. I have a hard time navigating the site myself. So with no changes on Kickstarters side of things we need to look at the project creators themselves and the backers.

Starting a successful project

I have yet to get my funding for my first project (but I am close), but I have seen what seems to work and what does not. A good video seems to be the biggest thing, but I think there are a few other steps that help make a project appeal to gamers.

1. Send out copies of the game to reviewers. I did this with Plague and have 2 videos on the pledge page for folks to view. One from the Dicetower and another from The Gamer's Table. I also have a written review from Fathergeek.com. People respond to the opinions of people they trust. My reviews were for a watered-down prototype but they still give backers insight into what the game is about, and more importantly they give backers some unbiased opinions about the project. Be honest with your backers and you will see the results.

2. Do the math. Many projects seem to fail to do the math before hand. This causes games to be delayed or not even produced. OUCH! You must factor in more then just mechanics and artwork when creating a game. Do the research first. Kickstarter takes 5% off the top. Amazon another 3%. Then there is shipping. Not just shipping the games out to your backers, but getting the games shipped to you. Taxes are another thing you have to consider. Make sure you understand ALL the costs before making reward levels. This can and will burn a project.

3. Give updates. Every 2 or 3 days let your backers know what you are doing. Even letting them in on the smallest details makes everyone feel like part of the project. It IS a team effort.

Backing the right project

This part is a bit easier.

1. Find a subject that interests you. I mean, back something that you really want to own. If you back something that you are on the fence about you are much more likely not to be happy with the results. I know this seems really basic, but I find myself wanting to back projects that I have no real interest in just because of a good video.

2. Seek outside and unbiased opinions on the game and the designer. My company is new and not much is known about it, so I made sure I got those outside unbiased reviews first, so if you like the sound of a game but have not heard of the designer or publisher do some research first. If you can find no info outside of the pledge page about the game then you may want to hold off. This is why I think it is so important for new companies to make the effort to put this info in the backers hands right away. I mean, who has ever heard of Grey Gnome Games? Yep, that is my company and few have heard of it and it is hard to trust in something you know nothing about.

3. If you have done step 1 and 2 then step 3 is to back the project!

I hope this thread helps clear the air on a few issues in regards to Kickstarter and I hope I gave some good solutions to some of the issues.

Best regards, Jason
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CassSoren
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I doubt I will ever back any Kickstarter project. It is a method of making an investment masquerading as a purchase. If I make an investment, I want to see financial statements and a business plan. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide these. If I make a purchase, I want something for it, not a promise of something that might come to pass. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide this. Caveat emptor.

And, by the way, the word you're looking for is "niche".
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Harper Hobbs
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Kickstarter simply needs to make a rating system where individuals can write a review or give some kind of rating to a developer/developers previous products, etc.

Factors I take into consideration before Kickstarting:

1) If the business doesn't have at least 1 product at market you are assuming a great risk (personally I don't invest)
2) If they are unable to produce a working prototype (and only have drawing/sketches) you are assuming a great risk (again, I don't invest)
3) If the item WAS truly marketable it wouldn't need Kickstarter
4) If the item DOES find a market you will be able to find an identical item in about a year for 1/3 of the price
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Ben Delp
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CSoren wrote:
I doubt I will ever back any Kickstarter project. It is a method of making an investment masquerading as a purchase. If I make an investment, I want to see financial statements and a business plan. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide these. If I make a purchase, I want something for it, not a promise of something that might come to pass. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide this. Caveat emptor.

And, by the way, the word you're looking for is "niche".


I realize money doesn't grow on trees, but we're not talking about 10K of preferred stock here. It's a game. Financial statements and a business plan is a bit extreme for something of less than $150 value.
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Magic Pink
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CSoren wrote:
If I make a purchase, I want something for it, not a promise of something that might come to pass. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide this.


You haven't seen very many then. Every project I've backed has gotten me exactly what it said it would.

Not backing anything on Kickstarter does not make you a savvy investor because Kickstarter is not in any way an investment.
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CassSoren
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delp1871 wrote:
Financial statements and a business plan is a bit extreme for something of less than $150 value.

As I said, caveat emptor. Know, among other things, what it is that you are buying. Know also how valuable an amount is to you. Maybe $150 is insignificant to delp1871. I can't help but see that as at least three weeks worth of groceries. Given that $150 is a month of expenses for me, then yes, I absolutely want to see financial statements and a business plan. Otherwise, unless I am getting, at a minimum, something concrete for $150, I risk throwing a months' expenses down the drain - for no guarantee of anything.

Given that I must be financially conservative while in school for the next several years, $150 is a lot of money. Groceries for a month. A textbook or two (or even four, if I shop carefully).

Your equations might be different, but the view doesn't change. Know what you are buying with your money (investment vs purchase) and know how it affects your budget. I repeat, caveat emptor.
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mike
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Bhobs wrote:
3) If the item WAS truly marketable it wouldn't need Kickstarter
4) If the item DOES find a market you will be able to find an identical item in about a year for 1/3 of the price


Do you have any actual evidence to support point 4? Because if so I’m sure allot of people would love to see it.

So really next year I should be able to find games like Empires of the Void, Gunship First Strike, Omen Reign of War for a 1/3 of the price huh? And of the same quality and not merely sort of copies or games that borrow elements from these games?

And I call BS on number 3, there simply are not enough publishers out there that accept outside submissions these days. They are plenty of designers out there with great game ideas and maybe they just don’t want to wait for the stars to align and hope that someone will accept their submission and it fits into the companies production schedule and it will actually come out sometime in the next decade. This is the same mentality that traditional publishers are the “so called” gate keepers and that they should be the only ones to decide what gets published and brought to the market

Well guess what with crowd funding the designers are going right to the MARKET and letting them decide. If that’s not your cup of tea that’s fine and why bother posting a reply if that’s the case, but the fact is the market has said they will support game projects from new designers and well as established publishers on klckstarter and other crowd funding sites

If a project reaches its funding goal then clearly there is enough demand from the MARKET for that game. Now will they all go on to sell 1000s more copies? Probably not, but that’s not the point. It gives a chance for new designers in particular to see if there is interest in their product and provide them with a means to publish a few hundred or thousand copies.

Also do you think Steve Jackson Games and Playroom entertainment would be using kickstarter if it wasn’t a good way for them to judge market interest in their products or do offer something extra to customers that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise through a pre-order or standard retail release?

Also it maybe a semantic argument but with kickstarter you’re not making an investment, as that implies some kind of return and subject to SEC rules, regs, etc you are making a contribution or pledge to the project. It just so happens under the games category, that this has turned more into a pre-order system where majority of the projects result in a game being produced. That’s not the case with many of the categories on the site. There are other crowd source sites that deal with venture capital and investments, kickstarter is not one of those.
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Ben Delp
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CSoren wrote:
delp1871 wrote:
Financial statements and a business plan is a bit extreme for something of less than $150 value.

As I said, caveat emptor. Know, among other things, what it is that you are buying. Know also how valuable an amount is to you. Maybe $150 is insignificant to delph1871. I can't help but see that as at least three weeks worth of groceries. Given that $150 is a month of expenses for me, then yes, I absolutely want to see financial statements and a business plan. Otherwise, unless I am getting, at a minimum, something concrete for $150, I risk throwing a months' expenses down the drain - for no guarantee of anything.

Given that I must be financially conservative while in school for the next several years, $150 is a lot of money. Groceries for a month. A textbook or two (or even four, if I shop carefully).

Your equations might be different, but the view doesn't change. Know what you are buying with your money (investment vs purchase) and know how it affects your budget. I repeat, caveat emptor.


Yes, I get that $150 is a lot of money, especially for a game (I was aiming at the high end to include as many games as possible). I don't take $150 lightly. I am however curious what businesses provide you financials and a business plan when you spend in that range.

BTW, my user name that you took the time to bold is mispelled.
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mike
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CSoren wrote:
I doubt I will ever back any Kickstarter project. It is a method of making an investment masquerading as a purchase. If I make an investment, I want to see financial statements and a business plan. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide these. If I make a purchase, I want something for it, not a promise of something that might come to pass. Kickstarter projects that I have seen do not provide this. Caveat emptor.


Kickstarter is not an investment site, this isn’t E-Trade or Vanguard

You’re not providing them with capital to invest and are expecting to receive X% in return over a period of time

You’re making a contribution or pledge to the project because it is assumed you like the project and want to support it and you could very well only contribute a dollar just to say you supported the project.

It just so happens in the games category, you’re probably “pledging” at a level where you’ll receive a copy of the game once it is manufactured and maybe some extras as well if the project reaches its funding goal.

I agree that any designer that is not working with a company like Game Salute to handle manufacturing and distribution and has decided to form their own publishing company, then yes they should have a business plan. I don’t think they should have to post that on the kickstarter page though and if they are not in business yet they are not going to have any financial statements, projections perhaps, maybe personal income statement as to how much the owner is contributing to the project outside of the campaign goals. They would hopefully have a cost breakdown, break even analysis etc, but all that would be company proprietary information, so why would you expect them to share that on kickstarter? We’re not talking publically traded companies here that are required to release quarterly statements, annual reports etc.
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CassSoren
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delp1871 wrote:
BTW, my user name that you took the time to bold is mispelled.


Apologies, fixed.

I do not (and would not) make investments in that range; therefore, I have not seen supporting documentation in that range.
 
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Josh Owens
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You're not making an investment. You are buying something that hasn't been made yet. Investors aren't promised anything and have the risk to
lose everything they invested. While there is still risk on Kickstarter it's not on the same level unless you're buying one of the huge 5k rewards or something which most of us arent doing.
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Harper Hobbs
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80sgamer wrote:
Bhobs wrote:
3) If the item WAS truly marketable it wouldn't need Kickstarter
4) If the item DOES find a market you will be able to find an identical item in about a year for 1/3 of the price


Do you have any actual evidence to support point 4? Because if so I’m sure allot of people would love to see it.

So really next year I should be able to find games like Empires of the Void, Gunship First Strike, Omen Reign of War for a 1/3 of the price huh? And of the same quality and not merely sort of copies or games that borrow elements from these games?

And I call BS on number 3, there simply are not enough publishers out there that accept outside submissions these days. They are plenty of designers out there with great game ideas and maybe they just don’t want to wait for the stars to align and hope that someone will accept their submission and it fits into the companies production schedule and it will actually come out sometime in the next decade. This is the same mentality that traditional publishers are the “so called” gate keepers and that they should be the only ones to decide what gets published and brought to the market

Well guess what with crowd funding the designers are going right to the MARKET and letting them decide. If that’s not your cup of tea that’s fine and why bother posting a reply if that’s the case, but the fact is the market has said they will support game projects from new designers and well as established publishers on klckstarter and other crowd funding sites

If a project reaches its funding goal then clearly there is enough demand from the MARKET for that game. Now will they all go on to sell 1000s more copies? Probably not, but that’s not the point. It gives a chance for new designers in particular to see if there is interest in their product and provide them with a means to publish a few hundred or thousand copies.

Also do you think Steve Jackson Games and Playroom entertainment would be using kickstarter if it wasn’t a good way for them to judge market interest in their products or do offer something extra to customers that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise through a pre-order or standard retail release?

Also it maybe a semantic argument but with kickstarter you’re not making an investment, as that implies some kind of return and subject to SEC rules, regs, etc you are making a contribution or pledge to the project. It just so happens under the games category, that this has turned more into a pre-order system where majority of the projects result in a game being produced. That’s not the case with many of the categories on the site. There are other crowd source sites that deal with venture capital and investments, kickstarter is not one of those.


Wow, take a breath.

I don't see anywhere in my post where I mentioned gaming. Though this OP's particular case has to do with gaming, the fact that people are getting burned everywhere on Kickstarter (NOT just in the gaming category) has lead to people being hesitant to kickstart as a whole and THAT is/can undoubtable affecting the gaming side.

Kickstarter is more than gaming and I simply felt like sharing my particular thought process in whether to support a kickstarter campaign in general....however, the guidelines can applied to "gaming kickstarters" to a certain extent

For #3 of course doesn't pertain to board games, but again I never said anything pertained to gaming, just kickstarting as a whole.

#4 seems again obvious to me because when the market becomes saturated with a product, the price of said product will inevitably drop. Also if a major manufacture picks up the product, maybe in the gaming world as a re-print, the manufacturer already has manufacturing and supply chains in place so 9 times out of 10 the costumer will see lower price. Maybe not a 1/3 price reduction in gaming but the idea can be seen all over the market.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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The thread is derailing.

CassSoren has said his piece (peace?). I doubt any of us are going to change his opinion. Let's stop analyzing whether kickstarter projects are worth backing and get back to the original subject of the pros and cons of starting a kickstarter project and how to make is successful.

Obviously one con is that some people will never back kickstarter projects. That's fine. As CassSoren has mentioned, those people can wait a few months for the games to be sold at retail. There are plenty of other people who will gladly buy on kickstarter, if you make it worth their while to accept a small amount of risk and delayed gratification.


edit: I always assume we are talking about gaming kickstarter projects. I couldn't care less about other stuff, until they kickstart my trip to Mars.
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Dave Breen
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Fair points...from 1st hand experience:

Kickstarter allows projects to come to life that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

Were it not for Kickstarter proving a market existed for my product, it wouldn't have come to market. Kickstarter removes much of the risk, but adds quite of bit of effort to the product.

Thankfully there are some folks who were willing to take on bit of a risk to allow some of these projects to go forward and bring some products to market.

I've been very happy with most of backed projects so far, at least as happy as I've been with products that have come from established companies.

The nice thing is, that those who don't feel like it's worth the risk, don't have to, those who are willing to take on some risk can get some unique rewards.


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Harper Hobbs
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Kickstarter is just something newish and of course there will be questions about it.

Kickstarter needs to learn from EBAY. EBAY was also terrifying and risky for some customers and people got burned a lot, and still have a tendency of getting burned. EBAY eventually took steps to curb this problem

Kickstarter seems all about the developer and to the customer it can feel like we are assuming all the risk. Take away that feeling and Kickstarter will become the next EBAY.
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Jason Glover
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I still think Kickstarter can be a great thing for the board gaming world. It seems that some folks simply will never be sold on the idea based on the risk and price and that is a hurdle Kickstarter will never be able to jump.

The bottomline is that there is a market for some of these smaller run games simply based on the fact that they fund. I you are looking for a bargain then perhaps Amazon or a red dot sale is a better avenue for you. Kickstarter is about being a part of seeing an idea through. Backing a project makes you part of a team by helping to cover the costs of making a smaller run of a game. Sure you can buy Dominion for $30 on Amazon, but how many of those have been made in each run? Producing 250-1000 games on a small run can cost much more then that.

In the end it is about holding a game in your hand that you backed and where a part of helping get created.

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Jason Glover
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Just letting the good folks at BGG know that Plague has reached it goal but we are still trying to hit a couple of the stretch goals! One includes a box upgrade and gold coins for everyone!

Please take a momment to check out the link below.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1243534184/plague-the-ca...

 
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Bobb Beauchamp
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I love the idea of Kickstarter. Start-up funds are one of the biggest impediments to many good products making it to market. KS allows a producer to reach potential customers and allow them to get in on the product...often at a significant retail discount...and spread the risk of that initial investment. In some cases, it allows the producer to completely avoid the risk involved with bringing a new product to market.

And while I think expecting financials and seeing a business plan are a bit of a stretch, I think the point made with that comment is something anyone thinking about backing a KS project needs to bear in mind. In the short time I've seen KS around, I've seen it used for any number of projects. And some are more solid than others. I've only backed the Reaper Bones project. I know Reaper's reputation and other product. I trust them. I don't need to see a business plan, because I've already seen them succeed in other lines. Reaper also was very frank with why they launched a Bones KS: They could expand the line just fine on their own, but only very slowly. By getting over $3 million in capital up front, they can explode the line in short order. A product that appears to very much be in demand is brought to market far more quickly than would otherwise be possible, and at very little or even no risk to Reaper's normal operations.

Other projects I've followed, but decided not to back. Mostly because of a lack of information and lack of proven success by the producer.

In the end, KS is an investment system. It's just different from what the markets have normally seen. Instead of trading cash for shares of a future product's profit, you're giving cash for the chance to get stuff, should the stuff ever get made.
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Traditional terms like investing might not be the perfect way to describe the kickstarter experience. It isn't an exact fit. I have backed three projects, and I am pretty happy with the results on all three. A couple of others have caught my interest, but I prioritize and do the minimal amount of research one really needs to make a somewhat informed decision.

I've said it before, and will again: I think the kickstarter paradigm is a GREAT thing for boardgaming and boardgamers. There are some lemons out there, and that is also true of games published by big companies (Fantasy Flight's Penguin by Reiner Knizia is a major dud).
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Jason Glover
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Just letting everyone know that Plague has hit yet another stretch goal and that there is only a week left to be apart of the campaign!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1243534184/plague-the-ca...

 
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I haven't seen Caveat Emptor in several posts, and was feeling lonely for it. Impressed?
 
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