How to Keep up Your Board Game Kickstarter’s Timeline after the Campaign

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You’ve spent months, if not years, leading up to your Kickstarter campaign. You’ve spent tons of time and effort on brainstorming, developing, testing, marketing, networking, and campaigning. When your Kickstarter successfully funded, it seemed like the apotheosis of your board game career. But with great money, comes great responsibility…

 

 

Before you reach this point, there are a few things you’ll need to do first. I cover these in depth in Kickstarter Math: How to Deliver Your Board Game On-Time and Within Your Budget and How to Order a Print Run for Your Board Game Kickstarter.

For the sake of a simple recap, here’s what you need to know. “A lot of creators get into trouble by giving Kickstarter backers their most optimistic timelines which they are unlikely to meet in even the best of circumstances.” It’s one thing to miss deadlines before your campaign launches. At that point, you’re only making promises to members of your team and fans who would be likely to back you no matter what. After your campaign, though, once people’s hard-earned money has been taken, you’re on the hook to meet deadlines. If there’s one time you shouldn’t slip, it’s after the campaign. (Granted, 84% of people do…)

You have five hurdles to clear after your Kickstarter campaign ends. They are:

  1. The Kickstarter funding payment must clear.
  2. The game must be printed.
  3. The game must be shipped to your warehouses.
  4. Your backers’ orders must be fulfilled.
  5. You must resolve any issues related to fulfillment.

Though all of these hurdles occur after your campaign is funded, you have to forecast how much time they will take before you even start your campaign. You can get these by talking to your printer and your fulfillment companies. Kickstarter funds usually take two weeks to clear, but their policy could change in the future – so always double check!

Let’s take each of these hurdles one by one.

The Kickstarter funding payment must clear. You don’t get your funding immediately. Kickstarter takes two weeks to process the payment. You’ll get most of this in a lump sum, and a few people whose cards errored out will correct their information and you’ll get their money late.

The game must be printed. This process often takes well over a month and usually involves asking someone overseas to process extremely technical information with hard-to-use equipment. While many printers are great at their jobs, the amount of things that can go wrong is staggering. Misaligned prints, bad ink coloration, water damage, tears, snags, and unexpected time off. Your game’s not done until it’s done.

The game must be shipped to your warehouses. Of course, it’s not enough to simply manufacture the game. It has to be shipped to warehouses for fulfillment. If your game is heavy or there’s a lot of it, you’ll probably have to ship by sea. This can take a month or two. You might be lucky enough to have a game that you can cost-effectively ship by air. This is faster, but it’s still not immediate.

Your backers’ orders must be fulfilled. Once your game is delivered to your warehouses, they have to process the inventory and get it ready to ship to customers. This can take a couple of weeks. Fulfillment is a complex operation, especially the way third-party fulfillment companies do it.

You must resolve any issues related to fulfillment. Even if you never touch the merchandise, you’re on the hook. You are, after all, the face of the company. Throughout the next few months, you’ll have the occasional dropped package or return. It will be up to you to handle those issues in a timely manner, contacting the appropriate parties as you need to.

 

As you’ve likely noticed by now, most of these things are out of your direct control. You can’t make Kickstarter or the bank release your funds faster. You can’t print your own game. You can’t steer the boat from China to the US or Europe. You probably won’t even end up fulfilling your own game, since it’s usually better to go through a third party. Yet when you encounter problems, you will be accountable. Fun, right?

Most of what you can do has been done by now. You have to be proactive well before you get to this point if you want your campaign to fulfill on time. Even then, you can do everything right and still miss your deadline. Boats get lost. Customs opens random packages and delays their shipping. Printers lose electricity for a few days. Bad things happen.

To some extent, you can prevent delays by adding time to your schedule. Add too much time, though, and it looks like a padded estimate. It’s a delicate balance. Once you reach this stage, your best option may very well be to focus on your next game.

 


 

I talk a lot about project management. It is, after all, the backbone of successful Kickstarter campaigns – board games or otherwise. We all want to make amazing games and make people smile. One of the best ways we can do this is simply by keeping our promises. There’s a lot that goes into this, but a little bit of preparation goes a long way. It is on the pillars of pragmatism that we support our dreams.

Good luck on your projects! If you have any questions, feel free to ask below 🙂

How to Keep Up Your Board Game Kickstarter’s Momentum with Stretch Goals

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Stretch goals! Everybody who goes to Kickstarter with hopes of publishing their board game desires to not only fund, but to achieve many stretch goals. After all, doing so means you make more money and your game ends up in more people’s hands!

 

 

The need for stretch goals is threefold. First and foremost, stretch goals help keep attention on your project. Kickstarter, by its very nature, is most compelling to backers when the fate of the project is on the line. Kickstarter provides, in marketing lingo, an extremely effective call to action. Once you reach your goal, at least some element of this magic goes away. Granted, it’s still time-limited and there’s a cost incentive for backers to back now instead of waiting for your game to be on sale later, but they’re not quite as compelling as the project ceasing to exist without funding. Stretch goals help recapture that magic.

The second and most altruistic reason for stretch goals is that they help you make a better project. As a general rule of thumb, you should focus on the minimum viable product at your Kickstarter funding goal. All the bells and whistles – thicker cards, linen finish, add-ons, bonus components, etc. – should not be required at the funding goal level. The reason for this is that they jack up the per-unit cost to print, making your goal edge toward the unachievably high.

The last reason is that stretch goals motivate more backers to get involved. It’s a weird quirk of psychology that people prefer an extraordinarily polished game with extra bells and whistles when it’s put together piece by piece. That is to say:

  • Game A was funded and hit five stretch goals
  • Game B was funded

If Game A and Game B were the exact same in terms of content and quality, people would prefer Game A. It sounds more impressive. It’s a matter of framing. No, it’s not necessarily rational.

Knowing specifically what stretch goals are for helps us to determine what the best ones are and how to implement them. Before you choose which stretch goals to pursue and promise, you need to do some research. You need to make sure you are able to fulfill your promises from an operational perspective. It’s true that as you gain more funding, your per-unit cost will go down…but never make assumptions with no intention to test them! Talk to your printer while you’re still developing your game and see how much various component upgrades and add-ons cost. Make sure to account for the shipping weight too.

If you’re adding elements to your game through stretch goals, you need to make sure they are thoroughly play-tested. You need to make sure there are no breakdowns in your rules. You need to blind play-test your stretch goals. You need to make sure the balance is right. Make sure that you don’t need additional art that you can’t get in a timely manner. Make sure extra game elements can fit in the box and that they won’t drive up the price to an unacceptable level.

With an understanding of why you use stretch goals and how you can implement them, the only question remains is: what exactly do you choose? Short answer: I can’t tell you that. I can’t tell you that because trends change, and popular stretch goals are always in flux. I’m writing this in 2018, and if I tell you what to do specifically, it probably won’t last to 2020.

I refer you then to a method I’d mentioned in a prior article on creating Kickstarter campaign pages.

No guide can ever detail exactly what the optimal Kickstarter [stretch goals look] like because people’s expectations are fluid and best practices change. The campaign pages that got funded in 2015 don’t necessarily look like the ones that will fund in 2018. No matter when you’re reading this, whether it be 2018 or 2038, you need to look at ten pages that funded. Ideally, you want to look at the pages of highly funded games for campaigns whose games resemble your specific niche – sci-fi, worker placement, etc.

Now with that said, here are some stretch goal angles that you can pursue that have stood the test of time:

  • Component upgrades are always welcome. Gamers will hardly balk at nicer card stock, a linen finish, or more components.
  • Extra player upgrades are also popular. These tend to be flashier than component upgrades.
  • Likewise, solo player modes are very popular as well. One of the biggest trends in board gaming right now is the rise of solo player games. Giving your game a solo player mode is a good way to get gamers on your side.
  • Add-ons. Sometimes, you just can’t get everything you want in the base game. If you find there is enough demand, you can always release add-ons.

 


 

Aspiring to achieve stretch goals is one of the most exciting things about Kickstarting a board game. They keep attention on your project, bring in more backers, and – most importantly – make your game better. Choose ones that you can realistically add from an operational perspective. Follow the trends and make sure you’re appealing to current tastes. Good luck!

How to Have the Perfect Kickstarter Launch Day

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Launching a board game Kickstarter requires the coordination of an enormous amount of effort, time, and talent. For that reason, I encourage people to see success more as a holistic process than as a particular moment when things click. The one exception to that rule: the launch day of your Kickstarter campaign.

 

 

Let’s not beat it around the bush. Day 1 momentum is really important. There are a number of factors at play in the Kickstarter world that make it very important to make a big splash on day 1. Kickstarter’s sorting algorithms will tend to prioritize projects that make more money. After all, Kickstarter has a financial incentive to get people to see campaigns they are likely to back. “The project is already making money” is a pretty good indicator of the interest Kickstarter wants to stoke.

On top of that, social media, reviews, and other online news outlets are going to light up with news of your game on Day 1 more than any other day. You want to be able to ride that momentum all the way to a successfully funded project, and then well past it.

In March of this year, I wrote an article called What To Do Immediately After Your Kickstarter Launches & A Checklist, which included a list of things you need to do on the day that your Kickstarter campaign launches. I refer to that list as the “launch sequence.” For your convenience, I’ve included it below.

 

First 10 minutes:

  • Hit the launch button.
  • Copy the URL.
  • Set up a redirect link on your website.
  • Tweet the campaign link with a call to action.
  • Pin the campaign tweet.
  • Make a Facebook post with the campaign link with a call to action. (Bonus points if you use your personal page as well).
  • Pin the campaign post.
  • Post on any other social networks you use.
  • Ask a few friends to retweet/share your social media posts. This increases visibility quick, which can help you break through social media noise.
  • Update your social media bio links.

Next 20 minutes:

  • Send an email to your mailing list with the campaign link and a clear call to action.
  • Update the home page of your website with the campaign link and a clear call to action.
  • Text your family.
  • Text your friends.
  • Post the FAQ – which you have hopefully pre-written.

Next 30 minutes:

  • Send any last-minute press releases.
  • Monitor and respond to comments and questions.
  • Update any old Kickstarter campaigns.
  • Get your game on this Board Game Geek geeklist.

Hours after launch:

  • Post to relevant Facebook groups.
  • Post to relevant parts of Board Game Geek.
  • Post to relevant subreddits on Reddit.

 

The above list is simple and straightforward, and it will definitely help put you on the right track to a fortuitous launch day. However, there are two other angles we need to approach this topic from to provide a more complete answer to the question of “how do I have the perfect Kickstarter launch day?” A simple checklist isn’t enough.

An underrated but highly important part of the Kickstarter process is facing the raw emotional reality of a Kickstarter campaign. Whether you are in the board game industry because of your creative passion or your desire to make some cash, Kickstarter can be emotionally brutal. The criticism is tough if the game is your darling idea and the financial side is tough if you don’t have a good grasp on operations or what the market wants.

Speaking of understanding what the market wants, it’s the often unspoken assumption that Kickstarter launches are preceded by Kickstarters worth launching. If you go on there with a dud product, no amount of launch day marketing or emotional stability will save you. Don’t get me wrong – flopping isn’t the worst thing in the world. It happened to me with my game Highways & Byways.  But still, who wants to do that?

Before you ever launch a game, you need to understand that there is no objective standard of perfection, there are simply people with unique tastes. You want to make a game that appeals to the specific tastes of a lot of people. You need to prove it will before you go to Kickstarter, or you’re going to be out a lot of time and a lot of money.

Those last three sentences are the most important in this article, so read them again. All things equal, a great game that fits the market with so-so campaign management will utterly smoke a mediocre game with great campaign management. If you want a perfect Day 1 on Kickstarter – focus on strategy and not tactics!

 


 

After so much effort, it’s only natural to want a beautiful Launch Day for your board game Kickstarter campaign. Even more so since your first day often determines how the rest of your campaign will go. By making sure you have a great game tailored for a specific audience, you set yourself up for success far in advance. After that, it’s simply a matter of following through on some simple steps and keeping your wits about you in a time of great emotion.

Godspeed, Kickstarter hopefuls 🙂