Kickstarter is the future!
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love spending money.
Kickstarter has, as of late, drawn some attention for its use in helping to fund several upcoming Video games. Double Fine Studios being the first to fully capitalize on the potential while managing to raise over 3 million dollars for an upcoming adventure title. Since that time other titles have found success in funding themselves through crowd sourcing directly to their fans.
But this is Happiness is Rolling Dice, and here we deal with Board Games. Fortunately for me, Kickstarter has brought great success to several upcoming board game projects and I believe it is worth touching on the value inherent in the service.
Before we go to deep into this topic, it may be worth providing some background on Kickstarter to those who may not have yet partaken of this amazing service. In a nutshell, Kickstarter is a service that allows creators of projects to link up with their fans and crowd source the funding of their ideas to see them through to fruition. This is good on several levels, not the least of which is that an awesome product that might otherwise have lacked the funding will get made. Honestly you should check it out for yourself at www.kickstarter.com, I recommend going to the Games category and then browsing through the Board Games section personally. Now much of what I say below applies more broadly to creative projects on Kickstarter in general, but I’m here to talk about Board Games so that’s where we’ll focus.
Now the above may not sound all that special, hell pre-orders for products have been around forever and have filled similar roll in allowing companies to get additional funding for projects. Kickstarter isn’t your average pre-order though; it really connects fans to projects and brings some pretty clear benefits to both the consumer and the producer. These are just some small side benefits either; Kickstarter could very well be the future for both independent gaming companies as well as some big names out there.
So what are these game changing benefits you ask? Well; let us delve deeper into the producer side of the equation. Today we take the role of a smaller game studio with a big dream. We’ve come up with a fantastic Sci-Fi world, a set of miniatures and even a set of rules for a game. Unfortunately we have hit a hitch. We want to produce this product, we’ve got all the creative work done, but we’ve got to somehow fund those minor details like production costs if we are going to make it to market. It is going to take us twenty thousand dollars to get this to the street and the coffers just to look that deep right now. We could try to stir up some investment from a third party but that will cut in to profit, can add extra hands to the cookie jar and just simply muck up a perfectly good idea. Well luckily for me there is a third option, Kickstarter. With Kickstarter I can have soap box to stand on to preach the glory that is my idea. If my idea is embraced I will earn my twenty thousand dollars, or perhaps much more. I will also gain valuable insight into the true interest in my product that I can turn into sales projections, and not just a survey, these must be people who are actually interested because they are putting their money where their mouth is. On top of all this, if my idea is truly seen worthy by the masses I could suddenly see myself sitting on over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in funding. Not just making sure I get to market but letting me ship a better product to more locations reaching more people, holy crap that is awesome! The above story isn’t even all that far-fetched. As of this writing the plucky folks over the pond at McVey studios, in conjunction with CoolMiniOrNot have their very own Kickstarter for Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster. A Sci-Fi miniatures game based of the Sedition Wars IP. It was started looking for twenty thousand dollars to see their game hit the market and has already reached over the one hundred and fifty thousand dollar mark. Check it out for yourself: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/coolminiornot/sedition-wars-battle-for-alabaster
So now we must come upon humanities greatest struggle and most eternal question, “What’s in it for me?” Well it just so happens that I am glad you asked. When I say that Kickstarter connects the fans to the producers that is what I mean. You are not just pony up hard earned dollars so you can go down to the store and pay more money later to have the product. The companies who use Kickstarter are not so silly as to believe you will throw hundreds of dollars at them just because you didn’t want it anymore, they’ve been to casinos they know that role is filled already. With Kickstarter a company is able to create different tiers for pledges, each assigned its own reward, for throwing down those hard earned dollars. For instance with Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster, a pledge of $80 nets you a copy of the game when it is released, but if you’re willing to drop $100 you can also get a sweet special edition mini to go with it. Pretty simple stuff and there are at times pretty tantalizing rewards. But then you may ask, “Once they’ve reached the twenty thousand they asked for, why should I provide them any more funding?” Well my good sir, allow me to share two words with you, STRECH GOALS. Stretch goals are awesome ways that companies keep you interested in funding their project and spreading the word. If I you go to the link for the Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster project you’ll see them as you scroll down. I’d list them out but at this point there are so many it would take too much time. The stretch goals however are providing backers at a certain level with not just the standard box game, backers at that level are getting an amazing array of extra swag. I recommend checking it out just to see how awesome stretch goals are. On top of all that there is open communication between the people backing the project and those running it, that allows you to send ideas and questions directly to those who should see them. And while your suggestion of a mutant vampire cow is likely still not going to make it into the game, at least they gave you an avenue for your crazy ranting and probably even read it.
The above is all awesome, and amazing way for a company to get their product out there, but there is one item I haven’t mentioned and it is perhaps my favorite part. The excitement of the affair; being part of the funding makes a person feel as if they are part of the project. While the average person’s talents likely lay somewhere outside of creating amazing figures and writing balanced rules, they can back a project and provide it the funding to get off the ground. Through updates you get taken along the ride to see it created and in the end you get to sit down in front of something tangible and enjoy it that much more having seen it go from an idea you thought was awesome to a grown-up toy you get to play with.