Are you thinking about doing a Kickstarter campaign and have found all sorts of conflicting information as to what works or what doesn't?
We were faced with the same issues as we launched our first Kickstarter campaign for What The Film?!. So we went in blindly, but armed with as much info as we could glean from friends and those who had blazed the trail before us. We feel like we navigated the waters pretty well. We set a goal that was attainable, and then hit social media consistently for the months leading up to the campaign. There are a littany of other things we did, but that's not the formula I'm talking about.
I've created a spreadsheet that has been very insightful to me looking back on our past campaign. We made $10K which was...nice. Not amazing, but we did double our goal. So it worked. We more than accomplished our goal.
But even with doubling our goal, I feel like revenue was extremely tight because perhaps we didn't account for all the elements combined. Yeah, we knew there'd be shipping. Yeah, we knew Kickstarter would take a small cut (works out to be about 10%). Yeah, we knew we had production costs. But I never really put them all together to see how they would affect each other and how the number you see on Kickstarter translates to the real paycheck you end up with after all the expenses.
Going into our next Kickstarter campaign, Camping with Sasquatch, I wanted to have a better gauge of how much we would make based on hitting certain revenue levels. So here's a screenshot of a couple possible sample projections. Shipping rates are based on using Quartermaster Logistics. It includes the box, the packing and the cost of shipping.
Now there are a couple of places to potentially save money. For our game What The Film?! using a company like Quartermaster Logistics was the only way to go. We couldn't find a way to ship our game any cheaper than $10 because it was 2 lbs.
For Camping with Sasquatch, the game is lighter AND will fit into the Small Flat Rate USPS box which as of May 2018 the cost is $7.20. So you can potentially make an additional $2.20 per game if you do the work yourself (pack, label, ship). Which, with enough units sold can be a substantial amount but a lot of work.
We feel very fortunate with the success we've seen so quickly. So we want to give back where we can and share what we've learned. Here's a link to the spreadsheet. It's all formulas. So just plug in your game name, units and the sale amount and the rest of the numbers will change. You can see that even making almost $10K, there isn't a lot of revenue left. And that doesn't take into consideration the cost of artwork or the other things that went into the upfront costs of your game just to get it to Kickstarter.
If the campaign is what I would consider incredibly successful and you generate $163,800 from Kickstarter, your net is still only around $50K. If you've spent months on the project and divide that between all those that are key players, it dilutes very quickly.
If you're in it for the long haul, Kickstarter is an awesome way to get your project off the ground and alleviate some of the strains of initial cash flow. We were able to successfully launch What The Film?! and then get it into retail thanks in large part to Kickstarter. However if you're looking for a get rich quick scheme, look twice before you leap into this. Kickstarter should be because of love and passion, not a scheme or scam.
Good luck with your project and we'd love to hear any insights you may have!
This weekend I had the privilege of going to EPIC Prototype Con where we were able to test and refine new games that we're working on. We tested Camping with Sasquatch, our next game. Over the course of two hours we changed it probably a dozen times but it resulted in a very tight game.
Part of the convention was a seminar by a distributor that gets games in stores. He had 8 "MUSTS" for launching a game.
1. Make the game. This seems obvious, but the subtext is, prototypes and ideas aren't going to get you anywhere. Make the game.
2. Have a sales sheet. It's a one sheet that should include the following:
- Name of the game
- Age range / # of players / Length of play stats
- 1 Paragraph of thematic wording
- Game mechanics aka, what players do
- Box contents
- Release date
- Order due date
- Item code
- Box dimensions
- Case configuration (how many per case...should be multiples of six, no more than 12.)
- Contact info
3. Be on point with your social media. Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest all help, but ultimately the only one that really matters are your Facebook followers. How many do you have?
4. BoardGameGeek.com: This is like the IMDB of boardgames. Believe it or not, ratings, reviews, hours played, etc., are all very important elements that distributors consider from BGG. Don't underestimate BGG. List your game and make it shine with appropriate, well shot photos.
5. Your website. Don't neglect it. Keep it current. A neglected site = a neglected product.
6. Newsletters. As I sat there and listened, I was able to check off the boxes of everything he was saying until it got to the newsletter. This doesn't necessarily need to be done on the launch of the first game, but is something to consider down the line as your brand and product line grows. It's a reminder to distributors what they can or should be ordering or re-ordering.
7. Product catalog. Kind of along the same lines as the newsletter, but more targeted and less newsy. Just the facts.
8. Go to shows. Showcase your game to as many people as you can. Shows will put you in front of people that will help you sell games, generate word of mouth and who knows, maybe you'll play with someone that tracks every single thing they play on BoardGameGeek and log some hours for you. It happens.
If you have any other distributor tips, we'd love to hear them in the comments below. And please check out our game What The Film?!
2. Yes, you need a script
If you think you can just wing it...don't. Write out your lines and be prepared. By this point in your games life cycle you should know it inside and out. Believe me when I say, when you see that little red light go on, it is like you are in Men In Black and Will Smith taps the button and there goes your memory. Also, be sure to write your script using your language. There is nothing more awkward than sitting down pitching your party game, sounding like Nicollo Machiavelli. Be yourself, but be prepared.
3. Use a professional
Realizing that I'm not a cameraman was the best thing that could have ever happen to me. It is almost guaranteed that you are treating your Kickstarter campaign as if it was life support. Making a game on a budget is tough. With that said, there are some things that you just have to pay a little money for. If you really know what you're doing behind the screen, then by all means, take a swing. But, if you just picked up a prosumer camera from Costco for this shoot, it is time to delegate. There is nothing more cringe-worthy than a poorly compiled video.
Though there are a ton of tips left unstated, these are the ones that really made our shoot awesome. The biggest thing to remember is to have some fun! You are doing some exciting stuff, make sure you treat it that way.
After spending months, our first game What The Film?! is just about done! We at Lethal Chicken Games wanted to share some things we noticed in bring a game to life from idea to launch.
1.Have fun with the process
Making a game from the scratch can be a somewhat crazy process. The number of hours you will spend behind a screen or at a desk is at times unruly. That is why making the process fun is almost a must. Finding your favorite music or cracking jokes when editing will both help you channel your inner creativity, but also break up the monotony. While making What The Film?!, I spent so much time laughing at funny card art or singing 80's new wave music at the top of my lungs. Find your thing, even if it causes your business partner to roll his eyes constantly (“Tears for Fears” can do that). Enjoy the moment because it can be a long one if you're not having fun.
2. Realize your game isn’t for everyone
One of the hardest things as a creator of anything is taking criticism. I will guarantee that your project will become a child of yours. Just like a child, you will want to punch someone who messes with your kin. It's really okay for some people to think what you are doing sucks. With that said, stay the course! You have something unique to offer to someone out there. Humility in dealing with the naysayers will ultimately help you bring the best product you can to market. Surround yourself with uplifting people, this will make it easier to deal with getting your heart ripped out through the project's process. Stay the course; you can do it!
3.Be critical, yet compromisable
If you are anything like me, you consider yourself a perfectionist. In the process of What The Film?! Alex, (co-owner of Lethal Chicken Games) made a folder labeled ‘Mike's a jerk’. This folder was dedicated to stuff that didn't make the cut for the game; and rest assure that folder was full in an about a week. It is ok to be critical, sometimes it is even necessary to be in order to make the best product you can. Making a game is like a relationship, you need to pick your battles. Focus your efforts on the big picture and the elements that are a part of a grandiose scene. Spending hours tweaking the opacity of font that is barely visible might leave you unsatisfied and a black eye from your business partner.
4. Playtest, Playtest, Playtest
I can't emphasize this point enough. You need to break your game! Playtesting is probably the most important part of the process. Play your game often and realize what needs to be a changed. You should be making a game you are happy to play, so prove it. The not so easy thing to do is hosting blind testings. I will tell you now, during a blind test you are going to have to bite your tongue and nails, walk away often, and literally fight back vomit! It is so nerve racking seeing someone you don't know hold your baby! But believe us, you will get through it and the critiques found here are priceless. Also, go above and beyond during blind test. Buy some snacks. Treat these folks nicely - they might be future consumers!
5.Marketing is your friend; become besties
I shouldn't have to say how important marketing is but, if you need me to, here it is...marketing is important! I think for many the idea of marketing is something you wait to pull the trigger on. My advice is not to wait. The minute you are willing to share your idea with a friend, you should be ready to share on social media. Marketing for your game should be a marathon, not a sprint. Setting up shop early provides a great foundation to run a successful retail campaign. Social media is your friend. Use it daily; yes, daily.
We know there is more to the process, but these are lessons we learned. Have you made a game? Or are you making a game? What is your advice? Share down below. If you are on the fence of bringing a game to market, we say DO IT! Now that you have a push, go make magic happen!