I’ve been toying around with a series on Kickstarter for a while, and I think with some fairly contentious Kickstarter things happening or perceived that way, it’s time to do a series on Kickstarter, including starting off with Kickstarter 101, what you need to know about Kickstarter, and how a Kickstarter works. In particular, I’m going to be talking about it for Board Games and RPG’s.
What is Kickstarter?
Starting out with the basics here, but Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website. What’s a crowdfunding website, it’s a site where someone asks for money to help fund a project, that could be something like Go Fund Me with helping someone with medical expenses or whatever need they might have, but on Kickstarter, you’re almost always Kickstarting a project that is going to create some sort of end product. It might be a play, it might be a comic, a chair, a video game, or, as I’m going to be talking about board game or an RPG. Normally, when you help fund something, the company or creator gives you something in return for helping them.
How Does a Project Work?
I’m going to be tackling this from the consumer side, I’ve never run my own kickstarter, and I doubt I ever would or will. But, the creator makes their project, so they create a video (ideally), and write up information on the game, showing images of prototypes or of what they are planning on the components looking like. They explain how the game works, what sort of game it is, and why you should help them fund it. They also talk about what shipping costs might be and what they could see as risks for their campaign so the people who fund them know what they are getting into.
The final big thing they create though is the reward levels and funding level. These are how much they are asking people and how much money they need for it to actually happen. For example, if they think they can make the game that the whole cost of production is $20 but they need to 2,000 people to back them to get that production cost, they can make their funding goal $40,000. And there would be a reward level of $20 where people can back them and get a copy of the game as a reward. But what is more likely to happen is that production costs $20, so they offer a reward level of $30 for the game, because they need to pay themselves and kickstarter takes some of it, and they set their funding goal at $30,000. The reason for that is that while they want to hit 2,000 people, they can go over their funding goal, and if they do, more people are apt to back it, because they know the project is happening, and that’ll help them get to 2,000 people.
Then, with the Kickstarter up and running at kickstarter.com, they wait through their campaign, however many days it is, and that’s where we step in as the consumer. I look at the page, decide if it’s a game that I find interesting, and then if I do, I can back it. Now, maybe I just like the idea, but I don’t want the game myself or I know the creator of the game or like their company, whatever it might be. I can back it for however much I want without a reward, or I can select the option to back for $30, in our example, and get the game. So I back it, but I don’t get the game right away, this isn’t a store, they don’t have the games yet (most of the time, future Kickstarter lesson), they are getting the funding to then make the games. So they’ll send out updates to everyone who has backed them thanking them for backing and letting us know what their plans are and most often, letting us know about stretch goals. Stretch goals are extra things added to the game if it reaches a certain funding level. So in our cast, they really need the level to hit $40,000, but let’s say it’s doing well, and the game hits $50,000 or $60,000, they might add in some extra cards, a cool first player maker, an extra scenario, an extra character class (for an RPG), whatever it might be at certain points in the campaign based on how much they’ve made, because now they can afford to do that. This helps encourage people to back it because some of these things might be exclusive to Kickstarter (future lesson).
So, they’ve funded their campaign, now they get the money, but not all the money, Kickstarter is going to take some as well, because Kickstarter is a business and they need to make money as well. So even though they Kickstarter made, let’s say $80,000, the creator maybe sees around $72, 000 to $76,000. Now that it’s funded, they’ll send you the game, right? Not quite yet, they need to still get it made, so they get the money from Kickstarter, now they need to schedule with factories to get the game made, and most of the time, they also will be sending out a backer survey, this might be done through Kickstarter, but most often through another company, because $30 pledge for the game didn’t cover shipping. So you’ll have to pay a bit more to cover shipping, but the good thing is that this should basically just be the shipping cost because Kickstarter isn’t taking money from them for it. Though, the other site might be. Now you’ve paid shipping, let’s say $10, and for the game $30, it’ll get shipped soon. Almost, first, it gets into a production queue for some factory somewhere that is probably making a lot more and different board games throughout the year as well. So it might be 6-12 months before production begins, if not more. So production has happened, now it gets shipped, literally shipped on a boat, around the world, this can take a few weeks and up to a couple of months if there are delays at customs. From the ships it goes to a fulfillment company or to the creator to fulfill. They’ll be the ones sending you the actual game. So probably around a year after you Kickstarted it, you’ll get the game.
And that’s the general life cycle of a Kickstarer, it can take longer than a year, and it can be shorter than a year. But the cool part is that you can help small companies (or buy more of a sure thing from a big company) get their games out to the market.
I’m going to be talking about various things, such as what happens when a Kickstarter fails, what happens if it doesn’t deliver, what makes a good Kickstarter, what to watch out for, what stretch goals are, and how to avoid Kickstarter FOMO (if it’s even possible).
What are some of your best experiences with Kickstarter? Have you had any that have failed or not ever come? Are there any other topics I should cover around Kickstarter? Let me know in the comments below.
(All the images are of games that were brought to life on Kickstarter)
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