Thanks, really helpful
As for safe, it depends on the project and what you’re backing. I’ve had a couple (non board-games) that completely failed, and a couple (incl board games) that saw maaaaaasive delays but worked out ok.
It’s been a rare thing that anyone in any field met their delivery dates for me, though usually they only miss my a few months at most.
So, I guess just keep in mind that a lot of the time these are tiny companies that haven’t done this a lot, and some care is needed before backing to be sure you feel confident in them. There’s a guy I follow on there who owns his own publishing company and kickstarts stuff regularly, and he and i spoke one day about his criteria for backing stuff: they have to be able to show a fleshed-out ruleset and not just be ‘working on it’; they have to show off good-looking final-ish quality art, even if just a few samples of it, and not just be saying “oh yeah we’ll hire an artist tho…”; they have to have some contact info and show some presence, not just have a blank facebook page and a twitter with two posts, etc. Those are the big ones. And if you need a reference, Parks here is an example of a really good one.
And then you need a lot of patience.
All excellent advice. I’m fairly new to the platform myself, but I’ve been a curious observer for years and have finally started to back now that the crowd-funding honeymoon period has largely settled down.
Patience, I suspect, will really be the single biggest piece of advice. As an example, the Glory game I mentioned above is currently set with a pretty ambitious ship date of late June. All the “safe bet” boxes are ticked with that one, but I’ll tell you I’m prepping already for that to miss the mark by a longshot.
As an aside, I’ve made something of a personal resolution to avoid major products already set for (or at least planned for) retail release. This does introduce a higher proportion of risk (smaller companies, individuals, even), but also keeps the wallet closed more often. I’ve ditched a few already knowing I’ll get a copy sans headaches down the road, post-hype, and with the benefit of reviews.
Most UK credit cards charge a fee of about 3% for currency conversions; I use a Clarity card (offered by Halifax) which doesn’t, and I believe there are others which are similarly convenient.
I would add one additional bit of wisdom regarding Kickstarter projects.
If a Kickstarter project is good, it will likely see a retail release in one form or another.1
So when you’re looking at a project and you think, “Oh I bet that’ll be lots of fun,” if you can say “I’ll eagerly anticipate being able to pick that up in my FLGS or FOGS” then maybe give it a pass. Many many Kickstarted projects don’t hit KS backers until very shortly before they hit retail.
This is particularly important if you, unlike seemingly everybody else on Kickstarter, have a finite amount of money in your bank account. The trend I’ve noticed lately (having only very recently decided to entertain KS board game projects myself) is that Kickstarted boardgames tend to sell at-or-near MSRP; if you’re willing to wait for general retail release on these products you’ll likely get them for $0.60 on the $1, though you will miss out of the “Kickstarter exclusives” which, due to growing pressure from the community, tend to not be a big deal any more.
So, TL;DR: don’t let FOMO2 convince you to back a project. Back the projects that you want to succeed because you believe in them and they are the type of projects and products you want to see on Kickstarter.
1: some projects are “Kickstarter only”; of these, I think 7th Continent is really the only one I can think of that is a critical success and still hasn’t announced an intention to do a retail release.
2: Fear Of Missing Out, a.k.a. “if I don’t buy it and it’s amazing, I’ll never have a chance to buy it ever again!” <-- False, secondary market will provide and the only real concern will be how much it’ll cost you
The following does not apply to Deluxe edition of Age of Steam, but I will echo the advice other gave above:
As @pillbox said, remember that for many projects you will have the option of buying the game retail, in particular after it’s gotten in the hands of players and reviewers, so you can make a judgement about whether the game has a place in your collection. Some of my KS items are fine but are on the cull list due to them never getting on the table / shelf space constraints.
Similar to what @Iridium said, you should be concerned about whether the project will deliver, which is a combination of the game being in a good place and trusting the company knows what it’s doing. I’ve had one $140 project not deliver everything because they didn’t communicate that the campaign was only covering part of the manufacturing and they were expecting sales to cover the remainder; and a $125 project not deliver at all because the company went bankrupt after a lawsuit. So for board games, I would like it to be done enough that they can show demos or put it in the hands of reviewers. For video games, since backers are funding the next X years of development, I only back companies that have track record of delivering on past KS projects.
Age of Steam is a known quantity, and you probably have a good idea how much you like it and will play it. Eagle-Gryphon Games have run a lot of KS campaigns and delivered on them. So, yes, this is a pretty safe project.
Backed the “Pursuit of Happiness” expansion, Experiences.
Just came out on Kickstarter today and made it in 2 hours.
Really enjoy the base game and the first expansion.
This very much depends. On the one hand, yes, I would not generally speaking expect to save a meaningful amount of money on the core product by backing a boardgame (or really most other things) on Kickstarter, because you’re dealing with the manufacturer, and they’re going to charge what they want the game to cost. Even if they knock off most of the traditional retail markup, online retailers are probably prepared to do much the same and might very well have better shipping deals. (There have been exceptions - my first-KS Gloomhaven cost $64, free shipping. It now retails for at least $100 and the MSRP is $140. Kingdom Death is apparently at least double the KS price at retail. Petersen Games’s bigger projects (Cthulhu Wars, say) seem to be at least $100-200 more at retail where they’re available at all.)
On the other hand, I still see Kickstarter exclusive gameplay content on a fairly regular basis, as well as promos that are only available through limited and not infrequently expensive channels later (for example, Spirit Island’s promo spirits). And more commonly still, I see a bunch of projects which add a bunch of stretch goal/promotional content, upgraded materials and so on to Kickstarter editions of a game for free and then sell that stuff separately at retail in much more limited availability. So yes, you can get it. But that’s where you save, assuming like me you like to own everything functional for a game. (For example, I just bought into Sword & Sorcery’s first Kickstarter worth of content at retail. An all-in gameplay pledge for the KS was $170. I’ve almost hit that just getting the base box, and two quest expansions of three funded by the KS. There were then 8 optional addon heroes at an MSRP of $15 each (I generally paid closer to $12) that are all included in that pledge and most of which were part of the core pledge. And there’s a 9th hero that is KS exclusive.)
I find a happy medium is often backing an expansion/later “season” of content/etc - you get all the feedback on the original game, might be able to snag playtime with someone else’s copy, etc, but you can still get in on the KS shinies, and even if a company does Kickstarter exclusives they may well treat that as “exclusive to our Kickstarter projects”, rather than “exclusive to that particular project” and let you add on as a second-round backer.
For us far-flung folks, under-costed shipping fees are the main reason to back on Kickstarter. That said, I still hardly ever do, and these days people seem to be more savvy about shipping costs, so bargains are rare.
With 5 mins to go, I backed Terror Below, its Tremors: The Board Game…
Speaking of games with massive delays…
Campaign Trail, a game entirely modelled on the US election system and scheduled to be delivered in time for the 2016 election, finally showed up yesterday. Since backing, the interminable delays and my growing distaste for contemporary politics had put me in the mindset of possibly wanting to throw the box off a cliff if it ever deigned to show up.
So imagine my surprise when a tightly packed, satisfyingly weighty box full of quite possibly the best production values I have ever seen in a Kickstarter game emerged from the packaging.
I’m not talking about miniatures here or that sort of ilk of production quality. I’m talking about the sort of values that go into a beautifully elegant track for recording electoral college votes, plastic tubs for the 100s of tiny wooden bits and the thickest punchboard that i have ever seen. I mean nearly-tore-it-apart-because-I-could-have-sworn-it-was-two-boards-that-had-got-stuck-together thick. It looks gorgeous and well-thought-through - positively O’Toole-ian in its aesthetic. I’d say it’s one of those games where the massive delays were caused by a decision to honour their commitment to meticulous attention to detail after realising the extent of their naive inexperience and holding firm in spite of irate backers practising internet civility progressing through the depths from Twitter to Reddit and finally to 4chan demanding it nownownowNOWNOW. Having seen the final production I have the utmost respect for Messrs Cornelius, Cornelius and Cornelius for sticking to their guns and not compromising.
It does look like a fairly complex simulation (though probably not so if you’re used to that sort of thing) and a first glance at the rulebook seems to suggest that it’s about as well laid-out as it possibly can be but it’s just going to be One Of Those Games. It brings into sharp focus just how much I rely on video to learn games these days. However, given what I’ve seen so far, the prospect of getting my head around it and playing with the little bits seems positively appealing rather than a tedious slog.
I’ll try to get some photos up later. I mean seriously. That punchboard is something else and has to be seen to be believed.
Has anyone got feelings on hall of the mountain king? It looks innovative but I’m not sure if I can tell if it’s a fun game rather than a series of bound together funky ideas.
I’m happy to hear that. I kinda felt bad for them, as I see KS delays as inevitable. It’s a weird thing…KS was intended to be a platform where you or I or some really small company could launch a product and the community could tell us that it was worth their money (or not), taking the market stranglehold away from the few companies at the top and giving the power to the people, to an extent. In my opinion, there should be an expectation that these creators don’t have the same capital/production ability as the big companies out there, so delays are inevitable. Nowadays though, people bemoan the fact that bigger companies like CMON are using a formula on KS to mitigate their risks and pump stuff out (most of it mediocre) even though they do have the necessary capital, yet they expect campaigns to be run with the same precision as these companies when they are just small/independent publishers…kinda a strange game.
My motto when dealing with companies is basically: “stuff always goes wrong…what are you going to do when that happens?” From what I can see, these guys were open about the issues and didn’t hide away, which would make people think they just got scammed. Yeah 2+ years of delays suck…but I would be much more upset if they had just gone silent when these delays mounted. Maybe I’m wrong though, as I wasn’t around when they first launched their campaign, so I only saw them after I saw hordes of folks complaining.
Anyways - I will get off my soap box. That game is one I’ve watched, and I’m happy to hear the production quality is great.
I couldn’t agree more.
I just backed Blowback on kickstarter.
It is a puzzle game like Exit or Unlock but apparently 5x more intense according to the Brawlin’ Brothers. And it was not expensive. $24usd for two games, the first one being Wish you were here.
ETA June 2019.
I generally agree, however, CMON campaigns are not exactly known for their precision…
I shouldn’t have picked CMON as the best example of that hahaha…but the point still stands. I just used CMON as an example of a bigger company that uses the platform negatively (at least in the context of my comment above)
I really don’t get romanticizing Kickstarter’s intent. The original intent of the creators was to create a platform that mitigated personal risk. I think even the most friendly look at Kickstarter needs to take into account that this is a system that puts the coolness of your vision over the financial risk to other people. That is the goal, no matter how dreamily we word it. It’s not, at heart, a cooperative venture to take on the big companies but a way to make it easier to take money from other people so you don’t have to take on the risk of your Cool Idea.
It sounds better when you say it democratizes access to financial investment in artistic vision, but I’m not big on vision. That view ignores that vast majority of Kickstarter participants–it democratizes access to being an investor without also democratizing access to equity, dividends or massive yachts.
I don’t think a high tolerance for delays and inexperience is something that should be universally expected of backers. It’s great when everything works out to the general satisfaction of all involved, but hindsight doesn’t justify mishandling the process. Whether you do that through Kickstarter or through more traditional means, being new to this doesn’t make you less responsible for handling assets and expectations properly. When you’re taking money from people without a vast financial support system, difficulty and inexperience don’t excuse. You’re not owed for your vision.
I think it’s ok for people to be frustrated by delays. That’s what happens when you take people’s money before you have a product. You’ve already mitigated so much of the risk, I think you should be prepared to handle people not wanting to wait while you learn project management and have a plan for that.
Inexperience should be hard work, namely research. Board game Kickstarters have been around long enough that it’s feasible to understand the general scale of potential delays. It’s also reasonable to expect that projects will scope within the creator’s general comfort and to expect that creators don’t take money until they have a plan that involved doing actual math with real numbers and dates and phone calls. It’s finally reasonable to expect that people involved in the project have experience in something relevant. Whether that’s project management, publishing, development–it’s reasonable to expect that they have confidence in one or all of the pillars in their project and have contingencies for unsteady pillars (such as a PnP release). I’m not saying the estimation date should be correct … but you shouldn’t have two year delays without some kind of unheard of catastrophe or notifying backers before the money goes down that the precision of your delivery estimate is on the order of years.
These aren’t investors. These are just people who bought a thing, and no amount of disclaimers about what Kickstarter is or isn’t can change that. It’s the trap of PR like a Kickstarter campaign; you work as hard as you can to convince people you’ve got this and it’s going to be great. You don’t then get to complain that you tricked them into overconfidence unless you were very clear and upfront–not just transparent later.
P.S. To be clear, I do feel for Kickstarter creators that get in over their heads. Kickstarter works as hard as it can to make this seem like something You Too Could Handle because that’s how it makes money and because the company presumably sees itself as visionaries helping visionaries on some level. It’s just that the creators being human and me personally not being much bothered by delays doesn’t change that a lot of the time, backers are right to be upset even when there’s a cool project run by cool people who just want to get a cool game to their backers.
Unless you run a Kickstarter that’s less of a flashy advertisement for a dream and more of a sober and tentative invitation to a dream with realistic caveats plastered onto it … it’s just always going to be a little unfair of you to take money and expect people to just understand that you messed up.
I love the Pax Pamir updates for just this reason:
“Our current plans are to play some pinball and then pickup some Afghani food from the place down the street. Tomorrow, a little hiking with the kiddos is in order.”
“We’ve been putting in a little shift of Pax-related work about every other evening, and we usually manage to work a longer shift on Sundays.”
It’s all about managing expectations. Also, we all know he’s going to deliver, so there’s that.