So this blog is for those aspiring game designers out there who are thinking about KickStarting their projects. I'd like to share with you what I've learned so far about preparing for a KickStarter launch.
As I'm sure you've discovered in other blogs, the game design is really the easy part. And the funnest part, Even though finding play testers can sometimes be a real challenge and every once in awhile you have to rip the game apart and put it back together to get the game play you want.
Preparing for the KickStarter launch is just plain work. So here's a checklist of things that I've identified, to date, that need to be done before you launch.
- Determine all the components that will be in your game and what they are made of. (1)
- Determine the size of box you will need. (2)
- Identify a manufacture or 3 and get quotes. (3)
- Identify how you will fulfill the game. Self-fulfillment (4) or fulfillment company.(5)
- Shipping from your manufacturer to your fulfillment location. (6)
- Create a video.
- Have some art work made
- Send your game out to reviewers. (7)
- Determine your base price. (8)
- Determine your funding level. (9)
- Determine your stretch goals. (10)
- Create your project page.(11)
(1) If you are planning on have stretch goals that add pieces to the game or improve component material be sure to get a number of quotes that incorporate the different configurations.
(2) Determining what size box you will need. This is like a game of Tetris, in Tetris, in Tetris. You must not only consider the game components and how they will fit in the box, but you will need to look at how the size of the box will affect shipping price. This can be anything from fitting inside a small flat rate USPS box, to the number of games that will fit in a carton, to the number of cartons that will fit on a pallet. All of these things will affect your base price. So getting the box right is important.
(3) There are many good resources for identifying manufacturers, and a number of blogs on the subject, so I won't go into detail. But be sure to get a number of quotes, they will vary widely based on where the manufacturer is located. Here's a good place to start: http://www.jamesmathe.com/hitchhikers-guide-to-game-manufacturers/
(4) In small quantities, for small games you may want to self-fulfill. But make sure you have room to store all the games and time to package and ship them. When building your budget be sure to include the cost of boxes, tape, and bubble wrap. Also realize that if you have customers in the EU and ship from outside the EU to them, they will have to pay customs and VAT (it's a tax on most goods in the EU, roughly 20% of the price) when they receive the game, which can be off putting for many EU backers.
(5) Fulfillment companies offer a streamed line process for getting your games to your backers. Utilizing Fulfillment companies in the EU to send to your backers can remove the need for your backers to pay customs and VAT. You'll take care of that for them, so remember that in your budget. Be sure to thoroughly vet your Fulfillment company. Be sure you understand all the fees and charges you'll incur and what services they offer. Also, do research to see how well they package games they ship. The last thing you want is for the Fulfillment company to not adequately protect your game for shipping and have it arrive at your backers house damaged. Here's a good list put together by Jamie Stegmaier at Stonemaier games: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bx2h-oZ-ZcNdKw-yyAUfl-BbWOjmqP6tYu9jTKPxfnI/edit?usp=sharing
(6) If using a Fulfillment company they often have shippers that they work with and can recommend. If shipping to yourself for self-fulfillment, check with your manufacturer. They can often recommend a shipping company that they work with. Don't forget the shipping insurance.
(7) Finding reviewers can be surprisingly hard. So, it is suggested that you start interacting on reviewer sites well before you request a review. When you're ready to have your game reviewed send personal requests with your rules and some artwork attached to a bunch of reviewers. Then hope a few will accept. Note: Some reviewers may charge for their review. You will have to decide how you feel about that.
(8) Your base price will be determined by your final budget. You'll need to add up the cost of all the items listed above, determine whether or not shipping will be included, add in some marketing budget, and then divide that by the number of games you will make. Then use that to figure out your base price. In general, it should be about 5 times your manufacturing cost, but you'll want to make sure that works out for your specific game.
(9) Give people a few options in how they support your game and what they get. Stay away from things that will be costly to ship. Also, limit the levels before the base game level, otherwise people may get frustrated trying to find the cost of the actual game.
(10) As you layout your stretch goals you may need to revisit previous items in this list and update them.
(11) Put your project page together. Plan on doing several revisions. So give yourself time. I gave myself about 10 days, and it really wasn't enough. Ask people who have backed KickStarters or set up projects on KickStarter to review your page. They will help you optimize your page for best reception. Show off your artwork. But most importantly make sure people know what your creating and why they should be excited about it.
I really hope this helps. I'll update this blog as I come across things I've failed to mention or address yet.