February 10, 2016 by crew
Massive Awesome is Simon Barlow and John Taylor, friends and business partners whose shared love of gaming and a desire to make something awesome prompted us to set out on our own. We are currently deep into preparation for the launch of the tabletop miniatures game Shattered Earth on Kickstarter later today!
In this ongoing series – the previous entries of which you can read HERE (Part 8 – The Boring Stuff) – our aim is to write about all the steps we’ve taken along the way, and to create an ongoing discussion with the community about what it takes to launch a brand new game into the market.
By now you should have a really good idea of what it is you want to make, but what are your financial aims for your project? Obviously you want to fund and probably make a really high final total but do you know exactly where the sweet spot is? It can be very tricky for a new company to forecast what their likely total will be as they have no previous campaigns to compare against. You will need to project figures for a number of scenarios…
Firstly, if you don’t fund. This happens to a lot of new companies and you need to have a solid idea of how you will deal with this and what your next steps will be.
Secondly, if you just scrape past your minimum total. This is when you find out if you really priced your initial goal at a realistic level. If you low-balled your target hoping to crash past it, you may now find yourself in a difficult situation, so you should definitely run through your finances pre-campaign and work out if you are really able to deliver to your backers if you only make your initial target and not a penny more.
Thirdly, if you hit your target early and pass all your stretch goals steadily through the campaign. Congratulations! This is the outcome we all want for our campaigns and unless you have made some serious miscalculations, you should not have any problems here.
Finally, if you smash your totals and exceed even your most hopeful expectations. This sounds great but through the history of Kickstarter, there have been a surprising number of projects that made huge totals and then ran into serious issues. Can your suppliers handle an order ten or twenty times the initially-agreed size?
Can you still store and post out the products yourself from your home address? Are your initial timescales remotely viable now you have to ship tens of thousands of games? Are you able to respond to tens of thousands of messages?
You should really have a plan in place for each of these scenarios, so that you don’t find yourself needing to make huge strategic changes mid-campaign. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive to want people to stop pledging their money, eventually you will reach the tipping point where making more money only increases the risk to your fledgling business.
21. Stretch Goals
This is another area where the perceived wisdom seems to change every couple of weeks. Veteran backers will have different ideas as to what they consider the ‘correct’ type of stretch goal set-up and you have to prepare yourself for a vocal minority (hopefully not majority!) of people to criticise the way you have set up your targets.
Sometimes a campaign with a simple product and relatively few stretch goals will set them all out at the start, but most gaming companies who plan on offering multiple unlocks and added extras will see how the campaign goes and publish their stretch goals one or two at a time. The very least you should have personally prepared for is a list of all your goals in priority order and the funding targets for each if your campaign tracks as you expect.
Of course you can readjust them upwards if your campaign takes off more quickly but you need to balance out a good progression of unlocks with the risk of setting them too high and missing some that you really want to hit.
There is also the question of what to offer as stretch goals. There have been a number of campaigns in the last year or so that have offered a relatively expensive but lightweight pledge which, through hitting multiple stretch goals and unlocking more content for the basic game, makes it better value.
New companies need to be very careful here; if people feel you are potentially releasing an incomplete game if some vital components are not unlocked they will not be happy. Then again, others will not be happy if you release everything in the base game and offer no ‘freebies’ throughout the campaign.
(Simon: The people behind Tiny Epic Western decided to simply stop offering new content via stretch goals because they realised that they had produced enough content for their game. Deciding when enough is enough is one of the most important things to learn if you’re a creative business.)
22. Pre-Campaign Campaigning
We are planning to be very busy during the campaign and will hopefully be replying to hundreds of questions from backers, potential backers, and the press. Therefore we are following the advice of previously successful campaign runners and preparing as much as possible prior to starting. You can be fairly certain of a number of mails and messages that you’re going to have to send out at some point and you can prepare most of these beforehand (or at least create the templates for them).
What are the things you will definitely be doing during the campaign? Thanking backers? Promoting your campaign to various blogs and websites? Sending out Kickstarter updates? Introducing and explaining new stretch goals? You should be able to get most of this ready ahead of time before things get very busy during the actual campaign.
In fact, we’ll be putting together a couple more of these updates – one about a week into the campaign and one near the end – to pass on what we’ve learned and anything we’ve missed, so if there is anything you’d like us to cover, please let us know in the comments.
(Simon: As a short aside before we hit the ‘driving at 90mph with no brakes’ phase of our Kickstarter, I wanted to thank each and every one of you that took the time to read our articles, comment on them, ask questions, or give advice to other readers. It’s been a monumental task getting this far but your constant encouragement has given us a huge confidence boost right when we needed it.
Please check out our Kickstarter where everything we’ve planned for up until now will be laid bare – and don’t forget to let us know how we’re getting on!)
If you would like to write articles for Beasts Of War then please get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
"Veteran backers will have different ideas as to what they consider the ‘correct’ type of stretch goal set-up and you have to prepare yourself for a vocal minority (hopefully not majority!) of people to criticise the way you have set up your targets..."
"We are planning to be very busy during the campaign and will hopefully be replying to hundreds of questions from backers, potential backers, and the press..."