Friday, December 16, 2011

Kings of Air and Steam - Kickstarted!

It's official, with 626 backers (representing almost 1000 copies of the game) and $41,722 in pledges, the Kings of Air and Steam Kickstarter project has funded! That was sort of a foregone conclusion, as it reached the initial funding level within a week... the bigger question is which Ovrefunding goals were reached? Answer: at $40k+, every copy of Kings of Air and Steam will have custom molded airships that look something like this:
They'll also have a 7th team (2 additional characters) which were not originally going to be in the game. I'm really looking forward to playing this game with the final art and components!

In true Tasty Minstrel fashion, Michael tried some new and innovative things with this project. Taking some of my advice, instead of offering exclusive game content or upgrading only Kickstarter copies with stretch goals, he used stretch goals to improve the production quality for the entire print run. I've posted before why I think this is the way to go - the long and short of it is that while these 626 kickstarters did support the game, the thousands of people who buy up the remainder of the print run, and any future print runs going forward, are supporters as well.

Aside: Certainly people need some incentive to pre-order on Kickstarter, committing money well in advance of the release date, and taking the chance that they might not even like the game without having had a chance to play it. I don't disagree with this at all. However, as indicated in the post I linked above, I am a fervent supporter of those incentives NOT being Exclusive Game Content. Exclusive bling is better, depending on what it is. I believe that some types of bling should be just put into the full print run of the game. Other types of bling such as an alternate cover, or fancier dice (provided the standard dice are nice enough) is more acceptable as a physical exclusive for KS supporters.

This choice to not offer exclusive benefits for supporters faced some resistance online, with a common sentiment seeming to be that "supporters need/want/deserve exclusive content!" I have been surprised at the number of those types of posts, and the relative lack of more rational "if the incentive isn't good enough, people will not support the project" posts. In any case, I was curious to see how well this project would do, given the distinct lack of exclusives and trinkets...

In the end Kings of Air and Steam garnered over $40,000 in support. Not quite as much as Eminent Domain, but close. EmDo had some advantages over KoA&S with respect to funding viability - it was a more accessible theme, a lower price point, and a hot mechanism. However, KoA&S had some advantages over EmDo as well - Kickstarter is more well known now, more people are using it to fund board games, and therefore more board game players are aware of and are looking for it. Also, with the success of EmDo, TMG had a stronger brand and more fans going into this project.

That KoA&S could garner as much support as it did is strong evidence that exclusive items (and especially exclusive game content) are not, strictly speaking, necessary. This is a huge relief, and I think it bodes very well for the longevity of KS as a board game funding platform.

Could the project have raised more funds if it had included other rewards? I'm sure it could have, and I'm certain that the next TMG kickstarter project will build on the success of the first two projects and find some creative ways to encourage support. I'm personally happy that the results of this project show how overfund goals can apply to the entire print run!

Tasty Minstrel is now 2-for-2 with Kickstarter projects in the Top 10 Funded Board Game Kickstarter projects! I won't say it was all because of the genius of the reward structure - I think the success of KoA&S was based largely on the TMG fan base, brand, and track record for publishing outstanding games. Many thanks tot he TMG fans who helped push Kings of Air and Steam into the Top 10!

Another new and innovative thing TMG is trying out is a new distribution model for this game. KoA&S will be part of the Game Salute Select Exclusive program, meaning that these games will only be available though brick and mortar stores who sign up for the program, or online directly from the publisher through Game Salute's or the publisher's websites. As a result of this program, the retail price of the game can be reduced from $60 to $50 (%16 discount across the board), but it will not be available for the usual 30%+ discount ($40) that online retailers would normally sell it for. Nobody has seen this program in action yet, and I'm sure it'll have advantages and drawbacks compared to traditional distribution... we'll have to wait and see how it turns out. I believe the reasoning behind the whole program is noble, and a number of other publishers are on board with it as well, you can see a list of Game Select Exclusive games on Game Salute's website.


Jeff said...

Congrats on being funded!

"Another new and innovative thing TMG is trying out is a new distribution model for this game."

To me, this was the most surprising aspect of the campaign. The distribution model a game will use doesn't seem important enough to make part of the campaign -- ie, it wouldn't move undecided supporters off of the fence -- and now you're committed to this program for the game's first year, which is a critical time for the game. It seems like limiting the buying options that your customers have has to hurt your sales at some level -- some customers might resent not being able to buy the game through retailers they customarily use. I would think that you want to let your customers and potential customers have as many potential ways as possible to find and buy the game. I know Michael has said this model lets you keep the MSRP $10 lower, but to a buyer used to purchasing from an online store, the price they'll have to pay is $10 higher that they're used to paying for comparable games, and the question is whether they'll be willing to do that.

Time will tell! But I'm unfortunately fairly sure that BGG threads dedicated to this subject are forthcoming. I hope the game wins through!

(Incidentally: did this game originate from the "two modes of transportation" GDS from a number of years ago? I should dust off my own entry in that contest, "Mime Travel"...)

Seth Jaffee said...

@Jeff: There have already been threads on BGG about the Game Salute Select program. Indeed, like anything, some will like it and others will not. In no aspect of life can you please all of the people all of the time!

As you say, time will tell. I do think the reasoning behind the program, insomuch as I'm aware of it, is sound.

I have been wrong before about marketing strategies - that's not really my strong suit, so I am withholding any sort of assessment of this program until after seeing it in action.