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Kickstarter musings

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I've backed 49 Kickstarters. I'm no Superbacker, but I've backed my share. I've also created 26 Kickstarters. With that in mind, here are some of my personal observations. Your mileage may - and almost certainly will - vary, and you're more than welcome to offer your own perspectives. The below applies only to me personally.
  1. I'm more likely to buy core game than a supplement.
  2. I’ve been pretty happy with those I’ve backed. I don’t think I’ve backed any non-fulfilled campaigns.
  3. I’ve only backed on Kickstarter. I haven’t backed on any other crowdfunding platforms.
  4. I have never read a Kickstarter update of a campaign I wasn't already backing, and I have never backed a Kickstarter based on an update.
  5. I have never backed a Kickstarter based on a stretch goal.
  6. I don't back Kickstarters which offer a coupon to buy a book at cost from DTRPG.
  7. Fancy production values totally sell me. If it looks pretty or striking, I'll probably back it!
  8. I've never bought an add-on.
  9. I like high concept stuff.
  10. I don't need to be kept constantly updated about production (but if it's delayed for a good reason, please tell me).
  11. I'm not interested in plushies, pins, and other trinkets.
  12. Titles are important.
  13. More may follow if I think of them.
What are your Kickstarter rules?
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I love me some Kickstarter.

I've never created a Kickstarter of my own, but I've backed 51 of them (and all but 3 of them were for RPGs and RPG-related products). I've had some really good experiences, and I've had some really bad ones. I like to think that I've gotten pretty good at spotting the difference between the two before pledging.

Before I decide to back a Kickstarter, I will read through the Comments, the FAQ, and the Updates pages to get a feel for how proactive and engaged the creators are. If they ignore (or worse, dodge) questions that backers are asking in the Comments or Updates, for example, it's probably not going to be a good experience for me when it comes to the fulfilment stage. But if the creators are regularly updating everyone, and doing their best to answer questions, and are being very patient with folks who ask the same question over and again, it's probably going to be a good experience for all involved.

Things that might convince me to back a Kickstarter: a reasonable pledge level ($20 for a PDF, $30 for a softcover book, and $50 for a hardcover book, for example). The words "...and all physical rewards!" in the pledge tier description. Good artwork. A company I recognize and respect. A diverse, inclusive team.

Things that won't help me decide: "FULLY FUNDED IN XX HOURS!!!" Dozens and dozens of stretch goals. Digital stretch goals. "5E Compatible!" (Not that I don't play 5E...I play the crap out of it...I just mean that it's not a requirement for me to back an RPG project.)

Once I've decided to back a Kickstarter, the stretch goals will usually determine what pledge level I will choose. If there are some interesting physical rewards, I'll throw in a few extra bucks to get my favorites of those. But if the physical pickings are slim, or if there is an option to add them on later, piecemeal via Backerkit or something? I'll pledge at the lowest possible tier.

And once I've pledged a Kickstarter, I'm a friggin' cheerleader. I'll watch it like a hawk, I'll track the Kickstarter stretch goals, I'll post about it on social media, I'll forward the link to my friends, I'll post questions and comments on the Kickstarter page, you name it.

When the product is finally delivered, I immediately share it with my friends, display it prominently on my shelf, and carry the custom dice and dice bag to my gaming sessions (there are always custom dice and dice bags). "Gosh CleverNickName, where did you get those fancy dice?" everyone will ask, and I'll say "I'm so glad you asked!" and show them my fancy boxed set with cloth maps and cards and stuffed animals and prosthetic Hobbit feet. Because I'm a huge dork.

But woe betide the Kickstarter that fails to deliver the goods. It's only happened twice, and...well. Let's just say that I'm the complete opposite of a "cheerleader" when that happens.
 
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Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
My rules for TTRPG Kickstarters (so far):

1. Unless it's system-neutral I need to see some game mechanics.
2. Unlike Morrus I'm often sold on a project by an update (if it lays out cool mechanics, for example).
3. Stretch goals are a big deal to me (much as I hate to admit it).
4. But if most of the stretch goals are just unlocking add-ons, that sucks.
5. Even small amounts of additional content as stretch goals are great.
6. I hate the collectible stuff (coins, dice trays, etc.).
7. I usually back digital-only, because of how I play and where I live.
8. But I absolutely appreciate what seems like quality printing options.
9. If a project is selling miniatures I'm usually rooting against it (though that usually means it's getting big numbers)
 

Ive backed maybe 6-8 kickstarters. Personally Im not a big fan of them in general but I understand why things in the RPG industry are trending this way. I have never backed any KS besides a roleplaying book. Im pretty choosey when it comes to backing books and stick to companies Im familiar with as quality is always a concern for me. Its hard to justify paying $75-$150 for a book I'll most likely see no less than a year later. But I can say Im satisfied with the ones I have backed so far.
  1. I have never backed a Kickstarter based on a stretch goal.
  2. I've never bought an add-on.
  3. I don't need to be kept constantly updated about production (but if it's delayed for a good reason, please tell me).
  4. I'm not interested in plushies, pins, and other trinkets. If I want a D&D pin I'll back a D&D pin Kickstarter.
1. I dont like stretch goals, Ive never seen one that I was actually excited for and they just seem to drag out the ship date.
2. Never bought an add on either. I generally buy a hard or soft cover copy of a book and maybe the pdf depending on the price. If its another $25-$30 for the pdf thats an easy pass for me.
3. I dont like the constant email updates either because the important stuff like paying for shipping and verifying your address, etc gets lost in all the other unimportant ones. Ive almost missed deadlines because I just got into the habit of disregarding them.
4. Im in the same camp. I dont need any of these extra things. I dont use props much if ever and if it comes with a KS I want and is rolled into the cost, Im out. This is the main reason I dont even consider buying the Beadle & Grimm deluxe editions because they include too much stuff I have no use for.
 



Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
  1. I don't back Kickstarters which offer a coupon to buy a book at cost from DTRPG.
I went back on forth on this for my own KS, and I decided to go with it for most tiers except special limited ones because
1) it's faster fulfillment to the backer as they input their info directly to DTRPG and get it shipped directly to them
2) it cuts down on shipping costs and times it's been shipped (rather than ship to me, then wait for me to repackage and ship out again to backers)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I went back on forth on this for my own KS, and I decided to go with it for most tiers except special limited ones because
1) it's faster fulfillment to the backer as they input their info directly to DTRPG and get it shipped directly to them
2) it cuts down on shipping costs and times it's been shipped (rather than ship to me, then wait for me to repackage and ship out again to backers)
You don’t have to do all that. You just upload the KS shipping survey spreadsheet to DTRPG, pay the bill, and they send all the PoD books out to your backers. Takes a few minutes.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I've backed about a dozen, over 8ish years. All were RPG-related, and about 3/4 were really small indie projects, which I like for the purpose of tossing a little cash at creators with appealing ideas-- even if I'm unlikely to actually use the thing.
Mostly I back for hardcopies of RPG setting books, but a couple themed dice sets, too.
Oh, and the very first kickstarter I ever backed was "Rebuilding ENWorld"!
  • I usually hear about a kickstarter, then put it on "Remind me" and defer the decision til the end.
  • I only like stretch goals that add content, as long as they seem small enough to finish in time for a reasonable delivery.
    • I've never been sold by a stretch goal.
  • Not interested in miscellenia like stickers or buttons or whatever.
  • I don't usually delve into the numbers or research the creator much.
    • (For the most kickstarters-- eg the tiny idie ones-- I'm not really putting a whole of money on the line.)
  • I always like beautiful, high-production value art and layout, but usually resist the temptation. Usually,but not always.
    • I really enjoy some some rougher, lower production books, too, again mainly to support a creator with a nifty concept.
  • Not a huge fan of too many emails.
  • I rarely track updates-- except in the one case I recall that the project got behind schedule.
 

Initially, kickstarter projects played on my fomo. Because of the scale and realities of indie production, there are some products that you probably need to get on kickstarter or not get them at all, at least in physical format. But in general I don't like paying for something and then receiving it like over a year later (of course, covid has slowed things down), so I'll probably lay off the kickstarters in the future.

The other issue is that I have more rpg products than I have time to use and I need to stop
 


Mikeythorn

Explorer
I have backed 38 Kickstarters, all RPG-related and all (except 1) with physical rewards. For me, being located in New Zealand, a key driver is shipping. The variation in shipping costs is insane, particularly where the creator is based in the US. Often the cost of shipping can be US$40, significantly more than the cost of the hardback I am backing. And I do not understand how that can possibly be justified when sending a book of the same size from the UK (which is almost as far as you can get from NZ) via the Royal Mail’s first-class service costs £3.50.
 

Buzzqw

Villager
well.. i have backed 232 project (191 games, mostly ttrpg)
first of all i am a collector so bear with me ( my library is over 350 rpg book).
kick.png
.

my top wishlist for project:

1) shipping, must be EU friendly (live in italy), or must be POD (drivethrurpg or lulu).
1) i buy only physical. Never digital.
2) should appear curated and professional
3) i don't mind additional gadget as coin, cards..
4) i like stretch goals that don't go digital
5) i don't like stretch goal that must be buy
6) never bought an add on, usually i got for all inclusive
7) i don't mind social / discord

the first point (shipping) is the most important, several project i would backed (from troll lord games new castle keeper to new edition of Astonishing Swordsmen And Sorcerers Of Hyperborea ...) don't go have shipping friendly and don't offer POD (my drivethrurpg library is 645 book), so is a no go. Shipping and import duties are at least doubling the cost of books.

So, @Morrus, for your Level UP PLEASE GO FOR SHIPPING UE FRIENDLY OR OFFER POD!!!

BHH
 
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Staffan

Legend
You don’t have to do all that. You just upload the KS shipping survey spreadsheet to DTRPG, pay the bill, and they send all the PoD books out to your backers. Takes a few minutes.
The way I see it, coupon-POD essentially creates two tiers out of one: digital stuff, or digital stuff + POD book. You don't want the POD? Well, then you don't have to pay for it. With your solution, I have to pay for the POD book (or you need to sort different tiers for POD or no).

I'm assuming that the coupon itself is more or less free to the creator. If you need to pay DTRPG any significant amount for the coupon, that means you need to account for the coupon in the tier price, which would mean that I as a backer am paying for something I'm not using. And that would be annoying.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The way I see it, coupon-POD essentially creates two tiers out of one: digital stuff, or digital stuff + POD book. You don't want the POD? Well, then you don't have to pay for it. With your solution, I have to pay for the POD book (or you need to sort different tiers for POD or no).
Sure. Most Kickstarters have separate digital and print tiers. That’s pretty standard.

(Though I also give PDFs free to anybody who buys a physical book, wherever they buy it).
 

amethal

Adventurer
I've backed 115 kickstarters so far. I already have way more RPG stuff than I can ever use, so I back stuff that looks interesting or if I want to support the creator, or if somebody whose opinion I respect recommends it. I don't normally even read the updates, but if there aren't any updates for a long time that is a bad sign.

The only one I backed based on a stretch goal was the new version (AGE) of Blue Rose, as I wanted a Fate version. Unfortunately that stretch goal didn't fund, which was disappointing but not unexpected.

I've had mixed success with kickstarters. Two of my early ones were E20 System Evolved (backed at $50, got nothing for it) and Throne of Night (backed at $180, got 2 of the 6 PDFs and none of the physical books). I also backed the City State of the Invincible Overlord (softcover book due November 2014; still waiting for it ...) and there are three of four other ones where the main product is four or five years late but I haven't (quite) given up hope.

On the other hand, some projects delivered way more than I was expecting, such as Castles and Crusades Three Sisters, and the Lone Wolf Adventure Game.

A surprising number of creators have had health issues, fires and family bereavements over the course of the kickstarters, and one of them died. Some of them walk away from their projects without a word, whilst others keep posting apologies and making plans that never quite seem to turn out as expected.

Most of them are at least slightly late (and some backers get very uptight about this, for some reason) but some make the whole kickstarter process look effortless - the EN Publishing ones I've backed have been very good at this.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've backed 68 projects so far in Kickstarter, dating back to 2013, and the only ones I've regretted are some for which I DIDN'T get physical products. There were a couple I wish I'd read more carefully (a book I expected to be standard Letter/A4 size but which turned out to be digest size, for example), but overall I really like Kickstarter.

Like others, stretch goals don't sell me on a project but may sell me on a pledge level. And while I typically only pledge for items I think I'll use, I have on occasion pledged because I felt I should support the creator even if their product is of no use to me directly.

I have been disappointed on occasion (a dice set stretch goal that was supposed to be custom turned out to be fairly dull, standard, and easily bought at my FLGS, for example), but since I don't back for stretch goals that kind of thing isn't really a big deal.

I have also learned not to back projects that I intend to use in a currently active campaign, since they are unlikely to arrive in time to be relevant. Especially if the projects run into delays, which the current shipping crisis has absolutely exacerbated.
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
Have backed 175 projects. 116 of those were games, though I have at least 1 backed project per category... 14 failed (didn't reach the goal or were cancelled during the kickstarter process for one reason or the other).

Have had a few that were funded but sadly never materialized. Some seems to have been fraud. I think I have been offered money back on one of those that didn't materialize. Still waiting on a bunch of things (some are on time, others not, and some that I have given up on ever recieving anything).

My rules:
* The presentation needs to catch my attention. Yes, I will read everything on the main page and watch the presentation video.

* I need to see the mechanics. For boardgames I have decided for/against a product based on a demo-video, and for RPGS for/against based on the rule-set .

* I will look at the price (I often want every extra add-on, or at least enough that it feels complete).

* Shipping. If it doesn't have EU-friendly shipping it really needs to be something special as I will also have to pay customs fees and VAT on it.

* I do not want coupons to print.on.demand (if I wanted that I would wait until it came out on Drivetrhoughrpg and buy it directly there and not bother with the kickstarter). If I settle for a level with physical products, I want it to be shipped directly to me. If it is a PDF-only then price it accordingly.

* I expect regular updates on the status. Especially if it is late. Even if that is just that yes, it is still late, we are working on it. The more late it is, more you need to give updates on progresss and any new hindrances.

There are some that I have put on interested in, and then based on updates/stretchgoals decided wether or not to back it. Some are such that I have decided that the kickstarter would be too expensive, but if it then later comes out in a local gaming store, I might buy it.
 

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