Whether or not you are familiar with Kickstarter, it can be helpful to run through some considerations to see if the campaign you are looking at would be good for you to back. If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, I’d suggest reading our last post to familiarize yourself a bit more with the platform. It is also important to consider what types of risks you are willing to accept before you choose to back a campaign.
While we can’t guarantee that you will be happy with what you back, we do find the below-mentioned items a great way of figuring out which campaign we will feel comfortable backing ourselves.
1. Type of Product
The very first thing I consider is the type of product they are requesting funding for. Not only is this to ensure that I want to spend my money on whatever they are offering, but it also gives me insight into what the future risks could be. You have to think about what stages of development and fulfillment are left as well as any other issues that could arise based on the product type..
For example, Harley backed a travel water bottle that lets you steep tea while you’re on the go. This product has been in the works since 2019 and is almost two years late on the estimated delivery date. They had issues with the manufacturing process and ended up having to revamp their product design to ensure that it was a high-quality product.
Here At Absurdist: We have experience working with manufacturers for our games and through industry knowledge. We know the schedule, quality, and what to expect at all stages of the supply chain – from manufacturing to shipping to fulfillment. We stay on top of news and current issues to ensure we are familiar with anything that could delay our campaign and are completely transparent about anything that may come up.
2. Completion Level of Product
This consideration provides some of the most important data, in my opinion. It helps me determine if the product is going to be any good and what the campaign/fulfillment process will look like.
When reviewing their campaign, I look to see:
- When they started working on the project,
- How much of the project is completed,
- If any product testing has been done, and how much – Learn the Four Phases of Playtesting here!,
- Are they working with contractors (artists, developers, etc) currently or still needing to find them,
- What do they plan on spending the Kickstarter funds on,
- What they have listed or shared in their FAQ,
- How they respond in the comments and with Updates,
- What risks have they identified on the campaign page,
- Or anything else that could slow down the process once they have the funds.
I can often find this information on the Kickstarter campaign page itself. If the campaign doesn’t answer these questions and give me a good idea of their level of completion, then I will send the creator a message and ask.
Here At Absurdist: When we go to Kickstarter with a game, the game is ready to go. We have playtested more times than we can count (though we do have a count), the art, graphics, components, and pricing are done. The rulebook is typically done or close to being done. We like to keep testing the rules until we can’t test it any longer to make sure it is as easy to follow and understand as possible. We need the funding to take all of that and turn it into an actual game that you can bring to your next game night. If there is anything outside of manufacturing that is dependent on funding, we do our best to share that information on the campaign.
3. Company’s Track Record
I will click into the company’s information to see if they have created any other campaigns before the current one. I look to see if it was successful, fulfilled, and how long it took to be fulfilled. You can typically tell this by looking at updates the creators have made and comments backers have made.
This gives you a general idea of how the company will handle the campaign you are considering backing. If they have experience, you can rest a bit easier knowing that they’ve done this before and were able to fulfill their obligations. If they don’t have experience before, you may be a bit more cautious and I think a lot of other things listed here can help determine if you want to support them or not.
Here At Absurdist: We have three campaigns that have successfully funded and we have completed fulfillment on each of them. While we are always creating, designing, and developing games, we only create and fulfill one campaign at a time. We do this to ensure that we are not spread too thin or end up in a position that prevents us from delivering on our promises.
4. The Kickstarter Pledge Levels
This might sound like a weird thing to consider, but it is a very big part of Kickstarter and directly impacts the timeline. The pledge levels can include a variety of rewards that will encourage you to purchase at different levels, which leads to some of the pledges being a bit more exclusive than others. If any part of a pledge is not already completed, expect the timeline to extend and understand that some issues can come up after the campaign has ended.
We know this one first hand. Our first successful campaign was Churrascaria, and we had a pledge level that allowed folx to have their likeness added to the cards in the game. It was a very successful pledge level and it has made our game really unique and meaningful. We were able to add more diversity to the characters in our game which is very important to us as a company while using the likeness of folx who supported our company. that all of the characters on the cards have been drawn to look like someone who supported our company. However, our artist ran into some health issues which caused us to have to extend our timeline past what we expected. We are thankful that we were able to give our artist the space she needed to recover and that we had understanding backers through the process.
Here At Absurdist: The potential delay of fulfilling our campaign is a huge part of our process in determining pledge levels. We want to provide pledge levels that are fun and get backers excited to play our game. We also want to make sure that anything we do will be accounted for to the best of our knowledge when giving a timeline for the campaign.
5. The Kickstarter Add-Ons and Stretch Goals
Historically in the board game industry, stretch goals are used to increase the quality of components included in the game. Personally, I don’t want the quality of the base game to be dependent on how much extra money a campaign makes. I deeply believe that stretch goals and add-ons should be things that enhance the game in some way but should not be required to have a high quality game.
Add-ons tend to have extra premium components that are not required for a quality game; such as metal coins or wooden tokens instead of chipboard. In some cases, the add-ons may not be relevant to the gameplay at all; like stickers, pins, and plushies. It is important to note that while most pledge levels tend to include stretch goals, add-ons are additional costs that the backer pays after the campaign has successfully funded.
When looking at the add-ons and stretch goals, I try to determine how they will impact my enjoyment of the game. Will the game be a solid, quality game even if no stretch goals are met? Will the stretch goals enhance the gameplay? Are the add-ons necessary for gameplay or are they fun extras? Are they premium components or something else that will enhance my experience with the game?
Here At Absurdist: We believe that the base game we create should be the highest quality we can achieve. We love premium components like acrylic tokens, but we want to offer high quality games for an affordable price. Our stretch goals and add-ons are often extras, and can include a wide variety of items with different goals. Some make the game more premium like fancy tokens or playmats, and some are just for fun like stickers. But all of them are created to enhance your enjoyment of our games without sacrificing the quality if we don’t meet all of the stretch goals.
6. Kickstarter Updates and Comments
I look at the comments mostly to see how responsive the company is and how often they are responding. I also look at what the backers are saying, what kind of questions are they asking and what are the answers, what positive things are people saying about the product, what negative things are they saying and how is the company handling that. For me, this is similar to seeing reviews on a website before making a purchase.
I also look at the updates to see what kind of information they are sharing and how often. During a Kickstarter, there tends to not be that much going on, but I am still curious to see how engaged they are with their community. If they have prior campaigns, I’ll go to them and see how often they updated their backers there too. My golden rule is an update once a month after the campaign has ended is a bare minimum, but I prefer seeing more when the campaign is being stretched out longer than expected.
Here At Absurdist: We aim to provide monthly updates after the campaign, but will provide them more frequently as they are needed. During the campaign, we will update sporadically and as often as necessary to share information. We do our best to keep everyone in the loop so they always know what’s going on and where the game stands.
7. Connection With The Company
Do I know the owners? Do I know someone who knows the owners? If so, this tends to make me feel a bit more comfortable with supporting them; however, this one is the least impactful for me. I should point out that most of the time, this isn’t a common occurrence. I rarely back a company that I know the owners personally. However, I do enjoy checking out their social media, website, and other spaces to see who they are, what they stand for, and what’s important to them. Also, when conventions come back, I am able to meet a lot more people through those events. I like to use this one more when they are newer companies without any other successful campaigns, but it can be overruled by the next consideration.
Here At Absurdist: We love connecting with our community, and if you love board games, we’d love to invite you to hang out with us!
8. Your Excitement Level
Are you excited to receive the item? Are you excited to support the creators? These are important factors when determining who to give your money too and shouldn’t be overlooked. I find that it’s much easier to handle any timeline or fulfillment glitches when you are really excited about the item and creators.
Also, in this category, consider how understanding you’ll be if something goes wrong. These creators are not large businesses with vast resources and a dedicated supply chain supporting them. They are all doing the absolute best they can to bring their creations to life and hopefully bring their business one step closer to being what they hope and dream it will be.
Here At Absurdist: We hope that you are as excited about the games we create as we are to share them with you. Our biggest mission is getting solid, fun, amazing games onto your game table for you to enjoy with your gaming groups.
PaleoVet: Coming Soon to Kickstarter
Scientists brought back dinosaurs for our entertainment, but things at the park went wrong. The dinosaurs still roam the island, but no one is there to help keep them healthy. In Paleo-Vet, you are a paleo-veterinarian competing to save as many dinosaurs as possible from modern illnesses and injuries.
Share Your Thoughts?
Comment below and let us know what considerations you make before backing a Kickstarter campaign.