Kickstarter physical backer rewards can add complications

An organizer for the Z. project talks about the issues of managing a budget using crowdfunding

Downward Viral is trying to get funding for their digital card game, Z., and they're offering a reward on Kickstarter that includes a set of physical cards for those that pledge $150 or more. According to Sebastian Haley, Culture Editor at GamesBeat, these sorts of physical awards complicate the process of actually getting the project the funding it needs.

"We're making a cross-platform digital card game, and the boxed edition was only ever intended to be a Kickstarter-exclusive reward," said Haley. "But we've heard a very vocal group of backers and potential backers who are seeking just the physical edition. We weren't really prepared for that, and it puts us in a difficult situation. With the digital rewards, those don't cost us anything to produce, and we've really padded the all-digital bundle with as much content as we could imagine."

"But each physical reward begins to cut into the budget of actually making the game, and card games are not cheap," Haley notes. "A 265-card booster box of Magic will set you back $100, and we're offering a boxed set with 360 quality cards, so to get that and still help fund the game it's not going to be cheap. Double Fine ended up spending roughly their entire original funding goal on physical reward fulfillment alone, and that doesn't even include Kickstarter's 5 percent, Amazon's cut, and then almost 10 percent in taxes to the state of California."

"But that's the other thing that I've had to realize and commit to, because as much as I want to please every backer request -- and I really do -- we're trying to make a game, not sell pre-orders for a finished board game or watch," he added. "After crunching the numbers, I honestly don't know how Sedition Wars and Pebble can offer what they did at those prices. Unless I'm just talking to all the wrong people, they had to lose money with their Kickstarters, but they essentially bought all that publicity and future brand recognition. That's not really in line with the spirit of Kickstarter, and it worries me that the Kickstarter community will start to have unrealistic expectations of what they're really doing when they back a project like Z."

Read the full interview on [a]list.

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Latest comments (2)

Andrew Lee Pearson Studying Game Designer, Train2Game5 years ago
This is a good post of how ‘crowd-funding’ can go wrong; Companies/Individuals who have money, who are well known already so if things go wrong they can pay the loss out of their own pockets. They have all these unrealistic incentives that will not make money and distract them from actually making a quality product there meant to be making in the first place.

For those who actually need crowd-funding we must get our design right ‘budgeting’ on what we are actually here for or suffer the consequences.

Taking this thread as an example:
"We're making a cross-platform digital card game, and the boxed edition was only ever intended to be a Kickstarter-exclusive reward," said Haley.
The goal here is to get funding to build a game ‘cross-platform digital card game’, so people should be funding it for that reason to see that the game gets made. ‘boxed edition’ is a no go, were making a digital product here, if the game gets funding and is successful then this maybe could get done in the future as a separate product.

Essentially a reward would be the actual ‘cross-platform digital card game’ like a pre-order, so your minimum donation would be the cost of the game ‘retail’. A large enough ‘budgeted for’ donation would say get your future DLC free as an example.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Lee Pearson on 12th July 2012 9:43am

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Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer 5 years ago
Sounds logical that changing the plan will change the budget. It is obvious that making backers happy is a priority but it is not related to kickstarter.
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