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Kickstarter Seminar - UK Games Expo 2017

June 20, 2017

Hi everyone,

I went to a packed kickstarter seminar at the UK Games Expo a few weeks ago - here are my detailed notes in case anyone might find this useful!

The Head of Games at Kickstarter and four pretty influential people in the UK Games Industry were on the panel:

Luke Crane (Head of Games, Kickstarter)
Nigel Matthews (Head of Gamesquest)
Peter Blenkharn (ITB)
Jon Bruton (Buyer for Esdevium Games)
Chris Birch (Head of Modiphius)

This is not intended to be a transcript, but a summary of the key points raised.


Logistics – Nigel Matthews (Games Quest)

Logitstics is critical – it facilitates everything including getting backers

You need to be careful to manage expectations – don’ t disappoint!
When considering manufacturers, you have a lot of pros and cons to consider – e.g


Choosing your fulfilment centre:

Aswell as how much it will cost… What services are included? How well can they COMMUNICATE with you

Are there any built in exttras (e.g. kickstarter project support).

You really need to be working in PARTNERSHIP with your fulfillment centre. Make sure they keep talking

Clean kickstart backer data is important – there are some services around to help with this end of things:

Backerkit
Pledgemanager


Luke Crane – (Works at Kickstarter, Head of Games for 5+ years)

Why Kickstarter? - It has the best network effect, it has a big community for tabletop gaming.

56% success rate for games (which is 3x video games, and 20% higher than the kickstarter average.

COMMUNITY

His number one tip for making a successful kickstarter was to build a a community.

Engage with your Mailing list, reddit, game shops, shows, groups etc.

You should also engage with manufactures, retailers and distributors all of whom stand to gain if your project is successful.

MARKETING – Paying for facebook marketing MAY be worth it.


Chris Birch(Head of Modiphius – he's been on kickstarter since 2013)

He has a background in marketing electronic music events, started doing some of the first online PR for events. Worked on promo videos for half life.

One simple promotion approach:
Search through all google listings for popular games (e.g. google “zombicide green hoarde”)

Identify key sites, whether small sites, small blogs, big blogs, writers, journalists, magazines etc.

Aim to get 800-1000 emails.

DO IT YOURSELF (Don’t use a PR company)

Email each contact individually. Tell them about yourself and what’s unique about you and your product.

Got to have a story, something interesting.

Get across your passion.

BUILD UP A MAILING LIST.

Facebook is very good, BUT:
Facebook likes on a page are not good enough (partly because you have to pay to reach your members)

Facebook group is better for communicating with fb followers.

For his recent kickstarters (including a Fallout themed miniatures game) he’s been doing surveys and using these to steer his business based on feedback from his fans and customers.

Someone asked how to approach viral marketing:

His response – it needs to be really funny, really unique, really RUDE.

Really RUDE.

Publicity Stunts etc.

Impossible to predict the impact of a particular viral marketing approach in any meaningful way.

 



Peter Blenkharn – ITB (Inside the box)

Experienced unexpected, great success with his miniatures game Subterra.

He has experience of totally failing a kickstarter project.

He then came back and did the whole community engagement thing and got it right. He came back with a crazy project with loads of stretch goals – his project was well funded and he was briefly overwhelmed by how much he had to arrange in a short time.

TALK TO THE MANUFACTURER EARLY ON – about all the details.

What is going to be expected from your customers in terms of the specific materials and other specs.

Ist it shiny, is it durable etc.

He ended up using “Whatz Games” – Shanghai.

If you are going down the road of producing in China, He recommends getting quotes and info from around 20 different Chinese manufactures. 

They all have their various strengths and weaknesses –
so you need to try and get a really good sense of what is best for you.

*Produce a product spec PDF. Specify EXACTLY what you want – to the millimeter, and including specific material and finish you are after.

Send out to get manufacturing quotes BEFORE you launch your campaign.
He says for a small playing card game – may simply be a lot better to get it done in the UK. 

If your game is complex and involves boards, miniatures etc, China will probably be more cost effective but there are more complications involved.

Talk to other people who have used your manufacturer or who may be able to recommend something (e.g. your fulfilment company may have some suggestions).

How to estimate your target value for your KS project:
Get your quote for your minimum order (eg. 1000 copies)
+ freight
+ fulfilment centre margin
+ shipping
+ contingency 10%

THAT’S YOUR NUMBER

Some people are tempted to add on another £1 or 2k – he recommends against this. Go for the absolute minimum amount you need to fulfill your project, and that’s it.

He recommended these:
Jamey Stegmaier
James Mathe
UK Tabletop Kickstarters Facebook Group


John Bruton – Buyer for Esdevium games

DISTRIBUTION
He’s a buyer – he looks at new games to get them into the system. Its his job to gauge what DEMAND there might be for a product.

In particular:
Is there demand BEYOND the kickstarter?

The kickstarter project actually satisfies most of the demand for many games.

He wants to know about games before they do their kickstarter.

Key tips:
Make sure your game is READY (i.e. you really don’t want to end up having to re-print all your rules sheets due to a critical omission or something like that).

Figure out your logistics

He also recommends the Jamey Stegmaier's kickstarter blog.

One demand issue – there is some concern about kick starter goals and incentives that might kill the game at retail (e.g. if you offer 200 extra exclusive cards just for your kickstarter backers…when it
goes to retail people might rather try and find a second hand kickstarter one with the extra cards.

There does need to be some exclusive stuff with your kickstarter, just don’t screw your retail version.

Come up with some quality stretch goals.

ASK RETAILERS
ASK DISTRIBUTORS
BADGER THE PROFESSIONALS for their advice.


Q&A Session

Some manufacturers will say they will do fulfillment for you (e.g. Ship directly from China!)

Might not be a great idea –think about customer services.

Nigel (who works for fulfillment centres Games Quest) knows which printers are good and which are shit.

Do not rely on fulfilment centres to do any form of quality control.

Make sure as much as possible is ready to go before launching your kickstarter campaign…but you can also spend too long…

Hope this was useful for someone! 

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