Jul 242013

So, this happened to a perhaps too aptly named board game:


Have a read, then come back. I’ll wait.

Okay! So let’s review:

• If you have one, don’t quit your job to fulfill a kickstarter campaign. The time and financial costs always turn out higher than you project, and you need that other source of income to make sure you stay afloat — and can (if you didn’t start with money in your company coffers) personally float yourself a loan for overruns.

• Don’t, y’know, move or make any life decision based on the funding of a Kickstarter campaign. This has to fit into your already available time-space and current location.

• Put yourself and your partners through whatever emotional stress-test you can in advance of running the thing. There’s no sure riftmaker like success, and few pressurecookers like a Kickstarter campaign; add to that the obligation to and expectations of your backers after you’ve funded and you’ll find yourself at a high-stress breaking point all the damn time (believe me).

• Unless you’ve got some rock solid experience personally implementing and delivering on a project at any scale under time and budgetary pressure, do NOT make a Kickstarter your first time out. It’s all of that _plus_ additional stressors unique to a crowdfunding campaign. Take incremental steps: not giant leaps. Kickstarter doesn’t patch over any of that for you.

• That means you need to build experience to do your dream project. For 99% of folks who make things, that’s how you have to do it. Yes, there’s a loud 1% of folks who got it right the first time. They’re the exceptions. The rest of us have to get there by increments. Dream big, yes, but also dream small. Make your first thing a small thing. Make your next thing a slightly larger thing. And so forth.

Evil Hat spent 6 years working on being a successful RPG publisher before trying to branch into board games. Our Race to Adventure Kickstarter was a success. We funded to the level we asked for. Getting there meant a bunch of swag and shipping that we maybe shouldn’t have taken on. All told it meant we got to product launch about $20,000 in the red with the expenses that went beyond the funds covered by what was funded.

We knew we would probably see overruns. We planned for it. That $20,000 came out of funds we already had prior to the project. After several months of sales following the game’s release in April, we’ve cut that number in half. We’re confident we’ll eventually break even on the game—it’ll just take time. Time we can afford.

This is not an atypical Kickstarter boardgame scenario.

Be ready for it.