Rolling for Initiative--Concerning Kickstarter
Column by Scott Thorne
Published: 06/18/2012 01:34am
The new supplement for Victoriana, Marvels of Science and Steampunk, arrived last week. I see that Cubicle 7 has jumped on the current steampunk bandwagon. Originally, Victoriana was designed as the 19th century, only with magic (rather like Amazing Engine's For Faerie, Queen & Country. Never heard of it? Neither did most people). However, it appears that a magical Sherlock Holmes is not enough, we have to have magical and steam technology as well. Oh, well, maybe this supplement gives them another market to go after. Steampunk seems all the rage at science fiction conventions for the past couple of years, so perhaps some advertising targeted at that segment would help sales of the game. Certainly could not hurt, save for the expense.
Kickstarter has certainly attracted lots of attention in the gaming community in the past year or so. For those not familiar with the Website, Kickstarter allows a company or individual to seek funding for a project. They give details about the project, set a funding goal for the project and establish a duration for the funding campaign. If the funding goal is not met by the end of the campaign, backers pay nothing, otherwise, they are charged the full amount of their pledge. Most projects have different levels with different rewards for progressively larger amounts of funding. For example, pledge $10 to fund the 2x24 Dance Project in San Francisco, get a postcard of the dance company and a public thank you on Facebook. Pledge $1000, get all of the rewards from the other levels plus a private dance class, if you live in the San Francisco Bay area. This method of funding new projects is proving quite popular with game companies.
Recently, Steve Jackson Games launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new printing of a Designer Version of the company's classic Ogre game with, by my count, 35 levels of funding, ranging from a buck, which allows you to order some of the promos at higher levels (170 backers at the level) to $5000, which gets you 4 copies of the game, $600 worth of Ogre swag, Steve Jackson's appearance at a 2 day Ogre event of your choice anywhere in the US or Canada (you are responsible for his hotel and travel costs) and naming rights to an Ogre (1 backer at this level). Originally, SJG wanted to raise $20,000, the company raised $923,680.
Currently Minion Games, Troll Lord Games, Mark Millar and Shane Helmsley all have or plan to launch Kickstarter funded projects. David Wheeler of Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy has even launched a mailing list targeted at retailers interested in bringing in Kickstarter funded projects, especially encouraging Kickstarter creators to set funding levels aimed at encouraging retailers to stock in Kickstarter projects. So far, as a result of Wheeler's contacts, several Kickstarter creators have added a retailer level to their offering.
Kickstarter actually reminds me of a funding method smaller wargame companies (which is most of them) have used to fund projects for a number of years. They contact their customer base, describe a proposed game or expansion and tell their customers it will only go to press once the company gets a certain number of pre-orders for the game. When the pre-order level is hit, the game goes to print, much like Kickstarter. Both Multi Man Publishing and The Gamers used this method in the past with varying amounts of success (The Gamers is now owned by Multi Man) and it is interesting to see the crowdfunding method expanding to other publishing channels.
Comments about Kickstarter and the salability of Kickstarter funded projects welcomed, to Comments@ICv2.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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