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Top 10 Worst Things To Do in a Kickstarter Campaign

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I back MANY Kickstarter campaigns. Probably TOO many, to be honest. I mean, my discord username is “Big Bri the KS Guy” for a reason. I do not mind Kickstarter and do not consider it a sign of the impending doom to our hobby. My lens for this list is through why I back games on Kickstarter—for unique games and GAMEPLAY. That is the number one reason I back a game.

Note: This list assumed the game is actually delivered. Clearly, an undelivered product would be the worst.

Top 10 Worst Things To Do in a Kickstarter Campaign

10. Allowing backers to pay more to include their likeness in the game

I am all for making as much money as possible from a Kickstarter campaign, but I cringe whenever I see this as a reward option. My problem isn’t with seeing others in a game (that is why this is only number 10 out of 10), but when the art becomes thematically unrealistic. I would like the artists to have 100% control over the look of the game versus having to figure out how to shoehorn in someone with glasses in ancient Egypt.

9. Promoting a unique number for each game

I do not care if my game is number 4,932 of 10,000. Owning a “uniquely numbered” game does not matter to me. This is even more aggravating if it is a stretch goal. Seriously, if you want to uniquely number a game and make it a selling point, just do it from the start. Don’t “waste” a stretch goal to do so. And yes, I know that stretch goals are just marketing. That’s why this makes even less sense to me—I DO NOT understand marketing unique numbers.

8. Including my name on the box

Even less important than a uniquely numbered game is the inclusion of my name on box. In fact, I opt out of this every time. When I purchase a product, I don’t expect to announce it to anyone. I just want the game, please and thank you.

7. Print and Play as a stretch goal

I have enough games to play. I do not need early access print and play files as part of a campaign. I neither want to waste my paper nor my too expensive ink. I can wait until the game is actually delivered to play it in its fully produced glory. This makes me especially salty when it is a stretch goal. Another “wasted” stretch goal slot…

6. Art Prints as a stretch goal

For me, one of the biggest draws in board gaming is the art. I LOVE a beautifully illustrated board complemented by just as beautifully illustrated cards. It is what drew me into board gaming (along with incredible gameplay, of course). I do not want art prints. I do not want them for free. I especially do not want them as a stretch goal. Save your money and invest the printing costs in other aspects of the game, please.

5. Blank Card Templates included in the game

I already have a job to earn money to have food, clothing, a home, and excellent board games. I am NOT a game designer. I know game mechanics I like and do not like. I do not know how to balance a game and I do not want to try. There is no need to provide me blank templates so I can include my kids/dog/car/unused katana in my Mediterranean trading game.

4. Unlock Add-Ons through a stretch goal

Stretch goals are exciting when they are almost met. The mystery and anticipation of what will be added to the game can be exciting. Then the reveal comes and it… unlocks the ability for you to purchase an expansion… yay? It is the “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine” of stretch goals. Listen, you want people to spend more money. I get it. Just add the ability to buy more add-ons through an update. Don’t hide it until a stretch goal is met. Literally, no one gets excited by this.

3. First-Time Publisher/$200+ campaign with minis

I understand the purpose of Kickstarter. It isn’t supposed to be for an established publisher such as Queen; however, board gaming has changed dramatically since Zombicide was launched on Kickstarter. Games are more expensive. Materials are more expensive. Shipping is… you get the point. The lack of experience in running a campaign, its logistics and the multitude of complications they present is ok when it is a reasonably priced board game. When I see a first-time publisher with a core game with 70+ miniatures, 3+ expansions, and 30 unlocked stretch goals and they want me to back at $200+, it is usually a hard pass. Build up some trust and experience first.

2. Music as a stretch goal

Stop. You do not know my music tastes. I don’t want to hear the music your friend/cousin/spouse created. Your expertise is in designing games, not providing music to “enhance the atmosphere.” I’d rather receive art prints or the ability to buy an add-on…

1. Early Birds of ANY kind

One of the biggest knocks on Kickstarter campaigns is the FOMO it creates, especially with “Kickstarter Exclusive Stretch Goals.” To be honest, I get why they are used and don’t have a big problem with them. I DO have a problem with Early Bird offers (back within the first 24/48 hours, “get X free” or “$10 cheaper”). I understand why they are used (increase the number of backers at the start of a campaign to increase exposure), but I do not like them. I do not have time to research the launch of EVERY campaign and their start times. There have been multiple campaigns that I was interested in and just moved on when I realized I missed out on an early bird. It just frustrated me that because I was not there at the launch I have to pay more for the same content. At least you can get Kickstarter Exclusive stretch goals anytime through the pledge manager!

Brian’s love of boardgames was revitalized when he discovered Puerto Rico in 2005. He now enjoys playing worker placement, deck building, dice driven and coop games with his primary gaming partner, his wife.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for posting this list. Now I know what to avoid!

    Do you have a top 10 things that should be done? I’d be interested in seeing if you have any suggestions that might vary from other top-10 good lists out there. Thanks!

  2. YES to all of these! … Except maybe the add-on as stretch goal? If some of the stretch goals are true stretch goals and not just marketing, I can understand reaching a certain threshold can make some add-ons viable.

    • Well, I think he was saying the add on option to buy another thing, as in, you already backed the “All-In” level, and then they unlock an expansion or something as a stretch goal that is not included in the All-In, it’s just the unlock of something additional you can buy. Stretch goals should all be something more for free, like better cardstock used because now they can get a bulk discount on it, or something similar. Also, All-In pledge levels should include everything, not just most and then you need to pay more to actually get everything.

  3. This seems more like a list of marketing tactics that work but you think are cringy. I agree, all cringy, but if they work, companies shouldn’t stop doing them. It’s like the $9.99 pricetags instead of $10. It’s annoying, but if it works, they’ll keep doing them.

  4. When I saw the title of this, I thought, “will my #1 pet peeve, the early adopter bonus” make it on the list? Hopefully, some game creators will see that this artificial FOMO is a big turn off. The “follow my campaign before it launches and get a free gift” also rankles. If I find out, mid campaign, that I missed out on an exclusive, I’ll usually drop my pledge. Don’t reward people for finding your campaign first. Good list overall. As a backer of over 150 games, I recognize all of these in some form. Looking forward to the inevitable other top 10.

  5. I saw a recent one that had their all in pledge be more expensive than buying each individual item separately. Also, when people complained about the high price, they took out gameplay content, lowered the price, then asked people to pay for the content they took out on the side if they wanted it.

  6. Did I write this while sleepwalking? Every single thing is what bugs me about kickstarter campaigns. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

  7. Eek. About to be guilty of no. 3 (kinda). We’re launching a £120+ game in Autumn. It’s not our first, but it is our first crowdfunded game. Thanks for this, we’ll make sure to let potential backers know we’re not first-timers

  8. Agree with all points. I’m also turned off when there are too many add-ons and expansions resulting in a million tier levels of every combination.

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