POLL: Do you prefer Kickstarter stretch goals that improve your perk or give more perks?


I've been thinking about the finer points of Kickstarter campaign design lately. In particular, I'm curious to understand more about how stretch goals ought to be structured.

For context, stretch goals are funding goals that exceed the original funding goal. In the past two years, they've organically become central to any fundraising drive. Honestly, I'm shocked stretch goals aren't already a built-in feature of Kickstarter's interface.

Stretch goals typically promise two things:
  • MORE: "If we hit 200%, all backers will get the latest expansion along with the base game and an exclusive backer-only promo card!"
  • BETTER: "If we hit 200%, the base game will be produced with full-color art throughout and be printed on thicker, more durable material!"
Plenty of campaigns mix these two stretch goals or combine them into a single stretch goal, but I am curious what you find more motivating as a backer. Share your answer in the poll below and leave some comments with your thoughts!

42 comments:

  1. Hello Daniel, I preferred improvements. I am studying daily prizes kickstarter. I believe one that is near a line is suitable finaciamento Numenera Mount Cook, was released recetemente an Excel spreadsheet with the rewards and I'm doing my studies based on it.


    I think people would like improvements in its products. The issue is the amount of "damage" to the product vendor to mount the rewards.

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  2. I'm sure some people do, but I don't tend to follow the updates for backed projects very closely. So if someone is adding more rewards, I don't really know it -- and there's no summary at the end to tell me what the stretch goals added to my tier. I guess, for that reason, I'd appreciate an improved version of what I knew I was getting.

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  3. I prefer improvements, but from my experience working on campaigns, what people have requested the most is more stuff. Now, maybe that's a vocal minority (possible) but when I worked on campaigns and said something like "We're going to make things full color" a lot of responses would be like this: "Can we have t-shirts?"

    I think that people sort of want both to happen.

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  4. I voted for more, but its based on an assumption that I wouldn't back something I thought had inferior basic materials.


    More importantly in my opinion is that I want perks that are related to the game/product. For instance, I was a backer on Race for Adventure and will enjoy the expansion-style perks but my pin will likely sit in a drawer and I could have done without.

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  5. You're referring to the bestiary stretch goal in Numenara, yes? That's definitely something I'd call an improvement if it's part of the base game. I could also see it as a "more" if it were offered separately as an expansion.

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  6. That's another reason why I wish Kickstarter included stretch goals in their interface. Each tier ought to have a separate field for each perk, so new perks could be added at a later point and resolve any confusion in the late-campaign stage.

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  7. Indeed. Some of campaigns have trained backers to expect extras that are too costly and divergent from the central purpose of the campaign. Unclear whether that's because those campaigns have some strong dollars behind them already or if the creators are budgeting optimistically.

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  8. I voted "more" because that's what tends to get me obsessively refreshing a Kickstarter page. It really dings the reward centers of my brain to get things for free.

    That said, I think the fifty-bazillion-free-things model is often unsustainable, or bad for the project, and ultimately I'd rather see creators do what's best for their project.

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  9. Indeed, those two examples are something worth considering for a creator. Do I spend the campaign dollars on features that will or will not further promote my game?

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  10. I can't really vote for either option. It depends on whether the improvements are something I an interested in, or if the additions are.

    Reaper Miniatures, 'more' was the word of the day. Better Angels, 'better' (in the form of full-color printing the comic book game) was the way to go.

    Dissociated rewards such as t-shirts and pins, on the other hand, are never a driver for me. I'll accept them if offered, but won't go out of my way for them... unless I'm backing a shirt and pin project, of course.

    Associated additions such as adding a bestiary (Kaidan and Numenera have this as a stretch goal) are cool too, even if I have to pay extra to get them.

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  11. Yeah, there are a lot of "successful" projects I've seen get all their funds eaten by producing and shipping those unsustainable extras.

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  12. Thanks for re-posting this from Google+! And yeah, it definitely varies by project.

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  13. Reaper Miniatures was a special case. Their product was such that the figures had a large buy-in cost, but incremental cost for delivery was relatively very small. For instance (to make numbers up) it might be that the cost to develop a new mold was $5000, but the cost to deliver a figure was $0.10 once the mold was developed. At these rates, the Vampire level ($100) could afford to stretch to 1000 figures and still be break-even; at 240 figures (I think that was the final number) Reaper would still be into it for $24 -- still profitable, if they have the molds. If those 240 figures were unique and cost $5000 each, Reaper would need $1.2M just for molds. Throw in the $24 per set and you're looking at about 16,000 (15,790, about) backers at the $100 level to cover the cost of development and delivery.


    ... by weird coincidence, they had 16,475 Vampire-level backers.


    This does not take into account the extras and additions people made, nor Undertaker level, and so on, so it frankly is just some supposition and weird math, but it interests me.


    Better Angels, on the other hand, has delivery cost per backer rather higher. Adding 'more stuff' for free doesn't really work because that adds directly to the cost. On the other hand, moving to a higher grade product (black and white soft cover to full-color hard cover) becomes viable when the volume is large enough. This might be consumed entirely by the backers, or leave additional product for retail sale (as happened with... a HERO System project not too long ago, they covered their backer obligations and had product remaining for retail sale).


    For my own thing (which is nowhere near ready for prime time) I'm likely to go with a mix. If I can get enough backers it might be worth going to higher-grade production, or include more in the box, or both. Or it might be profitable enough that I can reasonably expect to be able to offer the next piece (I plan for three major components, 'low level', 'middle level', 'high level' play, like the old Mentzer box sets). Depending how it goes I might be able to offer the next piece as an extended reward ("wow, this is going gangbusters, I'll be able to take time off my normal paying work to build the next one now!"), or I might be able to just pull some of the material into the current product. As much as it would be natural to have three packages, as it happens there are six distinct groupings here (basic, expert, heroic, master, champion, legendary) so it is not unreasonable to break it into two.


    This is a case where it could reasonably be done as:


    * higher grade (color rather than primarily B&W)

    * expanded stuff (the package is bigger - more talents, archetypes, and monsters, say)
    * additional options (B/X and H/M available)
    * reconfiguration ('low level' is now B/X/H, 'high level' is M/C/L, instead of B/X, H/M, C/L)

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  14. I've heard about this as well. It's one of the reasons I'm not a fan of dissociated rewards (apart from "if I wanted a t-shirt I'd _buy a t-shirt_. I want the game!")

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  15. probably budgeting optimistically. I've read of projects that basically failed -- they still delivered, but lost money -- because their rewards ate too much of their capital.

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  16. i voted for "more" based on the idea that improving the product doesn't really matter to me if it's just moving from softcover to hardcover or thicker card stock or something. Presumably, the product isn't being produced so shoddily that I need the improvement to use it. In the case of getting "more", the extra stuff is far more interesting to me if it expands the initial product in some way rather than advertises for it (t-shirts).

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  17. You do hear about failures sometimes. On one project I had to be the Scrooge and say no to all kinds of things because I knew that it wasn't in the budget. We had the situation where more backers meant more costs, and that meant that our supporters saw the numbers going way, way, up, but many of them didn't realize that made costs go up as well. We had to really stick to the idea that what we wanted to deliver was the product, not extras. But there is always the siren call of t-shirts and keychains and whatever.

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  18. Both. Of course.

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  19. Phew! Thanks for the long comment. It is really good to note when there are projects whose basic cost structures are wildly different. No sense comparing books to minis to card games on a 1:1 basis.

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  20. So of the "more" goals, you'd prefer mini-expansions, for example?

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  21. You realize that you're being manipulated by that kind of set up, right? They ring the bell and you drool on command, as it were.

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  22. Yep. Reaper Miniatures did this remarkably well.


    It won't work for everyone; you can see my analysis as to why it worked for them.

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  23. If you are going to get "more", I prefer something relevant to the project. I'm not a big fan of T-shirts, pins, jackets and the like.

    "Better" is tricky. Why aren't you doing "better" to begin with?

    What I do think is that project planners should really think through their tiers and bonuses. For games, at least, this is a key part your business and project funding and marketing strategy. At the end of the day, you want your business / project to be better off with more contributions, not in worse shape!

    Another factor is rewarding your early contributors "more". I'd be interested to hear about how limited edition strategies have been working and what size pools make sense (does a limited prize with 100 or 1000 mean something)?

    Does Kickstarter give you information on who contributed in what order?

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  24. You might not do 'better' at first because of cost. For instance the Better Angels project was initially black and white softcover, then upgraded to full color hardcover when the print run became large enough to justify the cost.

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  25. How do you tell the difference between "more" and "better"? Which is it to add a chapter to the book, as with Dungeon World's Druid?

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  26. Inherently, a kickstarter campaign is
    about creating a product. It's used as a pre-order system, but it is
    about getting a good product out there. With the MORE and BETTER
    examples above, the better stretch goal is something that increases
    the value of the actual product; it provides value for the product no
    matter who buys the item or when. The more stretch goal doesn't
    improve the product and the backer-only promo card ensures that a
    copy of the game purchased through the kickstarter will deliver a
    different play experience than one purchased after the campaign.


    Also, kickstarters with “more”
    goals that are exclusive to the campaign hinder post-kickstarter
    sales. When I find out about a kickstarter campaign after the project
    is funded—mainly due to poor advertising surrounding the campaign—I
    feel that I've been cheated out of the real value for the game. If
    $60 gets you the game and an expansion during the kickstarter, that
    says to me that the publisher values the game plus expansion at $60.
    When I see the base game for sale after the kickstarter at $60 and
    the expansion at $30, I am being charged extra for the base game. I
    will not buy that game at retail; the publisher has lost a
    post-funding sale.

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  27. I remember a campaign Tasty Minstrel Games ran. They needed $X to get the game actually printed, but at $Y they would be able to upgrade some components (replacing colored wooden cubes with molded cargo bits). At $Z, they would have been able to use different molds for the player pieces (different zeppelins) instead of the same mold in different colors.

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  28. I'll always vote for a better quality product over a more quantity product.

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  29. Its all about the product being offered. Something like an rpg, I don't really need better. While I wouldn't mind full color art, I'd much rather have more content. For something like a board or card game, quality is important. Here is where I'd like to see waterproofing, or better art, or strudier pieces, etc.

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  30. I'd go for better, particularly with a physical product. I live in an apartment and have limited space, which already constrains my purchasing habits. Getting more stuff is actually a detriment to me.

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  31. When it comes to storage limitations, "more" becomes a problem for creators, too. :)

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  32. Duly noted. Thank you!

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  33. The framing for this poll is definitely a false dichotomy. There's always going to be some overlap. I just want to decouple them as pure motivators and see which has more pull.

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  34. Devil's Advocate: I suspect most creators don't have the connections or experience to break into traditional retail distribution (be it online or physical). So they throw the kitchen sink into the Kickstarter campaign under the assumption that this will be their biggest spike in sales anyway. (Of course that just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in your case. Hm.)

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  35. It'll be fun to see which way the public swings!

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  36. Let's run with that assumption. It boils down to this: the guy that finds out about a really awesome game the day after the publisher's 30-day window for taking orders is effectively penalized because they were not one of the first 95% or so of the people to order the game.


    Look at Zombicide's base "get the game" level, $75. At that level, you get a copy of the game, two extra characters (possibly different player pawns), and a cool cover lithograph (and free shipping). MSRP on it is around $80 or $90, depending on the website. I can't even get the game at $75.


    So, $90. Plus shipping if buying online or plus taxes if buying at a store. Let's just call it a flat $100. For $100, after the Kickstarter campaign, you could get the game. For $100, during the Kickstarter campaign, you could get the game. And three more survivors. And their zombie counterparts. And four additional zombie miniatures. And six more. And twenty more. And one more. And three more special survivors and zombie versions. And custom dice. And more custom dice. And a t-shirt. And that lithograph. But you can't, because you found out about the game the day after the kickstarter campaign ended.

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  37. No argument there. It definitely sucks hearing about a campaign too late, especially if it eventually goes to retail, especially at a higher price, especially for less product.

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  38. But what about a game like Ogre that costs $100 on Kickstarter but a week after the campaign is now listed for $60 on a web discount site. Here I'm being penalized for funding a project that was treated like a Pre-order system. Why wouldn't I want to get more 'stuff' in the campaign to offset the penalty I'm going to feel for those who come in behind me and buy it online for substantially less money.

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  39. However, when you can order it from Amazon or pick it up at the FLGS, it is a proven, existing product. Whether people truly realize it or not, backing a project is not an _order and fulfillment_ system. There is risk inherent in it -- it's entirely possible that the project will fail after funding. Kickstarter even says so on the pledge pages ("
    Kickstarter does not investigate a creator's ability to complete their project. The claims and responsibilities of this project are solely its creators.").


    I have no philosophical difficulty with them choosing to reward the backers who are accepting some risk in the delivery of the product.


    Also, the delivery cost is honestly probably lower for the project owner than if they go through retail channels. If I were producing books and had to ship them from my house, I would be paying for:


    * development (paid either way)
    * printing (paid either way)
    * shipping to 'warehouse' (or basement) (paid either way)
    * shipping to backer


    If I were going the retail route, I would expect


    * development (paid either way)* printing (paid either way)* shipping to 'warehouse' (or basement) (paid either way)* wholesaler (who takes a chunk of the cover price)* retailer (who takes a *bigger* chunk of the cover price)


    Even with something as straightforward and simplified as Lulu, the creator might see only a small percentage. I know an OSR guy who has published a few books through Lulu. The hardcovers run about 20-30 dollars (I forget exactly how much offhand, and shipping is on top of that); he sees $2 of it (that he donates to charity). Now, he might be minimizing the 'profit' and taking only a token amount he doesn't keep, but even this channel eats most of the face value. I am certain he could get a much better price if he weren't doing POD. However, if he went for cheaper, largely-volume printing he would see much more of the cover price -- but have to handle the delivery himself, front more money, and accept more risk.


    On a purely practical, retail level the post-Kickstarter price probably *should* be higher than through the Kickstarter. Being able to get it for no more than the Kickstarter cost probably means less money into the project owner's pocket.

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  40. It should always be "more", and at times combined with "better" but it really depends on HOW it's better. Making a thing "better" sort of implies the thing started "not better". This applies in areas that i would consider "product development" like providing more art for the same number of cards, this type of goal sort of implies that the amount of artwork they started with was not what the project really needed.


    In your example of moving to full color artwork. if the game would be much better with color art than set your goal at the level you need to make the game with color art. structuring a product with such a stretch goal comes off a little cowardly maybe even desperate. not things you want for a kick starter.


    to sum it up a goal that moves from bad to acceptable quality is a terrible idea. a goal that goes from Acceptable- Expected is bad. a goal that goes from expected to more that expected is great and seen as a gift.


    so moving from a dominion card stock to a plastic card stock is awesome. moving from a munchkin card stock to a dominion cardstock is LAME.

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Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.