Whether or not you’ve backed a project before on Kickstarter, it’s one of those websites that everybody has heard of, even if sometimes it’s for the wrong reasons. The premise of putting money towards a product that may still be in the early stages of development – which could leave you months or even years without the final product – can be quite scary for some people. This risk, combined with the horror stories of Kickstarters gone by, can leave a sour taste in some people’s mouths.
It only takes a few seconds of Googling to find examples of projects gone wrong in the past. For example, you have Pirate3D, with the promise of a 3D printer that anybody could use. The project had a hefty backing price of $300 and raised almost $1.5M. Yet, years after the project ended, over 60% of those backers have not received their product. That is a risk you take with Kickstarter; when the project reaches its final goal, the funds are no longer refundable. You are at the mercy of the creators to fulfil their promise to their backers.
On the other hand, backers get early access to products before they hit the shelves, and usually at a decent discounted rate too. This can earn backers precious bragging rights over their friends, who are desperately waiting to get their hands on the same product. Projects often offer some other exclusive perks, with Kickstarter-only rewards and features. This gives a Kickstarter purchase that little bit of extra exclusivity.
So, the real question is, should you back a project on Kickstarter? Well, there really isn’t a definitive, honest answer. If you are excited about the project, willing to wait for it to be developed, and understand there may be delays, then backing a project could be for you. However, if you’d prefer to wait for the guaranteed final product to be in the shops, knowing that you may be paying a higher price, then waiting is always an option.
The Good Times
When it comes to backing board games on Kickstarter, there is a huge array of products to choose from. You only need to look at the “Tiny Epic” series, which has run nearly all of its products through Kickstarter, as an example of what can be achieved. With 21 successful projects and an eye-watering total of $8M backed over those projects ($1.1M on the latest project alone!) Gamelyn Games must be one of the most successful game developers on the Kickstarter market. With well-known developers, backers have the confidence that their product will be of the very highest standards.
Having backed the latest project – Tiny Epic Pirates – myself, it’s clear to see that Gamelyn Games know what they’re doing. They listen to backers’ feedback and make adjustments to the game where needed, even allowing backers a sneak peek at the product. This lets backers run through the game to make sure there are no mistakes and that the game flows properly. This is a skill they must have picked up through their projects and will only make each new project more and more successful.
The Not So Good Times
On the other hand, there are less-experienced creators who might be developing their first project. A great example is the recent game “Psycho Chickens”. The game runs in a similar fashion to Exploding Kittens, where the pack contains a few cards with the Psycho Chicken on them. If you draw one of these cards, you are out. Game over. I felt pretty good during the backing process, with constant updates from the creators. Even throughout Covid, they handled the situation really well, explaining the drawbacks they faced and the newly expected time scales.
However, upon receiving the product, certain things make it clear that it’s come from a first-time creator. For starters, the game’s packaging could only be described as tissue paper, with no protective bubble wrap on the inside. This led to mass complaints to the company because of damaged boxes. I too had the same situation, but thankfully it was only minor damage that I could live with. Meanwhile, others seemed to have ruined boxes.
The other issue I found was the lack of play-through runs with backers prior to the final print. This seems to have led to a few mistakes in the card designs, along with very ambiguous rules which left some players confused. The printing design errors that I am referring to are one of the expansion packs. Each card from an expansion pack has a letter in the top corner to indicate which expansion it is from. F is for the Face expansion, D is for the Drinking expansion and F is for the Meme expansion. No, that isn’t a typo from me… that was how the game came to the backers. When mentioned to the developers, the reply was, “We’ll fix that in the next print!” You could call it an Easter Egg or “Kickstarter Special” if you want to spin it that way to your friends.
Overall Thoughts on Kickstarter…
Ultimately, when you are deciding whether to back a board game on Kickstarter, you should just ask yourself the following questions. Can I afford to spend this money? Do I like the look of this game? Can I see myself playing it? Am I happy waiting months to receive the game? If you answered ‘yes’, then I would say you should back the project and get involved with the progress of the game. Who knows? You may find your new favourite game through Kickstarter.