kickstarter pricing?
August 31, 2011 1:08 PM   Subscribe

I am working on a card game, and eventually want to put it up on kickstarter. I have a few questions regarding this...

1) In terms of production, is it probably best to go with an established printer and get some sort of print run made, or find some sort of print on demand service? Any advice on getting estimates? Any suggestions on good printers? I don't expect to go with a publisher at this point, so self-printing is my main goal.

2) In terms of costing it out - do I cost in "profit" into the equation? I always assumed you would just put the base cost in order to raise the funds, but then realized that I put a lot of work into this already, and wonder if I should try to recoup some money upfront (not tons, just a little extra to reward me for the effort I've put in so far).

Or do I even just try to price the full cost of the project (say I did a 500 run, and retail price would be 50 bucks (just as an example, not an actuality) - would I try to hit for 25k goal? Or do I mostly go for the production costs (including paying the artist/designers as well as the printing) and add some money for my time spent on the design?

I feel icky trying to recoup it from upfront investors. But I do think if an artist/designer gets rewarded for work on it, I should too. This is why I'm not a businessman :P

Any advice is appreciated.

For the record - it's a card game with ~110 cards and money/tokens, and a fairly simple instruction book. In terms of maybe pricing or where to go to get it published advice. THANKS!
posted by symbioid to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Kickstarter is usually for costs. The general idea is that you’re raising funds to launch a business or product. If your per unit cost is $10 and you need to make 500 (because of printer minimums for example), then you campaign for $5000, or a little over if you want to cover KS’s fees. If you have 100 donors, maybe their premium is a copy of the game. That leaves you with 400 units sold at $50 a piece and you keep the profit. That’s the reward for your hard work - the final profit that you don’t have to share with your investors.

The cost of artists/designers have to go into the per unit cost. If you’re printing 500 and the artist and designer each get $250, add $1 per unit cost, so $11 per unit which requires $5500. (If you want to figure them separately, that’s fine. $250 to each plus $10 per unit production. $500 plus $5000.)

If you need to quit your job for three months to make this game, you can think about raising money for your living expenses, but be up front about that. If you’re not clear about that, you’ll have angry backers.

Also remember that Kickstarter is all or nothing. If you need $5000 and you ask for $7500 to pay yourself, and you only raise $6000 when your time runs out, you’ll get nothing. Will you feel like you made the wrong choice if that happens? Keep your goal as small as reasonably necessary to complete the project. Raising money is hard, so don't work against yourself.

(By the way, I’ve done one successful KS campaign and helped friends do a few more. It’s always a wild ride, but loads of fun. Good luck!)
posted by ochenk at 1:39 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wouldn't go with print on demand unless you are doing a really short run for testing or require personalization.

Working with a local printer is probably your best bet. You'll be better able to control quality and can feel different paper stocks and finishes. Figure out what you need then get at least 3 to quote on it, base your decision on their service if the prices are close.

Also, don't forget packaging, you'll have to print that too.
posted by dripdripdrop at 2:12 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The most appealing Kickstarter projects, I think, are ones that offer a wide level of funding opportunities and/or limited-run offerings.

Say the game's going to cost $50 retail. Make a $45 funding level that includes a copy, but also make a $5 level where you just thank them on the website, a $10 level where you thank them and they get a postcard or example token or something, a $20 level where they get that stuff plus a sticker, a $70 level where they get a Kickstarter-themed limited-edition version of the game (different colorway or something), an $80 level where they get two copies, a $200 level that includes an invite to a launch party or something, and a $1000 level where you come to their house and play the game with them, then take them out to dinner.

The bulk of the boosters will support it at the $45 level. You might not get a single supporter at the higher levels, and, of course, you'll tweak the levels for your individual project. You get the gist, though.
posted by box at 2:45 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

This article has a lot of interesting analysis of Kickstarter pricing tiers. Specifically, it recommends avoiding low levels like $5 and $10 (at least if your chief aim is to hit your funding goal).
posted by dfan at 2:52 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

re: costing out a game - I've never used them, but The Game Crafter is a print-on-demand game creation service that if nothing else might help give you a ballpark estimate of your costs.
posted by symbebekos at 3:13 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: symbebekos - nice name ;) I actually have had 2 prototype decks printed by them. The problem with them is that their quality is a bit lower than I'd like for final production.

That said, if you want quick prototype service (at least for cards) I'd recommend them. I wasn't keen on their play money, nor their plastic "coins"... But the cards themselves, I thought for the price they were definitely good, and the colors came out quite nice.

My main issue with avoiding low levels is the fact that this is pretty much a card game (about 100-120 cards (still playtesting) plus some paper money/coins) So the total cost of the actual game probably would be around that much.

Thanks for the comments everyone - I'm always open to more in this thread, so keep em coming ;P
posted by symbioid at 4:01 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: For printing up cards, you may want to steal a trick from Dave Sirlin's Yomi - he had his game decks printed classic 54 card decks - there's a lot of printers that will do specialized card decks, so all you end up doing is putting the rules/icons/art/text where the usual images would go. Since you've got 110 cards, you might be able to do a "Deck A"/"Deck B" kind of thing and make it work.'

Second, yeah, do get some profit on it- even if it's just to fund a future project or get you out to a convention or two to demo and sell the game.

A good handful of folks I know are using Kickstarter, and it seems that there's three key things:

1. Good art/description up front. The more you can get people excited about the game to begin with, the more likely they are to put some money down. It's a good idea if you can give them a solid date they can expect their game to arrive.

2. Multiple levels of donation. High levels should have something special, if you can swing it. I'd probably have the cards be the lowest level with instructions for people to use their own counters/tokens, and then have a higher level with tokens/counters/glass beads, whatever. If you got art to do the game, you can use the highest levels to sell off the originals ($300-500) to high end donors. (Back up your art files across muliple locations, DVDs, etc. though!)

3. Multiple targets above the original cost- I've seen a couple of people put up a list of targets above the minimum. The higher targets go directly into the games they're making- either allowing them to get more art ("If we reach X, this artist will produce an 8 page comic to go with this!") or to produce supplemental game material.

Definitely post a link up in Projects when you get it underway!
posted by yeloson at 10:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well since it's not fully underway yet, I won't post in projects, but if anyone is reading this and wants a sneak peek of what I've done so far (I have pre-alpha testing done :P)

Ingredient Cards

Drink Cards

Karma Cards

Printed Prototype Cards from The Game Crafter

The theme and general style is pretty set, I think, but I need to do a graphic redesign based upon game testing (moving certain text around - changing sizes of certain things). One of the goals I have for using kickstarter is to hire an illustrator. BGG has some boards w/people looking for work. I have a general style in mind... Also need a designer to help with overall design. The cost of that is what intimidates me. I've seen people's quotes and it seems pretty steep just for one simple card, let alone a complete set. Anyways... If anyone's curious, there it is!

And thanks again for all the wonderful feedback folks! :)
posted by symbioid at 11:14 PM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: Definitely take your time to make sure the gameplay is solid!

You'll want to read Sirlin's blog on his game development - I think he spent 1-3 years on each of his games, and playtesting was a big deal. You may not take as long, but it's worth keeping in mind so you don't find yourself either rushing to get the game out without checking everything OR dragging out deadlines after you've already taken people's money.

I'd also recommend removing the "Aunt Jemima/Mammy" image and replacing it with something less problematic.
posted by yeloson at 11:24 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, you may want to contact the creator of Chronicles of Skin, since it's a card/rpg game that got funded in 24 hours and ask about what methods are working for him in terms of printing, marketing, etc.
posted by yeloson at 12:07 AM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah - yeloson, the Aunt Jemima is a placeholder (Though Rosie Riles is the actual woman who played Aunt Jemima I put it in there as a temporary homage to her for playtesting -- that's the one card I know is going to change, and a couple others I may as well (XOANAN)). Definitely want to make sure I get the game play right. Lots of testing - once I get my new cards made it's on to pre-alpha phase 2 ;)

I'll look into the Chronicles, as well. So far we've had fun playing the few times we have (and we've definitely made some big changes!) Refine refine refine!

I won't start quickstarter until I have the gameplay pat, then discuss costs for artist/graphic designer and tell them I'm doing kickstarter and if they're cool w/that then proceed - of course, I have to make sure to find a reliable artist and designer to make sure they can get the shit made in a decent time.
posted by symbioid at 7:21 AM on September 1, 2011

Hmm. You might consider looking for an artist and/or designer via Jobs.
posted by box at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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