As a caveat this news went out to our news letter subscribers earlier today. Today’s post is a follow up from the Conquest of the Gods Kickstarter campaign that i closed early the other day. Some of you were disappointed that I stopped it early and today I wanted to go over why i closed it and where to next.
So what happened?
The first three days of the Kickstarter went brilliantly, we hit 5k on the first day and by the end of day 3 we had hit $10,000, a sizeable chunk of the $22,000 funding I was seeking. It was looking great, then day four the campaign stalled, and day five saw almost $1000 fall off the campaign, it was falling backwards fairly fast. So it was at this point that I acknowledged a few issues with the campaign and decided that it was better to pull the plug on it and re-assess things.
The lead up to the campaign was quite frantic; I ran a gauntlet of issues to get the Kickstarter live. Mat our painter injured his arm, there were technology issues with the video content, some of my suppliers were behind schedule in sending me things such as dice, casters were behind schedule in getting me some of the miniatures in time for the campaign and several of the stretch goal sculpts were behind schedule. This all accumulated into me having to try and sell 3D renders and concept art instead of the actual miniatures, something I wanted to avoid from the onset. The original plan was to have it all done by October, and then order the casts of the models within 3 weeks of the campaign ending and delivering the while thing early next year, at least one month ahead of the promised schedule… Well as you can guess, that was not going to happen. I do not believe in over promising and under delivering, and that’s where things were headed.
The launch date actually moved three times due to some of the above delays and when paired with issues around double bookings and availability of adverting space, the dates that ended up being available for the campaign were less than ideal with the campaign ruining over the lead up to Christmas when people typically have less money both due to spending on Christmas gifts and sending on the pre-Christmas sales such as black Friday in the US. Rather than acknowledge this early on I pushed on to try and meet the arbitrary deadline I had set myself, during a less than ideal time of year to fill the gap that was available for the advertising when I really should have waited for a better time in the new year when everything was ready AND the advertising space was available.
Why stop it?
Launching without the painted production models was a huge mistake as it did not sell the miniatures in their best light, the images I posted did not show off the amazing detail that is in them, and really was done to just get it live given the pre-launch issues that came up. I should have delayed things and waited until all of the production casts were back and had them all painted up before launching, even if it took a couple of months. I also needed a game play video, now this was planned but time just got the better of us on that one. Posting the alpha rule as a PDF as a way to band aid this was probably not the best solution – not that anyone has actually commented on the rules to me, but it underlines the next point.
Conquest of the Gods is not just a miniatures range, it’s a game system with a fully supported range of miniatures. This did not at all come across in the campaign and is something I needed to resolve, it was going to be a tough thing to sort out on the fly. The boxed sets include cards and a book that were not pictured with the models, again another issue I failed to resolve before launch and people really did not have a clear sense of what they were getting unless they read the text for the campaign, It would seem a number of people backed it by just looking at the pictures and did not read the text.
This made the campaign purely about the poorly presented miniatures, and if I’m honest, it put me into the category of being someone who makes alternative miniatures for other games and not a start-up independent games studio. The alternative miniatures market that is already well provided for with several companies doing cheap alternative plastic models for the established games (I know a few guys in my team are cringing at me saying this publically). I am making a new game system with a fully supported range of high quality miniatures, I am confident what once people give the game a go they will love it! I think I failed to present the wider game on Kickstarter and focused too much on just the miniatures. I also really needed to better explain what the wider plans for the game are and how the expansion content will support existing armies as well as introduce new ones.
I plan to get some if not all of the base range ready for sale sometime in 2015. I want to build a community around a good game system and its range of miniatures with organised play events, campaigns and painting events. I am considering adding a few pages to the book to add an organised play section in the back of the book to help players organise and facilitate their own events.
On reflection, I question if Kickstarter is the way to go this kind of start-up. I realised during the campaign that in the context of table top games, Kickstarter has really become more of a pre-order service and a place to find cheap models more so than it is a capital raising platform. If I go back to it in the future, I will look at it in that capacity and not as a start-up that needs early stage capital. Several of the larger companies’ use it Kickstarter a pre-order e-commerce platform with great effect. In a way, this experience has turned out to be a huge positive as I now realise that there are more cost and time effective was to generate the capital I need.
I was contacted by several overseas distributors interested as well as a few Australian based stores before and after the campaign who are keen to stock the game once I’m ready to do a general release. I was also approached by a couple of people who are interested in investing in the company and this is something I will need to weigh up and consider very carefully. In short the future of Demigod Games and Conquest of the Gods looks bright despite the Kickstarter ending prematurely.
To make this all a reality I need to cover three major areas of cost;
- Firstly Demigod Games really needs some plant and equipment – top on that list is a decent laser cutter. This was what I wanted the Kickstarter campaign to fund. A laser is needed to make the model bases in-house as well as tokens and templates; I also have plans for some multi material terrain kits for each army that the laser would help move along. I also have hopes of moving the 3D prototyping in house in the long term.
- Minimum printing runs; this is up there next to the laser in both costs and how essential it is to get the models that are finished out there into the hands of customers. Doing larger print runs on packaging, books, cards and of course the hard cover rule book costs money. This is something I can chip away at slowly and I’ll need to weight up how to approach some of these issues in the New Year.
- Moulding costs; moulding costs are an issue for any game system like this, but when there are over 100 sculpts in the launch range, this magnifies the issue. In light of feedback from my mould maker, there are a few sculpts that I want to go back and touch up a little to make them easier to mould and these improvements will make some of the details even more pronounced, and that’s never a bad thing when you’re looking at adding a layer or two of paint to the sculpts. Cancelling the Kickstarter has actually bought me more time to get this sorted – its less of a major issue but just helps take the quality of everything up another notch.
Enough jibber jabber, what’s on the way?
The plan is that 2015 will see the release of the starter sets as well as some of the models that were lined up as expansion goals once I have my hands on that laser and a packaging solution I’m happy with. These will probably go straight up on to an online store as well as going to the few stores who want to stock the game. I’m not currently planning on re-doing the Kickstarter as the money and time I would need to invest on re-launching that would be much better invested into the above items to finish everything off. I might consider Kickstarter after everything is finished, but the more I think about it the more I think it’s probably not the best platform for what I’m doing and for what I am trying to achieve for my brand. I think would be much better off having a launch sale or something along those lines for those who really just want some kind of discount to get in on the ground level.
2015 will see the moulding and casting of as most, if not all of the models, including the larger models. I’ll continue to just just chip away at them one at a time, slowly releasing the entire launch range over a 12 to 18 month period. I also plan to tie up the core rule book and release it electronically as well as doing a print run of the Mini-rule book to go out with the starter sets. The big leather bound version full of art and fiction will get printed as soon as i have the capital to do a minimum print run.
So here is a taste of things to come, behold the 3D model we are about to break up for printing, the mighty Jotunn for the Norse army.
By looking at a number of other options I will have more capital to play with as I’m not spending money on advertising, giving 10% to Kickstarter etc… and by taking this approach i can do it without having to stress about meeting pre-determined delivery deadlines and the logistics involved in doing a major world wide release all in one go. I can instead release it at a pace that is comfortable for me and the company, after all I’m doing this for fun and to share my passion (my income is not dependent on the games success). For some reason I got it in my head that I had to do a ‘Kickstarter’ to launch the game… this resulted in me losing sight of what is important for my, my game and its long term future.
I think because many of the game sites have built an industry around Kickstarter and in some cases are almost dependant on it, I had this false perception in my head that Kickstarter was necessary– this is of course silly, I can release the game the old fashioned way in stores, conventions and (not so old-fashioned) online. This lets me focus my efforts on building a loyal fan base and a building a community around the game.
I will be releasing more details on what’s on the way for each army as with this change in direction, I don’t need to keep things as secret. I was only keeping them secret to announce them as stretch goals for Kickstarter and I think we can throw that concept to one side and just focus on what’s important, making the best game with the best miniatures range we possibly can.