Day 13: What’s the most you’ve spent on a Kickstarter game relative to the amount of play it received?

Do small press publishers even attempt to release games without a Kickstarter campaign any more? I have no idea. Literally every small press game I’ve gotten for the past uh…three years, maybe four, have had Kickstarter campaigns. I may have gotten them via drivethrurpg later, but when they first appeared? Kickstarter.

I’m a Kickstarter “superbacker” and I have a lot of very mixed feelings about that. Super happy that I’ve backed stuff, and super happy to have supported and made friends along the way! But it’s as nearly frictionless a pathway for money out of my wallet as Kindle’s in-gizmo shopping tool. I’m already pretty impulsive and susceptible to hype. It’s something I’m working on.

My real answer: Either Ryuutama at $50 and no plays, or Fall of Magic at $78 and one play. Yes I know how math works. But I feeeeel like Ryuutama is gonna hit the table, maybe with family, at some point whereas my Fall experience was instructive that it was something I didn’t actually have to own (but I’d be happy to sit for a table of it at a con, and someone else’s copy).

Oh wait…The Clay That Woke at $73 and no plays — went all in on the wood chits — good choice as well. But! I’ve got a couple folks locally who have expressed actual interest in the game (they rarely express interest, just happily play what’s on offer). I’ve been rereading and I’m getting excited to try it as well. I’m thinking about minotaurs, Paul Czege!

Oh…Timewatch at $40 and I’m never going to play it. Gumshoe and a very cinematic, not-serious take on the subject. What was I thinking? I know me better than this.

Hmm…Undying at $79 for the hardback, pretty steep, might get one play.

As far as getting stuff to the table: I can’t tell where my intrigue for a game stops and where my desire to recoup my investment starts. Never in my life have I spent so much money sight-unseen. And this is what makes the indie world go ’round these days. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I know I’ve slowed down my backing pace; I wonder if that’s a widespread phenomenon? I’m sure KS has the stats.

28 thoughts on “Day 13: What’s the most you’ve spent on a Kickstarter game relative to the amount of play it received?”

  1. I also back a lot of things on Kickstarter that don’t get played – mostly at the PDF level. I am wholly okay with this, because it gets money into the hobby.

    Paul Beakley what about your inverse? What’s the least you’ve spent with the most plays?

  2. I had a similar thing with Bomb Squad: got caught up in the hype, then realized it’s Hanabi with a timer and a map. Sorry, but that’s too stressful. Traded it off.

  3. My actually copy of Fall of Magic has zero plays. I backed it, the KS finished, I played it at a con and it didn’t click for me, ta da. I’d like to think of it as a cautionary tale, but I think you’re actually supposed to change your behavior because of those.

  4. I have no idea is this is true or just me projecting, but I think that while Kickstarter has been good at lubricating financial transactions it means that the hype cycle doesn’t reach crescendo when the games are in an actual playable state so the games get less play than they would have with a more conventional publishing model. It certainly seems like everybody launches through Kickstarter now, but I’m wondering if it’s actually a good model, either for the designers/publishers themselves or the indie ecosystem overall.

  5. None of my personal projects (Age of Arthur, Starfall, Out of the Furnace) were Kickstarted. But apart from Age of Arthur, they’re small, even compared to other indie games, with only about 100 sales (along with a Bundle of Holding in the case of Starfall).

  6. Paul Mitchener I understand Bundle of Holding inclusion can be verrry lucrative.

    Maybe you should be Kickstarting. Why are you not? (Not asked in a confrontational way, I’m genuinely curious.)

  7. I’m a superbacker and I’ve slowed down a fair bit (I say with 3 campaigns still in queue, I CAN QUIT ANYTIME).

    I don’t know about highest spends with least plays (a number are tied in the 40-50 range). I don’t go in whole hog unless I know I’ll play the shit out of a game, and so far the ones I’ve backed high level I either got my money’s worth long before the KS started, or since. If I had to judge it’d probably be something in the mid tier – for me it’s probably Fate Core or 7th Sea. I love the Evil Hat guys to bits, but Fate is so not my jam. Similar scenario with 7th sea. I loved to read the books (and they’re super pretty, great reference material, and well laid out) but … yeah.

  8. Disaster Looms – $75.00- zero plays little wish to do so.

    The same is true for most of the board games I purchased. I swore off buying more, but then that Thornwatch campaign surfaced and it was right up my alley….

    My view of it is that Kickstarter has become more of support service to build a following for a launch. Which is not what it started as, an incubator for new ideas and business

  9. Ryuutama was worth it for just the pretty book. I actually went back after the PDF was produced and upgraded to the print level. I do wish more people would do that. Still a pretty book that got used would probably be better.

    [And yes also a superbacker and feeling the burn of unplayed games.]

  10. Paul Beakley​, I still find the idea of starting a Kickstarter super intimidating…what if it doesn’t fund? What if the game’s late and backers start shouting at me? How do I put together a good video?

    On the other hand, I’m quite happy with the logistics of planning small projects: trade some favours, plan to recover art costs with 50 to 100 copies (possibly involving more favours), and it’s ready when it’s ready. Anything more than recovering costs is a bonus, and it’s less stress all round.

    Though I would dearly love to put together a game where I had a bigger budget, especially for art. I’m not yet sure it’s worth what would be stress for me.

    It’s a very fair question.

    There are a few games of mine being Kickstarted by other bigger companies in the near future (and I was brought in as a stretch goal earlier in the year). If those all go well, I may change my mind.

  11. Paul Mitchener dude, I hear you!

    It’s why I have been so very hesitant to get a Patreon going. What if nobody backs me? Just doing my thing here is easy and I don’t have to face reality in a way that getting $22/mo would force me to.

  12. Paul Beakley​ funnily enough I do have a Patron going. It’s a pay per item, where I come up with something once every few months. It doesn’t feel like as much stress to me, but I think having something every month would.

    The worrying thing was that the first dozen or so backers were people I know well, and it felt disturbingly like I was monetising my friends.

  13. luke crane a followup: is that the superbackers deepening their support, or is the base broadening? Like…are you pulling in more new backers? Is that visible to you?

  14. I didn’t Kickstart With Great Power. I realized that as primarily a one-person operation I had the gumption to run a Kickstarter or to finish the game, bit not both. So I decided to publish like we used to in 2005. It was the right call for me.

    As a backer, I don’t back much, due to budget. I never have any expectation of play, so the the question doesn’t quite feel relevant to me.

  15. Paul Beakley I haven’t looked at the backer numbers for RPGs in specific, but the pool of tabletop backers is growing this year. I think up to 1.3M from 1.2M. But in general on the site, most money comes from repeat backers, super or otherwise.

  16. [REDACTED]

    It might be the old D-Day Dice set. Or possibly Tak.

    Or Unknown Armies, but I don’t have it yet.

    I backed Fall of Magic, only played twice via Hangouts. I’m hoping to use the artifact with my kids or in the classroom for students.

    Also, I don’t know why I’m not a superbacker. Maybe they haven’t gotten to the Ks yet.

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