Road to Kickstarter Episode #2 - What are we trying to achieve?
Early next year, through my label The World Anvil Publishing (TWA), I’m going to launch a new tabletop RPG game on Kickstarter for the English market. This series of articles documents the process from now to Day 1 of the campaign.
In the previous piece, I explained the context for the decision of using Kickstarter for translating a tabletop RPG game that TWA has launched in 2019, to a good response, on the Italian market. The game will be called, for the international market, Evolution Pulse Rebirth. I the article I also outline the two main issues to solve before going live with this campaign:
- We don’t have an English-speaking community
- We need to figure out international shipping, or this won’t fly
If you want to know more, go back and read it. From this article onward, we’ll talk about plans, ideas and solutions to tackle these issues, and all the other work related to creating a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Assessing the situation
The very first thing I did was doing some drafts calculations regarding pledges, tiers, platform fees, shipping costs, etc. This was useful to give me a general idea of “how things looked”. While that part is absolutely crucial, we’ll look at it later on in this series, because what I want to discuss today is what I call the Rebirth Operational Plan or ROP.
The purpose of the ROP is to clarify what we’re trying to do, what are the resources at our disposal, and what obstacles need overcoming.
This was initially in a Google Slide format, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll paraphrase and open up the essential parts.
Campaign Objectives: what do we consider success?
On this slide, I listed:
- The public goal. This is the number backers of the campaign will see as the monetary goal. Is there a difference between public and internal goals? There is, so keep reading.
In the interest of funding fast and accommodate Kickstarter’s algorithm, it is of the utmost importance that the goal of the campaign is reached as soon as possible. If that goal is achieved within the first two days of the campaign, some triggers in the algorithm go off, favoring your campaign over others. That means, basically, that Kickstarter will serve it to an audience you probably have no other ways to reach over a variety of sections and spotlights. This, in turn, makes your campaign fund faster, which pleases the algorithm, which makes your campaign fund faster, and so on.
Long story short: while it would always be wise to ask for what you actually need to make the product, more often than not, as a creator, you are incentivised to take a risk, lowering your public funding goal in the hope of funding fast. The downside of doing so without taking a calculated risk is that you might end up with a campaign to fulfill and not enough money to do so.
In this initial stage, I’m setting that number to 5000€, an amount which I think we can hit relatively fast if we do certain things right (more on that later), but not enough to cover all expenses.
- The minimum internal goal. If the public goal becomes just a number you’re confident to hit fast, that also means that you have a real goal, or an internal goal, which indicates your actual break-even threshold. That’s not a simple number to come up with, because your projections can’t project the full potential of your project, but they need to show you “what happens if things go average.” When there’s a variety of Tiers, most of your estimates will be rough.
For now, I set that number to 7000€. That should more or less cover all expenses for the backers we’ll end up with if we reach but DO NOT surpass 7000€ by any significant amount. Again, that is a rough estimation. The difference with the public goal, 2000€ (7000€-5000€), is the amount I’m willing to risk from my own pocket to get things done and successfully deliver the campaign. Of course, my goal is to fund well enough that this never becomes the case.
- We’ll consider this a success at X€. “X” is the number I came up with to signify that not only we’d be covering all expenses if we hit that, but we’d also make a little bit of profit. After working for months on a campaign that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Again, this is a rough estimation based on the calculations I’ll go into in a future episode. Initially, that number for us will be 12 500€. You might wonder: but isn’t anything you get over 7000€ profit? The answer is no because if we fund more, it also means we need to send into production and deliver additional items. While some of the costs are fixed, others scale according to the final number of backers.
- Our average pledge goal is Y€. “Y” is the “sweet spot pledge” where we want backers to be, on average, by the end of the campaign (how doesn’t matter, it can be any combination of pledge + add-ons). That number also tells us that we need to provide enough value for people to confidently pledge, on average, “Y”.
That number for us is 45€, which we obtained crunching the numbers of campaigns similar to what we have in mind. Now, if you paid attention, you’d know that to reach my public goal of 5000€ at 45€ (on average) per backer, I need about 111 backers to fund the campaign. Sounds feasible.
- Our backers’ goal is Z. “Z,” in this case, is the number of backers we want to aim for. Considering that our first campaign, in Italian only, ended up with 178 backers, it seems quite reasonable that we could do a bit better on this one, given the international audience and all.
I want that number to be 300+, see why in the next section. The initial projections (we’ll look at the numbers in a later Episode), indicate that value to be 450+, which suits me just fine. I promise you I’m not just pulling these numbers out of my ass, but take them with a grain of salt — I might be wrong.
Project Objectives: what do we hope the outcome to be?
Now that we have established how I want this campaign to perform, let’s see what are the Project Objectives, or why are we running this campaign?
- To create an English-speaking customer base that we can bring along for future Kickstarter projects. If this campaign goes well, then the game is (literally) on: we can plan and execute more game projects for an international audience.
- To learn how to deal with the international market. While we have now experience with our internal market (Italy), we need to understand the inner workings of the global game market a bit better. I was leading the marketing team for this campaign: while the campaign itself went well, I had professionally moved on before fulfillment (just to be clear, I was employed by the company, not an owner). Perhaps I’m too cautious here, but I want to start TWA’s international adventure with a small-scale project and take it from there.
- To reuse existing material. The core product for Evolution Pulse Rebirth is entirely written, playtested, and illustrated, and there are good reviews out. While there might be changes and improvements introduced as a result of the Kickstarter campaign, most of the creative work is done — what we’ll focus on are physical improvements to the books, bonus material, accessories, and translation.
- To create a user base for our new system, the MONAD Echo. If the game is funded, and people like it, we have plans for more IPs using the same system. And because getting people to try something that is not D&D is hard, it’s always good if part of the audience already knows and appreciates the alternative game system you’re going to use. That’s pretty much Fria Ligan’s strategy with the Year Zero system, which has been doing exceptionally well for them.
- Not lose money. This is self-explanatory, but margins are tight when you consider all expenses (including taxes and company-related fees). Even a break-even in this first phase would be a success, provided we have gained new customers.
- BONUS — generate enough profit to justify all the work. As mentioned earlier, preparing, running, and delivering on a crowdfunding campaign is a lot of work which often goes unpaid. Our previous campaign kept us busy for over two years (it was worth it).
These are our measurable objectives. In the next episode, we’ll continue opening up the ROP, taking a closer look at what stands in our way to eternal glory, and what are the resources at our disposal to tackle potential problems.
Thank you for following, and I hope you’ll be back for Episode #3!
Want to learn more about Evolution Pulse Rebirth? Get the Quickstart PDF HERE.
I also run a couple of crowdfunding courses focused on games HERE, take a look.
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