A couple of weeks ago, Brotherwise Games sent me a copy of their Kickstarted game, Boss Monster. Normally, as those who read this column regularly know, I am not a big fan of Kickstarter or Kickstarted games for three reasons: 1) People who are really interested in the game, and thus the most active purchasers, will buy it during the Kickstarter campaign; 2) Most companies using Kickstarter use a “fire and forget” approach to marketing their game. Once the launch is over with, that’s it. The company sells what they can of the production run and moves onto the next product with no program or strategy in place to promote their current catalog, 3) When companies offer retailer levels, either the retailer has to wait a long time to receive the product, often not getting it until after consumer purchasers received theirs or the retailer level does not offer enough of a discount from retail price to justify the investment. In the first case, while the Reaper Bones Kickstarter offered a great deal for retailers, it still remains that the consumer market will be flooded with figures from the Vampire level long before the first of the retailer packages ship. In the second case, not more than thirty minutes ago I received an email from a new company touting their new game on Kickstarter, offering a retailer level price of $15 on a game with an MSRP of $26.99, giving stores a retail markup of 44%, not enough to justify taking a flyer on an untested product, when I know I can invest the money in other games, get a larger markup and know they will sell.
So what do I like about Boss Monster and Brotherwise Games? First, it circumvents problem number one as I have had people contact me about purchasing Boss Monster after they played it with someone who backed the game’s Kickstarter and other’s have shown interest in it after playing our demo copy. The whole “People who buy the game via Kickstarter, play it with their friends and their friends will buy a copy from the local FLGS” rational for bringing in a croudsourced game has never held up in practice, with this the first one I remember people wanting to buy after the original release (well , this and Cards Against Humanity, but that’s a special case).
There was no retailer level in the original Boss Monster Kickstarter so that problem really didn’t apply (looks as if they raised plenty of money to get the game into production without any funding from retailers). It looks as if Boss Monster will solicit through regular channels of distribution. At least part of their promotional campaign (moving on to #3) involves ads in both Alliance’s Game Trade Magazine and ACD’s Meeple Monthly, as well as sending out promotional copies of the game to both tabletop and video game websites.. Whether or not any of the sites receiving a promo copy write it up, you don’t know. That’s the nature of public relations, no control over outcome. It’s not a detailed plan, certainly not a long term one, but it is more than many companies launching a Kickstarter have after the production run ends, putting the company ahead of the game, so to speak.