I’ve crunched the numbers from our modest Kickstarter campaign for Flaming Pyramids from earlier this year and thought some turkey talk and other thoughts–just in time for Christmas–could be of interest to other aspiring creators.
Our initial campaign stalled so we decided to cancel it and come back with a lower target, knowing that Cheeky Parrot could kick in the additional funds that would be needed to produce the print run. In between we also sought a few more reviews, tweaked the look of the campaign page, and succumbed to the apparent necessity of adding some stretch goals. The second campaign launched more strongly, then meandered toward the target, reached it halfway through, then accelerated again in the final three days.
In the end, 172 backers pledged $6251 gross for a total of 189 copies of the game. I am anticipating that a few more copies will still need to be sent in case of loss, damage, or finally getting addresses from a couple of the backers.
Kickstarter was unable to collect pledges from just two backers; they also would have deducted their fees from each of the 170 successful pledges, so in the final accounting, Cheeky Parrot actually received $5616.75 from Kickstarter.
Our profit from this amount, after subtracting the landed cost to get the backers’ games manufactured and shipped to New Zealand, the postage and mailing materials to fulfill the pledges from here, and the GST I’ll need to pay on games sold to Kiwi backers, was $2774.94 i.e. roughly half the cost of manufacturing and landing the entire print run of 1008 copies.
The leftover copies are selling via our pre-existing retailer network. The game arrived a little later than expected, but in the past two and a half weeks, our retailers have purchased 94 copies. This compares well with our top seller, Hoard, which hit the market in November 2016 and sold 120 copies prior to Christmas of that year.
Was the campaign worth it? I have mixed feelings.
On the plus side is $2775 profit at a point in the year when the company’s finances would have been stretched to meet the cost of the entire print run on its own. For the New Zealand-bound copies that went to individuals, we made several dollars more per unit than we would have selling wholesale to retailers; on the other hand we’re always loathe to compete with our retailers. Despite heavily subsidising the postage for foreign backers, we made a little more per unit from them, mainly because those purchases were GST exempt but also because the average shipping price turned out to be a little less than I’d estimated.
I suppose Kickstarter is a way to build the company’s profile in foreign markets where we hope to eventually establish an ongoing presence, though our new and continuing fans seem like drops in those oceans, and the campaign hasn’t made me feel any more ready to attempt to navigate them.
The initial campaign’s failure has curbed the enthusiasm I had after Hoard’s success on the platform. My feeling is now that for the simpler, affordable sort of family games Cheeky Parrot produces, Kickstarter isn’t a great fit as it requires creators to jump through hoops that wouldn’t be necessary otherwise (such as making a video, buying or making extra prototypes to solicit reviews, and playing the stretch goal game–more about that in my blog about Hoard’s Kickstarter) and which can eat up valuable time if you’re trying to get a new product to market for Christmas shoppers.
So I’ll never say never, but I can say Kickstarter won’t be part of my plan to publish our next title, Flipology, though I may be cheeky and use its communications channel to try to sell some copies to overseas fans who otherwise wouldn’t see it at their friendly local board game shop for a while.