Views on a Kickstarter

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in Blog | 2,295 comments

Views on a Kickstarter

Written by Admin |

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To Kickstarter or not to Kickstarter, that is the question

And boy is that the question!  We’ve been launching product lines in the tabletop miniatures market for over eight years and funded each and every one of them ourselves.

Kickstarter hadn’t even been born when Spartan Games launched and the whole idea of crowd funding – if anyone even knew the name – was a mere twinkle in someone’s eye.  But now it’s mainstream.  As a business we meet lots of businesses from other sectors and we meet financiers and they’re all talking about crowd funding.  Even government bodies designed to advise businesses are listing crowd funding as a legitimate source of finance.  So the landscape has clearly changed.

In the tabletop miniatures sector, Kickstarter projects are all around us.  In the past we felt that this source of funding was originally designed for the sole inventor who had a creative idea, but couldn’t raise funds from sources that you might describe as conventional.  But things are very different now.  Major players in our sector and other sectors are using Kickstarter regularly and for core product lines, not just crazy new creative ideas.  It’s still used by the sole inventor working alongside his day job in his spare room, but now it’s also used by many of the established market leaders who have been in business for many years.

And who can blame them?  Ask any accountant and they’ll agree that raising development funds before spending them is a marvellous idea!  Look at the savings you’d make if you could pay for Christmas without the aid of a credit card, or buy your home without a mortgage – you’d save all the interest payments.  There would be dedicated funds for the project and a good clear idea exactly what the interest is for the product line.  Even better, you know months (and in some cases, years) in advance exactly how many widgets you need to ship on release.  All that makes life very simple for a manufacturer.

So what about Spartan Games and Kickstarter

Those with a good memory (or the ability to enter our name into the Kickstarter search box) will know that almost three years ago we set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a range of scenery.  We felt the idea was a good one, but it fell short of its goal because we didn’t explain it well enough to inspire enough people, so we withdrew it.  We just put it down to experience at the time and learned from it.

However, we now feel the time is right to embrace Kickstarter, but only in a way that that’s good for us, and all our customers, and that includes retailers.

Is Kickstarter “retailer” friendly?

One of the complaints levied at Kickstarter projects is that they are in danger of collecting so much of the product line’s revenue up front, that they don’t leave anything for retailers.  As we’ve said before in our Blogs, we believe that retailers are vital for our industry.  Your Local Gaming Store provides so much more than just products.  They host events, they have gaming space, they have expertise and people you can talk to.  It doesn’t make any sense to produce a product line without embracing retailers.  Therefore, when we embark on a Kickstarter, we’ll include a way for retailers to take part.

So how will Spartan Games use Kickstarter?

Right now it won’t be for a new game!  You gave us feedback that made that clear to us, and we have now conducted a survey to learn exactly what you want us to develop.  The data collated by the survey is fantastic and we’d like to thank those of you who took part.  The results have allowed us to go back to the drawing board and – most importantly – with your survey data driving it we are reshaping our Kickstarter plans.

Naturally the up-front funding is a benefit to us and we’re not pretending that it isn’t, but so is the opportunity for ongoing dialog.  It’s a product developers’ dream to have feedback during the design process, or it should be.  As the design process evolves, backers from a Kickstarter campaign are exactly the people to share ideas with while the ideas can still be refined.  Design is a journey that’s challenging at times, but also very exciting.  It’s a great opportunity to have an audience of people with a vested interest in the product to share that journey with.

When we told the market we were looking at Kickstarter, some weren’t sure of the merits of a Kickstarter and whether it was appropriate for established manufacturers.  If you’ve read this far, you’ll realise that we have given a lot of thought to Kickstarter and its merits today.  We believe it is now appropriate for established manufacturers.  We hope you are open to that point of view, as the reality is that manufacturers have already embraced the concept in droves and there are many, many examples of them using Kickstarter.

The survey told us that most of you are open to this.  Over two thirds of those who participated in the survey told us that yes, they felt fine about Spartan Games using Kickstarter and the vast majority of those people had no problem with the idea at all.  When we add in those that told us they didn’t mind either way, we’re up to well over three quarters of respondents.

We have concluded that, like it or not, Kickstarter is here, being used in our sector very widely and we’d better find a way that works for us and our customers or we risk being left behind.  And now we know from the survey, that the vast majority of our customers are fine with it.

We’re now embracing Kickstarter as a way to accelerate our development efforts, to draw in new creative talent to create print materials and new models which take our game systems and grow them in the direction you want. And thanks to the data from our survey we know exactly what to create for you!

So, we’ll embark on the journey and very much hope you will come with us and enjoy the experience of a Spartan Games Kickstarter Campaign.