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How to add 5 stretch goals to your board game without breaking the bank

Stretch goals have become a big part of Kickstarter campaign. While they aren’t mandatory, they certainly can enhance your game and make it even more appealing to backers.

Often, these stretch goals come in the form of component upgrades and additional content that are unlocked when the project reaches certain milestones. These milestones are often based on funding amounts, but can also be tied to social stretch goals like social media shares, likes, Facebook group membership growth, etc.

Interesting stretch goals can keep backers coming back to your page and get potential backers even more excited about your game.

I recently interviewed Sarah and Kerry from Panda Game Manufacturing for the Board Game Design Virtual Summit and spoke with them a lot about components, costs, and stretch goals.

Between this interview, other discussions with Sarah, and my own observations, I have put together my thoughts to share with you on how to use stretch goals to improve your project.

However, there are also many ways that stretch goals can actually hurt your project and make your game harder to fulfil. So, let’s start with those, then we’ll talk about what you can add that will be more beneficial for your campaign.

What to avoid

It’s always a good idea to talk to your manufacturer about anything you’re considering adding to your game. There may be additional costs or other factors you weren’t aware of, so make sure you’re in the know before making any promises to your backers. You don’t want to find out after you’ve promised backers that new figure that it will cost you thousands more for the mold to create it!

It’s best to have figured out most, if not all, of the stretch goals you plan to add to your campaign before you ever launch. This will give you an idea of how many you have to offer, how to space them out, and what order to introduce them.

Now, having said that, you also want to have some flexibility so that you can include your backers in your project and make them feel like they are part of the creation process. If someone has a great idea, you can consider this and discuss with your manufacturer.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to add everything that is suggested. You should, however, thank backers for their ideas and contributions. Even if you can’t add something now, especially something that would require time and development, you can always let them know you will consider this for a future version or expansion.

Avoid adding anything that will add a lot of production cost and weight to your game, such as metal coins, unless you’ve already priced this all out. Shipping can easily cost more than production, and every time you add something new to your game, you increase the risk of moving to the next tier of shipping prices due to the weight.

There’s a famous story of Jamey Stegmaier narrowly avoiding hitting the stretch goal for metal coins for his first game, Viticulture. Had he met this goal, it would have added a lot of cost and weight to the box, and this could have sunk his company before he had the chance to grow it into what Stonemaier Games has become today.

So, watch for things that will add a lot more cost or weight to your game, or would delay the production due to additional playtesting and development time.

Increasing your perceived value

Even if you’re not adding a lot of cost to your production, you’ll want to make it feel like your game is being made more premium through your stretch goals.

What we’re talking about here is perceived value.

This is where people feel like they are getting more and are receiving a good value.

Here are some examples of 5 things you can add to your campaign that will make your game more appealing without breaking the bank:

  • Additional cards
  • UV spot finish on your box top
  • Custom meeples
  • Upgraded card quality
  • Wooden components

These upgrades often won’t cost you that much, but they can make your game feel more premium.

Other considerations

Don’t give away all your stretch goals upfront. Leave some room for new ideas, changing the order of your stretch goals, backer polls, and to evoke curiosity.

You don’t know how quickly you’ll fund or what your final funding level will be. You could meet your funding goal quickly and then blow through all your stretch goals too early or if your campaign moves more slowly, you will be creeping towards your funding goal and may leave backers disappointed about what could have been.

My advice is to not reveal any stretch goals until you hit your funding goal or at least until you’ve gotten past your first day or two of the campaign if you don’t fund that quickly. Set your sights on meeting your funding goal. Then you can introduce some cool new additions.

Once you see how your campaign is trending, you can introduce the first couple of stretch goals on your page and space these and others out fairly equally. Keep one or two of your next stretch goals at a time shown on your page as you continue to unlock them. This gives your backers attainable goals to meet and a reason to keep coming back to your page.

A good rule of thumb is that if your game funds in the first 2 days, you can expect your campaign to finish with about 3 times what you’ve brought in on these 2 days. In general, those first 2 days bring in around 1/3 of your total funds, so space your stretch goals accordingly.

Next week we’ll discuss pledge managers and how to use them to save yourself some money while adding more sales after your campaign has ended.

What do you think of the idea of stretch goals? Do you have any questions about them?

Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Want to know how to launch your game on Kickstarter and keep your campaign running smoothly? Download my free Kickstarter Checklist now!

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6 comments

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    Thank you for the insight makes it easy to keep up. I saw bard’s tale start at one prince for the game then a new pledge tier opened up. towards the end of the game a third tier opened up. I stayed with he lowest one but was amazing watching the changes from the lower tiers to the higher ones. Joe thank you for the insight.

    My pleasure, Charles!

    Yes, a creator always has the option of including all pledge levels upfront or adding more as the campaign is running. The latter can be effective to encourage upgrades or add something that wasn’t originally planned, however, I prefer giving potential backers the choice on launch day. There’s no guarantee they will return and upgrade later.

    Hi, Joe. Another good article. For myself, I have been contemplating using stretch goals or not for the last six years while working on my game. The end result is I would rather not use them as it is just too much number crunching to ensure you can still meet the quota. My first choice is to have a core set of just cardboard standees and tokens. The deluxe version is miniatures. I would then use add ons for extra deck of cards and possibly extra minis. I already have the quotes for both sets from the manufacturers. It is still many months before I can even consider going to kickstarter, so I have time to change my mind to using stretch goals.

    Thanks, Warren.

    Yes, stretch goals definitely can be game and project-specific. You don’t want to force them or have them be integral parts of the game that you’re adding back in.

    Also, as a first-time creator especially, you need to be clear about costs, weight, and impacts to your schedule whenever you consider a stretch goal. All are important things to keep in mind!

    Hi Joe, Thank you for sharing your experience in this article.
    I am a little curious about the use of stretch goals. As a creator, do you feel like your game is incomplete if it doesn’t reach a certain stretch goal ?
    Like the card quality for example. I would rather include a good card quality from the start than making a stretch goal out of it. And if the campaign doesn’t finish that’s sad, but at least I didn’t sell a boardgame with a lower quality than what I wanted.
    What’s your opinion ?

    Hi Sebastien,

    Thanks for your comments and questions.

    You never want your game to feel incomplete. I would never want to cut something out and then add it in as a stretch goal. That feels disingenuous. But upgraded components and an improved experience can be nice additions. Plus, if you fall short of a stretch goal that you really wanted to include, you can always say “close enough” and add it in as a free bonus. That’s underpromising and over-delivering. Nobody will be upset with this!