Serious Question – Are Stretch Goals Necessary For Your Campaign?
Once your campaign funds, how do you keep backers interested in your game and checking back on your project page? Many creators use stretch goals.
But what is a stretch goal?
What are the pros and cons of using them?
And why did I choose not to use any stretch goals on my latest campaign, 14 Frantic Minutes?
What is a stretch goal?
A stretch goal is an additional goal, above and beyond the initial funding goal requirements of the project.
In the corporate world, a stretch goal is seen as a difficult-to-achieve but highly sought-after result, one that you may not be expected to actually achieve 100%. But in the world of crowdfunding, stretch goals are seen more as small bonuses that can be unlocked to give even more to your backers.
I was interested to learn more about how this concept came to crowdfunding and tried to research the first Kickstarter project to ever use stretch goals but wasn’t able to find the answer. If you know which project this was, please feel free to leave this in the comments!
If your project is already funded but you want to keep up your momentum, engage with your backers more in the hopes of creating super fans, and help ease people who are on the fence to back your project, stretch goals can be an effective way to do this.
The thought is that once you reach your funding goal, you have enough to bring your project to life. So, if you can get more backers and more funding, you can lower your cost per unit and invest some of these savings into making your project even more awesome.
Common stretch goals for board game projects include improved card quality, more content (for example bonus cards, more character cards, more events, more scenarios, etc.), and upgraded components (such as upgrading bits from cardboard to wood).
If you’re going to use stretch goals for your campaign, I ask you to avoid using solo modes or anything else along these lines as a stretch goal, as they will feel very much like an afterthought. If something is crucial to your game at any player count, it should be part of the base game, not a stretch goal. They should enhance your game, not be an integral part of gameplay.
Many projects introduce multiple stretch goals, sometimes in the double digits, spaced out so that there will be new, exciting additions added regularly to the game, plus the added curiosity of wondering what will be revealed next.
The pros and cons of stretch goals
While stretch goals have become quite common, especially for board games, they are not a requirement for your crowdfunding campaign. Remember that they weren’t always part of the equation.
Plenty of campaigns have also intentionally avoided stretch goals for some of the reasons I’m going to discuss here and have done just fine without them. There are times when stretch goals can be quite appropriate and effective, and other times when your campaign may be better off without them.
If stretch goals are able to add even more great content and enhance the experience, they can certainly be worth including. But if they don’t really bring more excitement to your game, you may choose not to include any.
Here are some pros in favor of using stretch goals:
- They can make your game more appealing to backers
- Increases traffic to your page, as new people and existing backers visit your campaign
- Allows you to introduce things backers have suggested (this can make them even more invested in your game)
- You may have had other things you wanted to initially include in your game but could only do so with more funding
Stretch goals can definitely help your campaign if they are done right.
However, there are also some potential cons with stretch goals to consider:
- You may promise something that is untested or cannot be implemented
- Additional content may increase production costs, box weight, and shipping costs
- They may delay your production timelines
These issues are not to be taken lightly. Even a slight change to the weight of your box could put it into the next pricing tier for shipping. Multiply a $5 charge by your number of backers and you could be looking at a serious amount of money. This could turn your once profitable campaign to break even or from break even to a loss very quickly.
If you are going to use stretch goals, my advice is to do the following:
- Test and plan any potential stretch goals well in advance
- Get quotes from your manufacturer so that you know how these will impact your game (box size, weight, etc.)
- Don’t make any promises to backers before you have all the information you need
You might get some great suggestions from backers during your campaign. It’s tempting to get caught up in the excitement and say yes, but you’re best off gathering all the information you need before making any promises.
If the new idea would require testing and development or may delay your production or increase costs by a decent factor, it’s best to thank them for the idea and let them know you are looking into this for a future edition or possible expansion. Show appreciation for their enthusiasm and make sure they know they have been heard but don’t promise something you may not be able to deliver.
Why I chose not to use stretch goals in my current campaign
My co-designer, Sylvain, and I discussed stretch goals for our current project, 14 Frantic Minutes, multiple times. Ultimately, we decided that we were better off avoiding using them in this campaign.
Quite often, stretch goals are used as a bit of a gimmick. Creators could have included all of them in the initial offering, but they sometimes decide to leave them out and add them back in incrementally throughout the campaign as stretch goals to make it more enticing.
That’s not to say that this happens with every campaign. Sometimes, a genuinely good idea is introduced by a backer that gets included as a stretch goal or a particular component isn’t affordable until you meet a new threshold is met and the unit cost drops to allow this to be included.
14 Frantic Minutes stands up very well as a game on its own. We didn’t want to leave any cards or components out, as that would have taken away from the gameplay and experience.
We did discuss some ideas like a UV spot finish on the box or upgraded card quality but ultimately felt that these were minor improvements that wouldn’t really excite backers that much or make our campaign much more successful.
We could have added in more level cards, but the 30 we had were well-tested, and new ones would have required more time and testing that we didn’t necessarily have. They would have added even more combinations of challenges, but with 30 existing level cards, 21 challenge cards, and a soundtrack that has you moving very quickly, it would be very difficult for anyone to memorize any solutions, especially when you have to connect a different combination of nodes in different rooms each time you play. So, replayability has already been well built-in.
Ultimately, we felt that 14 Frantic Minutes was a really solid, tension-filled game, and the addition of stretch goals didn’t make as much sense as it would with some other games.
I should note that on my previous campaign, Montalo’s Revenge, I also avoided using any stretch goals, and it did quite well, raising over 16 times its funding goal. So, you can see that stretch goals aren’t necessarily crucial to be successful.
A couple of backers did ask about bonus levels on that last campaign though since I did have some included as stretch goals in the original Relics of Rajavihara campaign. Fortunately, I had been working on some new levels that were undergoing testing, so when they were ready, I just threw in these 5 bonus levels as an added thank you for all my backers on the Montalo’s Revenge campaign.
That’s another approach you can take and one we might consider again for 14 Frantic Minutes or other future projects.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, you’ll want to consider whether or not it makes sense to include stretch goals in your crowdfunding campaign. If they work well with your project, they could bring in more backers and generate more excitement for your project.
However, make sure your stretch goals are well planned out if you intend on using any. Know how they will impact your project in terms of production time, box size, box weight, and shipping.
Don’t promise anything to backers that you can’t follow through on. Make sure to keep their expectations reasonable but also always thank your backers for any ideas they share. You never know if one might be useful for a future edition or expansion!
What are your thoughts on using stretch goals? Are they something you look for in a campaign as a backer?
Please leave a comment and let me know!