The Board Game Design Course

Where great games begin

Game Design

The Exact Numbers Needed to Get Your Game Funded: A Case Study

Dusty and Amy Droz were guests at the recent Board Game Design Summit and Dusty had some really helpful stats and conversion rates to share with us on one of the panels. There was a lot of great information there, so I asked if he would be willing to share what he had used to ensure their game Botany would be a crowdfunding success story.

Thankfully, he agreed, so I’m going to share his thoughts and calculations here as a case study. Obviously what they did worked well, as their first crowdfunding campaign raised $1,057,307 with 15,105 backers. There’s a lot of wisdom here, so enjoy!

We started with the backer conversion rate in mind. The numbers I’ve seen by different channel are:

Email: 1% to 3%

Kickstarter Follower: 8% to 11%

$1 Pre-Campaign Promo Purchase (which we do through LaunchBoom): 35% to 45% 

I’m sure there are other places around the internet with different numbers, but those are the ones we work with for our own planning. If I want to know that we have a good chance of success, I assume the worst-case scenario for all my numbers. If the lowest pledge tier I have is $39, that’s the one I use for calculations as if every single backer took the lowest pledge option. Then I take the lowest percentage in the conversion range for each channel and multiply it by the number of followers I have in that channel to get the total estimated converted backers. Then I multiply that by that minimum order value to get the expected revenue from the channel:

For example, using the email channel, if I have 1,000 emails:

1,000 (total emails) x 0.01 (1% conversion rate) = 10 converted backers. 10 x $39 (lowest pledge tier) = $390. This is the amount I can expect to make in conversions from this sales channel. 

Another example using our actual LaunchBoom numbers: 

2,600 ($1 pre-campaign promo purchases) x 0.35 (35% conversion rate. Our actual conversion rate on this channel was 48% but we’re only looking at the expected low end of the range right now) = 910 converted backers. 910 x $39 (lowest pledge tier) = $35,490. This is the amount I can expect to make in conversions from this sales channel. 

You can combine the numbers from each of your follower channels but you need to be a little careful because you could have people on your email list who also follow your Kickstarter campaign page and also bought the $1 pre-campaign so the number will come up inflated. I usually recommend just looking at each individual channel by itself for the most conservative estimate of your campaign readiness numbers. 

After that, I compare the expected number to the amount I would like to make. For example, if my game costs $8/unit and my minimum order quantity is 1,500 units, then I need to bring in $12,000 in pledges to cover that. Beyond that, depending on how you view your fixed costs for your game, you can also factor in development costs (art, graphic design, prototypes, etc), advertising costs, and whatnot. 

For Botany, we considered our campaign a success once we hit $22,000. That was the amount of revenue we needed to pay for our minimum order quantity and cover our advertising costs. (Note this is different from the $5000 goal we put on our campaign because that was the minimum amount we needed to fund the project on Kickstarter, and we would find the rest of the money as needed to reach that internal goal of $22,000.) So, compare the $22,000 to the $35,490 estimate from our example above, and we felt very comfortable that we were ready to launch our campaign.

The Exact Numbers Needed to Get Your Game Funded: A Case Study 1
The Exact Numbers Needed to Get Your Game Funded: A Case Study 2

Again, all of this assumes only the lowest numbers possible in each variable and also assumes you will get no backers from any other channel and no organic backers on Kickstarter. You never know for sure how things will turn out, but it’s definitely better going into it with a pretty good guess as opposed to going in with no idea whatsoever. Hopefully that all makes sense and answers the question well!

Thanks so much, Dusty! This is a great way to look at your stats and be confident that you are going to hit your funding goal and more.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    hi Joe ,a very interesting article. I was only looking last night at a video about their kickstarter campaign and I picked up a few nuggets of wisdom from them. One thing I found fascinating was the fact that they got a following from the gardening community. This was a surprise to me, as I read an article by the brilliant Jamey Stegmaier who I have great admiration for. He said , that when he was promoting [viticulture] that he thought he would get a lot of wine drinkers to pledge to the campaign. I don’t think this transpired, as he said 99% of backers were the gaming community. I hope I am correct in what I have said.
    Do you think for the botany campaign, the fact that they were looking for only 5000 dollars was a good move. Did it entice more people to back the campaign, especially the fact that it was their first. Finally, do you think building up an email list is crucial to a successful campaign.
    before I go, a big congratulations to Dusty and Amy, what you did is most inspiring.

    Thanks, Kieran! Yes, I too read about Jamey’s survey of Viticulture backers, who were predominantly gamers rather than wine drinkers (or in some cases both). I believe that Amy and Dusty actively aimed this game at flower enthusiasts and it resonated with them.

    I know that Amy and Dusty were willing to fund any additional costs above $5,000 themselves should that be all they received from the campaign, so this was an accurate reflection of the minimum they needed to have the game produced, even if they had to go out of pocket for the rest. That’s a decision that every publisher will have to make for themselves. Please note that this differs from using an artificially low goal and planning to still cancel the campaign if you don’t wildly overfund. In my opinion, your funding goal should be the minimum you need to bring your project to life and should accurately reflect this.

    Having a lower funding goal does have some advantages. The biggest one is that you can fund quickly, which will help get your game seen by more potential backers. People like to back a winner and crowdfunding platforms are also more likely to promote funded campaigns.

    Yes, I do feel that building an audience, especially through emails, is crucial to your success or at least to be more successful.

    I agree their story is truly inspiring!