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Kickstarter Lessons: You don’t have to go crazy with stretch goals

Last week we talked about the fact that no matter how well you plan your Kickstarter campaign, there will always be something unexpected that comes your way. This week we’re going to tackle something you definitely need to plan for: stretch goals.

While planning for stretch goals is a wise idea, at the same time, you want to maintain some flexibility in case one of your backers comes up with an amazing idea and you want to find a way to include this as part of your game.

Just be careful not to promise something you can’t deliver on!

Set Backer Expectations for Stretch Goals

It’s come to be expected that your Kickstarter campaign will include stretch goals, however, this is not something that is mandatory. Plenty of games and other projects have done just fine with few or no stretch goals. Some backers may complain if the game hits its funding goal and nothing is added beyond this point, but if you are up front about this on your campaign page and FAQ section, you will have set your expectations and can refer backers to this.

If you do decide to include stretch goals, you’ll want to ensure they enhance your game but are not necessary for players to enjoy your game. Things like solo modes and important cards should be part of the base game rather than something that is unlocked during the course of your campaign. If your game has a great solo mode, celebrate this. Tacking it on after the funding goal is met will feel just like that – something that was tacked on.

Stretch goals are a great way of keeping backers engaged after they’ve already shown you their support. They can generate conversation and can even be items that they vote on in polls, giving your backers more say in your campaign. This could even be as simple as having them vote on the next stretch goal to be unlocked. You might know the next 3 stretch goals you are planning on releasing, but you can give your backers the power to choose which one they want to see next.

The Benefits of Planning Out Your Stretch Goals

One of the main reasons you should be thinking about stretch goals well in advance of your campaign and have them all (or mostly) figured out in advance is predictability.

If you’ve already spoken to your manufacturer and you know exactly how much more it will cost to include 10 more cards, customize your meeples, or include something else as part of a particular pledge level, you’ll be able to build this into the pledge level pricing. You’ll know that your additional components will fit in the box and that the weight won’t be tipped into the next shipping category and cost you $3-4 more per game.

These confirmations can help prevent your campaign from becoming unprofitable, or worse, costing you more than you’re bringing in (which has happened to plenty of creators).

You’ll be able to know that once you have enough backers, you’ll be able to increase your order quantity from 500 to 1,000, or from 1,000 to 2,000. Every jump in order quantity will bring down the cost per unit price, allowing you to invest that back into your game and make it an even better experience for your backers.

Another huge benefit is being able to pace your stretch goals so that you can attempt to meet them all.

Backers love to see that they’ve supported a game where all stretch goals have been unlocked. So, if you know you have 10 things you’d like to include, you can hold off mentioning what they are and when they will be reached until you’ve hit your initial funding goal and are able to make some reasonable estimates around what funding your project will likely accomplish. Then, you can pace out the stretch goals to be met at roughly equal intervals, culminating with your final stretch goal being met on your final day.

If your campaign funds quickly on day one, you might choose to include 10 stretch goals, whereas if it takes more time to accomplish this, you might combine the 10 upgrades in some way to create 5 stretch goals. It’s really up to you and whether the associated funding will allow for you to include everything you wanted to be part of the campaign.

Keep Some Flexibility with Stretch Goals

It’s also important to note that part of Kickstarter that makes it different than just ordering a game from a store is the sense of community. Some backers want to have some say in what is included in a project (or at least feel like their voice is being heard).

You’ll get some great ideas. In my campaign for Relics of Rajavihara for example, I had suggestions that ranged from great and very manageable (like custom meeple ideas) to completely off-the-wall (hollow out the blocks and fill them with sand to weight them).

Backers can come up with some pretty interesting ideas. The important thing is to acknowledge all of them and thank your backers for their suggestions. That doesn’t mean you have to include every one of them in your game (this would be a recipe for disaster!). But you should at least thank them, let them know you’ll consider the idea, and move forward with your game in the direction you think is best.

It may turn out to be a great idea, but one that would take a lot of playtesting and development time, thus derailing your project timelines (as well as having no guarantee it will actually work!), so you can always let them know you will consider this for a future edition or expansion.

Having the flexibility to adapt and add small wins for your backers and hold onto those other ideas they come up with that may need more thought is key.

What are some of your favourite stretch goals you’ve seen in a game you’ve backed?

Please leave a comment and let me know!

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    Joe, I need your help. It looks I will have the privilege of teaching 15 adults Eurogames on Zoom next year. It will be a challenge, because each adult member of the Plato Society of L.A. will need the first of two hours to teach us such games as Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico, Settlers of Catan, Wingspan, Power Grid, e.g. Will we need a soecial camera. How can the movments around the board and the use of pieces (meeple, tiles, etc.) be shown graphically to the assembled members on Zoom? Is Zoom even workable for a group of 15 to learn boardgames and play the second of the two-hour weekly get-together? Would we have to make a YouTube of the game instructions? How would that be accomplished?

    Hey, Jay!

    This does sound like a challenge. The teaching part wouldn’t be too bad, as long as you can position a webcam or camera that can stream the game properly. Overhead view is probably best. There may be components or cards that you will want to show close up, so you’ll want to ensure that the camera focuses well on them when they are displayed.

    Even better might be to record the rules explanation video prior. This would allow you to change viewpoints between cuts and explain everything in detail. People could also watch them on their own time and go over anything that wasn’t clear multiple times. However, there are lots of “how to play” videos already out there for many games, likely including all the ones you have mentioned. Could you use these existing resources and just supplement them with a Q&A to answer anything that needs clarification?

    As for actually playing the games over Zoom, this could be more of a challenge. Sure, players could tell the “game master” who is streaming the overhead view of play where they want to move and what they want to do, but it could be clunky. Also, if there is any hidden information, such as hidden goals or other cards, it would be very difficult to only allow players access to their own information.

    Have you ever tried Board Game Arena? It’s a great site with digital implementations of hundreds of board games. It’s free to play, but easier to organize specific gaming events if at least one person at each “table” has a premium account (which is only a few dollars per month). It doesn’t have all the games you’ve listed above, but I know they have Carcassonne, and they may have some other Euro games that your group could play.

    I hope this is helpful!