Most people would argue that there are two great things about crowdfunding: free money and cool swag. While other people giving me money, and people wanting to sell me really awesome swag are both high on my list of things that are awesome, I would like to add a third item: meeting and getting to know some of the other really great members of the community.
There’s a kind of networking where everyone is trying to sell each other things – the kind you feel the need for a shower after, and then there is the kind where you actually connect with another passionate and intelligent innovator. Though I have seen some of the former on Kickstarter, the majority of my experiences have fallen into the later camp. I’ve learned a quite a bit and gotten some great advice in fact; earlier this week one of my fellow creators turned me on to an article that mirrors some of the things I have been saying about Kickstarter’s broader effects.
Want to take a read?
Not so long ago I made a post about Queen Games; in the comments of that post it turned into a discussion about what that behavior would do to FLGS’s (friendly local game store) that sell queen products. Back in September I discussed what effects the hyper-successful Reaper campaign would have on the same. To me it seemed like a logical chain of events. Just like the overtaxed Colorado river, there are only a certain amount of dollars available for all those selling nerd friendly products. Though the occasional crossover line of merchandising (I’m looking at you Pokemon) can occasionally increase the size of the pie for everyone, in general for every dollar a gamer spends on Kickstarter, that is a dollar they will not spend somewhere else.
Gary, over at Black Diamond Games said, “There is only one reason I’m avoiding Kickstarter derived products: It doesn’t make me money.” This is a pretty fair thing for a FLGS owner to say. He went on to discuss this point in significant detail – I thought the best take away was the following:
Kickstarter projects of the small to medium tier variety, have successfully saturated their market. They simply don’t need me. Is Kickstarter the disruptive technology that will destroy my buggy whip operation? Nobody knows, honestly, but it is far more disruptive than other newer mediums. It’s still very new and evolving, and there may be a place for the game trade at the table. As a percentage of the game trade and a percentage of my sales, Kickstarter projects are negligible right now. Kickstarter tends to suck the energy out of the experimental fringe, outlier games that welike to carry where we could usually sell a couple now and then, but it has little effect on the mainstream, where the money is at, what most game stores actually sell. But I do see that pie expanding and the problems growing. We all want to get along and have a prosperous, symbiotic relationship, but I don’t see how that’s going to happen, at least not now.
Gary’s comments seem to mirror the game store owner I know personally, and I think his heart is in the right place. I personally worry that the ever-expanding wars between Wal-Mart and Amazon will someday grow to encompass the niche product that is gaming. Online-super-efficient-everything and same day shipping. If the future is all robots, how does anyone make the money to buy the good and services of said robots?
As I suppose is becoming the usual, I agree and disagree with Gary’s decision not to sell Kickstarter-funded games. I’m just a customer, not a shop owner, so my take is purely from the consumer end, but here’s my thinking: Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Black Diamond Games is my FLGS, and that I back Kickstarter at about the level I do now, or slightly less (as it does get expensive.)
1. I just found out about a cool game that was funded through Kickstarter before I could back it. I guess I’ll wait until it’s released and buy it from my FLGS. What? He’s not selling it? Unfortunate. Amazon is, so I guess I’ll buy it there.
2. I’m backing two games already, and I can’t quite bring myself to back a third. Guess I’ll wait until it’s released and buy it from my FLGS. Or not. There’s another FGS that’s slightly less L, and they have it, so I’ll get it there.
3. I don’t need to buy Boss Monster (for example), as I’m a backer, but I really liked the project and the guys running it, so I want to support them once the game comes out. I’d tell my friends who didn’t back it to pop over to my FLGS to pick up a copy, but…oh well, they’re selling it on their web site.
I’ve spent a lot of money backing games on Kickstarter, it’s true, and while it’s technically true that I could have spent that at the FLGS, I may not have done that. Chances are, if I didn’t back games on Kickstarter, I’d probably spend less on games. But you know, in addition to backing some games, I’ve been doing a lot more gaming since I started poking around Kickstarter, and I’m always looking for new games to play until my KS stuff comes in. That means that my FLGS has sold me more Heroclix, Cthulhu Gloom, and Graverobbers From Outer Space in recent months.
Basically, Gary seems to see Kickstarter as a competitor, feeding from the same limited funding pool, and that’s true to an extent. But it’s also a pool that can grow and shrink depending on interest. Right now, my available gaming funds are growing due to Kickstarter, and there just aren’t a lot of games I want to back right now. I’m backing “Storm The Castle”, but after that? Nothing. So my FLGS reaps the rewards.
Gary absolutely should be choosy about what he carries, but I assume he’s doing that already. A lot of successfully-funded KS games look like crap anyhow, and were I a FLGS owner, I wouldn’t carry them on consignment. But some games look really good, and will probably sell to people who don’t use Kickstarter, or who don’t want to wait through the funding-to-published gap. A game like Storm the Castle could be a big seller for a FLGS. 980 people are backing it right now, but that’s a tiny fraction of available gamers. Boss Monster, I predict that’s going to be Munchkin-level huge, and any FLGS that carries it will be happy they did.
I may be an atypical customer, but I don’t think I am. If I’m not, then Kickstarter isn’t the enemy of the FLGS unless it’s made to be.
As a FLGS owner I am right on par with Brian’s assessment here. Each owner has a different view on a lot of these types of topics and I could definitely say I would not ‘Ban’ a product that was on kickstarter as it that could have disastrous effect on my store. I understand where the Black Diamond owner is coming from, but the point made about people missing a project that looks amazing and can’t wait for it to come out should say it all.
There are quite a few projects that kickstarter actually brought to my attention, so I mentioned it to the ordering crew to make sure they put it on the list to carry it. It’s all in how one wants to use the service. If nothing else it can be used to ‘Scope out’ new or interesting games.
With that said, I do not see Kickstarter as the competition, if I used that mentality I would have to block ordering any games that are available on Board Game Geek.com.
Hope you have all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I see this as a much healthier approach to Kickstarter than the Black Diamond shunning method.
It should also be pointed out that the savvy Kickstarter project creators actually include retailer-only levels. Because they WANT their game to be in stores.
Queen games included a retailer level reward, that give you zero benefit for taking it. Very disappointing. To make it worth the retailers time, that reward level has to be half off cover price.
I’m not sure a lot of those savvy creators you are mentioning are aware of that.
Anyone want to take bets on how long until Queen Games goes back to the well?
Yeah, Queen Games seems to be working at a completely different game than most project creators. They’re definitely using Kickstarter as a makeshift storefront.
Their current game, “Lost Legends”, ends in a couple of days. My guess is that they’ll have another game up on KS before the second week of December.