Star Trek Continues - Space: The Final Frontier...

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How Not To Run A Kickstarter Campaign

There is a kickstarter up right now called The Game of Politics. Regardless of whether you share the creator’s political beliefs, you can learn a lot from him about how *not* to run a Kickstarter campaign.

His first and probably biggest mistake is that Kickstarter is not a charity, but he treats his campaign as a donation drive. This leads to a lot of very bad decisions. When you’re running a campaign, don’t ask for “donations” or “gifts”.

All of his pledge levels until the $500 level are effectively freebies. In other words, the backers effectively get nothing if they back for less than $500. Think about that. How many people have a spare $500 laying around? From that group of people, how many are willing to spend $500 on a board game? From that group of people, how many are willing to spend it on an “educational” board game? He’s effectively reduced his potential audience to zero. 

His first pledge level is $10. Your first pledge on Kickstarter should pretty much always be $1. The people backing at that level want to get updates from you, and they most likely aren’t willing to pledge $10 to get those updates.

His funding goal is $87,000. While there have certainly been campaigns that make far more than that, it is a ridiculous amount of money for his first campaign, and especially for what he calls an educational board game. Educational board games are a hard sell, so the audience is limited. On top of that, he says that he wants to do a run of 5,000 copies. Let’s say he’s budgeting 1/3 profit, 1/3 manufacturing, 1/3 shipping and kickstarter fees. That means $29,000 for manufacturing. That means he’s getting his games produced for $5.80 each copy, but he’s selling it for $500 a copy.  Even if we assume he was going for $0 profit, and his manufacturing costs were $58,000, that still comes to only $11.60 per copy. So why is he charging $500? Even the most gullible consumer can smell a rip off that big. 

He has $1,000, $5,000, $7,500, and even $10,000 pledge levels. Unless you’re offering dinner with a celebrity, a vacation package, or a gold plated version of your product, those pledge levels are never going to sell. Don’t waste your time or your prospective backer’s time with ridiculous pledge levels. It’s ok to use asymmetric dominance (aka the decoy effect) to entice people to make a choice you want to make, but ridiculous pledges don’t do that.

Lack of imagery. Art and imagery sells games. He’s created some videos, and taken photographs of his game. However, he doesn’t display them on his campaign page. Instead, he makes the user click to a third-party web site he created for the game. This is problematic for 2 reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that people don’t want to wait for yet another page to load, so show it to them on this page. The second is that Kickstarter almost certainly has more infrastructure than you do. In his case, his web site is now down because he’s over his bandwidth quota from his hosting provider.  So now even those people that would follow the link can’t see his game.

And finally, in his “Risks and Challenges” section, he basically admits that he’s attempting to skirt copyright law by using images he found on the internet, and that he has a legal scheme to defend his use. Even if his legal defense works out, his description taints the campaign and makes it feel like a scam.

In short, you can’t just slap up a campaign page and expect to raise huge amounts of money. You need to do some research about what people expect, what campaigns are successful, and how they were successful. And failing that, just don’t make any of the choices this guy made. 

Madison Game Design Cabal Tonight

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Perl Encryption Primer

Timm Murray gave his Perl Encryption Primer talk last night at MadMongers. He’s been blogging about it for the past month. The posts are quite informative so you should check them out. There’s also a video up on YouTube about it now.

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Negotiating 101

Learning how to negotiate is a skill that can take you far in life and in business. Whether it be to negotiate a better price on the next car you buy or more favorable terms on a lease of an apartment or office building, learn to haggle.

Here are some basic tactics I use when in a haggling situation:

  • Never accept the first offer. If you’re at a consignment store and there is a list price of $5, offer them $3, and settle for $4.
  • If you can’t negotiate on price, negotiate on terms. For example if you’re leasing an apartment or office, get them to throw in some extra service like mowing the lawn.
  • Put your opponent on uneven ground, it will make them more likely to give you some concession. An easy way to do this is to let them know you’ve just spoken with one of their competitors.
  • It never hurts to ask. Even if what you think you’re asking for is crazy, ask anyway.