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Made in us
Mutating Changebringer





Pennsylvania

The recent campaign on Kickstarter for Raging Heroes' Toughest Girls of The Galaxy (hereafter RH and TGG, respectively) line of female 28mm scale science-fiction miniatures has engendered substantial controversy.

Through this analysis I hope to discern what new elements were present in the TGG campaign, what known pitfalls they may have fallen into and if there are any lessons that can be drawn from this experience. By examining and comparing the data (pledge and backers per day especially) of multiple campaigns, statements by RH through their mailings and campaign updates and interviews and communications with RH staff and Heralds,

Please note, the purpose of this exercise is not to malign or demean the staff of RH, the Raging Heralds or the backers in general. Nor is it to imply that this is a rigorously statistical analysis. What it is is an attempt to take what information we do have and see if any conclusions can be drawn.

Premise
While Raging Heroes successfully utilized advertising and publicity, ultimately garnering almost three-quarters of a million dollars, confusion and errors in planning prevented maximum exploitation of their campaign's innovations.

Data
Raging Heroes – The Toughest Girls of the Galaxy





Relic Knights
Spoiler:



Deadzone
Spoiler:



Dreadball
Spoiler:



Arena Rex
Spoiler:



MYTH
Spoiler:



Kingdom Death: Monster
Spoiler:




Reaper Miniatures Bones
Spoiler:



Zombicide
Spoiler:



Sedition Wars
Spoiler:



Something Wicked this way comes! Crusader plastic Model (Dreamforge Games)
Spoiler:




Conclusions
The shape of things, or, how do you know when there is a problem?
Moreso then perhaps any recent Kickstarter campaign, RH made good use of social media and advertising to foster awareness of their TGG campaign prior to launch. Partly this may be attributed to the long delays they were subject to. The original announcement on January 26, 2012 was distributed by email and much discussed on DakkaDakka.

Discussion would continue for nearly five months, until the actual launch on June 4th. While RH would endure much snickering about their tardiness, they would continue to “prime the pump”: running Facebook contests, previewing concept art and recruiting a volunteer force of enthusiasts (the Raging Herald program, below). The results speak for themselves in a comparison of the opening pledges of various campaigns;
Note on definitions of terms;
Spoiler:
the "opening" number is the sum of the first three calender days according to kictraq, "Final Days" is a little more murky, it should be the last 3 calender days, but as many pointed out, TGG ended at like 8AM EST. So for TGG the "Final Days" is the last four (4) calender days.

I usually didn't change things, if only because I don't have information allowing me to do so with confidence. The only other exception is in the case of Kingdom Death: Monster where the campaign began at Midnight on Black Friday, but for some reason a tiny sliver of pledges are placed on the day before. I considered the first full day Black Friday and added the money from the previous calender day to that.

"Interim" is simply the balance that is not included in the previous two categories.




Within the field of miniature and miniature-oriented boardgame campaigns that are commonly discussed on Dakka, no campaign achieved the same level of initial backer success as TGG. Easily besting former contenders such as Relic Knights, Mantic's Dreadball and Deadzone, TGG would even exceed the lofty heights of Kingdom Death's Monster campaign!

With such an initial influx of support, it would be reasonable to think that TGG might topple the giants in the field of miniature campaigns. However, examination of the full campaign period for the campaigns shown above reveals something quite different;


It has been observed that “nobody panics when things go according to plan”, and during the campaign much (digital) ink was spilled in the argument of whether or not TGG was following the “typical” patterns of such campaigns. With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that TGG clearly did not follow the normal patterns of similar campaigns. Below we see the relative distribution of pledges in several campaigns,



Almost without exception successful campaigns their final three-day span the pledges will exceed the pledges of their opening three-days. That is not not the case here: TGG produced approximately 44% in the opening days, generated 31% in the interim before a final surge that made up 25% (N.B., owing to the vagaries of Kictraq, I combined the final four calender days for the final three).

Translation and other travails
While, in the main, the updates and comments by RH were in unproblematic English, it has been suggested to me (rather forcefully) that certain comments are the result of vary levels of familiarity with English and its idioms. In the absence of evidence to the contrary I accept this explanation.

I accept it in part because there were number of unfortunate statements made at various times during the campaign that were, simply put, otherwise inexplicable. The most egregious of these instances is almost certainly Update #57;

Spoiler:
Will you be seeing more renders?
Update #57 · Jul 5, 2013 · 25 comments

I think the best way to answer that is to share a conversation we had on Facebook a couple of days ago:
Question: “Dunno if this has been answered - You say you will email people once the KS is over asking for what models they want to spend their pledge on - will we get to see all the models in 3d sculpt/3d print or even in resin/metal cast BEFORE choosing?
I ask because with several of the concepts its hard to visualize the end product.”

Asharah Raging: “Well, production will happen over several months, so it is unlikely that all the models will be available to be shown in 3D or cast before the survey is sent...”
Question: “So we will have to spend our pledge based on the concept sketches for some of the characters/troops/mechs etc? Just asking because I know I, personally, am on the fence about several heroines and the mecha until I see how they look in 3D. After the unveil of the Kurg heavy troops, too, there was a lot of mixed opinion on the transition from concept to sculpt. People will be pretty hacked off if they spend their pledge on a concept then the print is subtly different to the point they don't like it”
Asharah Raging: “I'm not sure what to tell you. Compared to most other companies, our sculpts are very very very close to the concepts. But there will always be subtle changes to make sure that the models are castable and not too fragile. And please remember that we showed the models of the Troops BEFORE THEY WERE FINISHED. We will make sure NEVER to do that again. We did that mainly because of scale issues on which we wanted people's feedback. This means that these renders were shown mostly to help us get a better feel for what the backers were looking for in terms of proportions and scale, and some details were clearly stated to be unfinished. We were VERY clear about that, but nevertheless, many people did not bother to read the comments, drew many mistaken conclusions about these images, and shared them with everyone.
To be able to produce such a large quantity of sculpt at the same time, we have a very specific workflow.
One of its particularities is that we do not develop each sculpt individually and one after the other.
Instead, we work on large sections of the product range all at once.
So, when we write that “80% of the sculpting process is done”, it means precisely that: 80% of the sculpting work that is required to send the minis to 3D printing is done.
It does not mean that 80% of the sculpts are done. One person put it this way: "100% of the minis are 80% ready”, and that's a good way to summarise it.
As we already explained in this update on 'One-Shot Blondie, from concept to 3D print', we revise a sculpt MANY times before we send it to print. This is what ENSURES the quality of the Raging Heroes sculpts.
In a project like the TGG Kickstarter, it is also crucial that we take the time to review and compare all the sculpts against each other before we finalize them to guarantee the overall integrity and continuity of the range.
"So yes, we could show you some sculpts that are 80% done. But our previous experience has confirmed to us that this is not the right thing to do. We've already shared the Heroine 3D renders that we feel are very representative of what the 3 armies will look like.
If you don't feel confident about the final product, then I can certainly understand that, and you should perhaps not take the chance to be unhappy down the road. I know that most people that have seen our work trust us to get it right, and most of the time, they actually often find the actual casts BETTER than what they had anticipated from the final 3D renders!
And also, sometimes, there may be a few concepts that we think we can actually improve upon when we sculpt them, for example, Yoko and Dr von X....
But again, that is entirely up to you and we certainly won't hold it against you if you don't want to pledge for certain things.
I hope that helps...”
Reply: “Yes and no. What I'd ask then is if people can change their pledge spending or only spend a little of it at a time. What I mean by that is could someone for example, when the first survey comes out asking what you spend your pledge on, only tell you which of the FIRST WAVE models they want, and assign the rest later?”
Asharah Raging: "Sure!" That's a very fair request and we will be working to implement a pledge management that will allow this.
If you are already familiar with Raging Heroes, you know that every time we have a new release, we put the 3D renders on our blog and ask people for feedback. Every time, this allows us to correct minor details so that everyone is happiest with the sculpt.
We will of course work in the same manner for the TGG minis. Our goal is not to trap you with minis you wouldn't like, but on the contrary, to bring you the best possible characters and troops. (And it's a lot saner, in our opinion, to do that outside of the Kickstarter madness.) So, please be assured that you'll be able to voice your comments and concerns at that stage, and that we will listen to them.
...


Emphasis in original. Whatsoever one feels about the wisdom of recoiling from the reaction of the customer and pronouncing “We will make sure NEVER to do that again”, the more distressing element is the citation of “100% of the minis are 80% ready”. A statement that had indeed been bandied about, not least of which on Dakka... in jest.


Everything Old...
Finally, there was much discussion in some circles pondering the similarities and differences between TGG and the subject of my previous post mortem, the Through the Breach campaign (I addressed the matter with characteristic humility). Sufficed to say, in my preparations for this document I realized that a great deal of what had been said there can be said once again. Rather then repeat these points I invite the reader to look over that document, and consider this a continuation and refinement of those themes.

Why Did It Happen?
Unlike the TtB campaign, the problematic elements of TGG did not appear to spring from a fundamentally different idea of how Kickstarter works.

Rather, it is fairly clear that the problematic elements of the TGG campaign all arose from a simple cause: RH completely underestimated their prospective audience. Having primed their prospective customers for months, they found themselves utterly adrift as a tidal wave of pledges tore their plan free from its moorings. They as much as admit so in all caps on the front page of the campaign.

What is clear is that they had planned for a (relatively) small campaign, perhaps a few hundred thousand, capable of funding the Heroines and units shown in shadow since the campaign began.

While we cannot know precisely what their cost structures are, we do have the benefit of extrapolating from existing campaigns with similar products, such as Tre Manor's campaigns and Bombshell Miniature's. Single metal figures range from $1-5 thousand to get into production, so let us hypothesize that TGG's initial line-up might have taken in the range of $150-450,000 to fully fund.

So, what happened after the first three days either completely or mostly funded their line? They panicked. In the final days of the campaign even the pretense was dropped that there was (as is usually the case) a connection between the pledge money they were taking in and their ability to tool various products. That is, in most (all?) campaigns there is a connection between what the amount of additional pledge money that must be taken in and the ability of the company to tool and produce the additional options. It is understood that sometimes a stretch goal may be taking up slack for other, more aggressively set stretch goals, but that is not what happened here.

Put simply, at the least until they began beating the drum of “Uber-Stretch Goals”, it seems entirely likely that everything that existed even in the planning phase had been funded, and thy were scrambling to a) stretch out the reveals in the interest of continuing interest in the campaign while they b) produce new things for backers to pledge for.

Going by the Book, and when to throw it out
A recurring element of frustration with the campaign was the way in which RH chose to follow “what Kickstarter recommended” rather then look to the experience of successful campaigns.

Among other things, this led to their arcane and overly complex pledge levels as well as a sustained reluctance to put out updates. The pledge level problem would be intractable: well into the final week comments on the campaign board would be posted with questions about the free use of pledge funds, and indeed the actual pledge levels are painfully awkward to read.

What made this so frustrating was that this problem isn't new, it's about as old as miniature based kickstarter campaigns themselves. Overly descriptive and restrictive pledge levels are a problem that countless campaigns have dealt with in the past, and yet it seems that many campaigns must re-invent the wheel.

It's Invaluable..., or, Say Whaaaaaa?
One of the most puzzling elements of the campaign was the “estimated retail value” that RH insisted on using, a valuation so opaque and convoluted that it defies reason. Simply put, RH used an unstated formula to produce a “estimated retail value” that corresponded neither to the best deal possible, nor the worst deal, nor indeed to any variety of average of these.

Considering how varied the discounts were on various items, and that these values were fairly clearly stated, it is puzzling why they even felt the need to provide this estimate.

The Herald Program
One of the most innovative elements of the TGG campaign was RH's use of “Raging Heralds”, volunteers who coordinated with RH and with each other through social media. This, theoretically, allowed for a distribution of labor that would prevent the relatively small staff of RH (3-5 people) from being swamped by the campaign.

Unfortunately, while the Heralds performed their duties to the degree they were able, and indeed do appear to have been successful in collating feedback and pushing specific items for production, they were by definition unable to remedy the structural problems that RH suffered from. Ultimately a volunteer force is capable only of relaying information, not making decisions.

Nevertheless, the Herald program is an element of the campaign that would appear to have been almost entirely successfully implemented. Future campaigns, especially by smaller companies, would do well to look into the idea of a group of eager volunteers to whom certain tasks can be delegated.

Lessons to Take Away
All of the above may create the impression that TGG was a failure or riddled with poor planning, so let me clearly and unambiguously state for the reader;

The TGG campaign was a success.

Such questions and critiques that are raised here are not to diminish what was accomplished, but to ask if it could have been done better, and if so, how so.

Certain points seem to flow from what has been seen;

Advertisement and Social Media are powerful, but dangerous, tools: given months of work establishing expectations, previewing concept art and innumerable other ways of generating excitement, a campaign can achieve amazing initial success. The problem with this initial success is, of course, that you now have a massive number of people with expectations that have to be met.

RH made decisions in response to expectations that may have made sense in the campaign, but could prove detrimental in the long run. For example, in order to justify not releasing more renders, RH committed to a policy of not locking-in pledge selections until “sculpts are finalised[sic]”. While this may ultimately be to the benefit of the consumer in getting what they want, the logistical hurdles RH have now placed before themselves are breathtaking. Until sculpts are finalized RH will have no idea how many items they are obligated to produce. The “pledge manager” process common to many campaigns will not be limited to a few weeks or months after the campaign's end, but rather will drag on into 2014 as the last sculpts are being worked on.

Imagine a person pledging $100 for the four she-wolves, only to discover they bare little resemblance to what they were expecting... around February of next year, and instead order 6 boxes of troopers.

Plan for a castle in the sky, but prepare for a Winnebago: It cannot be stressed enough that a key to a well run campaign is planning for the impossible. Not least of all because it will save you time and effort in updates. RH frequently found themselves issuing updates only to quickly backtrack or modify what they had just stated. For example, in Update #60 they are very explicit that add-ons cannot be payed for with the balance of a pledge level... which they then change in the comments to state that you can do so.

Your audience may want the wing-man: It is a not uncommon occurrence in campaigns that a certain element, whether it be a throw-away image or in-joke or minor detail, seems to acquire a life of its own. In Bombshell Miniature's campaign the pets and relics proved far more popular then the planners imagined, and similarly here. While RH appears to have regarded their comments in the background of the Kurganova fiction regarding werewolves to be little more then fluff, there appears to have been an immense desire for such things among the backers.

The she-wolves were such an afterthought that between the original posting of the final “road map” and the reveal of their concept art the number of them changed, on account of more concept art!

While no doubt there are other worthy features of this campaign that I have yet to touch upon, I feel that this is probably a good start for discussion. Thank you for reading and I appreciate any comments or questions.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/07/17 05:53:51


   
Made in us
Sniping Reverend Moira





Cincinnati, Ohio

As expected, another fething brilliant treatise and evaluation of this campaign. I Internet love you, Buzz.

 
   
Made in us
Paingiver







Brilliant is the best adjective to describe this analysis.
I would love the chance to chat with you about the subject of crowd-sourcing in the gaming industry some time. You seem to have great insight in the matter and I'm sure I'm not the only one that would love to pick your brain. Please keep up the great threads.

   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

A well written post mortem,

I'd suggest you might want to group the campaigns that are pre-early bird together as I think that was a fundamental change in the KS metric 'forcing' early pledges

but doing so would not change your overall conclusions

 
   
Made in de
Decrepit Dakkanaut







1.) So one of the biggest complains is that they were more successful at mobilising potential early backers than most other campaigns? And that ignoring the marketing campaign, some people could expect a different pledge curve? Some people even predicted that there will be no end rush, but this kickstarter made 108k in the last 19 hours (as proven by this post http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/3150/530736.page#5817606 ).
2.) Another main complain is that they haven't planned for the impossible? While creating 3 new armies and being one of the first non US/UK based companies working months through all the kickstarter bureaucracy? I agree that God-like powers are sometimes lacking among kickstarter creators, but not everyone can be a God.
In the final days of the campaign even the pretense was dropped that there was (as is usually the case) a connection between the pledge money they were taking in and their ability to tool various products.

3.) I don't follow you on this, I see nothing related in the linked post. Obviously with around 400-500k they decided that all announced miniatures were funded, introducing new stretch goals with new unseen concepts in reasonable goal levels to get them financed.
4.) Some aggressive vocal posters wanted unlocks no matter what, they got more unlocks. Some aggressive vocal posters wanted more freebies, they got more freebies (in total $149 kickstarter value, 222$ retail). In many ways, RH reacted fast to vocal complains, is this bad, is this bad planning, is this panic? They stopped showing WIP renders though, because they felt that a constructive discussion wasn't possible in the heated atmosphere.
5.) Concerning successfull campaigns, you missed one important, maybe the most important criterium: It is not total revenue but total profit. While it is often kept secret for good reasons, it is an open secret that many gaming kickstarters hardly made any profit or even lost big time, with Reaper being the most prominent example. Their unlocking frenzy made pledges a steal, and many pledgers realized that. Reaper is probably big enough to survive the massive losses, small companies like RH couldn't afford something like that. Making realistic offers was one of the major concerns of RH, sometimes disappointing people crying for more.

It is always easy to say that a perfect campaign could have made more money in a parallel universe, but ca 700k is quite an achievement funding what it was meant to fund. Actually, if the undecided are fine with paying retail, even better. Too many kickstarters have killed the retail market for their products, e.g. Mantic is practically gone from the German market. This one still has good potential. So it is not Post Mortem, but Post Graviditatem.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2013/07/14 10:09:10


Hive Fleet Ouroboros (my Tyranid blog): http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/286852.page
The Dusk-Wraiths of Szith Morcane (my Dark Eldar blog): http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/364786.page
Kroothawk's Malifaux Blog http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/455759.page
If you want to understand the concept of the "Greater Good", read this article, and you never again call Tau commies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism 
   
Made in us
[DCM]
[***]







...

Anway, spot on Buzzsaw - another excellent 'post mortem'!

Careful, or you'll be tasked with one of these for every miniature based campaign of note!
   
Made in us
[DCM]
Last Remaining Whole C'Tan






Pleasant Valley, Iowa

 Kroothawk wrote:
It is always easy to say that a perfect campaign could have made more money in a parallel universe


I don't that's possible nor is that the purpose of this. Rather, I think that Kickstarter is a relatively new way of campaigning a project and it's useful to see what missteps were made, not to point and laugh but rather to help guide future kickstarters. As a matter of fact, you agree with that in that you posted how they were leery of the mistakes of the Reaper campaign as far as profitability went.

I thought it was a good writeup.

Also, going back to the main topic, there is this graph:

any comments or questions.


Wouldn't you think this sort of distribution that Raging Heroes had here is actually more desirable than the others? Certainly it allows ongoing planning to happen at a more workable rate than when you have, as Reaper did, the project more than double in the last 3 days.
   
Made in us
[DCM]
[***]







Ouze - that is probably the most interesting chart in there.

On the one hand, you're right - that might actually be the 'preferred' track - for some companies.

Maybe not so much for others?

I suppose it all comes down to just what each individual campaign and its creators are after.

And that's something that 99 times out of 100 only something they'll know!
   
Made in gr
Thermo-Optical Spekter





Greece

@Kroothawk

No reasonable company would just unlock stuff "just because" people may want whatever they want, a company has its health to ensure, the time unlocks meant that either RH have no grasp of basic business, which I doubt, or that the "time unlock" stuff have been payed long long ago, which makes more sense.

I feel Buzzsaw's analysis of having nothing planned and purposefully stalling makes sense,

"Update 3 dear backers... em you have unlocked everything and we have 28 more days to cover so bear with us we have to plan something up to show you"

would not have a nice ring to it, the final days had the boost they had because they actually delivered something new and something people wanted, not as in other kickstarters, because the offering had become too good to pass.

For me it was a kickstarter that started ended in the first 3 days and resumed in the final 3 days, was it successful? probably, one will never know if he isn't in the company, my estimation is it was, but the question was never this it was, or if it was not successful, the question was if it achieved its full potential, I think it didn't, among excuses (for injuries that may have happened on the most critical person at this stage, the concept artist) and bad communication (with some backpedaling) and odd timing (yay we achieved streachgoal! about two hours or more ago) it begs the question how much more it could have become if it was run better.

Now the worse part of the kickstarter is the odd inconsistencies, they promised almost exact copies of the concept art, then the renders for the troops came in heroic proportions to be compatible with GW (something they have never done), first they defended them and then when they became overwhelmed by the criticism they promised to fix them in the same proportions heroines are, then they showed the 3D print and kind of again defended the heroic proportions and then decided to not show anything not 100% ready..... it really makes me and a few other nervous n what we will really get in the end, it also makes me feel they cannot take feedback.

Time will tell of course its a rough start that will mark them for the future, I hope they run their next one better than this one.
   
Made in de
Dogged Kum






Thank you for the write-up, Buzzsaw!

You made a good point of addressing some strong and weak points (pre-launch marketing vs. poor communication, meeting built-up demand for more when nothing else is planned).

I also agree with Kroothawk on the points made about profit vs. money raised, and the general note that despite what people might think, not all crowd-funding projects are there to make as much as possible, but only as much as necessary. I see no reason why RH should have given in to all the fuzz from the "give me freebies"-crowd.

Currently playing: Infinity, Saga, X-Wing, Frostgrave 
   
Made in ca
Fixture of Dakka





Bathing in elitist French expats fumes

Buzz, thank you very much for that analysis. I think a few qualifiers might have been left out to make it more neutral, but you are on the whole very even-handed. It would be hard to deny that raking in 700K is a success.

But again, as PS just mentionned, the times unlocks felt like it was a reaction to the funding slowing down to a crawl, not a deliberate plan. We'll never know for sure, of course.

Personally, it's the renders that disappointed me. Not the renders themselves, but their reaction to the reactions. Sure, it takes a thick skin to weather the comments, but none of them were made in a "Ah! Ah! I hope they fail" kinda way. Everyone wanted them to have the best damn product possible. And it got people talking, implicated, instead of just waiting. It gave me the feeling that that's what we were there for: waiting. We pledged, thank you, now let us do our thing and stay there. I know Deadzone had to backtrack and re-work the Orx (still not super sculpts, imho) but they still kept on showing stuff. And people were into it.

This is the first time I saw people actually say they wanted to stay away from a thread, and they were not losing anything significant from doing so, because there were days when there was little to discuss.

 GamesWorkshop wrote:
And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!

 
   
Made in us
Fixture of Dakka






Sacramento, CA

Gotta agree with the crowd, great write-up once again!

-Emily Whitehouse| On The Lamb Games
 
   
Made in us
[DCM]
Last Remaining Whole C'Tan






Pleasant Valley, Iowa

treslibras wrote:
I also agree with Kroothawk on the points made about profit vs. money raised, and the general note that despite what people might think, not all crowd-funding projects are there to make as much as possible, but only as much as necessary.


One thing that I really don't like about Kickstarter is there is no way to cap a campaign - you can abort one if it gets totally and wildly out of hand, but there is no safety for when you start to cross the threshold from "my my conservative estimates are broken but I can do this" to "Well, they ordered 7 million widgets, I was planning to sell 200". I guess it's not really in Kickstarter's own interests to do this since they take a cut and the problem is then handed to the creator.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/07/14 16:00:07


 
   
Made in de
Decrepit Dakkanaut







 PsychoticStorm wrote:
@Kroothawk

No reasonable company would just unlock stuff "just because" people may want whatever they want, a company has its health to ensure, the time unlocks meant that either RH have no grasp of basic business, which I doubt, or that the "time unlock" stuff have been payed long long ago, which makes more sense.

1.) Several companies did ... and regretted it.
2.) RH did the time unlocks after 430,000 $ raised until 530,000 $ when everything announced was unlocked. It was safe to assume that the campaign could make 100,000$ in 12 days after 430,000 $ reached. So no need to call this "no grasp of basic business" or "paid long long ago".

Hive Fleet Ouroboros (my Tyranid blog): http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/286852.page
The Dusk-Wraiths of Szith Morcane (my Dark Eldar blog): http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/364786.page
Kroothawk's Malifaux Blog http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/455759.page
If you want to understand the concept of the "Greater Good", read this article, and you never again call Tau commies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism 
   
Made in us
[DCM]
[***]







 Ouze wrote:
I guess it's not really in Kickstarter's own interests to do this since they take a cut and the problem is then handed to the creator.



Good point there - KS currently has little incentive to throttle anyone's campaign back, as they certainly feel as is it is in no way their responsibility to make sure anything at all happens "post-Kickstarter".
   
Made in us
Fixture of Dakka






Great article. I found the 'retail price, look at your discount' super odd as that is all fictional savings, and the retail for some of the human-sized 28mm models were so drastically over the top of the market, the discounted price was still expensive.

I am super skeptical at the idea you are beating retail by kickstarting, especially when major kickstarts end up re-doing retail process post-KS and sometimes a model is cheaper at retail than it is in the KS. Because they hyped the fake retail price, backers get super butt-hurt and have bad blood.

My Models: Ork Army: Waaagh 'Az-ard - Chibi Dungeon RPG Models! - My Workblog!
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Made in us
Mutating Changebringer





Pennsylvania

Thank you all for your kind comments! A few quick points;

-Why Bother? I want to reiterate that my point in writing this isn't to make people feel better about the money they spent or didn't spend in the campaign. My point is to look at the phenomenon of a Kickstarter campaign, this fascinating new method of doing business and interacting with customers and ask "what's going on here, why did this happen, could it be done better, what would better be?"

-To that end, Ouze, you ask "Wouldn't you think this sort of distribution that Raging Heroes had here is actually more desirable than the others? Certainly it allows ongoing planning to happen at a more workable rate than when you have, as Reaper did, the project more than double in the last 3 days."

Certainly Alpharius has the right of it when he wonders "that might actually be the 'preferred' track - for some companies." Whether or not this is one such instance we cannot know. But this circles back to an issue I noticed in Kroot and Ouze's posts, the lesson of the cautionary tale of Reaper. Ironically I specifically addressed this in my earlier post mortem, but it is clear from what I have seen posted by Bryan from Reaper that there are a lot of misconceptions in that.

First and foremost, while Reaper almost certainly got hammered by the change in USPS shipping rates, Reaper did not suffer a "Massive Loss" (as is addressed in the thread linked above on the Reaper forums, "Bones Kickstarter a "Massive Loss"?"). Reaper broke even or actually lost money on certain levels, not necessarily as a whole.

Which leads to the greatest mistake of all, to look at things as Kroot would advise, in terms of profit alone. Certainly many companies do so (that was in fact one major point in the failings of the TtB campaign), but that a) is the surest way to have people treat your campaign as nothing more then a pre-order, since that is what it will be, and b) ignores what Reaper really gained from its campaign.

Reaper didn't just make a good deal of money, they changed their business forever. No longer is Reaper dependent on the whims of outsourced manufacturing in Asia, waiting on trans-ocean shipping for their product. To look at this and find it a cautionary tale seems shortsighted indeed.

Secondly, to return to "Wouldn't you think this sort of distribution that Raging Heroes had here is actually more desirable than the others?", I would answer no, for a simple reason.

Kickstarter and crowd funding are a fascinating phenomenon, one very much still in flux, but ultimately the great excitement to me is the insight these campaigns give us into consumer psychology and the art of selling. So when we see campaigns like the majority shown in the graph above that have a greater spike at the end then the beginning, what is that really telling us?

What it is saying is that the company has, through the course of the campaign, made their pitch all that much stronger. That it has become more and more convincing that this product is worth buying months or years ahead of time.

So, when we compare TGG to other campaigns it seems reasonable to conclude that, for whatever reasons, they were not as successful as other campaigns in capitalizing on their initial surge of funding. When one observes that TGG had this huge initial surge, greater then campaigns like Deadzone or KD:M, but ends up making a fraction of the total that these campaigns did, we should ask "why did that happen?"

The most obvious answer would seem that in each of those other campaigns the creators were able to broaden their appeal. There are a lot of ways to do this, but chiefly it is through making their pitch irresistible. Often this is through making the deal so sweet that anyone that has any interest will buy in, as is the case with Reaper's Bones and arguably many Mantic campaigns. When asking why TGG beat out KD:M in the initial phase, but not the following phases (leading to a rather amazing difference in total funding), timing, planning and the art of running a good campaign comes to mind.

Towards the end of the campaign, RH spent some time in, to borrow Jonah Goldberg's phrase, trying to convince people that they were "the best Oktoberfest in Orlando (Florida)". Why bother doing so? Seriously now, why something like "The Toughest Girls of the Galaxy Kickstarter is the 2nd biggest miniatures-only Kickstarter (that is, miniatures proposed without a game), right behind the legendary Reaper Bones Kickstarter[.] It is the 12th biggest Kickstarter in the Tabletop Games section[.]"? Okay...

Wow, I really am bad at making "quick points"... more later, but must go for now!

   
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@Buzzsaw: You make a good point about cash profit not necessarily being the ultimate goal. Although the general point remains: A crowd-funding project should always have a positive outcome, and that investors should be acknowledging that fact when they voice demands/wishes.

To your point of success: I don't think that your assessment of what constitues success is necessarily the only one. RH shows a different kind of approach, i.e. maximize your pre-launch efforts, in order to ensure you reach your funding goal early. I see no need to, nor a failure in not pursuing continuous stretch goals, freebies and "sweet deals". Unless, you still think in 20th century capitalist school ways.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/07/14 17:47:36


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I'd also be interested to so how their decision to drop their original "you may only get what you pledge for" to the "you may select a dollar value worth of minis" changed both their pledge goals and pledge amount.

I was going to get on in the beginning but the "early bird" pledges were all "you must select X troops and X characters". However when they later changed this there was HUGE upswing (as far as I could see) in the amount of pledges they got at those higher levels even though all the early birds were already gone.

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As long as a Kickstarter gathers the money needed to complete the project it is a success.

The earlier that point is reached, the better.

If the project is over-funded that clearly can bring its own problems, but they are the better kind of problem to deal with than under-funding.

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What really turned me off of the campaign, and what I believe directly and indirectly caused a lot of the ill will amongst the community was the obvious manipulation of stretch goal amounts. Now, I understand that every campaign decides what is an acceptable amount to ask for the next stretch goal based on a variety of factors, including what they feel they can get away with. However, seeing it play out in full view in front of me just seemed dishonest. Shifting the stretch amount between $10k, $20k, and $30k so many times made us question the value of the figures, leading to a lot of the "pledge value" foolishness, which RH made worse by their awful communication.

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 Ouze wrote:
treslibras wrote:
I also agree with Kroothawk on the points made about profit vs. money raised, and the general note that despite what people might think, not all crowd-funding projects are there to make as much as possible, but only as much as necessary.


One thing that I really don't like about Kickstarter is there is no way to cap a campaign - you can abort one if it gets totally and wildly out of hand, but there is no safety for when you start to cross the threshold from "my my conservative estimates are broken but I can do this" to "Well, they ordered 7 million widgets, I was planning to sell 200". I guess it's not really in Kickstarter's own interests to do this since they take a cut and the problem is then handed to the creator.




No, but companies can stop adding additional stretch goals once they've hit their desired marks, and in fact (at least in the RPG world) some have. They've still run successful campaigns and delivered what the promised, but they had the discipline to avoid flailing willy-nilly to come up with stretch goals. My observation is that the Kickstarter mania hits not only the patrons, but the creators as well, and that can certainly cause trouble for a project - and note that sometimes that trouble comes in the form of stretch goals that are difficult to actually produce, slow the down the project as a whole, or even detract from the project.

   
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 Buzzsaw wrote:
So, when we compare TGG to other campaigns it seems reasonable to conclude that, for whatever reasons, they were not as successful as other campaigns in capitalizing on their initial surge of funding. When one observes that TGG had this huge initial surge, greater then campaigns like Deadzone or KD:M, but ends up making a fraction of the total that these campaigns did, we should ask "why did that happen?"

The most obvious answer would seem that in each of those other campaigns the creators were able to broaden their appeal. There are a lot of ways to do this, but chiefly it is through making their pitch irresistible. Often this is through making the deal so sweet that anyone that has any interest will buy in, as is the case with Reaper's Bones and arguably many Mantic campaigns. When asking why TGG beat out KD:M in the initial phase, but not the following phases (leading to a rather amazing difference in total funding), timing, planning and the art of running a good campaign comes to mind.

This argumentation doesn't make sense. Not sure if this is intentional.

On one side you acknowledge that RH made a hugely effective advertising and social media campaign to reach every potential early backer with a.o. early bird specials. And indeed they reached most early backers and made 200k in just 2 hours. Then you pretent that all this never happened, that this kickstarter started just like every other one, and that not being popular at the start is a good thing.

Many kickstarters are practically unknown before day 1, resulting in smoother, lower curves, making 10k a day in the middle section look big. Dream Forge was called a successful campaign, but making more money in the first 2 hours that Dream Forge's total is bad? Only if you have that 250k column on day 1 in your graph, making the pledges of the following days look small.

Actually, the explanation is quite simple. Some people like to back early, because they know the campaign/company, because they have all the info they need, because they want early bird specials or for whatever reason. The RH advertising and social media campaign was too successfull to mobilise them so that most of them backed in the first 2 hours and not later, drying up pledges in the middle of the campaign. This didn't effect late backers, who back late because they don't know the campaign before shown as "ending soon" somewhere (Tabletop Gaming News, Kickstarter page), because they want to see exactly what they get or for whatever reason. That's why there was an end rush like usual, with 108k in the last 19 hours.

So let's not pretent to be an uniformed observer not familiar with the RH advertising and social media campaign. Without the campaign no 200k in the first two hours, but without the campaign also no drying up in the days after that. The campaign had less influence on the end rush though. Only an uniformed observer can miss the effect of the campaign, and even he would be suspicious after 200k in the first two hours. Let's not claim that good and early advertising is something any kickstarter should avoid to look unsuccessful to the uninformed.
 Buzzsaw wrote:
Towards the end of the campaign, RH spent some time in, to borrow Jonah Goldberg's phrase, trying to convince people that they were "the best Oktoberfest in Orlando (Florida)". Why bother doing so? Seriously now, why something like "The Toughest Girls of the Galaxy Kickstarter is the 2nd biggest miniatures-only Kickstarter (that is, miniatures proposed without a game), right behind the legendary Reaper Bones Kickstarter[.] It is the 12th biggest Kickstarter in the Tabletop Games section[.]"? Okay...

Why bother doing so? Because a majority of posters on Dakka tried to spread the impression, that this kickstarter was unsuccesful and a failure. RH had to counter these false claims with facts to avert further harm to the campaign.
 Guildsman wrote:
What really turned me off of the campaign, and what I believe directly and indirectly caused a lot of the ill will amongst the community was the obvious manipulation of stretch goal amounts. Now, I understand that every campaign decides what is an acceptable amount to ask for the next stretch goal based on a variety of factors, including what they feel they can get away with. However, seeing it play out in full view in front of me just seemed dishonest. Shifting the stretch amount between $10k, $20k, and $30k so many times made us question the value of the figures, leading to a lot of the "pledge value" foolishness, which RH made worse by their awful communication.

The reason behind this is also relatively simple.

This project is about three armies, not an arbitrary number of single unrelated miniatures.
So you need concept sketches for light and heavy infantry, weapon teams, rough riders (all with enough material for customizing) plus heroines. Concept stage, rendering, and production are each done for all three armies at the same time, with the necessary adjustments among all parts. The "100% renders done 80%" wanted to express that the finetuning on all renders is currently done. So there is no correct pledge level for a single miniature, as the complete armies are worked on simultaniously. Only when the armies were done (as completely functional alternatives for 40k IG), at more or less 500k was there room to add singles, who were not yet worked on. In other words: Until 500k, pledge levels were more or less arbitrary. With less than 500k, RH would have to kill off essentials already paid for. With more than 500k you can add bonus things.

Some people work holistic, some people just make a lot of single minis. RH belongs to the first group, hoping that a unified and consistent look of all 150+ miniatures at the end will be something that customers appreciate.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2013/07/14 19:15:38


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@Kroothawk

Relax man. It's opinion. A solidly supported opinion based on the information provided but it's still just an opinion. Your rampant need to defend the merest whisper that RH isn't perfect is getting a bit old.

What's also getting old is you seemingly intentionally missing the points as presented.

Regarding the "majority of posters on Dakka" saying it was a failure I call BS. The majority of the posters that were actually "criticizing" the campaign (which were not the majority of posters, just vocal ones) considered the campaign a success (they hit their goal right?) but wanted it to succeed to it's maximum potential. And most were providing clear and concise criticism of issues as they saw them that would impact the total number on the campaign.

I'd point out that this did matter at the time as RH, instead of just going with a timed release of photos, decided on inflated stretch goals for basic models. Based on the information available it was wondered if everything would be unlocked. A single line of text in they're comments saying they would unlock everything no matter what wasn't reassuring as at that point they were obviously already playing with the stretches.

And that excuse for why they did what they did with the initial stretchs is total bull. An entire range cost can still be broken down by model. So no, they weren't doing single models for single model pricing but instead apparently working on all models at the same time (except the ones we did get renders of). That fine, but the cost per model could then be determined across the range and applied to the KS stretch goals. Something they obviously weren't doing.

@Buzzsaw

Good breakdown. Not sure I'm in 100% agreement but I didn't follow-up and read your TtB one which this heavily references as it's not that big a deal to me

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2013/07/14 19:47:19


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Greece

Kroothawk, I do not understand why you deny the data, or try to spin them in your own vision of how things were done.

The only data of their success is they reached 698,548$ not a bad feat in itself, but lets look at other data.

Their initial backers were 1206 or 1317 if you count the first 3 days, the total backers are 2748 meaning only 1542 (or 1431) are additional backers after the concrete core of initial backers another interesting thing is that 363 backers are from the last two days were they started to behave like a "proper" kickstarter with extra stuff and logical streachgoals (and yes freebies too), in contrast other kickstarters show a bloom in the end and overall the initial core of backers is way less than almost 50% of them and the late bloom is in many cases quite big.

What dos this mean? For me it means RH failed to expand and acquire more backers from their core market, that can potentially be a bad thing.

In the eyes of many people the deal was not good enough and they decided to wait for retail to get a better deal, this has two main dangers, first it may indicate the product may not sell itself and that those waiting may spend their money on other things that will present themselves until the products hit retail.

With the exception of through the breach campaign It is the only other kickstarter were the core backers are still around 50% of the total backers and it remains to be seen how this will really affect it.

It may mean nothing it may mean the project will have a really small core to feed upon, restricting it in the future.

Another thing is trust, communication was horrendous what has been conveyed was bad and how it has been conveyed was worse.

RH burned a lot of goodwill, personally I started from a point of absolute faith and willingness to get much stuff to a point that while I have not lowered my pledge, I have not got more and am hoping they will deliver what they initially promised.

The lack of resond the first two days was bad, the "artificial hiking" of their streachgoals after the first two days bloom was not well received from the backers, the arcane way to indicate how good a deal it is (which sometimes failed on simple investigation), their backtracking n the proportions and their reluctance to show renders and WIP leaved a bad taste.

So they raised some money, didn't substantially expanded their backers base and managed to turn a good reputation to a state of slight mistrust, not sure how good that is.


My belief is we have a company that while they prepared for it extensively on the production side and promotion side of it, they failed to anticipate the success their promotion would have, got hit hard by the flood and didn't know what to do next, I do believe that with the initial pledges more than half the project got cleared and they either tried to see how much more they can get out of it or tried to stall it in order to give them time to prepare for more (I really feel its the second), once the stalling happened for real and the fear of not unlocking everything even after 5k streachgoals were introduced RH made "timed unlocks" to make sure everything would be unlocked and people would be reassured that what they wanted would definitely be there in the end, which raised the logical point of what were we raising funds for? it did gave the impression that everything was already been funded, else RH would be illogical in their decisions, overall the last few days were blue streachgoals and "freebies" were introduced the project started moving again at a pace, but it was in the end, this should have happened way in the middle of it, which may be related to the concept artists back injury and be classified as a misfortune, anybody know what happened after the initial notification about it by the way?

Oddly for a French company they seem to have had very well planned the body of this kickstarter, but not the soul of it.
   
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 PsychoticStorm wrote:
Kroothawk, I do not understand why you deny the data, or try to spin them in your own vision of how things were done.

The only data of their success is they reached 698,548$ not a bad feat in itself, but lets look at other data.

Yeah, obviously I deny the obvious fact that 200,000$ raised in the first 2 hours is a sign of supreme failure. Only a blind fanboy could spin these 200,000$ to another sign of success, right? And of course people gave Raging Heroes 700k because of all the bad reputation and mistrust and the bad deals offered. Who could seriously deny that?

More data: TGG 990 backers first day, Relic 272, Deadzone 1297(looks closest to TGG), Dreadball 298, Arena Rex 206, Myth 195, Kingdom Death 1064 (reknown for needing fast action), Reaper 72 (!), Zombiecide 51 (!), Sedition Wars 220, Dream Forge 74. So I guess 990 backers first day is also a sign of failure, not of an effective advertising and social media campaign, right?

This is no plug-and-play boardgame for the masses. Hundreds or thousands of people will start, assemble and paint a new IG army or three (average pledge was 250$+ per backer, so army sized). People voted with their money, and the vote is 700k $.

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Greece

200k raised was a wonderful start, then what? that's what we are discussing, sure good start, even managed to be shy of 700k in the end, almost despite RH, is that all there is to it? should they pat their backs and say job well done, when it was not?

You want to call it successful, go for it, enjoy yourself, I will call it for what it is, it failed to reach its full potential and was badly run.

I really can't see your perspective, you do more harm to them than any "negative" criticism.
   
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 PsychoticStorm wrote:
What dos this mean? For me it means RH failed to expand and acquire more backers from their core market, that can potentially be a bad thing.

This is possibly the most worrisome idea that's come along so far. What happens when TGG gets to retail? Will there be a market for it?

The data, regardless of anyone's interpretation, shows one fact very clearly: most of the backers came in during the first three days, with a majority of those within the first 24 hours. This means that a very significant core group signed up right away, with others trickling in over the remaining ~27 days. To me, this indicates that they succeeded in drawing in their core audience, while struggling to pull in new customers, which is really very troubling. What kind of market will there be for TGG once it has reached the market and all of the backers have received their rewards? My fear is that a majority or at least a significant portion of the audience for RH has bought most of if not all of the product that they plan on buying for the foreseeable future. While the campaign was indeed very successful (almost $700K is nothing to be sniffed at), I worry that RH will be stuck with an extensive range of miniatures and no customers to buy them. It's actually something that concerns me about a lot of successful kickstarters, such as Kingdom Death.

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I think RH will be OK.

In fact, once the actual miniatures are available, and all quality, scale and delivery questions are no longer in question, I'm guessing they'll end up being more than OK!
   
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 Ouze wrote:
treslibras wrote:
I also agree with Kroothawk on the points made about profit vs. money raised, and the general note that despite what people might think, not all crowd-funding projects are there to make as much as possible, but only as much as necessary.


One thing that I really don't like about Kickstarter is there is no way to cap a campaign - you can abort one if it gets totally and wildly out of hand, but there is no safety for when you start to cross the threshold from "my my conservative estimates are broken but I can do this" to "Well, they ordered 7 million widgets, I was planning to sell 200". I guess it's not really in Kickstarter's own interests to do this since they take a cut and the problem is then handed to the creator.



This.

"Successful" doesn't always mean they made it, either.

All KS is worried about is getting their cut. The "Project Organizer" is the one that worries about follow through.

Case in point several of the projects on your list were "Successful", but they have been managed by a team of sock monkeys. A few other successes full on outright said a few months after the fact that they were broke, or were in no way intending on following through with the projects.
The runaway stretch goals are the issue. As in some cases, we've seen quite a few start ups overstep themselves, and Raging Heroes was no exception.

Then the little issues with these companies selling on nothing more then concept art...

Of course I'll be wanting in on some of those jail birds, but in point of fact after paying for a roof, I'm more then happy to wait for the bugs and kinks to be worked before I commit.




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