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Made in us
Mutating Changebringer





Pennsylvania

As Kickstarter has developed into a mature funding platform for independent miniature producers trends are developing. Just as campaign creators have adjusted their approach, so also the backers are adjusting their expectations and demands in response to delayed and delivered campaigns.

Premise
While Mantic has capitalized on both early advertising and an established fan base, problems with fulfillment and perceptions of quality and/or value appear to be limiting Mantic's capacity to expand beyond their core fan base.

Data


Conclusions
Play the game, but don't get played.
In my previous Post Mortem discussions I have made much of the idea that the path to a blockbuster Kickstarter Campaign runs through making a basic campaign offering so sweet that it becomes irresistible.

The model is simple: a basic pledge level, frequently centered around a $100 price point or so, which over the course of the campaign becomes a better and better bargain. Exemplary forms of this technique can be seen with the ever expanding Biohazard pledge level in Sedition Wars, the Vampire pledge level in the first Reaper Bones campaign and the Survivor pledge level in Kingdom Death: Monster.

In this, Mantic have truly become masters of the form: the five Mantic campaigns under discussion herein* represents almost three and a half million dollars ($3,433,955) taken in less then two years (Kings of War closed June 24, 2012).

*I have excluded the LOKA campaign as it represents not only a departure in tone and type, but, as I understand it, a different relationship between Mantic and the product creator.

What's Going On?
In terms of sheer monetary volume, Mantic's campaigns would at first glance seem to be remarkably success. However, if we delve into the distribution of funds within each campaign a remarkable trend takes shape.

First, the overall comparison of the various campaigns to each other;


It is important not to become pre-occupied with values with relation to each other, more compelling in my opinion is the distribution of funds within the campaigns;


Perhaps best appreciated when the pledge values are examined as percentages of the whole;


What we see here is astonishing. In previous post mortems, large campaigns were seen to have gradually taken on a “J” or “U” shape: little movement in campaigns by largely unknown entities which have gradually given way to a strong beginning fed by pre-launch advertising, a interval period of steady but unremarkable pledges, and a final period characterized by a rapid spike of pledges.

The general trend can be seen in this comparison from the TGG Post Mortem;
Spoiler:


Fat Bottomed Graphs
The trend that can be observed in the pattern of Mantic campaigns is an almost total collapse of the normal distribution of pledges, resulting in an enormous bias towards the opening days. Correspondingly, the final day pledges are anemic, almost shockingly so.

Opening Days


Interval


Closing Days


Once, Twice, Three Times...
Why has there been such a dramatic shift in when pledges are accrued by Mantic's campaigns? My own impression is that a successful campaign can be divided into three general stages;

-The Opening Days: As may be observed in the larger comparison above, taken from the TGG post mortem, there has been a gradual but pronounced shift from “cold campaigns”. A cold campaign meaning a campaign that is launched without appreciable fanfare, without an established fan base or significant advertising. These have given way to campaigns by more-or-less established entities who are largely leveraging social media to start their campaigns with a dramatic infusion of cash.

-The Closing Days: There is at least one completely mechanical reason why Kickstarter Campaigns have a tendancy to develop dramatically in the last few days, the “Remind Me” button. This button allows campaigns to have a second bite at the apple, so to speak. Over the course of the campaign, it is to be hoped that anyone that is on the fence about the project will hit that button: therefore to the extent that a campaign experiences a Closing Day surge, it is in large part due to the project/rewards moving from “maybe” to “yes, I will back”.

-The Interval: The days that are neither Opening Days, nor Closing Days. In most projects these days should be characterized by two things: first, a slow, steady growth of the project with enough stretch goals to continue to provide interest to backers. Second, this is a chance for dialogue between creators and backers: this period allows perhaps the most important contact between backers and creators. What is being done is a community of fans is being nurtured, fans who will contribute invaluable word-of-mouth during the campaign and be ambassadors for the campaign afterward.

Part and parcel of all of these elements is the notion that one ought to spread stretch goals out such that they are always being taken down with some regularity. Certainly that has been the approach of most successful campaigns to date, and Mantic campaigns in particular.

That approach, however, have become problematic: after all, spacing out stretch goals with the assumption of a large burst at the end (a burst equal to or greater then the Opening Days) runs the risk of what was seen in the recent Dreadball Xtreme campaign. That is, having items planned that are intended to be part of the campaign offerings, but not being able to meet the stretch goals to justify their inclusion.

During the final days of the DBX campaign, it did not go unnoticed that several “?” spaces (indicating future additions) to the high value “Frenzy” pledge level simply disappeared.

Part 2 of this analysis will be posted in the next few days, wherein some suggestions will be presented to explain this phenomenon. But I am very curious to hear the community's thoughts, as I am by no means certain of what is going on.

Is this the inevitable consequence of a company becoming known for its Kickstarter Campaigns?

Has Mantic's reputation suffered to the extent that it can no longer convince prospective skeptical backers?

Is there sufficient backlash developing against the “restic” medium that limits the pool of people that find these campaigns an acceptable combination of quality and price?

   
Made in us
Serious Squig Herder






Spacing can be tricky - given all that change or go wrong during a month-long campaign.

I remember during the Mars Attacks campaign - that things went off-track so badly in the middle (with pledges backsliding pretty severely at one point IIRC ) that they began unlocking things just for the hell of it, to try to lure people back.

The currently-running Super Dungeon Explore campaign has been MORE successful than anticipated - and the creators have pledged to avoid adding goals in order to ship in a timely fashion. So that today they unveiled the "final" stretch goals and we're 5 days away from close. (I still half think they are hiding one last surprise).

I do think Mantic's reputation precedes them for a good deal of people anymore. If not for uneven quality of sculpts then for head-scratching decisions (like metal command bits for the units produced during the Kings of War kickstarter). That is probably hurting them in terms of luring new pledgers. They also face ever-increasing competition from other Kickstarters (it seems like there's always one "big" kickstarter going, and usually a few smaller ones) from people without those reputations.

Also - it might be a case of Mantic's biggest fans being "tapped out" so to speak from so many Kickstarters.

Another thing to consider - people who buy into KS just to later sell the contents for profit might have found weak demand is hurting their returns?

I don't think it's restic though - it's become pretty widely-used, so I don't think it would only be giving Mantic the weird returns.
   
Made in gb
Incorporating Wet-Blending





UK

^ The unlock-without stretch goals was even bigger during Dreadball Xtreme.

There were 6 teams added without any stretch goals, just thrown in anyway... and with 16 free minis added to the Frenzy pledge level.

As for the DBX KS itself:

- Almost no sculpt previews, at all. Only 2 teams were shown out of 12, the rest was a swarm of concept art. They had the sculpts done, but not shown off, this was the single biggest issue I think. Mars Attacks did a much better job with renders for almost everything well in advance.

- The campaign was not well-timed for Mantic's existing backer pool.. it came hot on the heels of the Mars Attacks survey and had the Deadzone second survey (with some really amazing deals) running at the same time as well.

- Dreadball Xtreme did not use restic as a material, neither did Mars Attacks.. pre-coloured board game plastic instead (as used in Gears of War and Loka).

Some other interesting things to note about Mantic's plans for Kickstarter:

- The DBX campaign is *not over*. They have their own custom-built pledge manager software now and will be opening it up to new backers post-survey, and continuing to run the KS (with new stretch goals) for the entire length of the survey. Possibly moving to an age where the KS campaign is simply seen as the initial burst of funds before it continues elsewhere.

- They've scrapped the two major kickstarters they had planned for this year - Kings of War (funding abyssals, nature and terrain) and Warpath. Both mass-battle stuff that I'd really love to see.

- Instead, the new plan is to run a second deadzone kickstarter, and a dwarf king's hold kickstarter, which are intended as "mini" kickstarters, but target the board game/ skirmish game crowd more directly. I think these will both be larger than Mantic is expecting them to be, DKH 4 is basically planned as a Warhammer Quest replacement and with the new board game plastic it could be great... I'm just hoping they figure out how lucrative hard plastic dungeon builder sprues could be as a product.

There is one thing I will say about Mantic - they are masters of getting some people to drop $600+ on a game where you only need a dozen minis to play. :p

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 2014/04/12 09:05:29


 
   
Made in us
[DCM]
[***]







EXALTED!

As usual, Buzzsaw knocks it out of the park!

Thank you for the time and effort that goes into these posts - it is appreciated!

I'll have to give all this some more thought, but an initial feeling is that Mantic's "quality" is definitely impacting their ability to get people to commit.

Looking forward to more from Buzzsaw!
   
Made in us
Ruthless Interrogator







 Buzzsaw wrote:


Part 2 of this analysis will be posted in the next few days, wherein some suggestions will be presented to explain this phenomenon. But I am very curious to hear the community's thoughts, as I am by no means certain of what is going on.

Is this the inevitable consequence of a company becoming known for its Kickstarter Campaigns?

Has Mantic's reputation suffered to the extent that it can no longer convince prospective skeptical backers?

Is there sufficient backlash developing against the “restic” medium that limits the pool of people that find these campaigns an acceptable combination of quality and price?


Just my personal input here, and this may well not be the case for others, but I can say Mantics previous Kickstarters actually got me to look at their new offerings, even though I wasn't initially interested. Part of that is because I'm moving away from large scale tabletop games and looking for "everything in a box" miniatures games due to time and just my personal tastes changing.

So I did look at Dreadball Xtreme because I was aware of the original Dreadball but didn't back it. I considered getting in on Xtreme, but then the issue becomes, "Well then I'll probably need to buy the original game too and that's $100 on top of whatever pledge I put down." So it's somewhat of a double-edged sword for these popular Kickstarters. I may take more notice due to their success, but then I wonder if I've already missed the boat by not backing the original and I'm going to have to fork out the retail costs of the original to "get caught up" so to speak.

I recently had the same issue with Zombicide, but I found a great deal on Amazon for the core set and mall expansion, so I jumped in. Now I'm more likely consider going in whenever Season 3 rolls around, because I've already made the intial investment, so I can consider just extras or go all out on the new kickstarter depending on what suits my needs. Had I not bought in now I likely would be a bit overwhelmed by a Season 3 kickstarter and not wanted to back it.

I think companies could easily offer a pledge level that gives you the previous game releases in a bundle with the new set for a decent discount to tempt the fence-sitters like me.

As far as their reputation, I haven't seen anything negative, but I guess I don't follow closely. I guess it's just a model quality thing?

You can never beat your first time. The second generation is shinier, stronger, faster and superior in every regard save one, and it's an unfair criticism to level, but it simply can't be as original. - Andy Chambers, on the evolution of Games Workshop games
 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

There are only ever going to be so many people who are interested in backing your campaign,

so front loading by word of mouth, early bird slots, advertising will suck in a large proportion of them on day 1

so companies that are trying to 'manage' their stretch goals to give a smooth spread rather than just basing them on the actual funds coming in can easily get caught out by not enough new money coming in towards the end

Mantic's variable (to put it politely) mini quality, material changes (with or without notice) and reluctance to actually show stuff they have (or should have) photos off also hurts

They've also been making a worse hash of the KS fulfilment in their most recent attempts and running out of stuff they need to fix them.... Backers may be forgiving, but it gets a lot harder if it takes mantic months to sort out broken or missing minis

I also feel they are trying to pull in too much cash per backer, it may work once, but if people have spent 3,4 or $500 it's much less likely they'll have anything in the bank for the next mantic campaign

 
   
Made in us
Sniping Reverend Moira





Cincinnati, Ohio

 OrlandotheTechnicoloured wrote:
There are only ever going to be so many people who are interested in backing your campaign,

n


I don't disagree, but campaigns like Myth have shown is that there is a large percentage of people willing to jump on a campaign they're only passingly interested in because it hits the "too good to be true" mark

 
   
Made in us
[MOD]
Dankhold Troggoth






Shadeglass Maze

Nice graphs! I think the primary driver is Mantic burning the casual fan a bit, and being reduced to their core fans moreso now. Those folks tend to jump on early, and those turned off by past restic results are able to resist jumping on in the final days, whereas they didn't previously.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2014/04/12 17:35:17


 
   
Made in au
Incorporating Wet-Blending






Australia

Part of the problem is definitely that they were front-loading pledges by every means possible, and acting like the pledges weren't being front-loaded. People were pledging on Day 1 for teams that weren't unlocked until Day 23. While this didn't result in the catastrophic collapse I was expecting, it did result in the pledge levels remaining stagnant despite the attempts at damage control.

I also know that the direction Mantic took the game isn't what the premise promised. For a sport created by humans, for humans and played in the back alleys of human cities, there are very few humans - a couple of Convict Strikers, a couple of Free Agents and a couple of Coaches. And for a sport with no rules played to the death, there's a serious lack of sane rule-breaking like Strikers kicking people when they're down or players smuggling shivs onto the pitch. Dreadball Xtreme could have been a perfect opportunity to poach all the old Necromunda fans now that GW has snubbed us for the last time. Or they could have continued after the Asterians and had more than one female team to convince me to pledge. Instead they chose to push fantasy expies and new aliens with no established fan base whatsoever.

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
-C.S. Lewis 
   
Made in au
Trustworthy Shas'vre






There are a number of things which I think might be skewing the results.

#1, I don't think every kickstarter can or should follow the same pattern. Heavy advertising is obviously going to draw some customers who would pledge on later dates to pledge on the first date. Raging Heroes was a prime example of this, and when the Creature Caster Kickstarter launches I expect to see the same thing. Advertising might increase your customer base, but it will definitely make your existing customer base aware and active much earlier in the process.

#2, I think part of when the pledges start arriving en masse is as you say when the deal reaches that sweet spot. For Reaper Bones, the pledge in the initial week was pretty weak, only 30 or so miniatures for $100. But when Vampire reached 100 minis for $100, it began to explode, and kept gaining momentum. Deadzone also did the same thing; Once the faction boosters etc began to be unlocked, it started taking off. So it seems to me that speed is affected by the producer's ability to correctly judge the 'sweet spot' pledge and how quickly the campaign arrives at that irresistible sweet spot.

These are the two major things. In particular, the correct judging of the 'sweet spot' I think seriously affects the momentum of the kickstarter as a whole.

Other minor points:
#3, Mars Attacks and DBX are more niche products than deadzone or Kings of War. The latter are quite obviously designed to compete directly with Games Workshop's offerings (have a look at the special weapon options for Enforcers and compare to space marines) or compliment GW's ranges - the Deadzone terrain works very well with 40k or Infinity, and I know a number of people pledged for terrain only with that express intention. Mars Attacks on the other hand is less usable outside of its setting, and DBX even less so.

#4, For DBX in particular I feel like the stretch goals weren't particularly... useful. Ending up with 16 different teams for the same game? 10 MVP's when a campaign will only really need 2? Ain't nobody got time for that. In Deadzone it wasn't immediately clear that a large number of your models (even within one faction) would be unused in an actual game, so many people pledged for extra boosters or individual models which will probably go unused until they get lists in Warpath, but for DBX it was a lot more clear. I was considering to pledge for DBX, but I realised that out of the 100 minis I might receive I would be likely to play with maybe 20 of them...

#5, People are beginning to be a lot more wary about Kickstarters overpromising and under-delivering, or being used as a simple pre-order system rather than a real 'fundraising' system. As Weeble said, Mantic has quite a 'variable' model quality - and though I've been happy with nearly all of my Deadzone minis, I know many people disappointed with their KoW pledges. All of the KoW, DB and Deadzone pledges had been delivered by the time DBX rolled around, so most of their potential customers had first-hand experience with Mantic promises vs reality.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2014/04/14 02:00:28


 
   
Made in us
Major




In a van down by the river

I think Mantic's issues aren't so much with the medium or quality, per se. Yes, there are issues there, but it's not something where the market has a consensus. I'm sure it's cost them backers of course, but I'm sure at some point their name having 6 letters in it has cost them a backer (the devil's number you know!). Much like GW produces kits that are widely derided by one section of the market, it'd be unsurprising to learn that most kits sold "well enough" for what they were.

My issues, which I think can be more readily generalized, are:

1) Too many things at once. Mantic has pried a lot of money out of my hands, but even I'm extended as far as I care to go on KickStarters. For a more frugal backer the number of projects in the air, especially at the timing of DBX's campaign, is going to be a problem just because there's only so much a normal person will spend on toy soldiers. This can easily lead to apathy towards "yet another" project, and it's not particularly hard to find evidence of this even among the dedicated fans.

2) DeadZone packing mistakes and other miscues. Leaving this as the last major news point of the WarPath universe before trying to kick-off another project set there was just terribly ill-advised, IMO. The people with a great interest in the universe are soured by issues caused by over-extension (see #1). Still having a lot of doubt about the Wave 2 DeadZone stuff (which in some areas still exists) certainly doesn't help matters.

3) Early Birds. I know EB pledge levels are great for an opening day splash, but they're a major culprit in the U-shape most campaigns see. There's an incentive to pledge early to nab those slots, and there's the "incentive" to pledge at all hopefully shown by the project to give a natural surge at the end. The problem becomes there's no real reason to pledge in the middle of the campaign other than "I just heard about it." This is a problem that plagues many KS offerings, and I'm not sure there's a particularly awesome solution. "Timed" rewards for backing before X can easily breed animosity among unconvinced backers or just ones who got to the party late. Like I said, no ideas here because I don't think there's a particularly neat one.

4) Limited discount slots. Similar to EBs, these are an ok idea in a perfect world. In practice, especially in combination with EBs or other timed limitations, they inflate your numbers badly because a backer will use two accounts to sit on both levels and drop the less desirable one. This is perfectly expected consumer behavior, and thus a project creator should keep that in mind. In KS world though, it leads to stagnation as people intermittently commit or, at its worst, the dreaded "backslide" which can cause stretch goals to fall out. As an added "bonus" both EBs and limited discount slots encourage people to not pledge until the end hoping to snipe one of those slots, especially where discount camping is an open secret. Reaper had an interesting model here where ship date was tied to tier and by extension when you backed. However, I don't think Mantic sees the raw number of backers to make this a viable option of enticement.

5) Showing only concept art. While I opened saying Mantic hasn't (in my opinion) had massive issues with quality in their sci-fi game, this is a problem I've seen with other KS projects as well; people have learned through notable failures that concept art means nothing. Renders, oftentimes, mean slightly more than nothing. If you're unable to get a few prototypes together in time for the project, maybe you just hold off for another couple of months until you can? For some projects that's not really feasible, but in the case of Mantic I'm pretty sure they could wing it. Only showing a couple of teams when you're promising a dozen doesn't inspire backer confidence, especially when #2 floating about in the ether.

6) Doubt about the "real" value of the pledge. Telling people what an awesome value you're getting above retail when you know the market you're targeting (people who spend money on the Internet) very rarely, if ever, pay that amount is kind of silly. From a hypothetical numbers standpoint saying "Your $375 gets you $800 worth of stuff!" is great; until retail ends up being $750, and then there's bundles, and those bundles get discounted. Suddenly the post-KS cost drops to $450 which, while still a savings, begins to nudge into the realm of opportunity cost and the ability to see the final product start weighing in. As even ardent fans of Mantic will tell you, there's things you buy on the KS, and things you can get on the cheap much easier afterwards. This is a problem they need to do better on with their post-KS work.

7) People only wait so long for you to grow up. Mantic is still a fairly young company all things considered. 5 years is not a particularly long time and they've done some impressive things in that timespan. With the ambition they've shown, the market will have a certain tolerance for mistakes, but at some point you run out of mulligans. They've recently started making some in-roads here, but IMO it's been a bit on the slow side. Has Mantic squandered all their goodwill? Obviously not all of it as they still raised over half a million dollars. I do think they have lost more of it over the course of the past year than they needed to, but I also look around the KS world and see many more projects tossing far more goodwill overboard for even less reason. Of the "KS companies' they're probably still in my top 3 or so, but I think most people who support them want for them to be just be one of the top companies without the modifier. Still a lot of growing that needs to happen first though.

I think I've rambled on for long enough though; damned Sunday night insomnia...
   
Made in ca
Posts with Authority




I'm from the future. The future of space

I already do historicals for ranked up or element based battle games, so when the KoW kickstarter happened, I knew I'd be sitting on the sidelines and seeing how Mantic handled the expansion. Then the Dreadball KS happened and I wasn't that interested in the sports side of things.

Deadzone would have been right up my alley, but at this point the releases of the earlier KS were happening and combined with their existing products being about 80% misses for me (I really only like the KoW undead as a range and then one or two kits out of each other range) made me realize that Mantic just isn't there as far as quality goes.

Part of the strenght of the vinyl casting material they use for their spueless plastic is the ability to have undercuts and other darking moulding techniques because the figures can be removed while they are still somewhat flexible. But you can do it too early and then the figures harden in a twisted form. And then add in the way the figures are situated in the moulds and you can get some pretty horrible mould lines and placement of injection gates.

I bought the Dwarf Kings Hold electronic rules bundle and have been using it with my Reaper: Bones figures and my large number of D&D Dungeon Tiles. I've also used Goalsystem: Delves (another rules set for miniatures in dungeons) and find them both fun.

Paying in advance for something that I'm going to be disappointed with 80% of the time? Just can't do it. When I saw my friend's dreadball robot team being the twisted flash, mould line, and gate, covered mess it was, I just can't justify backing what Mantic does in any sort of advance way.

Balance in pick up games? Two people, each with their own goals for the game, design half a board game on their own without knowing the layout of the board and hope it all works out. Good luck with that. The faster you can find like minded individuals who want the same things from the game as you, the better. 
   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg

If I'm backing something, I want to be sure that what it looks like I'll get is what I'll actually get.

With miniatures, I just don't trust Mantic to deliver on what they show as concept art or even that the masters they paint up for us will be as good as the restic they end up shipping. I'm not really okay with that. I'm fine with sculpts which are less than perfect, but I want to know what I'm pledging for before I put my money down, or to at least have faith that the company I'm pledging to will live up to my expectations.

That's what's putting me off of Mantic's KS right now, though I am sure all the other factors mentioned have a part to play, too.

   
Made in us
Stone Bonkers Fabricator General






Home Base: Waconia, MN (Minneapolis)

I think Mantic is starting to squander it's good will with anyone who isn't a die hard fan. At least in regards to KS. I almost went in on the KoW kickstarter for the BOGOF and I'm super glad I didn't since many of those wound up being the same price retail as the BOGOF price. Then I didn't have interest in dreadball or mars attacks but I did go in for Deadzone.

I wound up dropping the actual game in favor of lots of terrain in the first survey while I waited to see what the Forge Fathers would look like under the impression, from Mantic, that everything on the first survey would be on the second. Then it comes out and the individual or just sprues for the Forge Guard aren't available, only in bundles. Annoyed but ok, I'll wait till retail. So I grab more terrain after pricing it against the Mantic website and taking 20-30% from it for normal mark down on sites like Miniature Market. Then they release a bundle that has the right number of clips that costs only slightly more than my money I've invested in the KS and retail buyers will likely get it sooner.

So color me annoyed and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. Am I going to demand my money back or anything, nope. But I am over their kickstarters that don't show me the model up front and that I can't get, in buik, a bunch of stuff they couldn't possibly discount below the KS price. Otherwise I'm waiting for retail. And i doubt I'm the only one.

Best Painted (2015 Adepticon 40k Champs)

They Shall Know Fear - Adepticon 40k TT Champion (2012 & 2013) & 40k TT Best Sport (2014), 40k TT Best Tactician (2015 & 2016) 
   
 
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