Kickstart your panic! A Rampunctious Update / by Jen Carey

Oh Kickstarter, where would we be without it? Personally I'd have more money, less games and probably lower stress levels.

Rampunctious is coming to Kickstarter.... really soon. Too soon. But then again it's always too soon.

Right now I'm in the prep stage. And there's a lot of prep. Most Kickstarter knowledge I had prior to this came from video games, and trust me, creating a physical product is worlds away from digital ones. Here's some of the things I've learned from this stage in the process. 

1. Calculating your Kickstarter goal is convoluted.

This is mainly due to shipping. On Kickstarter for 'reasons' your shipping is included in your goal. So every time you try to calculate in selling more copies to get you closer to your goal your goal increases by both the shipping and the fees. Which leads to...

2. The fees are pretty high

Overall you are charged 5% of your goal plus 3% + .20 per transaction in fees. Which means breaking even on a Kickstarter campaign generally means you need to raise more than your goal. Say your goal is 10,000, you get 450 backers and hit it on the dot. You pay 890 in fees, so you receive 9,110 at the end of the campaign. If you really need to raise 10,000 for production, you actually need to raise nearly 11,000 on the campaign. But if you ask for 11,000, you'll need 12,000 to pay the fees and so on.

3. Manufacturing outside of China is difficult

In researching the game I emailed around 5 games manufacturers around Europe and another 5 in China for quotes. Of these, 1 European manufacturer responded with a quote. Yes. 1. And 4 Chinese companies replied. 

4. Manufacturing in China is difficult

To sell a toy or game in Europe you need a CE certification. European companies must adhere to the production standard in general, Chinese companies don't. This means finding some way of doing third party certification or finding one of the few manufacturers in China that does in house certification.

5. Everything costs all the money

Taxes are confusing. Duties are confusing. Shipping is... not too bad actually, the manufacturer we're considering has a cooped shipping group. But shipping from you to backers, once again, money. Generally everything costs money, takes time and is vaguely confusing until you read a load of guides on it. Then it becomes less confusing and just a smidge daunting.

6. Review copies make your bank account cry

After weeks of emailing manufacturers I managed to get a local printers to make me some review copies. The cards are exactly how they'll appear (minus some to-be-finished art work) but the boxes are vague approximations to what we want, and even then they cost the earth. Short runs of printer products is painful to your bank account. If you ever thought organising and sending Steam keys were a pain, please never make an analog game, you mightn't survive. Right now we have people waiting for review copies for longer than I'd like to admit. It'll be a rush to get them all with enough time but hopefully everything will be fine.

(On top of the price of the review copies, they all arrive unsorted. Last night it took myself and two helpers nearly two hours to sort the cards into their games. It is admittedly a know side effect of making a game with 250 cards... but sure, it wouldn't be as fun with them all!)

There are so many other lessons... there are also the lessons I haven't learned yet and will appear just before, then during, then after the campaign. I'll post again with details on using a Chinese manufacturer, shipping, certification, taxes etc but right now I've used up all my procrastination time and it's back to the Kickstarter prep grindstone.