Monday, September 16

Yay! And Boo :-(

This weekend, in addition to successfully wrangling both kids unaided for 33 hours I finished the FlickFleet pre-orders and finished a couple more copies - FlickFleet is in stock! You can buy it from our website! Yay!


Of course, not everything runs smoothly, so we’ve had to push the Kickstarter back from the end of this month until mid-Oct because of the scheduling woes I mentioned last week. Boo :-(

The downside is it’s going to make things a bit tighter for finances and I’m going to end up sending a couple of quarterly newsletters within a month of each other which might annoy subscribers, but the good news is it gives me more time to get things in place for the Kickstarter which was looking very tight.

In other news, thanks to a couple more stocking orders from our only retail stockist, Zombology is almost sold out! They’ve sold at least 57 copies through their four stores and ordered a total of 73. Not bad sales for a game I’ve literally made by hand! Yay!

Monday, September 9

Scheduling Woes

We are hoping to return to Kickstarter in September for the FlickFleet expansion pack and reprint of the base game.

The Kickstarter page is mostly done (except for the video and the stretch goals) and everything else is in place.

The plan for the video has a brief bit of Paul and I talking at the beginning, like we did on the last one. But that requires me, Paul and my mate Wilka (our videographer) to all be in the same room at the same time and The Wife to be free to look after the kids (or to do it one evening after bedtime). Wilka is a force of nature with an impressive social life. Paul lives 100 miles away and is in France for two of the next four weekends and my parents are visiting at the end of the month for up to two weeks. Finding a single evening were we can all get together in Newcastle was proving tricky to say the least. Especially if we want to do it early enough to get the editing completed before the end of the month.

As a result we’ve changed our plans to replace the talking heads with some scrolling text, which means that Wilka and I can do it one evening after bedtime.

We also needed to meet up and swap stuff - I needed to get more bits from Paul to enable me to make the remaining pre-orders and then put FlickFleet live on the website and I needed to give him some Zombology copies for the two Travelling Man (our only retail stockist) stores nearest to his house - we met on Saturday in a motorway service station for a brief chat and prisoner exchange!

Monday, September 2

Kickstarter Stats - A Deep Dive

In November 2018 we launched the Kickstarter campaign for FlickFleet, a 2-player space combat dexterity game (think the love-child of X-Wing Miniatures and Flick 'Em Up).

We'd just formed a limited company taking the place of a previous sole trading company that I'd been running for a year to self-publish Zombology. We weren't really ready for Kickstarter, but we went for it and were successful (just) in funding. Last week we finished shipping the last reward tier four months early, so now we're in a position to take a look back at how it went. I'm hoping these stats will be useful for people hoping to bring a game to Kickstarter in the near future.

One big proviso first: ours was a slightly odd campaign (we hand-crafted the rewards and our stretch goals were for moving to professional manufacturing) and there's no guarantee your experience will be similar!

Our campaign ran from 8th November 2018 to 8th December 2018, funding with 4 hours to spare. We wanted to raise £12,000 to fund all the materials to make the rewards and buy a laser cutter to enable us to make the ships ourselves. 325 backers raised £12,127 of our goal (101% funded). Eighteen of those had payment failures, but by the end of the week-long grace period twelve had managed to pay successfully, so we can 319 backers and £11,891 (99% funded). One of the dropped backers later paid by PayPal, so it was slightly better than that.


Kickstarter say their fees are 8-10%, so we'd banked on getting £10,800 (90% of our target), but in our case the fees were £1,008 (8.4%), so we ended up with more than we'd bargained for, despite the dropped pledges (£10,883).

The biggest surprise of the campaign was the popularity of the deluxe version (the ships have their names and detailing etched onto their top surface) . We'd made 50 available expecting a few of our close friends to get some, with maybe 20 or 30 going in total. Those 50 sold out within 16 hours. When it became clear we weren't going to be on the hook for hand-crafting ~700 games in a year, we made another 50 available and, when those went, another 50. Including the deluxe pledges and extra copies and people who later paid for an upgrade via PayPal we sold 138 deluxes and 136 standards. That still blows my mind. We also received 27 Zombology orders too.

The pledge breakdown was:

RewardBackersPledgeTotal%
No Reward35£1£1691.4%
Print & Play42£5£2512.1%
Standard98£27£3,42228.8%
FF + Zombology20£37£9287.8%
Deluxe116£45£6,51154.8%
2 copies8£54£6105.1%

21 generous souls over-pledged to help us cross the line - thank you so much!

I was also amazed by the number of backers we got from the US, especially considering the cost of international shipping:


The top five destinations were the UK (42%), the US (35%), Germany (4%), Canada (3%) and Australia (3%).

According to Kickstarter 46% of our pledges came from them. I think that's debatable, but what I do know is that 41 people from our tiny mailing list backed the project. I was told at TableTop Gaming Live in September last year by a well-known industry guy who has run several successful Kickstarters that our mailing list of 136 people was nowhere near big enough for us to be successful. My counter argument was that most of the people on it had signed up because they were interested in FlickFleet and I was expecting maybe 40 of them to back the project. 41 did! 15% of our total was from people on our mailing list before the project went live. That meant from the 136 people (including backers and non-backers) we had a 30% backer-rate and a £13.08 per subscriber average pledge. Clearly this will never be this high again - as our mailing list grows these figures will go down.

The second highest single source was twitter, where I'm very active. According to Kickstarter £1,495 of our total was directly attributable to twitter.

Finally our marketing spend was minuscule. We gave six prototypes to reviewers (and got five reviews). We spent £95 on marketing (£80 on flyers that we gave to a number of UK gaming/geek shops) and £15 on Facebook Ads. I've no idea whether the flyers worked, but the Facebook ad yielded at least one deluxe backer, and even it's only one, the ad made us money (after accounting for the Kickstarter fee, subsidised shipping, the cost of the game materials and the cost of the ad). Next time I think I would use them again and hopefully target them more effectively.

I hope this info has been useful (or at least interesting!), let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Tuesday, August 27

Almost Done!

I had hoped to finish shipping the Kickstarter rewards last week, but with a long weekend camping and my daughter’s birthday I ran out of time - so in the end I’m five copies away from finishing, which I hope to make tonight and then post on Wednesday. With that out of the way I’ll be able to spent more of my evenings with The Wife for a couple of weeks until I get the stuff I need from Paul to fulfill the pre-orders. I’ll also be able to spend my lunchtimes on the Kickstarter instead of multiple lunchtime treks to the Post Office per week!

It’ll be good to focus on the Kickstarter - it’s taken a back seat (and rightly so) to the fulfilment so it could do with some love!

Monday, August 19

It's The Cash That Is Gonna Kill You

When running a business there's two things you need to keep a close eye on: profit and cash. Profit is the money you make when you sell something, either before (gross profit) or after (net profit) taking account of overheads. Because we're doing Eurydice Games in our spare time and not drawing salaries from it, our overheads are very low, so despite a low gross profit (small print runs have few economies of scale) we have very good net profits. We're making money and this is, in it's current form, a viable business.

Cashflow is the money going into or out of the business and is what kills most companies apparently - including Reiver Games, my first games publishing company. Cashflow isn't as closely related to profit as you might think. For example, our cashflow was very positive in December (when Kickstarter released the funds) but has been negative since - we've bought a laser-cutter, all the raw materials for the print run and then being paying for postage and packaging materials every time we post a copy. Every time we sell (ship) a copy we make a small profit but our cash decreases.

At the beginning, just after the Kickstarter, we needed to make a decision about how many copies to make. We needed to make at least enough copies to fulfill the Kickstarter rewards, but we could make more. The more we made the better the profit per copy, thanks to economies of scale, but the worse the hit on cash flow as the total cost for the raw materials would be higher.

At that point we didn’t know exact shipping costs, how much Royal Mail would increase their prices in April and how much we would be spending on tape, bubble wrap, etc. I had to make an educated guess.

My guess was poor! Even with a number of post-Kickstarter deluxe upgrades and a decent number of Zombology sales during the year, money has run out. We’ll rebuild it as we fulfill pre-orders (which haven’t paid yet so will boost profit and cash simultaneously) and when Kickstarter releases the funds from the second Kickstarter, if we’re successful. But for now we have almost nothing in the bank (<£10!), so to support the second Kickstarter, Paul and I will need to lend the company some more money.

Monday, August 12

California!

I spent most of last week in California for work, which it turns out is a very long way from Newcastle.

The good news is, as suspected, I coped poorly with the jet-lag and woke very early each morning (between 02:30 and 03:40) so I had some jet-lag hours to work on FlickFleet before work. My main focus was trying to flesh out the second Kickstarter page, but I also spent a little time on the website (which still needs more work!) and ran #CraftWednesday starting at 04:00!

Over the weekend I returned to FlickFleet crafting and we have just two weeks of crafting left to finish the Kickstarter rewards - we’re still on track for shipping them all in August.

After that I’ll be reaching out the the pre-orderers and seeing if they want immediate fulfilment at full price or to wait for the second Kickstarter and a discount.

We’ve also got the first of the second wave of Kickstarter reviews from Dan Thurot over at SPACE-BIFF! He was smitten!

Monday, August 5

Week Off!

I'm writing this blog post at 4:45am in an airport lounge while awaiting a flight to Amsterdam, and then a connecting flight to San Francisco. Which sounds pretty glamorous, but the reality is that on arrival in San Fran I'll be whisked to a hotel on a business park in Pleasanton where I'll spend the next two days probably awake from midnight to about 6pm and working (on the same business park) from 9 until 5. I'll not see much of California at all.

Being awake for most of the night with jet-lag does mean that I'll have the jet-lag hours of midnight until 7am to work on the next Kickstarter and other computer-based tasks, but obviously there'll be no crafting until I get back. Last week the crafting finished early too as I needed to find our camping stuff in the boxes in the garage on Thursday and then we were camping Friday and Saturday and I needed an early night on Sunday because of the 3am start this morning.

I've only got 37 more copies to make, so my current plan is to make seven one night next weekend, and then three nights of six the following week. That leaves just twelve to do the following week, which is another two nights' work - just as well as we're off camping again at the end of that week.

If everything goes to plan I'll have finished the crafting by the 22nd of August!

After that I'll have to knuckle down on the next Kickstarter and (at a slower pace!) make up the last of the Zombology stock and some FlickFleets for the pre-orderers who don't want to wait for the Kickstarter.

For now though, I've a plane to catch!