Monday, October 21

The Quiet Period

The rules of thirds says that on average a Kickstarter campaign will raise approximately 1/3 of its funds in the first 48 hours (when all your fans and people from your mailing list jump on early) and 1/3 in the last 48 hours when the reminder email goes out and there's a rush to get on board before it closes. The remaining 1/3 comes during the rest of the campaign, which is our case is 17 days. After the initial rush things slow right down (we saw this with our first campaign too), as the ratio goes from 1/2 days to 1/17 days. It's the doldrums, and that's where FlickFleet sits now after 8.5 days.


The slow bit!

We've tried doing a few things differently this time including spending some money on advertising on Facebook, BGG and The Crowdfunding Center. So far we have very little to show for that (we gave the three groups attribution links so we know if someone clicked on an ad and then immediately backed the project). The Facebook ads have been running continuously throughout the campaign, we've had 1,234 clicks to our campaign so far (for £97.55 spent so far), but only two confirmed backers through that route. The Crowdfunding Center started a few days ago and will run throughout (for £45) and claim to have given us 34 leads to date, but we've nothing confirmed from them yet and finally via BGG we've spent around £60 so far (a few days at the beginning and then we're going to do a big blast at the end). They've shown our ad 73,700 times, but we've only had 130 visits to our campaign page and so far nothing confirmed in terms of backers.

So either I'm hopeless at advertising (a strong possibility!) or the methods I'm using to track it really aren't working.

Anyway, we're half-way, we're funded and we're hoping for a strong finish when we'll be spending more on ads on Facebook and the vast majority of our BGG ads, so I'm still hopeful we can unlock a few of those stretch goals! We've also already got as many people following the project as we had at the end first time, so hopefully the reminder email will lead to a decent number of late backers. By the rule of thirds, we should be on for around £15,000 (200% funded). Here's hoping!

Monday, October 14

Ding, Ding, Round Two!

We launched our second FlickFleet campaign on Kickstarter on Saturday afternoon. It was about half an hour later than I’d hoped due to laps of the block trying to get The Toddler to take a nap in her buggy, but once she fell asleep I was able to sort it all out in fairly short order.

As I’ve mentioned before, our first FlickFleet Kickstarter was a very stressful month, funding with five hours to spare. We were hoping that the combination of a lower target (we don’t need another laser-cutter!), more reviews, interest from first KS backers and the fact that we’ve now got a completed KS under our belts would improve our chances this time. And it did!

We’re still in the first 48 hours and at this point we’ve raised 79% of our target!


Off to a stronger start!

I’m feeling much better about this one!

Tuesday, October 8

2018-19 Our First Yearly Report

We've just completed our first financial year as a limited company. Inspired by Stonemaier Games and Steve Jackson Games, here's a report of how we got on in our first* year, following Jamey's template mostly.

*I ran Eurydice Games as a sole trader in the previous year, we only became a limited company when Paul joined last summer.


2018-19 Revenue and Personnel

94% of our income came from the FlickFleet Kickstarter campaign.

  • Revenue: £12.8 thousand
  • Full-time employees: 0 (Paul and I both work about 10 hours a week in our spare time)
  • New games: 1
  • New expansions: 0
  • Kickstarter campaigns: 1


Total income £12,846.56 (~1/1000th of Stonemaier/Steve Jackson)

Last year (when I only had Zombology for sale), our income was £1,217.21, so we've grown ten-fold over my previous incarnation! We were profitable again, but only because we're not paying ourselves salaries or renting an office or warehouse space. We would need to be far bigger to support those costs. We have a small loan from me and cash got unbelievably tight as we finished fulfilling the Kickstarter (the pre-orders since then have given us a little wiggle room), but we will need to lend the company some more money to fund our next Kickstarter - this time we're actually going to properly advertise it, which costs money we don't currently have.

Games in Print

The numbers below are all as of the end of our financial year.

  • FlickFleet: 289 in circulation (BGG Average Rating: 8.4 from 29 ratings)
  • Zombology: 220 in circulation (BGG Average Rating: 7.1 from 22 ratings)


FlickFleet has been a huge success for us (both in terms of backer response, reviews and sales). Hence the plan to reprint it and an expansion through another Kickstarter. We've no idea how viable that will be, but with only 319 backers of the first Kickstarter we believe there are a lot more people who would really like it if they heard about it, hence the second Kickstarter and an actual advertising spend on this one!

Social Media and Other Metrics


  • Quarterly newsletter subscribers: 289 (58% open rate)
  • Twitter followers: 3,214
  • Instagram followers: 71
  • Facebook fans: 68


Most of Jamey's stats don't apply to us, and of those that do it's clear we're in a very different league! Our mailing list has more than doubled since the first FlickFleet Kickstarter, which is pretty good, and it's clear that I don't use Facebook or Instagram effectively :-(

Biggest Changes, Observations, and Mistakes


  • Kickstarter was a game-changer for us. It let us make a game that required almost £10,000 of investment without the capital to pull that off and also gave us access to a massive marketplace (over 1/3 of backers found us through Kickstarter).
  • The cashflow situation was incredibly tight - I need to be much better at estimating shipping prices and sizing print runs to avoid the same problem next year.
  • Retail was a channel I intended to avoid (our margins are way too tight for retail and distribution), but I ended up selling Zombology through a single UK retailer with four stores in the north of England. We delivered games by hand to avoid shipping costs and hiked the retail price so that it was just cheaper than buying it (including shipping) from our website. It was phenomenally successful. Those four stores bought 40% of the print run and have sold almost 60 copies. I'll bet there are a lot of professionally manufactured games that they haven't sold 10 of, let alone 60. Being able to interact with the teams personally and teach them the game made a huge difference.
  • Our hand-crafted runs let us make tiny print runs at a profit (but at a considerable cost in personal time). They let us get games out in small numbers and yet still be profitable and not end up with thousands of copies in a warehouse somewhere costing us money every week. It's not a scaleable method, but I'm hoping it'll let us get started and slowly scale up...


Looking Ahead to 2019-20


  • Our second Kickstarter campaign launches in just under a week. We've set a lower target (we don't need another laser-cutter!), but I'm hoping with the advertising spend and additional very positive reviews we can do better than last time. I'm really proud of FlickFleet (is it too early to call it the best game I'll ever make?) and I think it has huge potential, the struggle will be reaching that potential with a very small marketing budget, against the wealth of competition on Kickstarter and elsewhere.


I'm happy to answer questions on any of this - I hope you find it interesting!

Monday, September 30

Straight to Video

For our last Kickstarter we spent a decent chunk of the video pitching ourselves and our ability to deliver since we didn’t have any completed Kickstarter projects under our belts. This time round we’ve chosen to focus on the game instead, since a Kickstarter project that we completed early gives us a bit of a pedigree!

The video is the thing that has pushed the Kickstarter back from September to the 12th October - we were really struggling to find a date that we could all do. But we found some time yesterday afternoon that Wilka, Paul and I could do, so we spent a couple of hours recording it - we now have the footage and are just waiting on the editing and a couple of voice segments.

We’ve chosen to make the video focus on a round of the game showing off a few aspects of gameplay, and we’ve co-opted the help of a bunch of people to provide voices for characters on the ships - I’ve got most of those files now - just waiting on a couple more.

The hardest thing about the videoing was I had a very clear script of the action including what the dice results were, so it took a lot of takes to get the right numbers (I was also flicking with my left hand as my right would have blocked the camera’s view - so just hitting the target was challenge enough!

Still it’s all done now, and I got the last two copies of Zombology finished last night too! :-)

Monday, September 23

Zombology!

I started work in earnest on Zombology in November 2013 for NaGa DeMon, starting from an idea I’d had for a game for my employer to give away at trade shows. I worked hard on it for that month and then continued plugging away at it for a year and eventually decided to make 30 hand-crafted copies and sell them at cost for NaGa DeMon 2015. It took me 6 months to sell those, and then slowly over time I built up a short list of people who after playing we’re interested in getting their own copy.

boffin
Early Zombology card 'art'

In September 2017, six years after shutting down Reiver Games I started a second board games publishing company, Eurydice Games to make and sell a second print run - this time at a profit so I would have money to invest in other projects. My goal was to sell 200 copies within a year (I’d sold 100 copies of Border Reivers and then 300 copies of It’s Alive! within a year each at the beginning of Reiver Games). Conscious of the fact that Reiver Games went wrong due to trying to scale up from hobby hand-crafter to ‘professional’ publisher too soon, I was determined not to go into retail this time round.

Complete Zombology prototype
The 30 copy run

It’s taken two years to sell throughout Zombology, but this week the last few copies will go to our retail partner: Travelling Man. Remember how I said I didn’t want to go into retail? That didn’t last!

It’s just as well though. Travelling Man have bought 79 of the 200 copies and sold at least 57, 22 of which were through a single store. In the middle of restocking three of their stores with another 11 copies I told the small press coordinator that I only had nine left and they they took those too.


The final version

What with that and the 27 we sold through the first FlickFleet Kickstarter over half have gone through routes I didn’t expect to take - which shows how important being willing to change your mind is!

Zombology is now sold out. You can get the Print and Play files from our website, but we have no plans to reprint it, despite it selling well in the shops. It has a BGG average of 7.1 from 22 ratings, which is pretty good, but FlickFleet by comparison has an average of 8.4 from 28, which is my highest ranked game ever!

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!