Monday, November 11

FlickFleet Pledge Manager Live!

This week has mostly been about refreshing manufacturing quotes, setting up a pledge manager and getting on top of all things I should have done last weekend when my eye injury stopped me doing almost everything.

The manufacturing quotes are coming along nicely, and with a bit of jiggery-pokery around laying out the ships on larger acrylic sheets to reduce wastage per game and merging orders for expansion and base game to get economies of scale we’ve been able to get the price down to the point where we can include the Civilian Ships expansion (which everyone wanted but we didn’t unlock during the campaign) included in the expansion along with the Objectives.

Included for free!

The pledge manager is now live on Gamefound for late pledges/failed payments and the add-on. We'll be inviting all the Kickstarter backers to complete it in the next few days, once we've tested it out thoroughly. It will run until the end of November.

Sunday, November 3

We Did It!

I’ve not had a chance to prepare a proper Kickstarter debrief post so here’s a quick and dirty ‘it’s done’ post for the moment.

Funded! In 3.5 days as opposed to with 4 hours to spare!

We did it! We ended up 188% funded (£13,162 before payment errors) with 304 backers.

We had 85 backers of our first campaign return to get the expansion (that’s pretty much one third!) which is amazing. I’m amazed and delighted that so many people loved FlickFleet enough to want to get more.

And another 220-ish new supporters. I’m slightly disappointed that with ten times the advertising spend we didn’t get more people than last time but I think that it’s at least in part due to the video being too long and too serious. Lesson to learn there.

Even with funding really quickly (3.5 days) the Kickstarter process was still uncomfortable. The app on my phone notified me every time we got a new backer, but not cancellations (we had a lot again) or adjustments (positive or negative), so I was constantly checking to see where we were. Cancellations and negative adjustments still felt awful, like we’d failed in some way, despite the few people who explained it saying it was nothing we were doing wrong, just financial pressure.

Again I was completely thrown by the pledge levels people chose. Last time I was expecting a few deluxes and mostly standard but it was pretty much 50-50. This time (learning from that) I expected a 50-50 split with maybe a third of new backers wanting the expansion. This time it was 2/3rds deluxe and 85% of new backers opted for the game and the expansion.

And then the campaign ended with a (literal) whimper. On Wednesday afternoon I managed to get a paper cut on my eyeball. How you ask? My own ineptitude. Still it was very sore Wednesday evening so the stuff I had hoped to do (video editing) fell by the wayside. Thursday morning it seemed ok, so I went to work but as the day wore on it got worse and worse and I had to leave early. Thursday night we were into the last 48 hours and I dosed myself with painkillers and went to bed at 8:30. Friday morning it was agony, so I went to A&E and got prescribed all of the eye ointments. I spent most of Friday in a dark room with my eyes shut. Saturday morning was agony again so I got my hands on some codeine which did the trick, enough to do the bare minimum at campaign end.

Thankfully it’s doing much better now, my vision is returning (still a bit blurry at long range) and the pain is pretty much gone. Still I can’t help but think we could have had a better finish if I had been more on the ball.

Monday, October 28

Final Stretch

We’ve less than a week from the end of the FlickFleet campaign now and I’ve been spending the week tweaking components, the Kickstarter page and our Facebook and BGG ads ahead of a big push in the final 48 hours.

One of the things I struggle with is advertising, it’s not something I have any formal training in and sales and marketing don’t come naturally to me, so it’s been difficult. I’m tracking where our pledges come from and so far Facebook ads are doing ok (we’ve had 6 backers for £205 vs. a spend of £181, but we’ve also had three people buy the game from our website via that route too). Of course that’s only counting people who clicked on the ad and immediately backed, if they did any research or searched KS for the project later I have no way of tracking that.

One of our ads

Our BGG ads had 73,700 impressions early in the campaign and only led to 130 clicks to the KS campaign. As yet, no-one has immediately backed, so I’ve no idea whether that has led to anything at all :-(

I’m really hoping we can unlock some stretch goals for our backers and would love to get to around 400-500 backers so we can get the boxes made for us, but that’s looking pretty unlikely now unless the final 48 is absolutely incredible.

Please share the project if you can!

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! :-)