Monday, February 3

Taking the Pledge

We didn't use a pledge manager (a separate system for managing fulfilment, late pledges and pledge upgrades after the Kickstarter closes, e.g. Backerkit or Gamefound) for our first Kickstarter and weren't intending to for our second. As the second Kickstarter came to an end and it was clear we weren't going to unlock all the stretch goals, people started asking if they could get the missed stretch goals as add-ons in a pledge manager. We asked backers if they wanted a pledge manager and nearly 70% of respondents said yes. So we found ourselves at the end of the campaign quickly fishing around for a pledge manager we were not intending to use.

We were not expecting to generate much income through this, so ones like Backerkit that charge a flat fee were a bit off-putting. In the end we found Gamefound which is free to both backers and creators (I've no idea how they fund themselves!). So we went with that.

At the end of the Kickstarter we raised £13,162 which, after dropped pledges, fell to £12,879. The pledge manager ran for about a month and allowed people who missed the Kickstarter to late pledge at Kickstarter prices, people who wanted to upgrade their pledges to do so and anyone to add some extra asteroids on to their order for only £3-4 with free shipping for a single copy.

We had no idea what to expect, but it end up raising an additional £1,688 (an additional 13.1%), of which £552 came from nine late pledges and £442 from add-ons (the asteroids). The remaining £694 came from people who had backed the Kickstarter adding extra copies of the game or expansion or upgrading from standard to deluxe copies. Which is pretty incredible and way beyond what we expected.

Gamefound dashboard for FlickFleet

For comparison on our first Kickstarter we just used the Kickstarter reward surveys and offered to take PayPal payment for anyone interested in an upgrade (we had seven upgrades and an additional deluxe and standard ordered for a total of £198 (an additional 1.6%). It's not a fair comparison as we didn't have an equivalent of the £3-4 add-on, but it's clear the pledge manager was a good thing from a sales point-of-view.

It was not all smooth sailing, however.

Before we get into this, the problems were exacerbated by my own mistake: I told backers (via a Kickstarter update) that the Pledge Manager was live for late pledges before I'd loaded in their rewards from Kickstarter. Some of them immediately leapt on to Gamefound and completed their Gamefound order before I'd uploaded their Kickstarter credits or the rewards for which they had pledged. Afraid this was the beginning of an avalanche of excited backers jumping on early, I quickly uploaded the credits only and cancelled the too-early orders.

So now people who know how to use Gamefound could re-select the rewards they got through Kickstarter and add on anything extra they wanted while only paying for the add-ons or upgrades. But quite a few people didn't realise they needed to add their original pledge to the order (due to my mistake), so we got several orders for just an add-on (and shipping on that), which later needed cancelling along with info to the backer on how to correct the (my!) mistake.

I've spent about 40 hours over the last couple of weeks building a fulfilment spreadsheet from three sources: PayPal (where we received the upgrade/add-on/late pledge money), Gamefound and Kickstarter. I've had to cross-reference them all to ensure we didn't miss anyone. I've had to deal with Kickstarter backers who haven't fulfilled the pledge manager (about 10%), all the erroneous pledges caused by my mistake and include the late pledges that weren't in Kickstarter. That has been just about doable, but clearly is not sustainable if our next Kickstarter is (a lot) more successful. Having to merge the two formats and then do a three way cross-check has been very painful and slow. And even after all the chasing, I'm still missing 6 shipping addresses (about 2%) and 57 (about 34%) lots of personalisation info. The Gamefound support was good (they have a guy in the UK), and things were definitely made worse by my mistakes, but I wonder how much effort would have been saved if I done things right in the first place.

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