In case you missed it, the Kickstarter for Bill Shakespeare is Dead happened. It was fascinating, fun, stressful, enlightening, stressful and…stressful? The game didn’t make it to the goal, but that doesn’t mean this is over. In fact, the game will be back up in just 5 days as I write these words. So this is just a brief intermission. And surely a few lessons were learned, right?
Some of the lessons I learned are really specific to this campaign and its relaunch. Some are more general and might apply to you as well. In any case…here goes!
1. Put the art front and center. This was just silly 0n my part. Seriously silly. The art is one of my favorite parts of the game. And while I think the page itself looked nice, I didn’t do nearly a good enough job showcasing the art. Those characters needed to be front and center, where everyone could appreciate them. Otherwise, what’s the visual hook that keeps people on the page? The Google Analytics for the page tells me that people bounced away to another page pretty quickly, which means they just weren’t hooked.
I think the representative image I used looked nice, but didn’t do a great job of showing off the art. I’ll be ditching the “box” and just showing Shakespeare. Also, the characters will be all over the page.
2. Lower the goal. This should just be obvious, right? Just make it cheaper! But really, lowering the goal means raising the risk. I don’t kick myself for the $10k goal in the first campaign. At that number, it was getting everything I wanted plus a nice buffer. In the next campaign, it’s down to $8k. I think that will really help, but it means the buffer is smaller and the risk is higher. One hopes not to have to put their own money into the project after it funds (you invest your money before ideally), but if that’s what it comes to, that’s what it comes to and I am budgeting appropriately for it.
3. Lowering the pledge. Again, this is one of those obvious things that’s not quite so obvious. Lower the price and get more people, yeah? Frankly, this game is running on a much tighter margin than most games. The general principle in pricing games is to make the MSRP somewhere around 5 times the cost of manufacturing. And let me tell you…that’s not happening here. But the difference between $25 and $30 is vast, psychologically. So I’m prepared to place my bets and make the game less expensive, even if it makes me sweat a bit.
4. Make it family friendly. There are a lot of people who like adult games. And frankly, Bill Shakespeare is Dead has always been a rough PG-13 at its very worst. But the feedback I’ve gotten overwhelmingly tells me that the audience will be much broader if the base game is family friendly right out of the box. Now, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a little bawdy (Hilariously Fake Breasts are staying in) or a little on the gross side (Trunk Full of Toenails). But some of the more extreme stuff? That’s going into…
5. Expansions. It seems that, at every demo, someone asks if there are going to be expansions. I think it’s a great idea, so why not start right off the bat? This next campaign will feature a deluxe model with your choice of 3 expansion packs of Nouns and Verbs. So those who want the NSFW experience will be able to pick that up. Those that want a really Shakesperean experience (like teachers!) can grab the Shakespeare pack. Along with those are a Family Friendlier pack and a Pop Culture pack. This means that people can really get the game they want, customizing the whole way.
6. Smarter Advertising. Let’s be completely real: advertising on BoardGameGeek is really expensive. It’s $500 just to get your foot in the door. Booking the front page (which is really just the top-most banner) is another $200 for a day. Now, I’m not saying it isn’t worth it. I have no doubt that the campaign brought in $700 in pledges from people who clicked on the ads. But A) it wasn’t a great return on investment because B) I don’t believe this is the right kind of game for those ads.
Ads on BGG are great for games that really appeal to the hardcore gamer crowd and/or games that have a big name behind them. If someone is already anticipating a game, then they see an ad for it, that can prompt them to jump on it right then. But frankly, the world of party games doesn’t always intersect with the world of who logs on to BGG. So while we may have gotten $700 worth of pledges from there, it isn’t necessarily the best use of money.
Instead, a better use of ad funds is likely Facebook. Facebook allows you to directly target certain demographics. So instead of just a wash of gamers, I can tailor my ads to those who like Cards Against Humanity. Or Shakespeare. Or people who indicate they are english teachers. There are a wide variety of people who might love Bill Shakespeare is Dead, but they don’t necessarily hang out on the same Venn diagrams. Plus, Facebook allows you to see the stats, so you can tweak things if need be. That kind of feedback is crucial.
And finally, there’s no replacement for the tribe. Gathering a following is a thing that takes time and effort. Over 100 people pledged for Bill Shakespeare is Dead this last time out. So now we’ve got supporters. People who are excited about the game. People who will champion it to others. You can’t buy that with ads.
So let’s get ready to raise the curtain for Act II on May 19th!