No, not a complaint about through-the-roof sales of the Adventures Dark and Deep™ Players Manual (although I am pleased to report that sales are good, and the book is in the top 80 last time I checked on RPGNow.com), but rather an examination of how, exactly, to prevent unexpected success from leading to disaster or near-disaster.
Kickstarter has had its share of unexpected monster hits, and more than its share of those successes turning into failures. And the reason?
People see the enormous numbers coming in and think they need to react to them, rather than sticking to the plan.
On one level, reaction is expected and good. As in, walking around with a stupid grin on your face, or being positively gushing in your thanks and praise of your backers. But what I fail to understand is why, when one gets a ton more money than expected on Kickstarter, one feels the need to then change the project to make it more grandiose than originally planned!
Take the Steve Jackson Ogre Kickstarter (it’s noteworthy because SJG just released their annual report, and Ogre figures prominently for the first time in… well… ever). They asked for $20,000 and ended up with nearly a million dollars. So what did they do when faced with this windfall? They had two options:
- Produce a metric buttload of the modestly scoped game they were originally going to produce, get it done on schedule, and make a nifty profit on each one, or
- Produce a vast monster of a game that went way beyond the original scope, with expensive components, intricate custom packaging, a box that’s so large retailers will have problems making room for it on their shelves, and which costs so much to produce and ship that they actually stand a chance of losing money on each game sold. Not to mention oodles of bonus swag that add to the cost, all still borne by that same pledge that you were expecting to pay for option #1.
EDIT: Removed references to keeping Ogre in production. The larger point, of not changing the project just because one gets a lot of support, still stands unaltered.