Why do This BHAG, and Why the Meeple Deck?

I wonder if any of these ideas were good.

I wonder if any of these ideas were good.

Sometimes, I think people need to do things just because they are hard. Run a marathon, climb a mountain, stop eating French fries, whatever. These activities give a great sense of accomplishment because they are hard.

My BHAG is certainly hard, but it’s not that sort of random challenge. The reason for the BHAG is based on the frustrating I have with the ratio of ideas I have to products I’ve actually got made. In the hobby gaming industry, you work with some super creative people and it spawns lots of ideas. I probably have more product ideas in a year than most people have in a lifetime. That might sound boastful, but it’s really not, it’s just that the industry I have worked in for 2 decades makes your brain think that way. If fact, I’m probably on the low-side of the hobby game industry in the “number of ideas” list. People like John Zinser, Eric Lang, and Ken Hite probably have more good ideas in a month than I will have in my life. And these ideas are NOT just for games. The group of industry folks I hang out with will just as easily have a great idea for a new TV show or food item as they would for a new game.

Because I spent almost 5 years working on a single product – Bakugan – I’ve got baskets and baskets of ideas that might be really good. They might be good ideas and not knowing is driving me nuts. Kickstarter can help me find out if they are good or not. That’s why I started along this path.

But because I’m always having ideas, the original path of doing 12 Kickstartrs has already changed due to newer ideas layered on top of the general goal.

Now I want to do more than just 12 of my old ideas on Kickstarter this year. I want to attempt things that no one has ever done on Kickstarter for at least a few of the campaigns. I want to tackle some serious projects in addition to entertainment projects. I want to test some theories I have about Kickstarter with projects. And I want to do at least one project that makes people say “I’ve never seen crowdsourcing used in that way before.”

Will they all fund? Probably not. Am I going to work stupidly hard to give each the best chance I can? You bet. But the one thing that I know will suffer is my ability to market each idea at maximum capacity as there simply isn’t enough time. That means each idea has to be extra good to get funded. What I will not do is compromise on the quality of the project as that would undercut the entire point and it would make me sad.

Why start with the Meeple Deck? It seems so plebeian?

The Meeple Deck (and one more project I plan later) is a test of Kickstarter category loyalty. Two very “hot” categories in Kickstarter are playing cards and hobby games. The Meeple deck sits somewhere between those two groups. I’m curious how many gamers who go to Kickstarter for their games will pick up a deck of playing cards themed for their other hobby. I’m also curious how many playing card collectors would be interested in an high quality deck of cards that looks very little like the decks they normally back (but treats the category with respect).

After a week, the jury is mostly in on the Meeple deck. If it continues as it is going, there is no way it’ll fund at the $12K level. The minimum printing for a high quality deck is 2500 units per design. Since the Meeple deck was planned to have two different back options, I needed to set the limit at $12K so I could print 5000 total decks. If I only raised $12K I would still lose money, but I’d have a lot of inventory left to sell at trade shows and through other campaigns, so I was cool with that risk. I’m currently working on a replacement campaign that has only one back so I can drop the funding goal to $6K (with 2500 decks printed, a smaller out of pocket maximum loss, and less extra inventory to sell afterwards). Even at $6K it’s likely going to be a challenge.

What have I learned from the Meeple Deck?

–       Either most people who shop on KS for games don’t shop on KS for playing cards (i.e. I buy art on KS, but not mugs even if they have art on them)

–or-

–       People who shop for games and playing cards on Kickstarter make their decisions based on their opinions on each category. (i.e. I buy art on KS and I buy mugs on KS, but I buy the best mug I can and the best art I can independent of each other).

When someone backs a project, the creator can see what else that person has backed. From that additional information, I think it’s pretty clear the first option above is likely the true one.

Whatever the case, there appears to be little consumer cross-over between these two categories. I think if the art was a gamery topic (say LotR), but done in the style of playing cards (highly intricate), the result may have been different. The Meeple is about as far away from playing card art style as possible! And of course, it’s just one piece of data, but I do feel like I learned something.

I really hope that this deck gets funded. I want to see how well this deck will sell at retail shows like GenCon. I want to get at least a data point at how different the retail shopping audience is from the KS shopping audience. I think this deck could easily find good sales and traction on-line as well, particularly during the holiday season as it would be a solid stocking stuffer for a Eurogamer. 

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