Common mistakes to avoid when publishing a board game on Kickstarter

Let’s talk about some common mistakes to avoid when publishing a board game on Kickstarter

Skylar Lnn

August 12, 2022

Many people talk about what you must do to successfully publish a board game on Kickstarter and even back it up with campaign statistics. However, they often don't say they could have done even better had they not made a few mistakes.

It’s like when your team wins with a couple of clever last-minute plays after a bunch of fumbles in the game. The relief feels good, but you can't always be that lucky, so let’s talk about some common mistakes to avoid when publishing a board game on Kickstarter:

1. Mysterious stretch goals

It's pretty tempting to think about stretch goals from the marketing perspective. You may see them as these grand ambitions that make you look driven. But you might forget that they influence the value a backer gets over time.

So while you may want to use a surprise approach where you only reveal a few targets at a time to keep the audience captivated, backers may not like it. Poorly executed stretch goals will only leave people saying, "come on, don't stretch it" *slaps knee* Not that funny, right?! 

And that's the same feeling some people get when you introduce random stretch goals at the wrong time. You look like you’re trying a little too hard. Some might even think you’re trying to obscure your real goals and use the limited transparency to trick people into making backing decisions they otherwise wouldn’t. Moreover, poorly managed stretch goals can produce other problems.

For example, some service providers may underperform since they weren’t fully prepared for changes in product design, shipping to backers spread across distant regions, and other challenges. You could also find yourself miscalculating the cost of enhancements as it changes over time.

In the end, you'll have mixed reviews instead of the majority being positive. There's also the risk of being subject to other sets of regulations in different markets, which you weren't fully prepared to comply with. All-in-all, it’s never wise to think that your Kickstarter fulfillment approach is infinitely adaptable.

2. Unequitable add-on rewards

We already know that stretch goals are weirdly funny since they can strengthen the buzz, bring in more money, then leave many people frustrated. This is why some people publishing board games on Kickstarter find add-on rewards a suitable alternative. They leave backers with enough autonomy to opt into or decline additional items.

The problem is that sometimes the offer may be unfair to some backers. For example, your Kickstarter shipping provider may have some constraints on the bulk shipping levels available and the backer limit. You may also have difficulty shipping a single unit to regions other than the U.S., Canada or the EU.

So how do you respond? You tell your audience that they can pay extra to ship a single unit to destinations outside the above regions and some more for additional copies of the game. If some potential backers do the math and realize they are paying way more just to get what others get for less, they may find the proposition very unfair.

On the surface, these suggestions seem like reasonable solutions to your problems, but some people may start feeling like the game was made for a specific group of people. So whenever you’re considering an add-on reward, think about what it takes to fulfill that promise in different contexts. 

If some people have to pay much more due to reasons beyond their control, it may not feel like a reward to them. Whatever options you decide to add, make sure that the service providers you partner with can execute without significant increases in charges for a particular category of backers’ orders. Try not to use add-ons as a way to pass on the burden of additional costs to backers.

3. Minimal personalization

During a Kickstarter campaign, different people may back you for varying reasons. For some, it might be all about fundamentals like the product's value and how your campaign is structured. But, there might also be some who back you because of your profile.

Maybe they see themselves in you since you come from the same region, are of the same age or have similar professional backgrounds. Basically, they just want to see someone like them succeeding. All this should be considered when preparing campaign messages.

For instance, instead of having a single message addressing the entire audience after a goal is met, you can supplement it with individual “thank you” messages. Additionally, while the campaign is still running, it helps to highlight differing comments from people on why they are backing you.

This helps everyone feel recognized and included, like when Bruno Mars performs one of his catchy hits with simple but fantastic dance moves. Backers start to look at the project as one that could have a broader and more profound meaning, and some may even increase their pledges. It’d be a mistake to think that because you’re investing in advertising to the masses, you have to tow a certain line.

Your message might be straightforward and even reach many people, but it may not move them. Building a community is very important and often requires acknowledging diversity, which is harder without personalized communication. Remember that personalized communication can even start way before the campaign. You don’t have to first wait and see who’s listening.

4. Neglecting the feedback loop

Two major areas attract feedback when publishing a board game on Kickstarter. The first is the creative attributes of the game, things like gameplay, the board game set’s design and components. The second is the Kickstarter campaign’s parameters, such as the minimum pledge amount, pledge levels and their respective returns, funding goal and more.

Thanks to platforms like BoardGameGeek, you can initiate this conversation quite early. Nevertheless, for many aspiring publishers, the heavier feedback starts coming in when people pledge. Some of these suggestions make sense and are easy to implement, while others seem frivolous or harder to act on without disorganizing the entire project.

Nevertheless, if you neglect this input, your campaign could eventually stagnate. Maybe your board game speaks to a small group within a niche category, but those people are very supportive. It could be that many of them are willing to top up and get you closer to your goal, but they have some reservations about your add-ons or some other stipulations in the campaign.

If you look at them as overbearing, they might not bear with you (pun intended). This is why you should start the campaign knowing the areas where you're willing to compromise and the things you won't change. Consequently, when you make a few suggested changes, your audience will see that you're trying and you care, so they might stick around and pledge more.

5. Wrapping Up

To avoid these mistakes, it helps to have a Kickstarter pledge manager with survey features that address feedback and personalization. When you couple that with the ability to edit products, attach rewards and get shipping partners up to speed, your chances of success gradually increase.

You can sign up for PledgeBox today and learn more about how a crowdfunding pledge manager facilitates Kickstarter best practices for publishing a board game.