How to Successfully Publish Your Board Games On Kickstarter

Here are some tips on how you can successfully publish board games on Kickstarter

Skylar Lnn

July 22, 2022

Playing board games can be a very engaging experience for a number of reasons; the strategic challenges involved, the fierce competition it spurs within the players, the visual design, and the tactile sensation that comes with using physical pieces.

 However, achieving these qualities makes publishing a hit board game quite difficult. From creating and refining an idea to assembling and distributing sets, there’s plenty of hurdles to jump over. Luckily, Kickstarter is one of those places where most of your requirements converge, so let’s give you some tips on how you can successfully publish board games on Kickstarter:

 

Pinpoint your target player

Start by asking yourself, “What would be the most common characteristic among your game’s players?” It could be something like; they are people who definitely like mathematics, or they are history buffs, or maybe they are fantasy and sci-fi story lovers.

 The point is, you need that simple hook, the one line you mention if someone asked you what the game is about. This can be quite tricky to establish since people perceive and describe ideas differently. But once you figure out who the ideal player is, you can build on that and find your audience. 

For instance, if you’d like to put out a game that speaks to history lovers, you’ll probably have to target people who have done enough school to know a bit of history. You’ll also have a clearer idea on where to find such people and learn more about their interests.

Develop an interesting idea

Once you’ve established your audience, it isn’t as simple as saying, “they like history so let me make them a World War II game.” What if they are more into cold war espionage, or ancient tribal conquests? This is why you need to browse the online forums, comment sections on YouTube videos, and other platforms and content that attracts your target audience and ignites conversations.

 These places are a goldmine for insight into what your ideal players would like as the topic of a board game. With that settled, you also need to develop the incentive and gameplay. Here, you’re trying to answer the questions, “Why would people play this game?” and “How do they play the game?”

The “why” is about the biggest accomplishment in the game, and all the obstacles that make it worth achieving. On the other hand, the “how” is all about gameplay. Do you use dice or pieces on a board? Or do they involve an element of cards?

Having a clear idea also makes marketing easier since you start knowing how to talk to people about it. They can ask you questions that will help you know whether the game is too similar to an existing one, or if it’s just not captivating enough.

 

Collect some pre-Kickstarter cash

When your idea is clear and mature, it doesn’t have to be fancy. But, you still need a prototype or a minimum viable product. Basically, an improvised version of your board game. This means you should have the rules written/typed somewhere, the game world drawn out, and some pieces or cards.

Nevertheless, this takes money too. The initial cheap cardboard cutouts you might use, the flimsy designs you made yourself using basic and free software, the instructions list and more. It all takes money. And so does the communication to get people together for a tryout.

 

This is why you should first put together a little money of your own for this introductory tour, or any other activities that will precede a Kickstarter campaign. The funds you collect could also help create the first versions for the public.

 

As people try out your game using the provisional game set/kit, they can suggest materials to use, artists to work with, and even manufacturers and distributors, depending on their levels of knowledge on board game publishing. Consequently, you can start focusing on a few and start reaching out for more information.

 

This will be particularly useful when launching the Kickstarter campaign since you’ll be able to lay out clear goals and come off as someone who knows what they are doing.

 

Hire professional designers

Depending on the intricacy of your game, you might need one or several kinds of artists and designers. From people who can illustrate to people who can sculpt miniature objects, you should seek out professionals. People who you can tell, “I’m going for something dark and gothic,” or “free-spirited and trippy,” and they’ll come up with excellent samples.

 

You can always search the internet for the top board game artists, look through their work, and see who has the kind of creativity and artistic expression you feel can sufficiently actualize your vision.

 

Have a distributor on standby

If you’re going to raise funds for mass production of a board game, it’s only right to know who would give you the best deal on publishing and distributing. You can’t just go around collecting money, hoping you’ll start the negotiations after.

 

So to have a distributor on your side, you should prepare a convincing pitch that goes beyond how fun the game is and addresses its lucrativeness. This is the point at which you should probably talk to someone with entrepreneurial knowledge to guide you in creating a comprehensive business plan with accurate costing and realistic projections.

 

More importantly, whoever you choose to advise you on these preparatory business tasks should be fairly conversant with the business of board games.

 

Minimize your Kickstarter fulfillment costs

Kickstarter can point you to services like warehousing, packaging, shipping, tracking, and more. Ultimately, it’s up to you to get a sense of who your contributors are and the level of quality they expect for their efforts.

 

So before you receive investors' money, gather enough to get your first consignment sorted. If you’re lucky, you might find fulfillment service providers who can offer friendly rates and some flexibility in how you pay.

 

But as you try to lower fulfillment costs, make sure you partner with the provider who is best suited to serve your investors. Know their reach and the customer experience that recipients get. Don’t let discounts and free packaging lure you into a partnership that might ruin your reputation.

 

Produce demo content

The best option is to create a video, preferably with some animation to make it more dynamic and engaging. Keep the video short, and don’t waste too much time describing the project. Simply immerse your audience into the experience by showing a snippet of the gameplay. Unless the gameplay is a bit elaborate, don’t exceed two minutes.

 

Push it on the socials

A Kickstarter campaign won’t just create awareness on its own. Make as much noise as you can on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Twitch, YouTube, and other social platforms that can help create and keep a buzz going. Use video clips, answer questions and make the link to your Kickstarter campaign easy to find.

Moderate your Stretch Goals

Regardless of the project you’re crowdfunding for, managing stretch goals is Kickstarter best practices 101. One of the biggest temptations when launching a Kickstarter campaign is to oversell. The “go big or go home” mentality isn’t always the way to motivate people to chip in for your new board game. Keep your stretch goals in check to avoid disappointing those who would contribute extra money.

 

While you might be able to fulfill your earlier promises, there’s a chance you’ll hit a ceiling in the market. Let’s face it, there’s only so many board games you can sell in a season. So if you ask for additional cash but your profit plateaus, some investors will be very mad. And telling them you made the game look more fancy won’t help.

Track your finances

Make sure you know how much you put in and when you put it in. And the same goes for what you received. This information will simplify tax filing and keep you out of trouble with the authorities. It will also help you know how much of a profit you might have after paying your dues.

As we wrap up, here are the major takeaways you should remember:

  • Have some money on hand and experts to help (from Kickstarter shipping to accountants, artists, and business proposal writers, get some professionals one your side. The whole DIY (Do-It-Yourself) concept sounds admirable and adventurous, but it may not be wise on the first try. Learn from those who already know, then slowly take on their roles if you must). 
  • Don’t slack on marketing. However good your game is, if few people are chatting about it, you might never hit your goals. Try talking about it to people outside your target audience. You never know how they might help.
  • Let the creation be a continuous conversation. Never fear to respond to people’s opinions with changes, especially if they make sense.

Now that you know the essentials, feel free to sign up for PledgeBox if you need a Kickstarter pledge manager, fulfillment provider, and extra assistance publishing your Kickstarter board game.

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