Days of Wonder recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for their sequel to the fantastic, but feature limited, SmallWorld iPad app. Unfortunately, it’s a textbook example of a bad campaign. Why?
For a start, it’s basically a pre-order system; the game would made even if the kickstarter failed. It’s not like Days of Wonder particular need the funding for their poor devs, nor would they be able to make any less of the product without funding and economies of scale. There’s not even a particular benefit for pre-ordering though; the price is $15, which is about as much as they could charge for an iOS game when it’s finally released. On a similar vein, why are they even releasing a completely new version with features that should be in the existing app – like multiplayer? Wouldn’t it be less scammy to offer the upgrades as an in-app purchase?
Secondly, a the time of launch, one of the stretch goals was development of the game on a second, mystery platform. It could be Windows Phone, it could be Steam, it could Android (which is notoriously less profitable than iOS). By keeping it a mystery though, it’s basically worthless; Android owners weren’t going to kickstart an iPad game in the remote hope that maybe an Android app would also be made. If they had simply made a Kickstarter for an Android version, that would be ok; look, we’re considering Android, but we can’t guarantee it’s going to profitable, and therefore we’re asking for community support to test viability and fund the project. They have since announced the first mystery platform to be Android tablets and the Kindle Fire, if funding reaches $300,000. They would have goten better press if they had just said this straight away though, instead of leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of so many backers.
Thirdly, the reward tiers are inconsistent and confusing; the physical tier prices are just downright extortionate. $312 – a recommended level for existing board game and iPad app owners – includes digital upgrades and a designer edition of the board game. No other physical rewards, or even the digital download. $180 meanwhile will net you a standard board game, digital edition of the new one, 15 deluxe token sets for all current upgrades, a concept art book, t-shirt, some metal pins, and mention in the credits. What the f***?
They had also initially blocked international backers from any of the physical reward tiers; luckily, they made a swift update with more tiers to cater for international shipping.
I expect the game will be successfully funded anyway, so my rant probably means nothing; but there is a chance that an awful lot of Android owners will withdraw their backing if the stretch goal isn’t reached.
What do you think? Will you be backing it? Do you think it could have been handled better?