Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

Good news is hard

2nd May 2023 0

I always used to think that good news was just that – something positive that would result in happiness. Yet over the years, there have been several occasions where good news has proven to be problematic, and I’ve found it just as difficult to deal with as bad news.

Let’s take a recent scenario from the Race to the Raft Kickstarter. When I launched the Kickstarter last year, I put an estimated shipping date of September 2023 and worked hard to achieve this. The date included some contingency in case things went wrong, and so far, I’ve been lucky enough not to need to use that contingency. As a result, I am now several months ahead of schedule and hoping to deliver in July.

To achieve a July delivery, I had to provide my fulfilment centers with the final backer data, which includes backer addresses by the end of last week. This meant I had to inform backers of the project that we were ahead of schedule, as I needed to have final delivery details.

Last week was the final moment I could inform backers, so I sent out the update. The problem is there are still things that can go wrong:

  • The games are on boats but those boats may get delayed.
  • The games may get held in customs.
  • The fulfilment centres may have problems processing data.
  • There may be a problem with one of the containers.

In fact, there is a long list of things that could go wrong, and now my two months of contingency are gone. Having gone through this process in the past, I can say, rightly or wrongly, that many backers have now changed their expectations from receiving the game in September to receiving it in July. For some of them, the original estimation of September no longer exists.

It’s a curious situation where, by providing good news, I have now made my own life more tricky and increased the chances that I will have to provide bad news later. For anyone else going through a similar process, I recommend the following:

  • Whenever delivering good news, such as delivering early, be careful to include a lot of caveats and don’t over-celebrate the news.
  • Be mindful of how backers will interpret the news and what this means for your future communications.
  • While delivering early is a good thing, be mindful that some of your backers would have made plans based on your original delivery date. You should do what you can to accommodate them, should the new dates cause them problems.

At the end of the day good news should be celebrated and you shouldn’t let possibly negative outcomes diminish that good news, but as with all things you should be cautious and carefully consider how you present the news in order to avoid negative fallout in the future.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!

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