In 2019 I was preparing for The Isle of Cats Kickstarter, it was in the before times when shipping containers and fulfilment costs only increased by minor increments each year.
It has been 3.5 years since that planning and things have changed dramatically, the average cost of games has gone up and crowdfunding shipping numbers are far higher than ever before.
The CMON example
Let’s look at some numbers!
Zombicide 2nd edition from CMON (November 2019)
- US shipping: $15 – $26
Dune: War of Arrakis from CMON (September 2022)
- US shipping: $48 – $58
Disclaimer: I can’t compare the sizes or weights of the games as Dune is not yet available and CMON no longer put the weight on the campaign page. Zombicide was 7kg which is heavy, and I would be surprised if Dune was that much more based on the campaign page contents. I do know this increase in price is not specific to just this campaign and has been seen across much of Kickstarter in recent months.
This gives us an increase of 220% – 123%
How much has shipping gone up by?
I’ve done some maths and the following shows how much I believe the cost of shipping in the US has gone up by since 2019.
- US shipping: 41%
There is no single percentage increase for prices, these numbers are estimates based on the following:
- Taking the average price in the region from multiple suppliers, these are not from one company.
- The % increase varies a lot per weight, so I have taken the average increase across multiple weights (3 / 5 / 7 / 10kg),
It isn’t justified
These numbers are telling, the increase to the US is 41% and yet they’ve upped the prices by far more, it isn’t justified.
However, there are 2 more things we need to consider before we can cast our judgement…
For the purposes of this next part, let’s take the mid points of CMONs prices for the US in 2019 ($20) and 2022 ($53), with an increase of 165%
In 2019, it did not cost $20 to ship a 7kg game across America, the price on the page is subsidised. This is very common on Kickstarter as creators don’t want to be sharing their real prices as they put people off.
As an example, if I was to sell a game for $100 and shipping was $40, I would likely discount $20 from my profit and just charge the backer $20.
If we assume CMON are doing the same, then we can’t use a 40% increase on the public number ($20), we must use it on the real number ($40). Not only that, but all of this increase needs to be added to the public shipping price as further discounting wouldn’t be viable.
This gives us an increase of $16, bringing our public price to $36, an increase of 80%, double what we actually saw in shipping.
Between 2019 and 2022 manufacturing and freight costs have increased by a considerable amount and profit margins have tightened. In 2019 it cost me around $1 to ship a copy of The Isle of Cats from China to America, I’ve seen that increase to $6 during the past 2 years. It’s harder to put a cost increase on manufacturing as it really depends on the game components, but there have been big increases.
This means where once I could subsidise $20 on a $100 game, now I may only be able to subsidise $10.
If we take this $10 and add it to the $36 from step 1, we’re finishing at $46, or an increase of 130%.
If we remove the entirety of the discount, we finish on $56, or an increase of 180%.
Our measurement of CMONs increase was 165%, right in the middle of the 130% and 180% figures we just calculated.
Creators have been subsidising shipping for a long time and now the costs of manufacturing, freight, and fulfilment have increased considerably it is hitting them back hard.
The cost of fulfilment may have only gone up by 40% in the last 3 years (which is still a huge amount), but everything else has gone up too. Subsidising shipping has become much more challenging, margins have become tighter, and we’re only now seeing the real costs that fulfilment entail.
Do I think creators can do better, absolutely! But please keep in mind that when it comes to shipping, as much as none of us want it to be the case, the increases we are seeing can be justified.