Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

What to do if you fail?

3rd March 2022 0

Failure is a word that none of us want to hear, especially when we’ve dedicated a big part of our life to trying to create something. Over the last 20 years there have been many times where I have failed, but you probably don’t know about them because you didn’t find me until I was lucky enough to be successful.

It is painful, and when you put yourself out there for others to judge, failure can be very hard to cope with.

The challenge is to turn that failure around, to use it as a moment of self-reflection, to learn and improve, so next time you can succeed. Every failure is still a step in the right direction if you choose to use it as such.

The airport

In 2019 I was at an airport in Germany on my way back from Essen (a board game convention) and a friend called my name. They introduced me to Kris who had recently launched a Kickstarter campaign that wasn’t doing too well.

We spoke briefly and I offered some advice, but unfortunately, I felt the project was already too far along to be able to succeed.

Kris seemed like a nice guy, his ideas were interesting, and I could see failing really hurt him. It turned out we didn’t live too far away from each other, so I agreed to meet over a coffee and help Kris with trying again.

We ended up meeting a couple of months later and spent an afternoon reviewing everything.

The review

Reviewing why something failed can be hard, especially if you’re new to it. In the case of crowdfunding, maybe it was because of marketing, artwork, price, or the game itself? The list is endless!

It’s made harder by the emotions associated with the original failure and being able to sit with a mutual third party and brainstorm is a great way to move towards a solution.

Kris was great at listening, taking feedback, and deciding how to incorporate it without compromising his ideas.

  • The game was updated to work with 2 players (originally it was 3+)
  • The cover image and graphics for the Kickstarter were completely revamped.
  • The how to play was animated, making it engaging and visually pleasing.
  • The pricing of rewards was tweaked after we reviewed costs and the goal was updated to match.
  • Exciting Kickstarter extras were created and added for all Kickstarter backers through a second box of content.
  • Kris reached out to more third party content creators to create videos covering the game.
  • Throughout all the time of implementing these changes, Kris continued marketing and reaching a wider audience.

If you compare the new Kickstarter page to the old Kickstarter page, I think you’ll agree they are completely different.

At this point, I also want to be very clear that Kris and I met for coffee and had a few chats where I offered suggestions. All the final decisions were made by Kris and he alone was responsible for the updates that came from it.

2 years later

Turning a failure into a success isn’t always easy and it may take time, especially if you want to fully reflect on what happened and try hard to fix the problems. Over the next 2-years Kris and I didn’t speak much and with everything happening due to covid, time quickly moved on.

Then, nearly 2 years after we first met at the airport I received a message asking if I could offer some advice on numbers. We jumped on a call, ran through a few last things and I was amazed by what Kris had done.

The Kickstarter launched a few days later and raised just over $100,000 – An incredible first campaign!

If your first Kickstarter fails then don’t be afraid to try again. Take the time to learn what went wrong and come back with something bigger and better.

I can’t wait to get my copy of Damnation: The Gothic Game soon!

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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