Monday, June 8, 2015

My Wife's Origins Kickstarter Vendor Experience

So many things have happened over the last week...Origins, news about Chaosium, Origins. :) I'll post about my Origins experience later. Instead I want to write about an interesting conversation I had with my wife on the way back from Columbus.

My wife is a board gamer. This was her 4th or 5th Origins, so she is not new to the vendor hall and having people pitch her new games; however, she is new to Kickstarter. While in the vendor room, she was pitched two different games currently being kickstarted (by two different booths). It was interesting when she said she was seriously considering backing one, and would never back the other one.

The first booth she stopped by asked if they could quickly pitch her the game. She said if they did it quickly, as something in the back of the vendor hall was setting off her allergies (we think it was the incense vendor in the next aisle). They quickly ran through a 2-minute pitch explaining the game, showing her the components, and briefly talked about the kickstarter (e.g. it was already funded, if you backed it you'd get a special thing, etc).

While they did not have the actual game yet to show, they had worked hard on creating as close a replica as possible. They did have some of the actual printed components, but the board and box were high quality printed prototypes. My wife ended up standing there for about 10 minutes, getting more information. I suspect if her allergies hadn't been going off, she would have sat down for a demo.

She then stopped at another booth where they pitched her the game they were kickstarting. They gave her a brief description of the game and that it was currently being funded. However, I could immediately tell she wasn't interested.

The board for the second game was a piece of white paper with concentric circles printed out. The pieces were printed out cardboard glued onto a base (I suspect the art was downloaded from Google Images as I had seen some before). Additionally, in the back of the booth were four guys sitting there, looking like they were hung over. In her words, she felt like "she was being pitched a game by a couple of frat guys who decided to throw something together".

The difference between the two were how it was presented to her. The first looked very professional and it was obvious the designers had worked hard to get something good to show attendees. The presenters were well organized and could answer any question asked.

The second looked like they had printed it out 20 minutes before heading to Origins. When asked a question, she was referred to the Kickstarter page. (We looked and this didn't actually help, as the KS page says very little about the game.)

I can only imagine that preparing a booth for Origins is difficult. However, the second booth could have done a lot more to make their game look better. In their KS video, they have what looks like a prototype game board. Why wasn't that at Origins? Having that would have made it 1000x better.

In the end, when you are pitching a game that doesn't yet exist to people you need to do everything in your power to sell it to them. People, especially gamers like my wife, aren't going to just take your word for it. They want to see something, and not be promised baked goods for backing it. I'm sure I'm not alone in this thinking and the numbers show it. The first booth opened up their Kickstarter when Origins started and was already funded; the second is 50% through and is only 10% to their goal.

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