Drink! Kickstarter Postmortem

Cherry Picked Games now has two successful Kickstarters under their belt. It is an accomplishment, to be sure. We say it a lot, but we are truly and profoundly grateful for your support. We believe in our games and Kickstarter justifies that belief. For the sake of transparency, we want to publically reflect on the latest campaign. Maybe this will help future games be successful.

Going in, we had different expectations for Drink! than Catalyst. Catalyst is a niche game: a role-playing game with a new world and system. We had three years of playtesting and buildup before the Catalyst campaign started, giving us a larger fanbase to draw from. Drink! is an accessible party game: you can explain the entirety of the rules to someone in a single breath. We had half a year between conception and Kickstarter for Drink! Even so, we expected Drink! to fair far better than Catalyst in the crowdfunding market.

We stepped up our marketing for Drink! Admittedly, this is a field Cherry Picked Games is still learning, but we made some great strides forward this round. We used Project Wonderful for online advertising and translated about $40 into roughly three hundred clicks. We held public demos for both products, but the return on these was better for Drink! More people we met at bar demos backed the game than those we met during Catalyst store demos. We also handed out prototype cards and coasters at bars across Seattle. It’s hard to tell the exact impact these had, but making some guesses from the Kickstarter referrer metrics, they more than paid for themselves.  A coaster at Around the Table scored us some free marketing at OrcaCon, where Drink! coasters will be resting under the bar’s glasses.

Kickstarter gives a clear indication of success: making the goal or not. Both Cherry Picked projects succeeded. Catalyst earned $11,660 from 73 backers and Drink! received $7,721 from 100 backers. Clearly Catalyst backers gave more per person. The first obvious reason is the base price of getting “just the game” was $20 for Drink! and $40 for Catalyst. Of course the average will be lower. Another element of this difference stems from the personal connections we built up playtesting Catalyst over three years. Spending a couple months playing a Catalyst campaign trumps an evening playing Drink! when it comes to emotional investment in our success. However, we received more random backers through Kickstarter discovery for Drink! The difference is inherent in the genres and we are happy to have capitalized on Drink!’s broader appeal.

A big point for us with Drink! was pricing the rewards correctly. Catalyst had a high percentage of backers claiming high rewards, which was awesome. We slightly underpriced the dice and leather books (if you ignore the design and effort on our end, we broke even there). We also greatly underestimated the effort required to make custom campaigns. No real regrets on our part; those campaigns are amazing and we were floored by our backers’ creativity. We did apply the lesson to Drink! and take care in accurately costing out the rewards. Of course, no one took the high ones this time. That’s less money per backer, but at least we do not have to pretend to be music producers.

Honestly, the biggest lesson we learned is the holiday season is a terrible time to ask for money. People are buying gifts for immediate giving, not preordering games for the summer. Speaking of timing, some people asked us about running this campaign during the record-setting MST3K campaign. There is little conclusive research out there about the collative effects Kickstarter campaigns have on each other. Do big projects bring new people to the site and expose them to other ideas? Or do people have a set crowdfunding budget that gets consumed by these massive campaigns? We would be curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on the matter.

We are happy to have funded Drink! It is a success to us. Despite the bad timing, we introduced Drink! to an audience beyond the existing Cherry Picked market. Drink! received twice as many views as Catalyst and certainly got more attention from the general public (including awesome shout outs on both Roll for Crit’s and CSz After Party’s podcasts).

Next year will be big for Cherry Picked Games. We will produce and ship Drink!, print our second run of Catalyst, have our first industry table at OrcaCon, and introduce everyone to our next game. Thank you to everyone who has helped us out thus far. 2016 will be amazing, thanks to your support.