Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Family Vacation Kickstarter Postmortem

With less than 24 hours to go and just over 100 backers, the Family Vacation Kickstarter is on track to come up short of our $12,000 goal. As Jim Dietz mentioned in the latest project update, we are looking for some advice on our upcoming relaunch.

Let me just say this right here: Thanks so much to all those who have backed this project, even when things started looking down. The support of so many family and friends, not to mention quite a few complete strangers, feels really great and makes me want to keep fighting for this game.

As we look at our options going forward, we need to face some hard truths. Certainly, a number of factors contributed to this outcome. We've got a pretty big list going and another list of more things to do better next time, but we'd like to hear from you. If you backed Family Vacation, or even (especially?) if you didn't, how do you think we can be more effective?

In service of this goal, please take a moment and participate in the four short survey questions to the right. Also, please add details or other ideas in the comments. Thank you so much for your investment in this project!


  1. Phil, a few thoughts:

    1. Ask if there is enough of an intersection between the target audience and committed Kickstarter users. In other words, is the kind of person who would buy Family Vacation the same kind who would back something on Kickstarter?

    2. The length of time between funding a project on Kickstarter and actually getting that item in your hands seems to be running anywhere from eight months to a year. Given the nature of the kind of game this is and its target demographic, is that demographic the kind that would wait 8-12 months for a game?

    3. When I think Jolly Roger Games, I think Founding Fathers and not Family Vacation. I know that's not an accurate picture of the entirety of the games Jolly Roger makes, but do you think I'm the only one who thinks that way?

    4. Minis are hot. Fantasy games are hot. Card-driven battle games are hot. Roleplaying-like games for kids are hot. Family Vacation doesn't intersect any of those. Is it possible that this is the right game but at the wrong time for the marketplace trends?

    5. The game was heavily advertised on hardcore board game podcasts and such, so the people hearing about it were mostly hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers want to know the mechanics involved in a game. They want to know what other games a game plays like. They want cool components that grab them. I'm just one gamer, but I'm not sure that I understood any of those factors and how they related to Family Vacation. Is there a way to make those factors more clear? And even if you do, will it be enough to catch the attention of hardcore gamers who are right now enamored of the trends in #4?

    I hope that helps.

    One last thing. I would be interested in your game, but I don't back games on Kickstarter. Honestly, Kickstarter's track record of delivering great games seems less stellar than the old ways of publishing and marketing games. Yes, a few old games that are battletested have benefited from reprints thanks to Kickstarter. But when I see something on Kickstarter, my natural inclination is to let the other guy suffer through the inevitable delays, waits, and disappointments. Show me a real game I can sit down and play now and I may bite, but I don't do Kickstarter.

  2. I think a box cover change might help. The box cover (which is the main image on the Kickstarter page) is PERFECT for mass market, if it were being sold in stores alongside Hasbro and Mattel titles. However, those who are turning to Kickstarter to buy games are not as interested in the mass market look. I think the artist nailed the design to appeal to the mass market family crowd, but a different look might help the campaign.

    Good luck!

  3. dle - thanks for the thoughtful an detailed analysis! I can certainly understand your frustration with KS. I forgot about the last project I backed until it showed up at my doorstep!

    FL: Fair point.

    Maybe our choice is:
    1. Significantly change the game to fit KS better.
    2. Keep it as is and do something more traditional.

    Or, of course, OPTION #3! ???

  4. I think FarmerLenny has the right idea. This looks like a good mass market game, but I'm not interested in getting a mass market game via Kickstarter.

    I had some peripheral awareness of Family Vacation, but the "at a glance" look made me think that it was a game mainly aimed at kids. After seeing this post, I read through the Kickstarter page and then watched the video. I came away thinking... this is a game mainly aimed at kids. Thus, not for me (I'm looking for deeper strategy than this game seems to provide when I back a Kickstarter game).

    It seems like a high-quality game that would appeal to a wide audience, but I don't think that audience is on Kickstarter very much. I hope you do ultimately find that audience, though!

    Michael Iachini
    Clay Crucible Games

  5. Michael: Thanks for your response. At the end of the day, our game and the KS demographic are not meshing well.

  6. In addition to some of the other comments, I've heard/read that many people are less likely to back someone who has not backed any Kickstarters themselves. The thinking is that unless you've been on the backer side for a few projects, you don't appreciate what it's like and are less likely to be a good project creator. Along those lines, the low price ($30) and quick delivery estimate (July), rather than encouraging backers, could counter-intuitively turn some people off as they seem potentially unrealistic. We'd rather back a project that delivers and pay a little more or wait a little longer.

    As an aside, this has me worried for my own project that will launch next month. It has received consistent praise from gamers who have played it, but I fear that at first glance people will see it as 'just for kids or families' and go elsewhere. If you think of any advice or decide to relaunch, I'd love to hear from you. I'm on twitter as @crasspip.

    Best of luck going forward.

  7. The box art screams ages 6 to 10. The theme is uninspired. I can buy a game of running around a board collecting points without waiting a year. What is special about this game to make me pay long in advance?

  8. Points taken. Thanks for the comments.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.