Saturday, November 15, 2014

Annoying Kickstarter

Out of the Box Games just announced a Kickstarter campaign for a follow up to their highly successful Snake Oil game:  Snake Oil Elixer.  This annoys store owners for two reasons. First, Out of the Box Games is a fairly successful small publisher with a number of award winning games to its credit. Unless the company wants to run the campaign for publicity reasons, as North Star Games did with its recently released Extinction game, I am not sure why they are doing this. Kickstarter has proven a fairly effective means for companies to promote new products. Popcorn Press launched its new d6xd6 CORE RPG with a $1funding goal so the game could get the publicity boost from funding.

Kickstarter has gotten so ubiquitous though, that most retailers have accepted it as a component of the business climate and will make decisions on whether to stock a game or not based on how actively the publisher uses Kickstarter, as the most avid fans of a game tend to want it, and the stretch level bonuses, when it is released via Kickstarter, rather than waiting to get it in the store when it hits distribution later. However, if a retailer think a game has "legs" and will see demand after the initial rush, we will stock it, if there is an option provided for retail purchase. While most Kickstarter levels only offer a single copy of the game, with accompanying bonuses, a retailer level typically gives the bonuses plus multiple copies of the game. We expect it to sell so we are willing to buy several copies.

That's the big problem with the Snake Oil Elixer Kickstarter:  no retailer option. I know retailers who have sold hundreds of copies of the original Snake Oil games and have spent quite a bit of time and money promoting it. They are not particularly happy they will not have the ability to sell Snake Oil Elixer until months, most likely, after the Kickstarter funds and ships and the initial enthusiasm for the game has waned.

Stores that have done well with Snake Oil in the past will likely carry Snake Oil:  Elixer, but likely not with the same amount of support they game to the other Snake Oil versions.