I think kickstarters and pre-order specials can be neat even if they aren't exactly the same.
Both serve to help fund the project though some of the things that go through Kickstarter usually rely upon a certain amount of funds being raised in order for the project to come to fruition. When we had started putting together Victorious, we had planned to do some sort of pre-order to help offset the costs of our initial print run -- John and I had worked out approximate costs for publication for a run of 'X' copies with the larger balance headed straight into retail stores. All that was needed was to sell 'Y' number of copies. Anything left over from the initial print run would have either come out of our pockets and the extra money would have gone to cover previous expenses that the project incurred.
Aside from what didn't end up happening... Arcana Creation never went the Kickstarter / Pre-order route. The most I could see happening is a pre-order for something once it was in it's last stages prior to a physical production of the product in question and ONLY when Arcana Creations is back on track and regularly producing material.
As a consumer, I don't mind Pre-Ordering a variety of things (sometimes for the benefits of exclusives and other times to ensure I get a copy). I have seen some awesome Kickstarter efforts as well. One of the best in recent memory was TLG's Kickstarter for their 'Classic Monsters' book. Now TLG had made it clear that it was just using Kickstarter as a vehicle to help track and organize the pre-order efforts but I think they set a very nice example given prices and breakdown. They had seven levels of pledges -- lowest being a $1 donation and the highest being $100. In the last days of this 'pre-order' window, I opted for the $100 package.
This is what I'm getting in that package:
- A limited edition copy (includes colour plates) of the Classic Monsters book in Hardcover
- Hardcover copies of the PHB, M&T, and CKG
- Digital copies of all these books
- An adventure module (my choice)
- T-Shirt featuring cover artwork ofthe Classics Monsters book
- And finally, a collection of 20 promotional coins with pouch.
Definite value for my dollar in my books. Of course, other options cost far less and you got less material consequently. Then again, if you already had the other stuff, why spend as much right?
In my case, I had 'most' of the stuff but I didn't have a physical copy of the CKG and am behind with a couple of the modules. Given the typical cost of shipping to Canada and the inclusion of a T-Shirt, I'm still doing quite well and it's a 'break-even' proposition at the very least. The extra PHB and M&T will not be going to waste either... they could easily become gifts or simply extra reference copies at the gaming table. From the sounds of it, this package should be shipping out to me within the next couple of weeks.
Now while I did love their efforts with this, I was less taken with another effort which opened up within a couple of weeks of the last one. It just ended a day or two ago and while I took advantage of it to expressly pre-order the book, I didn't care so much for the other packages being offered. This time, TLG decided to run it off their own page and prices ranged from $1 to $175. Don't get me wrong, the $100 and $175 packages were neat and some of the lower ones interesting as well. I ultimately settled of $25 which is basically a signed copy of the book (softcover) plus a digital copy with the printed maps. It also gives me 5 more of those coins and my name goes in the acknowledgements. For $10 more, I could have named 'something' (the book is largely setting oriented) whether it be an NPC, town, river, etc. Decided the $10 could be better used elsewhere.
At $175, you got the accessory in whatever format you wished ... be it hardcover or boxset with single softcover or 3 booklets and the maps, a hardcover copy of the Monsters & Treasurs of Aihrde, the Winter Dark Setting Folio, a wooden box containing the carved wooden tiles of the runes featured in the new accessory, and a personalized PHB which contains the new class and game system specific information introducedin the accessory.
Some interesting value and some people did go for it (I think there were 6 available at the start of this but I don't know if all 6 were taken) but I didn't find the value matching the value from their first Kickstarter effort. That said, it is still in line with some of the things I have seen on Kickstarter.
While I support these sorts of 'funding' events, I have to say that the frequency between the first and second one that TLG did was probably too soon -- especially coming out of the holidays. I know I wouldn't have gone much higher ($50 included the book in hardcover but also included the folio which I already owned) but it was still nice to see that there was a good spread to choose from if you were so inclined.
Of course, money is not abundant so I haven't exactly been keeping up with some of the other interesting kickstarter efforts (for gaming product) but given the state of the gaming hobby and industry, it seems to be a growing trend.