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What does a big Kickstarter project look like in prize form?

By on July 10, 2012

This guest post is reposted with permission, from an update on Stoic’s Kickstarter campaign for their game The Banner Saga.

We’ve put together a video laying out the result of producing a comical number of prizes. We had 20,000 backers, but only 4000 of them got physical prizes. That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Watch the video below…

The Banner Saga was certainly not the biggest campaign Kickstarter has ever seen. Double Fine had 80k backers, Wasteland 2 had 60k, Shadowrun had over 30k, not to mention non-games. But unlike these larger, somewhat established developers we’re packaging and mailing our own prizes. If we had raised 3.3 million it would be a no-brainer; use that money to outsource the work. We raised $723k, and while that is a lot of funding, we had to think twice about what would be the most cost effective solution.

The quick answer is that so far things are going according to plan and we’ve budgeted correctly!

The longer answer is this breakdown:

  • Of $730k, 10% immediately comes out for amazon, kickstarter and failed payments. We actually had a shockingly low number of these failed payments, but this alone leaves us with roughly $650k.
  • Actual prizes cost us about $22k to produce. $22,000 certainly is a lot for posters, tshirts and some fancy art, but this was not a surprise to us since we had gotten estimates and set prices based on that.
  • Shipping costs are a bit troublesome, especially since we have a fair number of international backers. We estimated that shipping would cost roughly an amount equal to the prizes themselves. When comparing our prices to other kickstarter campaigns we felt that we couldn’t ask for more than the standard international shipping rate- between $10 and $20. This helps but does not cover the cost. Now any time I see a campaign asking for an extra $10 for international shipping I just assume they have no idea what they’re talking about. That said, it’s not like this will cut into our budget by a significant amount with the kind of volume we’re pushing. Between prizes and shipping that’s another 18% of our total funds.
  • Once we’ve dealt with all that business we’ve got about $600k to work with. I want to re-emphasize that this came as a surprise to none of us!
  • As for development, contractor salaries take the lions share. We’ve now contracted (not hired) two programmers, a sound design team, a dedicated composer, a QA specialist, a writer, an interface artist, a community manager and an entire animation production house working for us to produce more content than we ever dreamed at higher quality. That, my friends, is currently where a good 50% of our total funding goes.
  • We’ve got the mundane business expenses like a (rather miniscule) office lease, software like adobe products, dropbox and fmod, computer upgrades, and hardware coming out to about 5% of our budget.
  • We’re anticipating the relatively small operation costs of maintaining our own server-side data on amazon’s cloud so people can download the game from us and play online without Steam.
  • Lastly, we’ve put aside the remaining funding as our safety net which will be re-evaluated as we go. You never know when things are going to go unexpectedly wrong.
  • We’re still not taking personal salaries. We’ll be living off our savings until our game starts making income.

To summarize: so far, so good.

About Alex Thomas