Tre Manor’s Kickstarter Troubles

Tre Manor’s 2nd Red Box Games Miniatures Kickstarter was cancelled. Despite reaching nearly three times the (teaser)-goal, it fell well short of Tre Manor’s first Kickstarter last year. It also, apparently, failed to raise the funding for some of the key miniatures he was aiming for.

#1 – A Week of Chaos Daemons…

This certainly was a mad, mad week. Leading up to today’s release of Chaos Daemons for Warhammer (both game-lines), I was caught up in all the rumour and speculation madness that comes with that. Phew. Well, Chaos Daemons are out and I’m sure there’ll be more than enough interesting bits and bobs to blog about, once the book is actually in people’s hands.

I admit I lost sight of other things happening out there. The cancellation of Tre Manor’s 2nd Red Box Games Miniatures is one of them.

I feel, this turn of events might hold some valuable insights to how the miniatures wargaming niche will work the constantly changing, treacherous field that is Kickstarter in 2013.

Goblin Tre Manor Kickstarter

Goblin sculpts from Tre Manor’s 2nd, now cancelled Kickstarter

#2 – The Red Box Kickstarter-Press release

Here is the text from the final update of the Kickstarter…

Hey Y’all,

Well after a great deal of very careful consideration I will be cancelling this KS campaign today. The reason being that we will not make the funding neccessary for the bonebacks and wolf riders and based on most of the private messages I have received and the forum posts and comments I have read those two items are the most desired rewards. I choose rather to be sure that you guys have the items that you actually want than to force you to pay for items that you do not. Believe me it is NOT easy doing this.

My plan from here is to finish two of the wolf riders and concept or finish a wolf rider hero. I will then relaunch the campaign with the first goal covering 6 of the footmen, 6 of the bonebacks, and 2 wolf riders. After that the stretch goals will be spaced apart by $5,000.00 to insure that we regularly achieve to finish filling out the goblin horde. I will also be structuring the rewards in such a way that no one is pledging toward options that do not yet exist so as to avoid the problems we have had here.

Do not worry about the delivery time slipping. I have spoken with Ed and have confirmation that we can keep that date. He understands my reasoning and has confidence in the potential. Further the Relaunch will only be about 1 or 2 weeks away from now. In that time I am going to work very hard to get all the bells and whistles in place for the next campaign to be sure that it is as clear as possible.

I am truly VERY sorry for the frustration that this causes but I assure you that I have the best interests of the final results in mind with this. The LAST thing that I want to do is to let anyone down and I feel that this is the best course of action to avoid that.

One other positive note to bear in mind is that by the time the next campaign begins I will have COMPLETED delivery of the previous KS rewards. Ed informed me this mornign that they have cast 100′s of the horses and riders and that I will have a package full of goodies come monday or tuesday of next week. So when the next campaign launches we will have some much needed reinforcements to help us put those stretch goals behind us handily.

Thank you all for your support and patience.

Cheers,

tre’

#3 – What Does That Tell Us About Miniatures Kickstarter?

I think this one might hold a few interesting lessons for miniature gaming kickstarter-campaigns. Nothing that is written in stone, certainly. Yet perhaps a taste of trends that are worth noting.

A – It’s Getting Tougher For The Small Guys

I followed neither the 1st nor the 2nd Red Box Miniatures Kickstarter closely. Nevertheless, Tre Manor’s first Kickstarter last summer took home over 80.000,- USD. I didn’t do an in-depth analysis, yet I doubt that Tre Manor’s second Kickstarter was run less competently.

All the same, the formula that worked like a charm in July/August 2012, apparently failed to hold the backers attention – failed to keep them entertained – in early 2013.

Indeed, while the 2nd Red Box Kickstarter sat at over 13.000,- USD when it was cancelled, it had, for most of the week before that, well over 15.000,- USD in pledges.

Red Box Games Kickstarter cancelled

Funding Progress of the 2nd Red Box Games Kickstarter

B – The Lowballing Is Getting Transparent

The common Kickstarter practice of lowballing the nominal funding goal is on display rather drastically here. Unlike Gates of Antares, which cancelled well short of their (much higher) target, this one cancelled with 278% of the funding goal achieved.

Alas, it seems Red Box Miniatures Games didn’t – and couldn’t – achieve the “real” funding goal for the miniatures Tre Manor “really” wanted to make.

For a long time, successful Kickstarter-campaigns has arbitrarily set their funding goal low – DreadBall at a mere 25.000,- USD for example. The psychological advantages are clear.

  • The campaign hits the “green” sooner.
  • The campaign hits that tasty stretch-goal dynamic faster
  • Backers generally feel more involved contributing to the “optional” (making things possible that weren’t part of the original package), rather than things set before the campaign began.

I was one of the first to criticize Rick Priestley’s Gates of Antares for its honest, realistic funding goal of £300.000,-. This approach by the Gates of Antares team clearly hampered many psychologically beneficial dynamics that highly successful Kickstarter campaigns ride on.

And seeing how it is apparently possible to cancel even a “successful” Kickstarter, if it doesn’t reach your “real goal”, there really seem to be no downsides to lowballing your goal to start with.

Well, no downsides except …

  • More people will grow wise to the arbitrariness of the initial Kickstarter goal
  • The pressure and demands to keep backer’s entertained throughout the campaign, especially beyond the “success” will only grow more demanding, making it ever harder for the smaller companies on Kickstarter to compete.

#4 – Quo Vadis Miniatures Kickstarters?

This is not a bash of Tre Manor. Quite the opposite. I only have the greatest respect for talented artists like Tre Manor who both stick with their work and try to go at it on their own.

What I am trying to do is look at the Red Box Kickstarter cancellation as one of the tea leaves to be read on the future of miniatures games Kickstarter. Doing so, it seems to me that…

  1. increasing competition for the Kickstarter-dollar,
  2. increasing demands to keep backers entertained in sophisticated ways, and
  3. increasing difficulties for smaller companies and solos to keep on top of the news for a slightly Kickstarter-jaded crowd,

… will ultimately mean that more big sharks (Confrontation Phoenix?) and fewer small fish will reap the Kickstarter benefits in 2013.

What do you think?

Z.

Zweischneid

Zweischneid

I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at www.pinsofwar.net.
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  • orlando the technicoloured

    The key mistake made by Tre was to offer pledge rewards which were not unlocked at the start of the campaign, assuming these stretch goals would be reached
    so as the campaign ticked down it became clear people would be stuck with ‘worthless’ pledged for models Tre could not afford to produce, so folk steadilty reduced their pledges, thus dropping it below another stretch goal… Instead of a later rush it was heading for a late collapse.
    The campaign also suffered from the problem that a ast least one of the main metal sets (the bonebacks) intended for re-tooling (the bonebacks) had apparently just been unloaded by FRP games (I think that was the online retailer) at prices below what the KS would have offered. Not ideal as many Tre Manor fans would have already filled their need for this figure set
    Now this is a personal opinion with no real facts to back it up, but I don’t belive that you should reveal extra stretch goals in advance, just the one you’re working towards at the moment. All it seems to do is lead to arguments about the order… ‘well I think X should come before Y, can you move them round’, ‘$10k is too big a stretch, we’ll never get that far for all these goals, we need to be closer together’ etc. While I’m a fan of pledging in advance of a stretch goal (to help get there) pledging in advance of several stretch goals is just too risky

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      Ok, thanks

      I wasn’t aware that there were actual pledge levels to later (not-yet-unlocked) stretch-goals. That would add an element of campaign-mismanagement after all I suppose (at least in hindsight, whatever the original idea behind that move was).

      But yes, pledging “in advance” as your own decision as a backer (upping your pledge by X) is an individual decision to move things along. Encouraging it through the “Official” interface is probably a bad move.

      I wonder if Kickstarter will at some point introduce “multi-target” Kickstarters with a few milestone-marks/stretch-goals built into a Kickstarter-campaign from the start.

  • orlando the technicoloured

    I suspect that in their hearts KS would love to kill stretch goals altogether, they complicate things hugely
    (look at the number of folk going ‘I dont understand this’, ‘could smebody explain’ or ‘make a one of everything pledge level)
    getting rid of them and making a project creator ask for what they actually needed to fund everything they wanted to do would make it all nice and simple
    but they do bring in loads of cash for the owners of KS so in the end I suspect theyre here to stay with all the complications, and confusion they can create

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      Well, aside from committing heresy against their “KS is not a shop” spin, the complication could easily be solved by plugging in a simple “shopping-cart”-style software (called something else).

      That would allow backers to just click through all the options and add them to their “basket”, with the total being calculated automatically. Freebies would be added automatically at 0 costs. Multiples of the same pledge? No problem.

      At the end of the KS, it just “checks out” automatically.

      Technically, it’s easy as pie.

      And they do run most of the payment through Amazon anyhow.

  • sonsoftaurus

    1) I think launching a new KS when you haven’t finished delivering on the last one yet kept a number of the previous supporters from chipping in. 2) At least in my experience, the quality of the product, while good, wasn’t as good as promised (the “wonder material”) which again may have soured previous backers. 3) He didn’t do a great job of hyping it. I backed his first one, but hardly heard of the second. He should have been emailing me weekly a month before launch with teasers. 4) The impression was that the 1st KS was funding the transition from metal to the new material – so why need a second KS? Felt like just an attempt to drum up pre-orders. Reaper’s Bones KS was also to get them transition money; I would be disappointed (or pleased, if I could get great deals…) if they took the KS route again to expand the range.