Why Are My Kickstarter Releases On Time?


A few days ago, I received shipping notifications for the releases of Tesla vs. Edison and Evolution: Flight. My first thought was “yay!” And my second thought was, “I hope I can keep up with all my new games?” And my third thought was “What’s with all these game releases happening all at once?”

The last question is easy to answer. Gen Con happened this weekend, and publishers have worked hard to release new goodies for the show. Those new goodies are also slated to hit doorsteps across the world. Compounded: The Geiger Expansion already showed up; other releases like Tiny Epic Galaxies will be along in a few more weeks.

(Why yes, I do like games that are full of science and science fiction. How did you guess?)

Having too many new games officially qualifies as a First World Problem That Is Nice to Have, but it is also a new thing.

I’m not a heavy backer of Kickstarter projects. New games are a “once in a while” purchase, and for the last couple of years, I’ve gotten used to getting them piecemeal as their publishers completed them. More often than not, the games have shown up a few months after their release dates, making their arrivals completely unpredictable.

Sweet Releases

That’s not happening this year. Publishers are hitting release dates, and some games are even showing up earlier than expected. More importantly, publishers are focusing their releases around the key dates in the hobby game business cycle: Origins, Gen Con, Essen.

I’ve seen this trend before, back in my retail days. Game publishing schedules used to be a bit willy nilly, with small hobbyist companies putting out a book whenever they got it finished and got it back from the printer. Releases were a guessing game and publications were frequently late.

The fall in the cost of desktop publishing and the influx of cash from Magic: the Gathering changed that. Hobby publishers were able to regularize their schedules and synch up their releases and marketing.

For years I would look at the latest late book or phantom product and joke that “This is a hobby, not an industry.” That’s no longer true. Hobby game companies are still small businesses, but they are unquestionably businesses.

Now the same thing is happening with Kickstarter releases. The one-man operations that dominated its first couple of years have expanded into legitimate companies. There may still be only one person behind the business, but that person is armed with a lot more knowledge about production and shipping. There are services available to extend that small business’s reach and create efficiencies of scale.

Kickstarter is still a wild, wild west, of course. There are still plenty of individual creators with a dream. Computer game companies are still guessing at Kickstarter deadlines. (No surprise, computer games are a lot more complex to produce.) And as recent events have proved, Kickstarter is also fertile ground for fools and con artists.

But crowdfunding also seems to be growing up a bit. That’s exciting, even if I’m going to have to schedule a couple of extra play dates this fall because my new games actually came in on time.

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Copyright 2015 The Roaming Designer