Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Channel A

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by Channel A President Cat on the Internet!   

{Looks off camera}

What do you mean he’s not available?  He sent a lackey?  That’s... argh! Fine...

Greetings fellow Kickstarters!  Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Asmadi Games very own Chris Cieslik.  Thank you for joining us today Chris!

Well...Cat on the Internet has a very busy schedule.  For example today he had an AM Toy Chase meeting, which resulted in a nap.  This could last any number of hours from 0 to 10.

It must be hard, working for such a hard working boss. Channel A sounds like a fun project, what is it and why should we care?  

Channel A is a party game where you concoct silly (and awesome) anime series titles by stringing together word cards from a varied deck of choices, and then pitch the series to the group!  You should care because it’s amazing fun, and I think you and your friends want to have fun.  In fact, I’m banking on it -- I’ve built a company entirely devoted to making people have fun.  

A party game using cards to come up with crazy ideas?  That sounds a bit like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity.  What makes Channel A different and fun?  

It does share the same gaming DNA with others in the genre.  But it is different enough to stand out -- what I love most about Channel A is that you can really put creative energy into your responses.  You’re not just assembling a few cards, you’re building a funny or dramatic story behind them.  That creative part of your brain gets to have fun with every play, it’s much more engaging than just tossing a card in and hoping the right person ‘gets’ it.

I’ve already noticed inside anime jokes with your first stretch goal.  What have you got planned for when you go over $9000?  

Lots of shouting, yelling, and crushing of scouters.  And something about a d20.  Top secret.  Okay, fine...I’ll tell you.  The game comes with 300 cards.  For every stretch reward we reach, that number will increase by 10!  When we hit 9000, we’ll roll a large d20 to seed that bonus with a few extra cards.

The total you’re trying to raise is $10,000, where is all the money going?  

Pretty much entirely to printing the game.  At $10K, we’ll be able to fund a print run of 2500 games.  The more we raise, the better!

How hard was it to find a printer in the USA?  How much does it affect costs both in time and money?  

Being able to print our games in the USA is something we’re excited and proud about.  My friends over at Looney Labs introduced me to the factory we’re using right now (Delano/EPI), and I couldn’t be happier.  The price is on par with Europe, but still a little more expensive than China.  Shipping is of course much cheaper, and the turnaround is way way better.  There’s also no customs nonsense to deal with to get the games off the boat and to my warehouse.  

Why do you have a Maple Leaf Edition?  Is the game any different or is it just a way to focus your shipping?  

The Maple Leaf and Everywhere Else levels are just to sort out where things are going -- they’re identical aside from shipping.

How much has changes to international shipping affected how you run a Kickstarter?  

Sadly a lot.  The January increases to international postage costs really make it hard to have backers outside the US.  There’s not really much that can be done about it, postage cost is a very concrete number that can’t be reduced.  

With seven Kickstarters to your name, four of which were successful, it seems you’ve become quite the regular around these parts.  How much of an impact do you see Kickstarter having on the board game industry?  How much has it helped you and Asmadi Games?  

Kickstarter has had some positive and negative effects on the board game (and video game!) industry.  The really really cool thing that it’s doing is empowering consumers.  As a game customer five or ten years ago, you really had very little ability to affect what titles came out except for buying previous games that company produced, or similar games by other companies.  I was able to produce Innovation because Glory to Rome was a hit -- people knew Carl by name as a good designer.  Companies were able to produce lots of deck- building games because Dominion was huge, and years before that we had the worker placement explosion, trends of zombie games, and such.  Now, instead, you can bring an idea to the people.  And people like that!  It’s a great feeling to buy a game knowing you’re helping that game exist.  

On the negative side, there have been some great shiny campaigns that have produced sub-par games.  We made a little bit of a mistake with Sanitarium that way, not polishing it as well as we could have.  But to fix that, we’ll be releasing a $1 expansion this summer!  

Overall, Kickstarter has helped us a lot.  I try to connect with customers pretty directly as often as possible, and this method of funding lets me do that.  I like people, and I like people who play my games!  I’ve met a bunch at conventions who I now know by name because they’re backers that I’ve corresponded with during campaigns.  It’s fun, and it’s been effective business-wise.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

I saw it pretty early on with some local projects in the Boston area, and a couple friends ran campaigns.  I didn’t realize at first that it would evolve into this consumer empowerment engine for the board game industry, but it’s great!

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

I try to have as much fun with campaigns as possible.  That’s why we’ve got some interesting stretch goals with the underlying structure of bonus cards.  I hope people tell all their friends to help push us to the fun bits.  In addition to that, though, I’m going to be doing a few livestream events including one this Friday.  And interviews like this!  

There’s a fine line between engaging and spamming your followers.  I wouldn’t want to BUY CHANNEL A put too much marketing in, and get in the way of the DO IT NOW fun.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

Quiet start as far as media attention goes, but we’re just a few days in.  I put things out on all the networks!  You can find us at @AsmadiGames on twitter, and my facebook is linked from the campaign page.  We’ll be running some banner ads here and there through the month of March, and Foam Brain Games will be demoing the game at several conventions during the next few weeks, including PAX East.  We are up on Kicktraq, graphs are cool and I’m glad to see we’re projected for success!

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Research your costs ahead of time!  Seriously.  Your item costs money, and so does shipping, shipping materials, and anything else that you’ll need to do to get the item from factory/your garage to your customer.  Make sure the math works out, or you’ll have a very funded money-losing device, and that is not good for anyone.  Aside from that, have fun, and engage with your customers.  It’s what they want.  Kickstarter is a much more personal/connecty sale than a typical customer interaction at a store or convention booth.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Watch out for the zombies.  They’re everywhere.  Thanks for reading!  I wrote entirely too many words, apologies :)

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

1 comment:

  1. A great interview! Special props to Ewen Cluney,, who designed the game. =)