Scent of a Gamer

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The perils of crowdfunding success

Jamey Stegmaier’s series of articles on crowdfunding and game design continue with two articles examining the process of shipping Scythe.

“Shipping Scythe has been exhausting, draining, and discouraging. I could not be more eager for this process to be over.”

So what happened? The Scythe project on Kickstarter was massively successful, with over 18,000 orders received for the game. This is where the problems began.

If you are a game designer using Kickstarter, you don’t get to spend a lot of your time on game design. Everything is your responsibility, from finding boxes that fit, commissioning art, ordering all the parts, and overseeing manufacturers and fulfilment centres. Oh, and responding in a relentlessly positive way to any criticism that comes your way.


Everyone has their limit, and with Scythe it looks like Jamey has reached his.

From his closing remarks, it is likely that we won’t see many future Stonemaier Games projects using Kickstarter. It some ways this is a sign of progress, with the company able to transition to supplying their product to distributors and focusing on design and marketing of their games to achieve the sales. The business behaves more like a business allowing the designer more time to design.

There are many lessons you can take away from this depending on where you see yourself.

For customers, if you participate in a Kickstarter project and you enjoy the result, taking two minutes to write to the project creator to say that is worth your time. Very few people bothered to do this with Scythe.

For designers, you need to keep in mind that Crowdfunding is more about fulfilment than design. The game doesn’t matter if you can’t get it produced to the right specifications and actually in the hands of the people who want it in a timely manner.

2 comments on “The perils of crowdfunding success

  1. jameystegmaier
    August 14, 2016

    Thanks for sharing this–it was interesting to read how you distilled that long post into a few key takeaways.

    My overall sense about Scythe is that backers had a great experience with it. I’ve gotten many comments and messages to that effect. But the main fulfillment month of July was really tough, because even though people had full information (I was sending weekly updates), were getting the game earlier than expected, and were happy when they received the game, there was just a massive wave of comments and messages stemming from a combination of excitement and impatience that revealed a pretty ugly side of human nature. There was comment after comment of some backers bemoaning that other backers had gotten their games first (often within just a few days of receiving their copy). That’s just one example of what I saw. So during that time I was very grateful for those who simply remained quiet and patient. 🙂

    Your final point is excellent too. I finished Scythe’s design in August 2016, and in the year that followed, I probably spent at least 4-5 months total working on the planning, execution, logistics, and fulfillment. It’s a huge time commitment that spans every aspect of running a business. So I’m glad you shared that with your audience–it’s so much more than just designing a game!

    Liked by 2 people

    • davekay
      August 14, 2016

      Thanks Jamey, I really appreciate your comments. I can certainly echo your comment about satisfaction as everyone I know who either backed or has since played Scythe thinks it is a great game with clever mechanics and good replayability.

      I think a lot of people still underestimate how much work goes in once the Kickstarter is done. My eyes were opened when I was chatting with a couple of game designer I know and they mentioned the importance of knowing where your manufacturer is located in relation to the shipping port your product will leave from, in order to avoid or minimise internal shipping fees. There’s a lot to consider!


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This entry was posted on August 14, 2016 by in Crowdfunding, Game Design, Industry and tagged , , , , .
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