Monday, July 04, 2022
If you pledge for a board game on Kickstarter, you will usually get that game delivered a year or two (sometimes more) later, right to your doorstep. That delivery has a cost. While in the early days that delivery cost was sometimes bundled in the overall price, over the years the shipping cost have been made more explicit, together with the cost of VAT or other taxes. And because those costs obviously depend on where you live, they aren't part of the sticker price anymore, but are usually asked for in a later step of the process, in the pledge manager, where you enter you delivery address.
In parallel, Kickstarter campaigns for board games have increasingly added options to buy all sorts of additional stuff like expansions or additional miniatures for the game on offer. An all-in pledge for one of those games not only can be rather expensive, it also is rather huge and heavy; which obviously affects shipping cost. For the largest Kickstarter campaign this year, Marvel Zombies, the all-in pledge was a whopping $615, with shipping for the UK being estimated at $110. Then the pledge manager opened, and it turned out that the actual shipping costs were much higher than the estimates, e.g. for the all-in pledge shipping to the UK now was $227 plus $45 VAT. Meaning the overall cost was now approaching $900.
Then a future retail version of Marvel Zombies was leaked, costing only between $50 and $70. While that will be a rather slimmed down version of the game, with lower quality miniatures and material, and fewer game modes, this did upset some people. So there is an ongoing "is Kickstarter still a good deal for board games?" discussion.
And one factor in this is shipping cost. Delivering a truck full of board games to a retail shop is inherently much cheaper than packaging each game individually and sending it to people one by one. Now that shipping costs globally are so high, the latest crowdfunding campaigns frequently have shipping cost estimates in which those costs add 50% or more to the sticker price. While driving to a retail shop also costs money, that cost tends to be lower, and much less visible.
But more importantly, retail versions of board games are better cost optimized. Very expensive games don't sell all that well in shops. Which is probably why every retail board games shop I visit recently has an unsold copy of Descent: Legends of the Dark at $175 MSRP. Board games on Kickstarter are frequently luxury products. Nearly a thousand people backed Tsuro: Luxury Limited Edition for $350, when the retail version at Amazon costs $35. For the majority of people, the basic retail version fulfills the same purpose. Luxury components, expansions, and huge all-in pledges are typical for Kickstarter board games, but that business model doesn't translate well to retail. And with rising inflation and people having less disposable income left over at the end of the month, even on Kickstarter that luxury business seems to be stuttering.
Labels: Board Games