The Great Pledge Manager Plunge

Up until Heart of the Mists, our most recent Kickstarter campaign, whenever someone asked us if we’d use a pledge manager after the funding period was over, we’d always say „no”. Now, with our first pledge manager running for the last 48 hours, I’d like to tell you what had kept us from doing this before, what changed our minds, and why we are happy with how things are now.

If you backed Heart of the Mists, or if you’ve been following us, you probably already know that you can upgrade your pledge or simply still back the game via Backer Kit. And one of the great things that a pledge manager brings to the table is the ability to allow people who completely missed the Kickstarter to join in after it is over. But, before I get completely ahead of myself, let me take a few steps back and tell you about the road that led us to changing our minds.

Heart of the Mists_3D Box
Missed the Heart of the Mists Kickstarter? You can still get your copy here.

The Differences

If you are or have been a Kickstarter backer, then you know that when a funded campaign ends, you are asked to provide some data necessary for the creator to send you your rewards. This can be done in two ways: either via a built-in Kickstarter survey, or using a more complex system (similar in many ways to an internet store), that will not only ask you to provide shipping address and itemize your addons, but will also allow you to add more product to your initial pledge.

Although the difference in complexity of your post-campaign experience as a backer is almost negligible, if you’re a creator, you’re in for a bit more work around setting up a pledge manager, than preparing a survey. But it is not the additional setup that has deterred us from using a pledge manager up until now, but what such a solution can introduce into our post-campaign procedures.

The Complexity

Even as we were preparing to launch our first Kickstarter campaign (Progress: Evolution of Technology in 2014), we knew that one of our main goals was to deliver rewards on time. We succeeded – and we have been succeeding since – due to meticulous planning, and the fact that we would avoid anything we’d see as needless complexity. Simple pledge levels, simple reward structure, and a simple survey to cap off the finished project.

A prototype box for Shadowscape, a companion game you can also get here.
A prototype box for Shadowscape, a companion game, which you can try out (in a prototype version) here.

Since pledge managers are external software which incurs its own costs and, by allowing backers to upgrade their pledges, creates more space for error, we would shy away from this solution. The added complexity on every level seemed like something that could potentially jeopardize a timely delivery of rewards, and even the perspective of some extra profit would not change our minds.

The Plunge

This changed during the Heart of the Mists campaign, although, if you were one of the people backing or simply following us, you could probably see that we did not pull the trigger without a long forethought. As we did not plan to use a pledge manager before the start of the campaign, we had a lot of research and careful planning to do. We also asked our backers about their opinions, and got a very clear answer: we should go with a pledge manager.

There has always been the obvious reason for taking the plunge: a pledge manager allows the project to grow even past its end date, and as we were preparing it, we did not know that we would unlock all of the stretch goals during the campaign. We were also encouraged to finally pull the trigger by many potential backers, who openly asked us if they could pledge (more or at all) after a certain date, often forced to wait for a specific time to be able to participate.

Did you have a chance to read the prototype rules for Heart of the Mists? If not, you can get them here.
Did you have a chance to read the prototype rules for Heart of the Mists? If not, you can get them here.

The Outcome

We are far from seeing the final outcome at this point, but we already know that Heart of The Mists is going strong. We can see that many people who were on the fence, or people unable to back us before, are now joining in, pledging or upgrading their pledges. And with the experience of five successful projects allowing us to minimize any risks of delays or shipping mistakes, we are fully embracing the pledge manager – and by the looks of it, so are our backers.

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