This week we talked with Rick Moore, president of Certifiable Studios. The studio behind the board game Who goes there? which is currently live on Kickstarter.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Certifiable Studios?
Certifiable Studios is made up of a few guys that love to create. We came together originally to bring our ideas to life through movies or books, with moderate success. It was only natural for that passion to translate into games, especially since the story part is still so important. What better way to experience the story each and every time, but with different plot twists and endings.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched Who Goes There?
We were really lucky to have a very successful first campaign with Endangered Orphans. This was the majority of the backer support we brought in. Of course, Jesse and Anthony do live streams on Instagram all the time, so they have quite a few followers already. Ultimately, though, we are just trying to do our best to make our backers happy, and hopefully they’ll think enough of us to want to do it again.
Did you do anything different when you were building an audience for your first game, Endangered orphans?
Being our first campaign, we certainly wanted to do everything right. But as it turned out, if it was considered to be the right thing to do by KS standards, we ended up not doing it. No marketing and a cold launch, then we went on and told people not to buy it, and even went so far as to recommend other games that may be a better choice. So, yeah, we did pretty much everything differently.
How did that campaign go?
We certainly thought it was great. 7,300 backers and $355,000 for a first time company that nobody had ever heard of felt pretty good to us.
Did you expect to get so many backers for EO and why do you think that happened?
Depends on who you ask, I guess. We hoped for the moon, of course, but that always has a way of backfiring. We stayed steady the entire campaign with about the same level from start to finish, but the last couple of days were a hoot. The main thing we wanted to do was to be brutally honest and transparent about our experience. We made every effort to own our mistakes, and in most cases, laugh at ourselves.
What was the biggest thing you learned from the EO campaign?
We started out with a modest product, but as funding grew, our stretch goals took us to a completely different level of production. This, in turn, led to a bunch of delays and missed deadlines. I wish I had been significantly looser with my delivery date. And, the biggest lesson was shipping was even more expensive and difficult than any article could hope to suggest. Easily my biggest mistake.
Were you afraid that the shipping issues you had on EO would affect the backers on Who goes there?
Absolutely. And I’m sure it is. As we speak, we have backers receiving games in boxes that didn’t make it safely. This doesn’t bode well on us. Is this our fault? Not at all. Is this our responsibility? Absolutely! But all that really matters is the backers end up happy. We have too many games in our future to be happy with anything less than an ecstatic backer.
You have a lot of great videos on your campaign. Tell us about your video making process.
Jesse is an artist and game creator, I’m a video guy. I actually own a video production house and ad agency, so that helps. We embrace an odd combination of preparation with a dose of spontaneity that I think helps the process.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
Embrace your backers. Social stretch goals are great. We call them Sugar Goats. If you get your backers on board and allow them to help, it’s magical. Who better to reach other gamers than gamers.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched Who Goes There?, what would it be?
I messed up and put too many versions of the game out there. It’s a 3-6 player game, but we have 8 characters to choose from. For those backers that want it all, it’s great to buy the deluxe version. But unfortunately, it has made us look expensive, even though our base game is all you really need. If I could go back in time, I would have marketed it as a base game first, and give the expansions an option to be purchased as an add on. So instead of looking at Who Goes There? as a $59 game, everyone seems to default to the more expensive $99. Even so, the amount of components we have in the game should speak for themselves.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
We launched on July 10th, which was a Monday. Traditional teachings suggest Tuesday through Thursday, but we chose Monday for that reason and hoped to not share the launch pad with too many other great games.
How do you structure your days during the campaign?
Honestly, there is no structure. We work non-stop until we can’t. Then we get a little sleep and get back at it. We have a brief window to make an impact. Kickstarter is an incredible forum and we don’t want to squander a single minute.
What’s the best Kickstarter advice you ever received?
Can’t answer this one. Simply put, it’s all good advice. There are no two campaigns alike, so you have to adapt to what makes sense for you. I can tell you Endangered Orphans and Who Goes There? are certainly worlds apart.
What do you think about Kickstarter exclusives?
I like them. It can be tougher to manage, but it gives your backers a chance to have something special. They are taking the biggest risk on you and your game, so why not reward them?
What´s your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop in new backers?
It’s tough, but the most important aspect for us is to keep our backers engaged. Activity begets activity, and we just happen to have the best and most active backers I could possible imagine.
You always do something extra with your stretch goals. On your previous campaign, one of the goals was to fund OTHER campaigns! A while back we talked to the creator of NOHAT. You helped him fund with your backers.
This is one area we definitely ignored the rule book on, and I’m sure it took NOHAT by surprise As far as we’re concerned, we don’t look at other games as competition. That may not be the norm, but that’s ok. We aren’t exactly normal to begin with.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
It needs to be engaging. We may not have the best organized page in the world, but we are active. I’m not sure what the most important part is, but my favorite is the comments section. You should see for yourself.
Do you regret something you did on your campaigns?
You always have a million hindsight moments to look back on and say “crap, I really should have done this differently”, but that’s part of learning. We make mistakes all the time. I’m ok with that. It’s when I make them twice that I get aggravated. The biggest mistake I made on Endangered Orphans was basing my shipping research on other campaigns. Huge mistake. I’m afraid they probably did the same thing, so I have no idea who I copied. That’s why we are charging shipping after the campaign this time.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
I consider all creators role models. Whether they are veterans or first timers, each of us has had obstacles to overcome. We all have traveled a different path, but we are making games! That’s just cool. But most importantly, if you’ve completed your project and it’s now being enjoyed by even one person, that’s an accomplishment in itself.
Where can people reach you?