Tell us a bit about yourself, Mirrorbox games and The kings guild.
My name is Matthew Austin, and I’m the President of Mirror Box Games. Our company launched our first game Chaosmos, designed by Joey Vigour, in 2015, and our next game The King’s Guild just launched on Kickstarter on August 22nd. The King’s Guild is the first game I’ve designed, and I’m really excited to produce a game that means so much to me.
The King’s Guild is a strategy board game where players compete to establish the most renowned guild. With the king on his deathbed, you must prove your guild’s prestige by crafting powerful equipment, sending heroes on quests to earn treasure, and upgrading your guild with unique characters and rooms. When the king dies and the Council of the Wise arrives, the player with the most prestigious guild takes the crown and becomes the new King’s Guild.
Your first game, Chaosmos, got over 1600 backers. What did you do to build up a following before you launched that campaign?
We spent a LONG time promoting Chaosmos before we launched it on Kickstarter. Joey and I went to trade shows and game conventions all over the place, including Gen Con, BGG Con, and our local convention Strategicon. We also playtested it a lot at those shows and asked people to join our newsletter.
Why do you think Chaosmos got so many backers. What did you do right?
Kickstarter was very different in 2014 when we launched Chaosmos. I think what we did right at the time was having an authentic campaign with a strong personal connection, and then working really hard to spread the word to as many people as possible.
Your second campaign was a early version of The Kings guild, called Guild masters. That campaign failed. Why do you think that happened?
There are several reasons Guild Masters struggled on Kickstarter, but I think they all relate to my timing. I launched the campaign before I was really ready, which had a number of related issues. I didn’t have enough of a following built, and I hadn’t finished the art and graphic design. Another confounding issue was that I launched right in the middle of a very contentious and heated presidential campaign in the US, which I think drew a lot of people’s attention away from my project.
What kind of feedback did you get from the backers?
Some of the biggest things I heard from backers during the Guild Masters campaign was that international shipping was too expensive, particularly to Australia, and that the perceived value of the game components was a bit on the low side.
Now you have relaunched that campaign and it has become the Kings guild. It funded almost immediately. What did you do differently now?
I made a few changes to the game that really improved it from a thematic perspective, primarily adding a player board to construct your guild and a new story that put your guild leader at the center of the action. I also spent time getting more art and creating good graphic design both for the game components and the Kickstarter page.
What was the biggest thing you learned from Guild masters cancellation?
The biggest thing I learned was that even if you have experience running a Kickstarter, that still doesn’t mean you can cut corners and expect to do well. I didn’t plan appropriately for Guild Masters, so I made sure to do it right when I relaunched as The King’s Guild.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched The Kings guild campaign?
I playtested The King’s Guild extensively all across Los Angeles, where there is a huge player base of board gamers. I took it to our local convention and several different meetup groups in LA, and got feedback from a lot of players. More importantly, showing it to so many people and talking about it helped build a following for our relaunch.
When did you launch The Kings guild and why did you choose that exact moment?
I launched The King’s Guild the Tuesday after Gen Con. In my experience, Tuesdays are a good day to launch on Kickstarter, because people are caught up on things at work and not yet thinking about the weekend. I knew I didn’t want to launch during Gen Con because attention will be directed primarily at the games releasing there, so I figured after the show ended would be a good time to introduce something fresh.
Did you expect to get so many backers on your second attempt?
I was certainly hoping to do significantly better on my relaunch, but my experience with the first launch taught me not to set expectations without working hard to achieve them.
What do you think was the main reason for the success of the relaunch?
I think the single biggest component is the vastly improved presentation of the game – the new name, added components, additional art, and better graphic design. Visuals are the primary method backers have to judge a game on Kickstarter, so it was essential to have them look great. I also think I did a much better job of reaching out to and engaging my network of followers to support us.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched The Kings guild, what would it be?
I wish I knew about referral tags. This is a new feature Kickstarter offers to project creators to help them better track where their pledges are coming from during the campaign. I’m planning ways to take advantage of this now, but it would have been great to know about it before launching.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
Make use of your existing networks. When you launch, the response from your friends who support the project will be a large factor in determining whether your project ends up in the hot list on Kickstarter, so it’s critical to really engage with everyone you personally know and create awareness and excitement for your project.
Whats your main tip to handle the mid-campaign drop of new backers?
I’m working hard right now to try to get new articles, podcasts, and blog posts about our campaign to help boost it during the slower mid-campaign. I’m also looking into Kickstarter’s new referral tag feature, which might help us promote the project through external means.
How do you structure your days during the campaign
The first thing I do when I wake up is answer all of my Kickstarter comments and messages, usually ones from people on the east coast or overseas who have been up for some time. Then I plan out my strategy for the day, including what content I might include in an update, and ways to reach out to new people via social media and press.
What’s the best kickstarter advice you ever received?
Launch when you are ready. This is so critical, because success on Kickstarter is often related to your timing, and you should never launch before you are really prepared for it.
What´s your thoughts regarding stretch goals?
Stretch goals are such an important part of Kickstarter, but they can also be a liability to a project creator if not handled well. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of offering new content and add a bunch of things to a project, but it can actually make the game worse if not tested correctly, or cause problems in manufacturing. With The King’s Guild, I’m making sure that my stretch goals are achievable and don’t create a burden on producing the game.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The video, by far. Projects with videos do much better than those who don’t have them, and the video is your chance to sell people on the game when they first come to your Kickstarter page.
What is your favourite board game at the moment and why?
I’m obsessed with Not Alone right now! I absolutely love bluffing and mind games as a mechanic, and this simple and deep game really excels at both.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Jamey Stegmaier is a huge role model for me. His series on game publishing through Kickstarter has been tremendously helpful to me every step of the way, and I have great respect for his willingness to share everything about his business.
Where can people reach you?
The best way to reach me is through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.