Tell us a bit about yourself and your company Morning players.
Our name has changed in 2016 from Morning players to “Morning”, we think it’s easier to name us that way. Morning was created in 2011 by three friends, originally just selling brain teasers online. We started to sell board games in 2013 by localizing and distributing other publishers. In 2015, the company published its first board game Kumo Hogosha, a game with a japan and sumotori theme. In 2016, Morning decided to run its first Kickstarter with the HOPE board game and from 2017, we focused on game publishing and stopped distributing other companies games.
Our latest Kickstarter campaign for Kill the Unicorns in November 2017 marked our will to focus on publishing and proved to be quite a success for us with 8000 people who believed in us and helped raise $300K.
Your very first game, Hope, was on KS back in 2015. That campaign failed. What happened?
At the time, we were very excited to do this first Kickstarter campaign. We didn’t have any experience in doing Kickstarter campaigns, we figured out after launching it that it was more complex that we imagined and we were not ready to launch it that soon. That’s why we took the decision to stop it and to work hard on the relaunch, in order to do a qualitative campaign.
You relaunched that in 2016 and funded. What did you do differently this time?
We worked harder for the relaunch, we were more ready in every way: we had a full-time graphic designer to design the campaign page and the game, the stretch goals were clearer, we had part of the team dedicated to answer to the backers comments.
And then the unicorns came. Why did you transition from serious space games to a game about unicorns? How did you bring the audience along to your next game?
The team had a real crush for the unicorn theme and wanted to find a game with a mechanic as fun as the theme.
We are proud to have published HOPE but Kill the Unicorns matches more with what the team likes in terms of board game : a family game with chaotics elements but still some strategy.
The HOPE audience is not the same as the Kill the Unicorns audience, so we had to build a brand new community. Fortunately for us, lots of people love the game mostly because the mechanic fits well with the craziness of the theme.
What did you do to build up a following before the release of Kill the unicorns?
First, we tried to have prototypes very quickly with final illustrations and mechanics. We showed the game a lot on fairs and conventions so people could play the game before the Kickstarter and talk about it to their friends and family. We also tried to have as many email address as possible to send newsletters about the Kickstarter release. We finally communicated on our social medias and created a landing page through which people could download the print and play version of the game and pick all the information they needed.
You launched at the end of November and had the majority of your campaign in December. The general KS advice is to not launch at the end of the year. Why did you choose to do that?
We had a lot of feedbacks of people in conventions and fairs and knew people like the game so we were confident to launch the Kickstarter. We followed our instinct and took the decision to launch the project in November, and we were so happy to see a lot of people were here to support us!
How did the campaign go?
The campaign went very well; we wanted it to be interactive and to keep the community dimension by engaging a lot our backers. That’s why we had created challenges to unlock Stretch goals and it was a success. We can’t hide the truth and say it was easy, it’s months of hard work to make the project work, we had a good organisation, a team of 5 people was dedicated to the project and the rest of the Morning team supporting.
It’s a first step for us as we are planning to do more of this type of campaigns, the next one will most certainly be Buurn.
How on earth did you get Forbes to write about unicorns?
This is a secret we can’t tell… Haha.
To be serious, we worked a lot on PR, we sent hundreds of emails to reach in person each journalists and reviewers. The true secret is to be persevering and patient.
You had a challenge system on the campaign. Can you tell about that?
We have created this challenges system because we wanted the ways to unlock stretch goals to be as fun and crazy as the game. Also, we wanted to keep the community aspect by involving our backers.
That’s why some of the challenges were somehow crazy, like wearing a Pigicorn cosplay in public. We were surprised in a good way to see how much people liked this system, we received pictures on social medias, kickstarters and mails everyday, it was crazy!
People were really enthusiastic about the idea to unlock stretch goals, their motivation allowed us to work even harder every day and to make them happy.
We definitely think about keeping this system for our next Kickstarter, though we think about adapting it a bit following the feedbacks we got 🙂
You have several local pickup points at several board game cafes around the world. How are you arranging that?
We have contacted hundreds board game cafes around the world before and during the campaign. We offered them to get a sample of the game to run Kill the Unicorns nights and finally had 40 of these board game cafes which will also be pick up points. It’s a good way for backers to have free shipping and for board game cafes to be known by more people. We also offer a final copy of Kill the Unicorns to board game cafes who agreed to be pick up points. A good way to satisfy everybody!
Early bird pledging is a hot topic that a lot of people have different opinions on. Why did you choose to have that?
We had a lot of people who were part of our community before the Kickstarter. We also had ambassadors on Facebook groups who helped us to translate the game and rules in few languages and who gave us feedbacks so we could improve the game. It was logical for us to offer them the possibility to buy early birds. It was a way for us to say thank you to our community.
What was the biggest thing you learned from the Kill the unicorns campaign?
We learned how much building and having a community by our side is important. This was possible by involving people in the project and by showing the game as many times as possible before the Kickstarter. It may be logical for some of you but when people like your game, they want to talk about it to everyone they know and that’s a very strong communication for the project.
Did you use any marketing agencies for the unicorn game. If yes, what did they do?
Yes, we have been working with the Jellop agency. They helped us to improve our digital ads on Facebook and gave us visibility. It was a helping hand for us, especially in the middle of the campaign, in which there is a little less new pledges. The Facebook ads allowed us to reach more people and to increase our fame.
What’s the best kickstarter advice you ever received?
Building a community of people before the Kickstarter and involve these people is surely the best advice we got and that we would give to people who want to do a crowdfunding project.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
Without any doubt: the introduction video! We had the chance to work with the canadian youtubers “Es-tu Game?” who did our Kickstarter and how to play videos. The video is an element you cannot miss, it’s a huge way to catch the people attention and to distinguish your project.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
We have seen a lot of newcomers in the industry these last years and a lot of people impress us to be frank.
A real role model in many ways would be Regis, the CEO of Libellud, the vision he had for his games and the success he now has is a great proof of a deep understanding of the industry.
Anything else you want to add?
Thanks for your questions, we are happy to share our experience and we hope some answers will help some people who want to launch a Kickstarter!
Where can people reach you?
People can reach us on the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and our social medias. We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the user name @Morningplays.