Making Games for a Kickstarter Campaign, part 1

I’m frequently asked questions about what goes on in the bowels of Petersen Games. When I post in a Kickstarter update any details regarding the production process and how things are made, or day to day business on the development side, there is always a lot of positive feedback. Our fans clearly like to hear about this stuff! So, I’ve decided to start writing a production diary for those who would like to know more about what goes on chez Petersen Games, and in particular the game development and production process – or, how the game actually gets made. My first post is going to be more of a missive and apology, than a “production diary.” Nevertheless, it’s what I feel is a good starting point. I welcome your comments and feedback! Here goes:

Recently, a thoughtful fan left a comment in response to the delays one of our Kickstarter campaigns is experiencing and used the following analogy:

“Have you ever gone to a restaurant that has had great food with huge portions but after leaving you decided that you would not go back because of the slow service? It took too long for them to take your order, get your food, and then too long to pay. You would gladly go somewhere that gave smaller portions of lesser quality food because the meal took less time and was a more pleasant experience.”
-Jeff Hobbs (
jchobbs)

This is my restaurant. It’s not calamari! You don’t understand, I don’t eat things with tentacles, things with tentacles eat me!

It’s a comment that I found to be very insightful on the surface, made me stop and think, and really drove the customer perspective home to me. There’s not much that could be said in response at the time, so I said I liked it and that it got the point across – which it did. The truth is, delayed Kickstarter projects can be catastrophic for us because time is money for any business. Delays inevitably raise our costs, while the revenue we’ve received for the project is a fixed amount! Additionally, any project delay has a downstream cascading effect – they push back the moment when we can launch another Kickstarter, further compounding the problem. My point is that it’s not news to us that we’d be much better off delivering our game on the timeline we originally promised it – it’s a situation that could destroy Petersen Games forever if it continues indefinitely.

I’ve been pondering that perspective, and while I agree with it to a certain extent, I feel like there is additional nuance that may not have been considered. In a restaurant with a long wait, you still only get to eat the food once. That’s it. If you want to eat more another day, you have to return to the restaurant, experience the slow service again, and frankly, you have to pay again! When The Gods War finally arrives in our backers’ hands in a few months it will be true that they have waited more than a year longer than anyone ever anticipated. But from that point on, it will be theirs to have and to game with anytime they like. They will never again have to wait for it to be in their possession, nor will they have to pay for it again!

This reminds me of a great quote by Shigeru Miyamoto, designer of Mario and Legend of Zelda: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” To me, that’s a more accurate description of the experience of waiting for The Gods War, and we have taken great pains to ensure that The Gods War is a quality gaming experience.  Every part of the game was carefully designed and tailored to create one of the best gaming experiences Sandy could conceive. He believes it to be a better game than our flagship title, Cthulhu Wars, but of course, that’s very subjective (I for one, slightly prefer Cthulhu Wars myself).

As production manager and on behalf of Petersen Games, I apologize profusely for the delays in getting The Gods War in our backers’ hands. But I believe it really will be worth the wait. And remember, if there was something we could have feasibly done to make it arrive faster, we absolutely would have done that thing!

That being said, every single Kickstarter project we work on is a learning experience. We are by no means a perfect company, nor do we claim to be – but we are constantly striving for improvement, transparency and accountability to our backers. We actively solicit feedback from our fans, and want you to know that your voices are being heard!

– Arthur

Making Games for a Kickstarter Campaign, part 2

2 Comments

  • by jason Posted September 29, 2018 10:30 am

    As a person who only recently discovered your games, my frustration lies not with delays to kickstarter projects. I fully expect that producing a product involving art, sculpting, printing, editing; all in a China with different holidays, may face delays. Where my frustration lies is with already finished product; there really is no excuse for not at least putting an expected date of re-stock. Far worse is the fact that for months you have had no product to sell… Direct sales, and retail penitration depend on reliable supply chains. I understand that there is risk in having stock, and that it counts as capital . In any case if I have more than 3 friends, your game (Cthulu wars) will not come off the shelf as I can not get extra factions. Less people exposed to your product equals less sales. My bottom line is I want to gush over what great games you make, not moan about the great game that never gets played cause I cant get factions!

    • by Arthur Petersen Posted October 30, 2018 11:25 am

      Hi Jason, trust me, I wish we could always keep all of our products in stock perpetually, but this isn’t always possible. The good news is that we WILL have a lot of Cthulhu Wars back in stock very soon – Cthulhu Wars: Onslaught 3 is shipping now, and so in a few short months we’ll have it again.

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