Kickstarter Canceled for now: An explanation, apology, and path forward.

Yes, we have closed down the Kickstarter for now. This was an exceedingly difficult decision, but Lluis and I feel like it was the right one. We understand that you’re likely confused, frustrated, and disappointed. Let me do my best to explain the situation.  If I do not answer your questions here or you feel the need to express your frustration, please contact me directly through Twitter.

TL;DR

Inexperience and miscalculations led me to believe we could do things we had no chance of doing. Our project is sound and would be delivered but the side stuff (dice, cassettes, etc.) would not be attainable because of how much we were trying to do at once. If we can not deliver everything that we promised and create a super cool project at the same time, then we need to go back to the Kickstarter drawing board and come up with a better plan. We are doing that.

Is the Retroverse cancelled?

Not a chance! Just this first Kickstarter. The Kickstarter was imperfect, and this gives us the time to really sink back into development of the Retroverse. When we come back, both will be even better. In fact, its so far from cancelled that we will be releasing the First Test Wave to all our backers as a thanks for your support thus far.

But you were nearly funded?

Yes, and 75% of the work on the base product is actually already done. The issue is that we shot too high on some of our goals and the people who would suffer would be our backers. Specifically, the 75+ who had already backed us at the Starter Kit tier or higher. We would not be able to hit the numbers required to make this tier worth the backer’s investment. Unfortunately, there is no way to cancel a tier once it has been backed. So even if we had taken the loss in confidence and momentum by canceling a tier, we didn’t have the ability. We could also have done a partial refund, but our backers pledged to that tier because they wanted a product, not a refund. This, and a few other issues, pushed us to make this hard call when we were already so close.

Additionally, we thought it better to take action early, rather than surprise everyone near the end of the campaign. This is already not great, and we did not want to make it worse.

What happened?

I’ve broken down the costs of everything before and it’s important to understand exactly what all that meant. Before we even began thinking about a Kickstarter I crunched the numbers and weighed how much heat we we’re receiving and figured by those projections that we could create a book, PDF, dice, music, and some other things simultaneously that would make you say, “Holy shit!’ when you got it. I was wrong. That reaction is important because the goal was not to create a kinda cool product, it was to create something that would blow you away.

Developing a new project is never easy, even when the skeleton (5E) is already there. If we were just making a PDF, our Kickstarter goal could have been around 2,000. Hire an editor, layout artist, and pay any hosting or advertising fees. When you include physical books, dice, posters, etc. that number jumps. It jumps badly. When that number grows, so do the taxes, so does Kickstarter’s take, and you suddenly must deal with shipping. All these make the number you need to hit even larger yet again. We had planned for all this and our minimum goal would have allowed us to do this, hopefully with enough left over to pay our heating bill for a month or two.

If we could have delivered the minimum product, what is the problem?

It is threefold. The first and simplest is that the minimum product would not have given you the “Holy shit!” reaction we were going for. That isn’t to say it’s not cool, it very much is, and we will be releasing the first test wave soon as a sign of good will towards all our backers. Hopefully this will ease some unrest and confirm to you that we are serious about continuing to work on this project.

The second issue is that, because we were doing this all in one campaign, it made the investment much higher. If we had done a smaller campaign, with no major physical rewards, the price of everything goes down. Once development was complete, we could run a second Kickstarter for physical books. This method would reduce their cost as well, because we’re not developing the product anymore, just printing it. The sticker shock on our product is valid and we are certain we can reduce it if we try again in a few months. As it stands, it’s too much of an investment for people and we can do better.

The third, and biggest, problem is the Starter Kit and higher tiers and the inability to effectively cancel it. As I said, we expected to blow through our funding goal. This was my fault. We did very, very well for a first time Kickstarter but there was no chance that we would have hit even the dice stretch goal. This makes the Starter Kit a total rip off. This was not the intention with this tier and its unacceptable to continue to offer this tier, and the ones above it, if there is no chance on delivering the dice, album, etc. we had hoped to give you.

Again, let me personally apologize to you for this one. I made too hard of a bet and it backfired. I should have thought of this, but I didn’t. I’m sorry.

What happens now?

We will be releasing the First Test Wave to all backers. Please keep in mind that it is still a test, there are minor bugs and there are sure to be balance issues. By all means, give us your feedback on it! We have cancelled the Kickstarter and will be coming back in about 6-9 months with a better, more focused, more affordable Kickstarter. During that time Lluis and I are going to pour ourselves into the Retroverse and will keep updating you the best we can on the project. We’re working on getting a Developer Diary video series going and hope to have your continued input to make this the coolest universe possible.

I supported you and am unhappy about this.

I understand. Many people came together to help us get to this point. To them, I’ve failed you, I’m sorry. You can find me on Twitter @Snickelsox. If you feel the need to express you displeasure, I’ll be there.

Thank you. I know this is not great. It was an extremely hard decision to make but we believe it is the right one in the long run. If this has soured you on the Retroverse we ask that you give us another shot in 6-9 months. The next Kickstarter we have planned will be more focused on delivering the best possible project imaginable and not on lofty goals.

Thank you for your support,

-Chris