Last week in my live book club discussion of A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide, we talked a little about stretch goals. It’s been a few years since I’ve written about stretch goal, so I thought I’d revisit the topic today.
Traditionally, a crowdfunding stretch goal is an improvement or addition to the core reward after a key milestone is reached during the campaign. Stretch goals are exciting ways to mark a project’s progress and instill a sense of collaboration among backers, though their presence or absence can often sour an otherwise fine project.
Also, back in 2019 when I last wrote about stretch goals, Gamefound didn’t exist as a crowdfunding platform for tabletop games. Unlike Kickstarter, Gamefound allows creators to build stretch goals into the platform itself, including a little progress bar at the top of the page to show backers how close they are to unlocking the next goal.
As a backer, I would say that I’ve almost entirely stopped looking or caring about stretch goals. I look at what the product is, what makes it different than something I already own, if it’s aesthetically pleasing/exciting, how much it costs, and who the creator is. If I’m on the fence, I’ll watch/read a few reviews. I recently backed Bark Avenue because it checked all these boxes for me–I didn’t even look to see if it had stretch goals (I just checked out of curiosity, and it does).
At Stonemaier Games, we stopped using crowdfunding years ago. We just try to create the best version of a product at an appealing price; we make it, freight ship it, announce it, open the preorder, and start shipping to customers. The preorder for Viticulture World was just 5 days ago, and some customers have already received their packages.
I have no plans to return to crowdfunding, but if I did, I would choose one of the following methods for stretch goals, both with the intent of offering a complete version of the project from day 1:
Reveals instead of stretch goals: Quite similar to what I did for Viticulture World via the design diary posts, I would reveal the full rulebook on day 1 and then shine the spotlight in detail on a specific element of the game every day or so. This might include a few surprises along the way.
Separate box for stretch goals: The day 1 core game product would be 100% complete, no stretch goals to make it bigger or better. Instead, stretch goals would create a separate expansion/promo box, clearly delineating the extra stuff from the core game. This separate box would be available to backers for free versus a price for future customers (i.e., no exclusives limited to the crowdfunding campaign).
That’s what I would do; which of the following methods do you prefer?
Story Voting: Rather than vote on the goals themselves, backers vote on decisions to be made by characters in the world, and those decisions result in unlocked game content. (Runika and the Six-Sided Spellbooks)
Grouped Goals: Group together similar components so each goal is substantial, and require several different targets (funding, # of backers, social media, etc) to be reached to unlock the goal. (Anachrony: Fractures of Time)
Earned Stretch Goals: Backers “earn” badges by unlocking a variety of goals, then poll backers to spend the badges on the first stretch goal or save up for a bigger goal. (Fail Faster)
Funding Quests: Reveal a new goal every day even if the previous “quest” is incomplete. This allows you to highlight each goal while conveying progression on incomplete goals. (Dice Throne Season 2)
The “Root” Method: The core game would be 100% complete on launch day. All stretch goals are included for free in all core reward levels, and they would be compiled to form an expansion for the game. There would be no exclusives, just early and free access to the expansion content. (Root) I describe this method in more detail here.
Story Reveals: Start with the best possible version of the product, but reveal a new element every day, either systematically (like The Legend of Korra) or by allowing backers to make story-driven decisions (Nanty Narking).
Backer Count Thresholds: Use the number of backers as thresholds for unlocking new goals in addition to the funding level. (Euphoria)
Inclusive vs. Exclusive vs. Promo: Inclusive stretch goals are those that improve every copy of the product. Exclusive stretch goals are those that only backers receive. Promo stretch goals are included for free in every Kickstarter product and for an additional cost post-Kickstarter (promos and inclusive stretch goals are my recommendations, not exclusives). (Scuba)
Timing of the Reveal: Some projects show all of their stretch goals from the moment they launch, while others show none (or only some) until their funding goal is reached. (Toast)
Graphic Design: While some projects display the list of stretch goals as a text-based bulleted list, others feature eye-catching illustrations. (Steampunk Rally)
Backer Voting: Allowing backers to influence the order in which the stretch goals will unlock or the contents of those goals. (T.C. Petty and Get Adler)
Global vs. Limited: Stretch goals apply to some rewards but not to others. (The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction)
Pre-Order Continuation: Stretch goals can continue to be unlocked after the project ends if the creator continues to accept pre-orders.
Social Media Goals: Unlock new elements when you reach a certain number of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Instagram fans, etc. The downside to these is that you might end up with a bunch of fans who don’t actually care about your content.
Add-Ons: Some projects unlock new add-ons (at a cost) or even decrease the cost of add-ons as stretch goals are unlocked. (Avignon)
Achievements: Give backers a bunch of different types of achievements and unlock new goals when sets of achievements are achieved. (Exploding Kittens and Treasure Chests)
Flash-Funding Goals: Unlock a goal if and only if the funding goal is reached during a set amount of time, like within one week. (Trickerion and Infinities: Defiance of Fate)
Daily Goals: Reveal a new goal every day of the campaign. (Scythe)
No Stretch Goals: Don’t include any stretch goals at all. (Hocus)
Let me know in the comments below how you feel about stretch goals, the methods above, and any recent projects you’ve seen that do innovative things with stretch goals.
If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on this blog each year, please consider championing this content!