I Have a Board Game Idea – Now What? Part 37: The How, What, and Why of Kickstarter Reviews/Previews

Welcome back! It really is hard to believe that another week has gone by and that September is already almost over.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about, and preparing for, review copies of The Hackers Guild. This has got me thinking: considering the time, effort, and expense that is involved with distributing review copies, why do it at all? How does one go about finding people to send the copies to? How many copies should I print, and how many reviews/previews should I get? What should I expect in return? In this week’s blog post, I will try and answer all of these questions, and perhaps even a few more.

What exactly is a Kickstarter review/preview, and why are they important?

In its simplest form, and board game review is a report, either in written or video format, in which an “expert” gives his/her opinion about a game. Generally, board game reviews are limited to published board games and are often used by other gamers to help inform them on which games they should or shouldn’t purchase.

In the case of games coming to Kickstarter, these same “experts” could still give an opinion of the game, but because they aren’t a completely finished copy, they often are shorten in length and have less detail. Kickstarter previews tend to focus more on what the game is, and how it is played, then on the reviewer’s opinion of the game, though it is also often included.

Reviews and/or previews of your game are important for your campaign because it provides backers with 3rd party insight into whether or not they will like the game. Just like normal reviews, it will help gamers decide if the want to back your project or not. It’s one thing for the project creator to say how awesome the game is, but it is another for one, or more, 3rd parties to say it as well.

Where do I find people willing to review/preview my game?

There are a number of excellent resources for finding people to review/preview your game:

  1. The Board Game Reviewers and Media Facebook group
  2. James Mathe’s blog post “O Reviewer, Reviewer Wherefore Art Thou?”
  3. Asking other Kickstarter creators, or looking at other projects similar to yours and see who they used
  4. Going and Google and/or You Tube search for Board Game Reviewers

Regardless of where you find your reviewers, remember to be polite and considerate. Ensure you provide them with enough time to do a proper review/preview of your game.

How many reviews do I need, and how many review copies do I make?

This is going to be another question that everyone is going to have an opinion on, and most opinions are going to differ. Jamey Steigmaier wrote a blog post on four different ways of featuring your reviews on your Kickstarter page that talks a little about this. For me, I feel like you are going to want at least one video and one written review/preview, with as many others as possible.

Deciding how many copies to make can be a little trickier. The biggest factor for most creators is going to be the cost of producing the review copy, but there are other considerations as well. The amount of time you have before you need the reviews can also be a factor. If you give yourself a lot of time, you can print fewer copies and have the reviewer ship the copy they used to the next backer when they are done. If you are in a bigger hurry, then sending multiple reviewers a personal copy all at once will be quicker. Also, some reviewers expect to keep they’re copy of the game, which is something to watch out for. My current plan for The Hackers Guild is to print a copy for Canada, a copy for the US, and a copy for the UK and to only work with reviewers who are willing to pass the game along.

Where do I get my review copies from?

You will have two basic options: pay to have a Print on Demand copy make them for you, or make them yourself. Most creators will choose the former, with Print and Play Productions and The Game Crafter likely being the more popular POD companies, but doing a Google search will likely help you find others. For cards only, another good option is DriveThru Cards. My plan for The Hackers Guild is to get some components from The Game Crafter and the rest from Print and Play Productions and then to assemble the games myself prior to shipping them.

That is everything for this week. As you can see, there is a lot to consider when planning for your review copies. I would like to hear about what you do when printing review copies, and how you go about getting your reviews/previews completed. Until next time, happy designing.

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