I found this pitch for a set of erasable tabletop gaming maps from a post on Hero Games’ Facebook page. It was described simply as “Hero System veterans Blackwyrm Publishing have an interesting and useful Kickstarter going on for Erasable Gaming Maps!”.
I think it’s a good idea. If you’re using a system that lends itself strongly to miniatures (like D&D 4) then maps make a difference. They very much add to the flavour of the encounter. BlackWyrm’s pitch doesn’t attempt to describe what the product is; they show you. However, they don’t try and sell the benefits of the maps either. That’s a risk as they’re up against the very effective technique of wrapping printed maps in plastic folder pockets and using whiteboard pens to draw on those.
BlackWyrm are asking for $20,000 to fund the campaign. They launched in the week running up to Halloween and maybe that’s been a distraction as to date the campaign’s only collected $1,911 from 25 backers. That’s an average pledge of about $70.
If a $70 average sounds a lot then keep in mind that if you want just one printed map yuo need to back $50. If you’re in Canada or Mexico then you get a map, just one, for $70. the rest of us need to back $80 for a single map. That’s $80 versus bespoke printed maps wrapped in a cheap plastic pocket. I can see why BlackWyrm might be struggling even if I do recognise the merits of their product.
There’s a psychology to Kickstarter. I think BlackWyrm are wrestling with it. They’re right to assume they’ve an audience of veteran gamers but it’s long been suspected that that tier of gamers are most cautious of Kickstarter. Secondly, their maps are essentially a luxury product and they really needed to sell that in. Lastly, the shipping is scary for everyone involved. I’m in the “Foreign Backer” tier before I see any pledge that gets me a physical product. I’m not a foreigner when I’m at home. This is a foreigner run Kickstarter and there looks to be a premium on my involvement.
I want to see this Kickstarter do well. I think it’ll take a late rally for that to happen – but we’ve seen that happen again and again.