03 Mar Game Design Lesson #8: When to Lock Down and Charge Cards on Backerkit

Infected! has been my first-ever Kickstarter experience, and as part of it I chose Backerkit to help me manage my fulfillment and pre-orders. I figured I wanted people to have the option to continue to purchase the books and limited-edition materials like the Narrator Screen and exclusive dice. They also help you keep track of each and every backer, what their address details are, email, account details, whether  It has mostly been a good experience, and I’ve found that a lot of backers have chosen to buy add-ons later on. The cool thing about that, is that when backers log-in to backerkit to complete their address details for the shipment, it shows them the add-ons that are available and tempts them to purchase them now. That’s a bit like placing the milk at the very back of the shop, so people walk past the chocolate aisle and go , “Ooh! Dark chocolate on special…”

For myself, I am also only creating a very limited amount of physical add-ons, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. It suits me to have as many of them purchased now as possible, because I would prefer them to be in the hands of my backers rather than gracing a dusty box in my garage.

However, there is a lesson here that is important. That is to lock down the orders (meaning they can’t be changed) and charge backers very soon after the order has been placed. The reason for this, I have found, is that the more time you put in between their order and the payment for that order, the more chances there are for something to go wrong. They forget about it, they change their card, they don’t have enough funds in there, they can’t be reached by email, etc. It’s all making it that much harder for you as a creator.

So instead, when someone pre-orders or confirms their order, lock it down within 24 hours, and charge their card there and then. It’s cleaner, it’s simpler, and then they don’t have to worry about having the funds in their account either! For instance, if a backer has paid $300 for your product, having that much money constantly sitting in their account might not be that easy for them. They might not even realise that you haven’t already charged them. I know when I first saw Backerkit, I thought it would charge me immediately (just like I thought Kickstarter would). I think if you keep it straight forward, then you remove a lot of the hassle, which is a large part of your job – making things smooth for your backers.

Related:  Game Design Lessons #12: Refunds

If the person changes their mind later, just refund them. I think it’s good to have a very clear and simple refund policy – if someone wants a refund and hasn’t yet been delivered the product, then just refund them and be done with it. You could even make a no-questions-asked refund policy. If they want a refund, they send the book/product back to you and you just pay them straight away.

So what do you think? Would you prefer crowdfunders on backerkit and other platforms to just charge you immediately?

~Oliver R. Shead

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Oh, you’re still reading this? Well, here’s the plug – Infected! is a post-zombie post-apocalypse tabletop RPG, telling immersive stories of survival, horror, redemption, war and politics in a fractured new world. With epic art, and simple, dynamic rules that emphasise story and fast, intense action, it can give you a truly immersive gaming experience. You can download our Quick Start Rules here, and can still pre-order in Backerkit too!

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