Dreadball: “Mantic have the ball, it’s the last rush of the game, they must score…wait…FUMBLE!!!”

It was all going so well.

Mantic Games had given us a really good Kickstarter experience that raised (I think) far more than they had dared to hope for : $728,985 (Just over £455K) to be precise.

2,539 people have invested in the game. We have seen pictures of upcoming sculpts. We have received a PDF copy of the rulebook, so that the keen ones amongst us could create our own pitches and play games with proxy figures…

We have seen pictures of the games arriving at the Mantic Warehouse. We have seen pictures of guys frantically packing stuff.

…and Mantic go and drop the ball…BIG TIME.

Updates have started appearing on UK Distributor websites in the last couple of days: A Twitter update from North Star:

The website of Wayland Games:

They both show one thing – Dreadball is with UK Distributors and is available to buy, even at a substantial discount from some places. Other people who pre-ordered their copies are getting them on Monday…

…and yet the people who backed the Kickstarter in the first place continue to wait for their own copies…

OK, Mantic have been putting out several notes in the last week or so saying that distributors may get their stock before Kickstarter backers, and that part of the reason for this was due to having to pack the extra figures, counters and other goodies shipping in the first wave that Kickstarter backers ordered. They also stated that they would be shipping to the rest of the world before the UK, in order to meet the Royal Mail overseas Christmas shipping dates.

However, the simple fact of the matter is this. Any Fred Bloggs who currently knows nothing about Dreadball could walk into Wayland Games this weekend and purchase a copy of Dreadball, plus extra teams, off the shelf, take them home and have them fully painted and playing before the end of the week. Meanwhile, those of us who invested in the project (some of us fairly heavily) will still be waiting for our game to be delivered.

Anyone who pre-ordered the game from Northstar could be playing on Monday night, whilst the investors in the game, those that effectively pre-ordered the game at least two months earlier, do not yet have their copy.

You may argue that the Kickstarter backers already have a return on their investment – those people who invested in packages will be getting free miniatures, second and third season teams and other figures at big discounts, plus free shipping.

All true. However, how many businesses would survive if their shareholders and investors were the last to see the benefits of their investment? If they were last in the queue when it came to dividend payout?

2,589 paid an average of $278 each at the end of September (plus many have paid out more in subsequent pre-purchases) which enabled this game to be made. They put a major investment into the bank account of Mantic Games. And yet, these same people now find themselves at the end of the queue once the product comes to market.

In my opinion, this is simply wrong, and perhaps a major mis-step by Mantic Games. It shows a lack of appreciation for those people who invested in them. OK, it may be a sensible business decision – you do not have stock lying in the warehouse when it could be earning you money – but that decision will, I’m sure, have other consequences.

Mantic claimed that the main reason that they went with Kickstarter in the first place was to create a ready-made community for Dreadball, and I think they succeeded in doing that. What they may have now done is succeeded in seriously annoying a major part of that same community. In a niche hobby market, can you really afford to do that?

I think the opinion in the DB community is divided over this. Some don’t care, some ask is it worth getting hot under the collar over a week or so delay, others say that at least Mantic pre-warned us this would happen. I believe there are many who may also feel as I do: annoyed, even angry.

It’s not about the delay, it’s not about the warning that this would happen. It’s simply a matter of principle. Those people who invested in the company, who gave the company the means to go forward with this endeavour should be given preferential treatment. We are not ‘just another customer’.

Dreadball really is a great game, and I’ve invested heavily in it – and I will be receiving goods well into next year as season two and three releases come out. Will what has happened stop me playing Dreadball? No, it won’t.

However, it will affect any future purchases I make with Mantic Games. They already have my money for Dreadball, I can’t do anything about that. I was considering looking at some of their other boardgames and maybe even Warpath or Kings of War…

…Sorry Mantic, but I won’t be spending any more of my money with you. If this is how you treat your investors, them I for one will no longer be investing in your company.

26 Comments on Dreadball: “Mantic have the ball, it’s the last rush of the game, they must score…wait…FUMBLE!!!”

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly. KS backers should have “preferential treatment” in all aspects whether it be little added extras, discounts, exclusivity or timing of release/availaibility.

    I am having a similar problem with another KS project, this time from Minion Games (based in the US), and if the option were available to completely pull out, get my money back & walk away I’d most likely do it.

    I’m not quite there with DBl yet but I think in part that’s due to Mantic only being “just up the road” from me.

  2. Dreadful public relations.

  3. In total agreement

  4. I agree. Terrible thought process from Mantic. Bad decison.

  5. Following up .. I had also planned to sell on all the Forge Fathers & Veer-myn miniatures, including prones & MVPs, gained with the KS Striker package but with these hefty discounts retailers seem capable of offering it seems unlikely that I’ll get £20 for either team now ..

  6. Derek & Paul

    The one thing I missed from my post was the PR ‘own goal’, so very much in agreement with your commnents.

    I did not believe that having built up so much goodwill during the whole KS process, that they would then proceed to shoot themselves in the foot like this.

    I admit that there is open disagreement about this whole thing on the DB Facebook forum at present, with perhaps the more moderate people accusing us of over-reacting, and I’m usually one of the moderate ones.

    Yes, those of use who pledged at ‘Striker’ and above got a really good deal – I won’t deny that at all. It’s just the impression that this whole thing now gives to all those people who backed Mantic in the first place – which to my mind is not a good one!

  7. Praise the lord that I’m not the only one feeling like this. When I wrote about it on my Blog here:

    http://thefrontlinegamer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/dreaball-launch.html?showComment=1354194870422#c7773110332424199694

    I had an awful lot of people say “stop whinging you moaning barsteward” or words to that effect. So I wasn’t too sure whether it was just me and the people I know. I’d also point out some stores were selling “pre-release” stock (what’s that? Smells like preferential treatment to me) the weekend just gone and the weekend before. So I’m told the striker orders won’t even start shipping until Tuesday next week, and they won’t all be shipping at once. That tells me that as one of the lead Games testers (I’ll be name as Jody “numbers” Barton in the rulebook) I might be getting my game a full month after someone who walked into Tabletop Nation at Wayalnd Games and picked it up off of the shelf. That is not right.

    • That’s a really good, well written blog post.

      Needless to say, I am in full agreement with you. The one thing that is certain here is that it is an issue that has divided even the KS community – I still think we have a valid arguement and point to make.

  8. I can assure you Neil that this time, you’re not the moderate one 🙂

    So far, Mantic have been true to their word, and then some. Delivery before the Solstice holiday is still looking good if they begin shipping next week. The “late” backers will be getting their stuff early and all of us will have more MVPs than originally planned…

    I’ve never heard anything about KS backers getting the game ahaed of anyone else. Also, the Dreadball KS was not about releasing the game, this was planned anyway, but about speeding up the release schedule and being able to add more value to the box (the refbot and 10 rather than 8 players are a result from the KS). So it is not as if this is a completely new product that still had to be developed/produced. And you can’t expect Mantic to wait and miss the end of year sales completely.

    The KS was meant to raise funds so they can move along faster rather than having to wait for the profits from the initial investment to fund the next wave. Given the current economic climate I can imagine that banks are not so generous with credit. That’s the idea behind this KS.

    And your “However, how many businesses would survive if their shareholders and investors were the last to see the benefits of their investment? If they were last in the queue when it came to dividend payout?”???
    We are not investors or shareholders, we backed a project on KS… Not to mention that you forget that shareholders and investors are actually the last in line. Dividends can only be paid when profits are made, when enough of the product has been sold to cover investments, overheads and what not.

    Take a few deep, cleansing breaths and use the time to finish whatever is on your painting table to make room for the Dreadball mini’s…

    Greetings from a fellow KS backer

  9. Devon "Beermonkey" Peterson // November 29, 2012 at 17:18 // Reply

    The thing that upsets me MOST about this is that I asked this very question of Mantic during the Kickstarter, you can go look if you want. I was told that yes Kickstarters would be getting product sooner or at the same time as Distribution. I even said I’d pull the pledge if I saw distributors getting product before me.

    Not happy to be lied to. That said overall I’m still really excited about Dreadball. As long as I get my stuff within a week or so I’m happy. I got a very good deal, a lot of free stuff, and some exclusive figures. So I can’t really bitch. I also think you’ll see this be a trend of ALL Kickstarters from now on.

  10. Ludo – true to their word?
    What the one that said shipping early to mid November. Oh not that one. What about the one that said that KS would not recieve stuff before it was on general sale (it’s on eBay for goodness sake) so maybe not that one.
    You’ll be playing by December (told to me at the TTN day) oh maybe not that one. Oh I know you mean the word the other week that said some retailers wod get theirs first. That was true – shame it wasn’t told to last week. They have had our money for months. Most retailers will be working on invoices so haven’t even paid for theirs – how is that right FFS ?

    I had a tournament in London planned for early December which I had to cancel the booking for when it was obvious that people wouldn’t have the stuff.

    We are not talking a little bit of money here our club spent over about 2ooo eurosI think in the end. Most people only wanted the base game but went along with it because we would get it ahead of the game. We would have been better off buying it off eBay at a lot off rrp and then spending the saving on extra teams you can get now!
    So please don’t tell us to chill.

    • Chill man!!! (Sounded too much like a dare to ignore 🙂 )

      Why did I always have the idea that shipping would be in late November??? Now it will be early December but when I talked to Ronny at Crisis in Antwerp he told me they had decided to push back shipping a bit so they could add more MVPs than planned. Maybe they didn’t communicate too good about this and the reason why.
      My reaction at that moment? Woohoo, great news!

      It’s on ebay!!!! Oh jeez, there are exactly two traders flogging dreadball on ebay. One has his auctions clearly marked as pre-order and has 4 sets of everything available. And the other one for some reason or other sold 7 of everything and has only one or two left. But you’re right, it’s on ebay… You would have a big fight in your club to see who could buy the discounted ebay stuff.

      So you guys spent about 2000 euros as a club? Either you’re a very small club or I went berserk on this KS (I spent ever so slightly, ahem, more than average I guess). You sound as if that money is lost, never to be seen again.

      What we did with this KS is to make sure that this game is out there sooner (for the follow up releases) and bigger than it would have been without the KS. And all the talk and buzz on the net and the reports of early games using the standard rules have made sure that Dreadball is well known in the gaming community before the release.
      Bit of a shame about your tournament, but I hope that you’ll still enjoy the game and organise one later on.

      Chill man! (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

      • Whilst I agree with the sentiment of the reply that ‘pewc’ gave, I have removed the actual response simply to moderate the language here.

        Ludo, whilst your post may appear to you to have a ‘lite and funny’ edge to it, this can often not come over well on forums, and no-one likes a smart alec, so please consider this in any further responses that you make

        Many thanks

  11. I’m going to start at Kickstarter to begin my “torches and pitch-forks” project if anyone is interested… delievers should be shortly before the next Mantic KS wraps up… or just after. But definitely before or slightly after you could buy them in stores…

  12. @pewc:

    thank you for that well argumented reply :-p

  13. Good to see people flying off the handle with out even looking in to it.

    For wayland the green stock marker is that they should have it in 5 days and you should have it in 10 days. They are currently saying they are expecting it in Friday.

    http://www.waylandgames.co.uk/mantic-games/dreadball/dreadball-the-futuristic-sports-game/prod_18295.html

    I have pre ordered from wayland and I expect to get it mid dec just before Xmas.

    If you realy felt that online stores would not have stock up for preorder and that they would not have it up at a discount you must of come down in the last shower.

    So yep chill.

    • And you obviously don’t look into it before you speak. I bought stuff from wayland and got a veermyn team off eBay. While waiting for my KS

      Read the mantic official reply and see what you think mate. Basically says we wanted to get it in the shops to sell so screw you guys – paraphrased of course. Funny how most of the comments springing up in support of Mantic are from outriders.

    • Monkey

      This whole thing is not about companies having stock up for pre-order at all – if you think that is the arguement, then you’ve missed the point. Companies have had Dreadball up for pre-order for weeks.

      As for Nick at Northstar, he probably walked around the corner to pick his stock up anyway.

      The issue is essentially a matter of principle. Whether or not Dreadball was going to happen anyway is a bit of a moot point – but since Mantic went to KS, they got a huge amount of funding from the community. During the KS Mantic were asked if they were going to ship to KS funders first, as several people had been in situations before where they had backed a KS, only to find themselves waiting for product which they had already paid for, but was being shipped to other people first. Mantic assured us this wasn’t going to be the case, and that they would be giving the KS community the priority – this is now clearly not true.

      Mantic stated that they wanted to build the community by using Kickstarter pre-launch, but have since stated on the Dreadball FB page that they now ‘need to get the game into stores to build the community’ – so which is it?

      Also, the same post quotes the phrase ‘giving the game the launch it deserves’ – ask your self this question. Who paid for that?

      I can fully understand the business imperitive to get this product shipped before Christmas – it is obviously the biggest time of spending in the year, and the cost of not having Dreadball available for retail at Christmas could have potentially been huge, so they have been working to a very tight deadline.

      Perhaps, if anything, Mantic have been guilty of being overly optimistic in their timescales, and not managing expectations fully.

      The bottom line, however is this. Mantic have made a business decision to ship everything simultaneously, and that is their perogative to do so. However, to think that they could do that and NOT suffer any repercussions from some of the people who have spent hundreds of pounds with them already, but are now essentially being told “well, we really appreciate what you did, but we are now chasing dollars elsewhere”…that I would suggest is somewhat short-sighted.

  14. You’d think the extra seven hundred THOUSAND dollars we gave Mantic – much of which is for something we won’t see for a year or more – would have earned a little extra priority compared to the regular distribution chain.

    Crowdfunding asks people to invest on something based primarily on blind faith. PR actions that damage that faith is a horrible, horrible move. The fact that Mantic doesn’t seem to think they did anything wrong makes it even worse. Yes, I understand the reality of their warehouse and numbers, etc, but that simply means it’s bad planning on their part.

    I’m still waiting for Dreadball, and excitedly, but I certainly won’t be investing in any more of Mantic’s Kickstarter projects.

  15. I read you post with intrest I dont usually make a point of commenting on blog posts as I only read them at work for something to do as we dont have access to youtube. But I felt I had to comment with your post.

    All I can see is “wahh boo hoo, those other kids have got THEIR toys before ME! *points and stamps foot* I should get mine first! I’m important! *stamps foot again*.

    Jhees guy get a grip! and you are going to rage quit, what are you 8 years old?
    You will have the first lot dreadball stuff before christmas so whats the big deal, you are going to miss out on great games just to proove your point, I think you are only huting yourself there.

    There are children in the world who dont have access to decent food or water let alone the great toys that we have access to. So you will have to wait few days longer than joe public, so what? You will still get your stuff, it’s not as if Ronnie has absconded to Rio with the KS cash.

    And before you say anything else no I’m not affiliated with mantic in anyway other than a paying customer, and yes I did pony up my hard earned for the DB KS as well as the KOW one, infact I was the 4th bidder for the earlybird striker so unless you were one of the other three I have been waiting longer than you for my stuff, but I havent made a point of wingeing about it on the internet.
    I have used perspective and decided to wait for my stuff to arrive.

    • Think you miss the point here. I have the game. Yep had it a couple of weeks now. Mdf pitch, both teams in boxes, tokens limited edition ref and MVP, dice dtc.
      I’m not whinging or throwing a strop because I can’t play. The debate as far as I am concerned is an ethics one from an industry point of view. Neil certainly, and hopefully myself do an awful lot for the wargames community and the companies which are all but maybe two of them small companies in the real sense. My local plumbing firm have more stafff than Mantic ,gripping beast or Spartan etc.
      The underlying point is that on the whole people ‘feel’ done over – this isn’t the case, I know Stewart from Mantic pretty well and know they are working their socks off. In fact cos I do know him well I feel pretty bad whinging at all. BUT I imagine next time a KS goes viral they and others will perhaps handle it slightly different. I doubt in the nature of the beast the outcome will be different as it is mainly logistical, but the feeling of the backers would be.
      If I was being childish I’d be saying, ‘na na I’ve got mine you haven’t!’ but I’m not.
      Now Neil perhaps has gone off Mantic cos of it and fair enough, he deals with enough companies to be entitled to rant on the service they provide. Me I see it like a marriage, I’m pissed off, there will be a few nights in the spare room involved, but then a few shiney pressies later it will all be ok
      However, it doesn’t alter the fact the whole tiff could have been avoided.

      • Rich has distilled the argument nicely here.
        I have been accused of throwing my toys out of the pram by several people, and perhaps the final comment I made does have a whiff of petualance about it. I admit that was more than a little annoyed when I wrote it.

        You only have to look back at some of my posts, and listen to the last few of my shows to know how much I like Dreadball, and I would imagine that I added to the hype that was built around the KS in the first place.

        However hard Mantic are working on this in reality, the issue boils down to one of ethics and perception, and in both case, I firmly believe that Mantic have got it wrong.

        This was my first undertaking with Kickstarter, and my first real experience with Mantic. I was reluctant to get involved, but finally made the decision to go with it after my chat with Jake Thornton. It was as much to support his idea for the game as anything else that I invested. At this point, despite the whole ‘high’ of the KS itself, I am left asking myself if I would ever do this again?

        And I do say invested. Many people seem to have this idea that KS is simply some sort of ‘uber’ pre-order system where you can get extra cool goodies by buying early, and certainly some companies seem to work the system like this. But when you make a pledge in KS, you are backing the idea of the company involved, enabling them to move forward with that idea. I think that level of commitment should be rewarded.

        Don’t get me wrong here, I’ve said it already, and I’ll say it again, those of us who signed up for the bundle deals via KS are very getting good value for money, and maybe I should be content simply with that. But somehow I expected a bit more. I feel that I was promised a bit more, and that is what has driven me to comment in the first place.

        At this point in time, however much I like Dreadball as a game in itself, I would certainly think twice before getting involved in another Kickstarter project.

  16. What strikes me most is that game companies that when looked upon from the outsied to follow in the GW marketing footsteps, seem to have an arrogant way of looking at their customers. “it doesn’t mather what we do, we are the boss and if they dont like it then well bad for them, go cry with your mommies !” What they however seem to forget with this way of doing business is that potential buyers (like me) are put of in a MAJOR way. I dont do Kickstarters just to avoid me having to write whole pages of rage. But if I would have been able to pick up a dreadball game last week knowing this I simply would not have done so.

  17. Alan Charlesworth // December 16, 2012 at 21:36 // Reply

    I missed out on the Kickstarter. But this kind of problem is not unique to Mantic or to Kickstarter. I pre-ordered Battlegroup Kursk 4 months before publication only to find that it was in game stores before my copy was even dispatched. I paid the same price as any retail customer but four months in advance of the guy who just happened to walk into a game store and buy it on the day. Its definitely not a way to generate goodwill from your most loyal and supportive customers.

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