Monolith Editions scored a major hit when they published Conan: The Boardgame, with over 16,000 people backing the Kickstarter project.
For several weeks they have been sending out trailers for a new, small Kickstarter project – Conan: The Book of Set.
According to the publicity, this project was to produce a new book, similar in style to the campaign book produced with the original project (which, incidentally, was very nice indeed) which contained all the scenarios that had currently been published online, along with more pages of background information, artwork, and pictures of painted miniatures.
In addition, it would also give the opportunity to purchase a limited number of the original KS pledge bundles, along with the KS exclusive models. The project was to run for 5 days, with delivery due within a couple of months.
However, in all their publicity, what Monolith completely failed to mention that the print run for The Book of Set was extremely limited, with each area of the world only being allocated a few hundred copies – there were a mere 400 English copies allocated to the whole of europe (as opposed to 700 French), 800 for North America and Canada, and only a couple of hundred for Australasia and the Far East.
The way the project had been set up, it was not possible to order a copy of the book from another part of the world (even paying the extra shipping) – it was stated that if you attempted to do this your pledge would be cancelled.
Given the very limited number of the book available, and the large number of backers of the original game, suffice it to say that the pledges were snapped up very quickly indeed. I believe all the English editions allocated to Europe were sold within 40 minutes of the project going live, and most other pledge levels for the book alone were gone within two or three hours.
Needless to say that the kickstarter comments page and social media exploded with outrage over this situation. Many (including myself) were in various stages of incredulity, frustration and anger over the simple fact that in all the pre-publicity for the project, the limited availability of the Book of Set had never been made apparent.
There were a lot of very unhappy people around. Even those gamers who had managed to snag a pledge were expressing frustration on behalf of everyone else.
It was quickly clear that Monolith had made a huge miscalculation, and in doing so had possibly undone much of the good work that they had put in over the past couple of years in building the player community for the game.
Their initial response indicated that making the book a limited print run meant that they could deliver the project quickly, as they already had a specific number of books in production. If they had waited until the end of the project before ordering the number of print copies, the lead time for delivery would greatly increase. They had modelled their demand and copy allocation based on the sales of the original campaign book.
To give Monolith their due, once the scale of their mistake with the project became clear, they moved to correct it. They issued a message to say that they were gong back to the production company to see what they could do about printing extra books. A statement was subsequently published this morning:
As promised we come back to you with news from our Production manager.
After discussion, we are able to open additional Pledge Levels for the Book of Set in English and in French. These pledge levels are already available.
THESE PLEDGE LEVELS WILL NOT BE LIMITED IN QUANTITY.
HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BOOKS OF SET ORDERED WITH THESE PLEDGE LEVELS WILL BE DELIVERED IN A SECOND WAVE, IN FEBRUARY OF 2018.
Again, we have under-estimated the demand on the Book of Set. Our estimates were based on the quantity of Campaign book we sold during the first Kickstarter; it is the closest item we had to the Book of Set.
We are sorry if this created frustration with some of you. It was, of course, not our intent and we hope that this will help to clear the air.
That’s all folks!
So, everyone is now able to order a scenario book, with the second wave being delivered in February 2018.
So, whilst it’s good that Monolith moved so quickly to provide a solution to the problem of their own creation, there is no doubt that the damage has already been done. I am sure that they will have lost customers over this issue, and the entire incident should be a lesson to highlight the importance of communicating well with and managing the expectations of your customers – especially in a crowded and competitive marketplace.