With previous Kickstarters backed up to 700%, their currently running campaign’s 300% seems to be a bare minimum. Wow. An interview with principal Uwe Eickert of Academy Games (Freemont, Ohio)

 The campaigns are all for historical board games set in different times. The 700% funded game, in August 2013, was Freedom: The Underground Railroad, ‘a cooperative game where players are Abolitionists striving to end slavery in the United States’. Almost 500% funded, in December 2013, was ‘1775 – Rebellion’ tabletop where teams of players cooperate to further either the American or British cause in the North American colonies.

box-cover

box-cover2

And now on Kickstarter: Fief – France 1429, a game of diplomacy at its heart. Players head noble families in the Kingdom of France. Each family is comprised of 1 to 4 family members that try to rise in power and stature by gaining Titles, royal titles or ecclesiastical. Much of your income and power base stems on territorial control. That’s why you’ll have to stage marriages between players – it’s all about love, treachery and deception.

Uwe Eickert: “This is where the game gets interesting. How far can you trust your ally? Just because you have to win together does not mean that they cannot attack you, incite rebellions, plan a murder or initiate many other dastardly acts!”

Have a look at their campaign video below.


Why did you decide to start a campaign on a crowd funding platform? Why Kickstarter? Many publishing houses put out one or two great games and then disappear. Here’s how Kickstarter helps out small publishing houses like ours in several ways.

For one, It is a great way to market our high quality games to a new customer base. Secondly, it creates space for a business to develop and try new products. We collect money to pay for the print run and production costs ahead of time. Normally we have to make a big money commitment that often does not pay back for at least 8 months. That is a long time to tie up money for any company and it can hinder us from developing new games to the extent that we would like. Thirdly, it actually keeps us in business, because we make a larger margin.

95% of our sales are to wholesalers world wide. We only collect 32% of the retail value (MSRP) when selling thru wholesalers. Our printing costs take up 20% of the MSRP. This leaves us only 12% of the MSRP to cover all of our other costs and make a profit to pay ourselves. With the remaining 12% we have to pay the printer, designer royalties, all of the art work, editing help, warehousing, our accountant, and much more.

To summarise, we hope to collect the wholesale gains within 5 months after we paid the printer. But months before the game is published we already paid the artist costs; royalties; game development; etc So our money is tied up for 8-12 months before we even break even. And we need this money to finance the next project.

Note, that I haven’t even included any paychecks for the publisher in this example.

What kind of rewards did you come up with? What would be your advice to others regarding the rewards? We usually only include rewards that improve game play. New components, variances to play, upgraded quality, etc. We try to stay away from shirts, mugs and travel bags with have no direct ‘game play’ component.

What would be your advice regarding creating a project on Kickstarter in general? How important was the video? Plan out all of your expenses and costs ahead of time. This should include a very high quality video, since this is one of the major factors to a successful campaign. Then also have some good artwork already developed. We usually start a campaign with 80% of the game development being fully done.

What did you do to promote your Kickstarter campaign? We advertise on quite a few websites, mass email, post on dozens of blogs, and direct mail.

Tell us about your company, staff, history. Most of the office staff at Academy Games worked for me in my previous businesses. We are a good team, know how to streamline the business and all get along together.

Please tell us something which isn’t written in your project page which worth mentioning. France won the war.
With 784 backers, the Fief – France 1429 Kickstarter campaign has gathered $61,675 with a $20,000 goal – at the time of writing. Deadline: February 11, 2014.