Mexican Game Designer Héctor Pérez Funded Four Games on Kickstarter—Here Are His Tips for International Campaigns
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Héctor Pérez is one of the first 30 Mexico-based creators to fund a project since Kickstarter opened here in late 2016. He’s led two campaigns for his artful Enigmacards playing card decks, four more with Sextante Studio, and he has collaborated and advised on several more. Ahead of his educational workshop with Kickstarter at tabletop games convention Mega XP, we asked him a few questions about running international campaigns, so we can share his insights beyond the convention.
You have published four projects on Kickstarter in the past three years, can you tell us about your experience on your very first project?
The truth is it was a bittersweet experience. It was very positive, with lots of learning opportunities, but there are many things you can’t know until you run a project.
What I remember most is that we thought we knew who our audience was, but we soon realized our prices were too high for a lot of backers in Mexico—there’s a cultural perspective here that a deck of cards shouldn’t cost more than $10 and that the customer shouldn’t have to pay for shipping on top of that, so it was a tough sell locally. We didn’t think we would get into foreign audiences so quickly, but Kickstarter’s deck community liked our project. We realized we needed to translate the page from Spanish to English—which took us 15 days.
That first project was also the first time we had to deal with shipping. There were 340 people around the world waiting for their rewards, and I have to say fulfilment was a challenge. You have to know the product perfectly: how much it weighs, how much space it takes up, what packing paper you will need, how much the envelope or box weighs, how many trips it’ll take to get it all to the post office, and how much gasoline that takes. It goes beyond calculating the cost of the single envelope.
For our type of project we now know it’s key to plan this before launching the project, because with good planning you can save a lot of money. Our first project had 340 backers and the last we ran got 1,806, but we manage the logistics all by ourselves and now we are pretty good at it.
We use the local post office, Correos de México, which is extremely economical. I see most Mexican creators wanting to go with companies like DHL and FedEx to ship their rewards, but they are far too expensive. In Mexico we rarely mail packages in our daily life, so we don’t have much confidence in that service. We tend to think foreign companies like DHL do a better job, but really I don’t recommend it.
These are the kind of issues that marked our first campaign, which fortunately was successful. Our brand also grew, thanks to the visibility our Kickstarter project gave us.
How did you start building community around your project?
In Mexico, three years ago, we had to educate people about Kickstarter—we needed to explain how to use the platform. So our strategy was to ask PKM—a YouTube influencer for poker players and card deck audiences in general—to post a video about our Kickstarter project and explain how Kickstarter works. He made a step-by-step tutorial that saved us a lot of time answering basic questions. Most importantly, it helped us reach PKM’s community and people we wouldn’t have reached on our own.
Of course we couldn’t count only on that influencer’s community and his willingness to share our project. We also hosted casual events with friends and family where we would carry an iPad or laptop and teach them how to back and explain why it was so important to us.
Then, we started to look at foreign markets: the U.S. and Europe. We worked with more influencers to spread the word—we sent them prototypes of our deck and some of them agreed to post videos.
When the project is live, it’s important to keep building the community you have by always sharing news, posting updates, answering questions in the comments, and being very aware of all the messages coming in. It gets interesting when you are in Mexico and you have people from Europe commenting—you have to be fast and organize around that time difference.
What happens when your project ends and you have delivered every reward? How do you keep in touch with the community long-term? For a while, you continue talking to people like you did through your campaign. After delivering everything for our first project, it was about three months before we made a final update and said, “It's over, we finished this project,” but we kept replying to new comments or messages.
For the third campaign—a deck featuring the axolotl, a salamander native to Mexico—we continue posting updates because we are still helping other institutions with conservation efforts related to the campaign.
On the other end of the spectrum, we launched our latest project knowing we would cut off our updates after about two months because we knew we’d be busy creating the next campaign.
It has been a learning process for us since the first project so we are still adapting and finding the best way to do it.
This is just some of what you will be able to learn from Héctor at his talk on Sunday March 1 in Expo Reforma, Mexico City. We’ll be at Mega XP that whole weekend with him and other successful games creators like Gnomosapiens, Weapon Wars, DOXA, Draco studio, and Tattoo Brawl. Join us to learn more about Kickstarter and play some games.
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- Mexican Game Designer Héctor Pérez Funded Four Games on Kickstarter—Here Are His Tips for International Campaigns