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A mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in viking culture, by three game industry veterans.
A mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in viking culture, by three game industry veterans.
A mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in viking culture, by three game industry veterans.
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20,042 backers pledged $723,886 to help bring this project to life.

What does a big Kickstarter project look like in prize form?

Greetings again, fans of strategy and physical prizes!

As promised not two days prior, we've put together a video laying out the result of producing a comical number of prizes. We had 20,000 backers, but only 4000 of them got physical prizes. That doesn't seem so bad, right? Watch the video below...

The Banner Saga was certainly not the biggest campaign Kickstarter has ever seen. Double Fine had 80k backers, Wasteland 2 had 60k, Shadowrun had over 30k, not to mention non-games. But unlike these larger, somewhat established developers we're packaging and mailing our own prizes. If we had raised 3.3 million it would be a no-brainer; use that money to outsource the work. We raised $723k, and while that is a lot of funding, we had to think twice about what would be the most cost effective solution.

The quick answer is that so far things are going according to plan and we've budgeted correctly!

The longer answer is this breakdown:

  • Of $730k, 10% immediately comes out for amazon, kickstarter and failed payments. We actually had a shockingly low number of these failed payments, but this alone leaves us with roughly $650k.
  • Actual prizes cost us about $22k to produce. $22,000 certainly is a lot for posters, tshirts and some fancy art, but this was not a surprise to us since we had gotten estimates and set prices based on that.
  • Shipping costs are a bit troublesome, especially since we have a fair number of international backers. We estimated that shipping would cost roughly an amount equal to the prizes themselves. When comparing our prices to other kickstarter campaigns we felt that we couldn't ask for more than the standard international shipping rate- between $10 and $20. This helps but does not cover the cost. Now any time I see a campaign asking for an extra $10 for international shipping I just assume they have no idea what they're talking about. That said, it's not like this will cut into our budget by a significant amount with the kind of volume we're pushing. Between prizes and shipping that's another 18% of our total funds.
  • Once we've dealt with all that business we've got about $600k to work with. I want to re-emphasize that this came as a surprise to none of us!
  • As for development, contractor salaries take the lions share. We've now contracted (not hired) two programmers, a sound design team, a dedicated composer, a QA specialist, a writer, an interface artist, a community manager and an entire animation production house working for us to produce more content than we ever dreamed at higher quality. That, my friends, is currently where a good 50% of our total funding goes.
  • We've got the mundane business expenses like a (rather miniscule) office lease, software like adobe products, dropbox and fmod, computer upgrades, and hardware coming out to about 5% of our budget.
  • We're anticipating the relatively small operation costs of maintaining our own server-side data on amazon's cloud so people can download the game from us and play online without Steam.
  • Lastly, we've put aside the remaining funding as our safety net which will be re-evaluated as we go. You never know when things are going to go unexpectedly wrong.
  • We're still not taking personal salaries. We'll be living off our savings until our game starts making income.

To summarize: so far, so good.

Alex, Arnie and John


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    1. wijse on

      What about the landscape art?

    2. Adam Diran on

      That my friends is a sound business plan, especially socking away the cash for the inevitable rainy day. I look forward to your success :-)

    3. Conor Toleson on

      See, now you should be thankful I just wanted the digital stuff! I am contributing to less work and paperless office here!

    4. Missing avatar

      am on

      one of the 680, no big deal....

    5. Missing avatar

      am on

      Strong headwings keeps me floating, unable to log in, rarely making landfall long enough to participate in the blogging, by Odin me wonders if i be on the poster list by Thor's thunder?

    6. Missing avatar

      Isak on

      Cant wait to get my hands on the first part of the saga!

    7. Michael Matzat on

      Sending out posters might be a lot cheaper when you use triangle boxes instead of tubes.

    8. ABCHEE Alex on

      Awesome guys good luck for the packaging

    9. Irfon-Kim Ahmad on

      I think I paid for international shipping for a poster, on the assumption that the extra cost covered the shipping. I do have a U.S. friend who I see every few weeks who I could have you ship to instead if that helps at all. I know it'll probably only save you a few bucks and to look through all your records for one person is probably not worth it, but if mine's not packed and mailed yet, I'm happy to do that.

    10. Jacob Kohl on

      Really wish I could help, that looks so overwhelming...

    11. Jonathan Blunden on

      That poster looks awesome. So glad I upped my pledge!

    12. Chooi

      amazing does not realise what a few thousand 'simple' prizes would take up, space wise! Thanks for the great insight! Good luck!

      PS-great looking poster! Wish I got one!

    13. kewlpersin on

      That is so cool! Behind the scenes are the best kind of scenes. I hated all those cg trailers during E3.

    14. James Whittaker on

      Don't forget to recycle the leftover packaging :)
      Hehe, really regretting not getting one of those posters now...

    15. Erik de Vos on

      Good update, thank you! Also thanks for being so open and honest about everything.

    16. Bryy Miller on

      Awesome! Glad to see the prizes did not take an unexpected toll!

    17. Matt Stein on

      damn wish i would have gotten one of those posters, they turned out amazing!

    18. Michael on

      Good to know my money is in capable (yet soon to be tired from signing) hands .

    19. Diego on

      Don't overdo, whatch out for carpal tunnel syndrome!!!!!

    20. Dean Browell

      Seriously impressed by the transparency, quality and management. You guys are doing fantastic. I'm proud to be a backer.

    21. St. McDuck on

      THAT is transparency, right there. Awesome work, fellas.

    22. Missing avatar

      Mikael Öhman on

      Xphile, you actually forgot about the additional shipping cost ($10 on all those tiers), but on the other hand, you also didn't take into account the cost of having people roll these up and ship em out. Still, its something like +$90k for those tiers including shipping.

    23. SinoSamba <(-'.'-)> on

      Awesome update. I'm now regretting not upping the pledge to get one of the physical prizes. Will there be any leftovers? I'm willing to pay for Banner Saga merchandise.

    24. Joseph-Dylan Quintinita on

      x2. Nice to know what it takes for projects like this.

    25. Nathanael Cole

      Quite frankly, I'd rather you put the money spent on my physical rewards into the actual game development, and then send me my stuff after the game finally exists. Why do so many projects insist on fulfilling rewards _first_ when the core product is more important? Take your time! I'm more interested in the game than the posters and such.

    26. Missing avatar

      Joseph Patrevito on

      Thanks for the update! Really looking forward to this game!

    27. Missing avatar

      Guilherme Sionek on

      It makes me feel good to know these are the guys that are taking care of our money. Look at the size the project took from the initial purpose and even tough they managed to plan it well and as a result everything runs smooth. I can only expect for and awesome game from you. I am very excited. Congratulations to you Stoic!

    28. Monica Caples on

      I just wanted to say thanks for the update, and for being such amazing guys. Just the concept alone that you are not taking personal salaries, despite having a couple hundred thousand dollars remaining just reminds me of why I backed your game. I absolutely cannot wait to play it, and to see what Stoic will do in the future. You rock!

    29. Norb on

      When we saw the posters, I was thinking, "okay, no problem". Then we saw the tube boxes. Oh my! It's a cardboard invasion!! You almost have to release rewards in stages to make room.
      Thanks for your commitment to this project. Maybe the boxes can be an Easter egg level, defending ourselves against papercuts and chapped hands :0)

    30. Tom Harley on

      Thanks for this.

      I'm very impressed with the planning gone into the actual funds themselves and I applaud you for not taking a sum for yourselves for the time being.

      It shows your loyal backers that you truly believe in the project- as do we all!

      Look forward to seeing more of the actual game. However I have to say I've enjoyed the art and story blog posts.

      Keep up the good work!

    31. Missing avatar

      Henri Clinch on

      great update, thanks for taking the time to explain the backstage stuff

    32. Missing avatar

      David on

      Thanks for the great update! I love the transparency. Thanks for all your hard work and for making this game!

    33. eXoScoriae on

      You guys are doing a great job with this project.

    34. Robert DeBusk on

      Tubes! Wow, thanks for the awesome update. I never realized how massive an undertaking it is just to handle the rewards.

    35. Mark Doherty on

      And that doesn't even include soundtracks, cels, landscapes...

    36. Søren Høeg Pedersen on

      Where do you sleep?? :P

    37. secondOption on

      Guys, since you already used FedEx, you might want to make a corporate account with them.
      If there are large volumes of shipping, you can get a discounted rate, especially considering you will have to ship the boxed games again later on.

    38. Missing avatar

      Indyxt on

      This is crazy. In a good way tho. Best of luck guys!

    39. Ryan Jarrell on

      Posters look awesome. Any hope of a PC wallpaper in the future?

    40. Missing avatar

      James Siddle on

      Have you thought about asking your backers if they would mind you using some of the money for living expenses (etc). Unless otherwise stated, I usually assume that a proportion of the money from each kickstarter will be used in this way.

    41. Missing avatar

      Niymiae on

      Is there any way to provide additional funding?

    42. Missing avatar

      Sean on

      Just to echo other comments, thank you for the breakdown - it's comforting to know that everything is going well.

    43. Missing avatar

      Xphile on

      @Nick Bouton You say that, but they made plenty of money for funding off of the prizes. Assuming that if they didn't have them, these people would have paid $25 for the special edition, they were able to gather $41,625 from posters (1850*25 - 10%), $25,393.5 from limited edition posters (513*55 - 10%) and $45,900 from the t-shirt/poster combo ($75 * 680 - 10%). So while the prizes did eat a chunk of change to make and ship out, if it only took 50,000 to make and ship, they easily were able to collect an additional $50,000 just from the prizes that can go into the development of the game.

    44. Vadym Jankovsky on

      It's nice to get one of those, knowing that it was at the house of one of developers. Every item now has it's story, and you can say: "Maybe it was mine there, on the video!".

    45. Nick Bouton on

      That's an impressive amount of work. Surprised at the amount of cash you're having to drop on the prizes and shipping, kinda sucks to see that much of the funding disappear into non-game-related costs, but still, guess it's part of the deal.

      Good luck with the packing! Really looking forward to the game.

    46. Peter Jacob on

      Thanks for the update guys and keep fighting the good fight. This sort of transparency gives interested observers and the big eyed young'uns a good sense of scope/process.

    47. Rachel Teng on

      I wish I could come over and help, hahaha!

    48. S.D. on

      Stoic; have you considered taking pre-orders via PayPal on The Banner Saga website for like $15-30 a pop (or similar), like DFA, Wasteland 2, Pinkerton Road (Jane Jensen), Big Finish Games (Tex Murphy), Two Guys From Andromeda (SpaceVenture)... etc. I imagine you'd collect another $500-1000/mo or so to go into your family's budgets. Just an idea!