Monolith, the board game publisher behind Conan and Batman: Gotham City Chronicles, has criticised the use of stretch goals on Kickstarter, labelling the practice as “subterfuge marketing”.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, the company justified why it would be setting the funding level for its upcoming Conan: Beyond the Monolith project at $700,000 (£540,000).
“It is well known that the funding level amount displayed during major KS campaigns does not reflect the actual financing needs of the project in question,” it said.
The company questioned the ethics behind publishers setting their tabletop Kickstarter targets low enough to get funded in the shortest amount of time possible and generate interest without raising the true amount needed to produce a project, claiming that the practice is leading to the “systemic reduction of funding level amounts”.
Monolith added that it has itself used similar methods to construct marketing campaigns: “This allows publishers (ourselves included) to demonstrate their pride and gratitude and drums up buzz for the campaign.”
The post goes on to highlight that many Kickstarter goals do not represent the realistic amounts required to fund entire tabletop projects, referencing one of Monolith’s own Kickstarters as an example.
“During the Conan campaign, the funding amount didn’t represent a tenth of the actual financial requirements,” it wrote.
With would-be pledgers expecting Kickstarter goals to be set lower and reached quicker, Monolith is claiming that funding projects this way makes for precarious financial practices. Ones that the publisher itself seemingly no longer wants to engage with, hence the $700,000 Kickstarter goal.
“During the launch of the Beyond the Monolith range, I would like to break with this practice,” it stated.
One aspect of Kickstarter campaigns that the post touches on in particular is the use of stretch goals. Referring to the “Stretch Goal Machine”, Monolith criticises other publishers for allegedly making pledgers feel like they’re getting gifts, when companies are actually just taking necessary content out just to put back in at a later date.
As such, with the upcoming Conan: Beyond The Monolith Kickstarter campaign, the company says it will not be including any stretch goals and will instead put all the content in the base pledge level.
“We think it's healthier that this value is built right into the game and immediately visible,” it said.
Monolith also confirmed that the Conan: Beyond the Monolith Kickstarter will only run for “probably a week”, citing the lack of stretch goals and the need to avoid prolonging the campaign unnecessarily. The publisher added that it would be willing to extend or re-open Kickstarter campaigns until the required amount has been funded, saying: “The simplest solution to remedy this harmful process is the reinstatement of an actual funding level amount.”
This isn’t the first time that Monolith has questioned the viability of financial practices on Kickstarter, having announced that its future projects would be Kickstarter-exclusive and unavailable at retail back in August 2017. At the time, the publisher backed up its decision by saying that its games would need to be more expensive and of lower quality to make up for the reduced cut taken by selling them at retail.
The Beyond the Monolith project involves the creation of an Engine Box that can be applied to any number of settings produced by the company. This means that players who purchase the Engine Box would theoretically only need to buy whichever thematic elements they wanted and nothing else.
The Conan: Beyond the Monolith Kickstarter will begin sometime in January.