Shipping Kickstarter games is no fun

April 06, 2015

boat I am freaking out right now. I am looking at my Amazon account after receiving an email that they had received a shipment of Forge War copies for fulfillment. They have indeed received copies, but the numbers are wrong. There should be 986 boxes available, but they're only listing 408. Apparently 3 pallets have disappeared into thin air. Look, okay, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation and say, in an hour or two - maybe a day at the latest - the other pallets will show up in the system, and I'll be able to send off all the copies without a hitch. I'd really like to think that, but I've become so gun-shy about this whole experience with Kickstarter fulfillment that I've adopted this mentality that the next disaster is just around the corner. It's surely not a healthy way to think, but here it is staring me in the face - another disaster looming its ugly head. Pardon me while I go refresh the Amazon page...nope, still 408. My point is that fulfillment of a Kickstarter campaign - actually getting a physical product to everyone who bought it - just plain sucks. It's exhausting and frustrating and time consuming and, look, can I just vent about it for a while? I mean, I can handle it. That's not the problem. It's just that up until a few months ago, I was so happy about the entire Kickstarter experience. The actual campaign was one of the most positive experiences of my life. Afterwards the art and graphic design really came together to make a beautiful game and the production went through without any troubles. It was great. Fantastic. I was thinking, "Man, wouldn't it be great if I could do this all the time?" And then the unhappiness began. I apparently picked the wrong shipping company to do my international fulfillment, and they decided it would be totally cool to put the 7 pound boxes in bags with a little bit of bubble wrap around them. Bags. So when that 7-pound box starts shifting and throwing its weight around, there's very little to protect it, especially in the corners. A lot of boxes arrived mangled, and the unhappiness spread. Not only was it those poor backers' first impression of the game, but they were the first people to receive the game, so it was the entire world's first impression of the game. Maybe what's inside the box is a good game, but, man, the box itself sure looks pretty gnarly. Of course I'll replace the badly damaged boxes, but, in addition to all the extra hassle and money lost because of it, you can't get back that first impression. And then, you know, other bad stuff started happening. A dockworker's strike on the US West Coast that seemed like it would never end, ultimately delaying the US delivery of the game by at least a few weeks. Weird tracking email issues in the EU that cause mass-panic a couple weeks ago. It's definitely gotten to the point where I just want it to end. Refresh, and...408. And this is all sad, because, overall, it was still a happy experience. The Forge War campaign was awesome, and I'm really looking forward to doing another one. It's just been...soured a bit for me. Ultimately though, things could have been far worse. I'm working on replacing the damaged boxes, the US shipment eventually made its way through the congestion and the weird email issue seems to have been resolved. As long as these 3 pallets haven't actually crossed over into another dimension, then the problems certainly have not been insurmountable. In fact, they've been pretty strong learning experiences. I definitely won't be using that International fulfillment service again, that's for sure. At this point, all I can hope for (other than the reappearance of 3 pallets' worth of games) is that I'll be able to use this knowledge and experience to help the fulfillment go more smoothly on my next project. Shipping 7 pound game boxes all over the world isn't fun (or cheap), but it's a necessary part of the job, and I'm confident that it will be less of a pain the next time around, even if I'm still a little gun-shy on this project. Let's refresh one more time...594? Ha, okay, well, that's progress. Looks like another pallet showed up. That's a good sign, right? The other two can't be far behind, right? I can stop freaking out now, right?

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