Jan 24, 2017

[Games] The First Martians Non-Kickstarter Pre-Order

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have changed the way we think of products and the whole sales / distribution process. Crowdfunding campaigns put creators in direct contact with potential customers before the product comes. A lot of campaigns use it as a sort of pre-order platform but the usual warning to people is that Kickstarters may not get funded or may not fulfill on commitments even if they do reach their funding goal.

So it was a bit surprising when Portal Games announced a special pre-order process for its upcoming game, First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet. What was interesting was that they had attached "stretch goals" - a common device in crowdfunding campaigns to push people to donate money beyond the funding goal.

What was Ignacy thinking? Whatever it was, it was sheer genius.

First Martians: Adventure On The Red Planet - Pre-orders

First, allow me to explain. Stretch Goals are additional rewards or benefits that are "unlocked" when certain funding goals in a crowdfunding campaign are reached. They can add a sense of excitement and challenge to a crowdfunding campaign as getting more people on board can make the experience better or everyone involved in the project thus far. I've participated in quite a number of Kickstarter campaigns precisely because the stretch goals were looking pretty exciting.

Now we love Portal Games and Ignacy Trzewiczek, the mad genius who drives a lot of the creative force of the company. This is the man who came up with brilliant games like Prêt-à-PorterImperial Settlers, and Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot. This First Martians game is roughly based on the same system behind his brutal co-op survival game, Robinson Crusoe, or at least that's what I picked up based on his various behind-the-scenes SnapChat videos released during conception and playtesting of the game.

To take the stretch goals idea and add it to a pre-order may not seem that different from a crowdfunding campaign, but really it's a big deal. Whereas with crowdfunding you aren't guaranteed to get your product, a legitimate pre-order means that they're definitely going into production and you will get your copy of the game. But now there are bonuses that make the initial release feel like a Collector's Edition, even for a game you've never played before. And it's not all that common for folks to buy such games directly from the publisher as most rely on retail partners to get the games into the hands of customers around the world.

But we trust Ignacy and he's yet to let us down in terms of the games he comes up with and the experiences and stories he hopes to inspire as based on the design of his games. And I'm totally behind this! Plus this is not the first time that Portal Games has done this - they did something similar for their initial release of 51st State. We're already at our seventh stretch goal with the final tier promising a special documentary of the whole development process that led to this game. I really think we're going to make the 3,000 order mark though! This is just too great a deal to pass on.

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