Why does the word embargo make me think of a barge or a ship of some sort? Maybe it reminds me of the word embark. I don’t know. — is it a bad thing to start the blog already off the rails? — Let’s get back on track here. This week, I asked Scott Rumptz about the self-imposed embargo they are currently in for their new game Nexus and he gives his first-hand experience and thoughts about the matter. But first, let’s talk about what an embargo is and if you should use one for your tabletop game KickStarter. An embargo — technically an information embargo — is a predetermined period of time you decide not to release certain information about your game to the public. This includes information posted on social media, your website, previews, reviews, press releases, everything. Typically, an embargo will run until about 6-10 weeks before your campaign will start — then you will have coordinated the dates that materials will be released to the public. The question is, should you use one? The answer is, “that depends.”
Keeping information about your game a secret for a period of time — an embargo — starts with it being a secret in the first place. If you have been sharing your game on forums and Facebook, etc. and getting input and feedback about your game all the way through the process, having an information embargo might not be the best choice. Although a case can still be made that by “disappearing” for a bit while you get your marketing strategy and materials together could still be a good way to go. A good instance of when to use an embargo is if you have done most or all of the work outside of the gaming community. For example, the game Nexus that Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz are creating — they were old-school gamers who got out of the hobby for a long period of time. One day, when they decided to recreate a game from their youth they didn’t need input from a large group of people since they were recreating something they already knew how it would play. Since their game was not already out in the public, an embargo was the wise choice. So, now you know what it is and when to use an embargo, but this begs the question — “But, I WANT people to know about my game! Why would I ever want to NOT tell people about it?” Great question! Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you might want to incorporate an information embargo before your campaign.
The first reason you might want an information embargo is you get to control the message. Ok, what the heck does that mean? Well, controlling the message means you get to dictate the conversation for a period of time by releasing only information you want to be discussed. For example, maybe you have dice in your game but you know that a big part of your market just totally hates dice — well, you can lead with other parts of your game to build excitement in other areas and — possibly — build enough excitement that they might overlook that the game has dice in it later when you finally release that information. Another thing is that every game seems to have it’s fair share of haters — concentrating your marketing to a shorter period of time gives them less time to take control of the conversation before your launch. Yes, some things people bring up are valid and can help you make adjustments, but at the same time, some people just love to hate on things and look for any negative to blow up as big as possible for whatever reason. Controlling the message is just one reason to use an embargo.
Another reason to use an embargo is what I call effectual excitement — I got paid an extra 50 cents for that phrase. What I mean by that is making the best of the excitement the public has about a game for the first period of time they learn about it. The more excited someone is about something, the more likely they are to act on that excitement. They are more apt to sign up for your newsletter, join your social media, and — hopefully — buy your game — all based on their excitement for it. The problem with excitement is that it fades over time. If you know you are going to launch 8 months from now and you go ahead and start advertising everything your game has to offer — yes, more people will know about your game — but, the excitement level is a whole lot lower. The long period of time being exposed to marketing about your game could cause fatigue — where people are just tired of hearing about it for months on end — and could cause people to not pay attention to your calls-to-action — like buying your game upon launch! By holding back on marketing to just a couple months before launch — or even less — you can ensure your KickStarter will launch with people at maximum excitement levels and the least amount of product fatigue. Of course an embargo without efficient advertising will do no one any good — so make sure to do your homework and get everything set to pop off as soon as the embargo is lifted. As you can see — an information embargo is all roses! — Nope — as with anything, there are always downsides — and this is where I let Scott tell you his thoughts about the pros and cons of an embargo in a real life situation.
Scott, tell me about the struggles with doing an embargo.
Scott said, “I understand its purpose, the deliberate and focused release of information to walk people through the story we are trying to tell about our game. But I just want to show everyone all this awesome shit! We literally have hundreds of pieces of amazing artwork and some, as my daughter calls them, “savage” miniatures. Being in an embargo means I have to just sit on all this stuff and watch people talk about how they want more information about the game. Meanwhile I am yelling at my monitor, “I WANT TO TELL YOU! I REALLY DO!” Unfortunately we are too far away from launch date, if we show people everything now the excitement will die down before they can ever get it. I hate it, but that is just how humans are, excitement sells. Sometimes I wish we could be marketing to Orcs like this guy (ORK STABR).” — Seriously, check out this Ork Stabr guy on Kickstarter — funny stuff!
Scott, what are some of the positives you have seen from being in an embargo?
Scott answers, “the embargo makes us think outside of the box. We get to release cryptic and awesome images with no frame of reference and watch people try and figure it out. Deep down I like messing with people, so that part is fun. It has been really cool to watch the teaser campaign pick up momentum. We just have a few images out there at the moment and your articles and that is it. People are starting to connect some dots though and that is pretty cool. We can’t just say HEY LOOK AT THIS! However, we can leave a trail of breadcrumbs. A few people (like two) have even figured out the blood.stream”
As you can see, an embargo can be both challenging and rewarding. Is it the right choice for you? Well, that is up to you to decide. Leave your thoughts in the comments below about the pros and cons of an information embargo.
If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share!
To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/