The folks behind Exploding Kittens are back at it on Kickstarter. This time around, it's Throw Throw Burrito. I mean, how many games out there do you get to throw stuffed food at your opponent as part of the game mechanics? Not enough of them, if you ask me.
... though now I do want a burrito... Though, I guess, that's honestly nothing new. I always want burritos...
From the campaign:
Throw Throw Burrito is what you get when you cross a card game with dodgeball. Try to collect matching sets of cards faster than your opponents while simultaneously ducking, dodging, and throwing squishy airborne burritos. The cards you collect earn points, but getting hit by flying burritos loses them. So clear some space and put away the antiques, because you’ve never played a card game quite like this before.
Since we created Exploding Kittens four years ago, we've been making games that bring friends and family together around a table, away from their screens. We brought this game to Kickstarter because we believe that adding a bit of physicality to game night is what comes next.
So, if you're into the idea of party games and weaponized Mexican food, please help us make this game a reality. We think you'll love it as much as we do.
Hugs and missiles,
-Elan, Matt, and the Exploding Kittens Team
The Kickstarter is well far and away over their goal with 21 days left to go.
The App lets you play without needing the internet or gamecenter, as is uses a combination of wi-fi and bluetooth to connect directly with others around you that are playing. So you just have to be in general close proximity of one-another.
Also, for the next 3 days, all in-app purchases are free, including an expansion pack and special avatars.
Meow, meow, meow, Kablooey! It's time for another TGN Review. This time it's Exploding Kittens.
In Exploding Kittens, you’re trying to be the one player left after all the others have been blown up by the titular exploding kittens. You can stave off explosion by playing certain cards, primarily by not drawing a card in some way, or by defusing a kitten if you do manage to draw one.
Setting up the game is easy. First, take out all the Defuse and Exploding Kitten cards from the deck. Shuffle the rest. Deal 1 Defuse card to each player. Then deal out 4 more cards from the deck to each player. Then, take the remaining Defuse cards and Exploding Kitten Cards (only use 1 less than the number of players you have. So if you have 4 players, use 3 Exploding Kitten cards, for example) and shuffle them into the deck. You’re now ready to play.
There are 9 types of cards in the game:
1. Defuse – Use this to avoid being blown up if you draw an Exploding Kitten card. If you don’t have one when you do draw an Exploding Kitten card, you’re out of the game.
2. Exploding Kitten – You can’t really call a game Exploding Kittens without Exploding Kitten cards in it. Well, you could, but you would have a misleading game title. If you draw one of these, you’re out of the game (unless you have a Defuse in your hand).
3. See the Future – This card allows you to look at the top 3 cards of the deck. You can’t change how they’re arranged, but you get an idea of what’s coming up.
4. Favor – Use this to force another player to give you one of their cards (their choice on what they give you, though).
5. Nope – This card cancels out any other action of another player.
6. Skip – Play this card to skip your turn, meaning you don’t have to draw at the end of it (so no chance of getting an Exploding Kitten).
7. Shuffle – Just as the name says, this lets you shuffle the deck of cards.
8. Attack – Like a Skip, but meaner. Not only do you end your turn without having to draw, but the next person after you has to take two turns in a row.
9. Cards With No Instructions – These are set-matching cards of the deck. If you have a matching pair, you can play them together to steal a card, at random, from another player. If you play three of a kind, then you can name a type of card and take that from another player (if they have one. If they don’t, you’re outa luck).
Game play is rather simple. On your turn you play cards from your hand (as many as you want, including none if you so choose, or if can’t play anything). When you’re done, you draw a card (assuming you’ve not played an Attack or Skip card). Drawing your card is the end of your turn, so make sure you’ve done all you want before you draw. If you draw anything but an Exploding Kitten, then keep your card to yourself and breathe a sigh of relief… for now. If you draw an Exploding Kitten, you explode! If you’ve got a Defuse, you’re ok. However, you have to put that Exploding Kitten card back into the draw pile. So turn your back or put the cards under the table, or some other way to hide it from others’ views and put the card back in. You can pick where you want to put it, so if there’s someone at the table you want to get back at for something, now’s your time to set up your revenge plot. Put the cards back out after you’re done, cackle maniacally, and let the next player take their turn (if they dare). If you didn’t have a Defuse, you exploded and are out. Sit quietly and wait for the next game to start. Or I guess you could storm off in a huff, but what fun would that be?
Exploding Kittens fits into that category of “quick, fast, easy-to-play game that you can toss in your gaming backpack and have on-hand to play just whenever.” It’s a fun, little game that you can have a short game of between other games, or even make a full evening of playing. Rounds are pretty quick, so even if you get blown up early (which shouldn’t happen too often, since you get a Defuse card in your hand at the start), you won’t be sitting around, waiting very long until the next round starts. The artwork, done by The Oatmeal’s artist, is cute and fits perfectly with the tongue-in-cheek theme of the game. There’s the Standard deck and the NSFW deck, both of which can be shuffled together if you want to accommodate up to nine players at a time. If you’re a fan of quick, press-your-luck and “gotcha” styles of games, or even if you just like The Oatmeal, I suggest giving it a try.
They are taking orders now over on their website.
From the post:
Exploding Kittens is the work of game designers Elan Lee and Shane Small, along with artist Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.
It's a card game for two to five players that has become the most successful gaming Kickstarter of all time, raising $8,782,571 from 219,382 backers.
Which is absurd, right? How does a simple card game raise over $8 million, and what the heck will that money be used for? The criticisms of the product, and its immense success, began well before the campaign was over, and at first glance the economics of the project appear to be a dream come true. The assumption is that everyone involved just made a ton of money.
I spoke with Cards Against Humanity's Max Temkin to discuss the economics of a Kickstarter project this large. Temkin is no stranger to creating and shipping large amounts of a card game, and Cards Against Humanity's own manufacturing and fulfillment partners, Ad Magic, will be producing Exploding Kittens.
Cards Against Humanity itself was Kickstarted back in 2011, bringing in $15,570 from a $4,000 goal.
"I think given enough continued interest in the game and time, it's possible it will make really good money," Temkin told Polygon. "But what they have right now is a lot of expenses to meet to fulfill this Kickstarter and put this thing in production."
He then began to break down the numbers, and it became clear very quickly that the riches everyone assumes exist around this project are still mostly hypothetical.
"I think what most people tend to forget is Kickstarter is a contract that you’re signing with every single backer," Elan Lee told Polygon. "What that means is we have to give them the thing that we promised."
I asked him point blank: Aren't you going to walk away from this a millionaire? "No," he said, laughing. "Absolutely not."
You have to make and ship them
While around 220,000 individuals backed the game, many purchased multiple decks. Lee told us the production order will be slightly less than one million decks of cards. "The production cost is all in manufacturing," Temkin explained.
It's relatively inexpensive to design a card game, as one only needs paper and drawing materials, but creating and shipping the final product is significantly more expensive than the act of sending out download codes for a digital product.
The cards have to be sourced, using specific kinds of stock for playing cards. They have to be coated in a specific way to become water-resistant and durable. "It's the baseline of what people expect from a game of this quality," Temkin said.
The packaging — including the custom boxes, which hold two decks and feature a hinged lid and a magnetic clasp — has to be manufactured.
Temkin began to break down the cost of making the product real. The game itself will cost around $5 to manufacture including packaging. The "surprise" added to the Kickstarter campaign, which is something Temkin said will be "very cool," adds another $3 to $4 per game.
Shipping is around $3 per game, with international shipping averaging as much as $10 per game. Then there's the cost of fulfillment itself, which includes making sure the boxes are packed up safely and shipped where they need to go. That adds an extra $1.50 per game.
These costs add up quickly, and Temkin estimates that around 2 percent of shipments will be lost or damaged or will otherwise need to be resent, which means around 10,000 extra copies of the game will need to be made and reshipped to make sure every customer is happy.
"We’re printing nearly a million decks of cards right now, and that’s really expensive, and really hard to do," Lee explained. "The hidden costs and the productions issues that come up and the fulfillment centers we have to commission — keep in mind this is our first card game — there are all these little things that come up that we’re going to use that money for."
All told, Temkin estimates it will cost around $14 to $15 to create and ship each deck. This version of the product, according to Lee, is too expensive to offer on a standard retail basis.
"The decks that the backers are getting and the packaging and the surprise in the box? Those are things we’ll never produce again," he said. "Frankly they’re just too expensive, it’s not a good business to keep doing that forever."
"We will be producing more decks, we’ll figure out a retail plan, but the stuff that we give in this initial run we’re never going to produce again. It’s nothing we can afford to do more than just this once as a thank you to the people who helped us out."
You also can't look at the money brought in as pure revenue; Kickstarter takes its own cut of the overall total, plus a per-pledge payment processing fee:
That means $750,000 or so just left the project, which eats directly into the profit margin.
The payout from Exploding Kittens is certainly going to be sizable, but don't fool yourself into thinking anyone is becoming wealthy from this one Kickstarter, especially with three individuals splitting the profit. In a best-case scenario, it's likely everyone involved will make a nice six-figure profit from the Kickstarter campaign, but no one is running to the bank with millions of dollars.
Is this what Kickstarter is for?
The other criticism about Exploding Kittens is the question of whether three individuals who could have made the card game without Kickstarter are abusing the service, using it as a way to drive pre-orders instead of a platform that helps smaller creators release a product that may not exist any other way.
Temkin disagrees with that assessment.
"The three of them had this idea, they got excited about it and they wanted to know if this was something people would want. Kickstarter is perfect for that," he told Polygon.
Lee told Polygon that the original plan was to order 500 decks of the game, and then fulfill orders in the garage during the launch party to keep costs down. They're now dealing with organizing and hiring fulfillment centers around the world, and dealing with the costs and challenges of delivering a physical product to hundreds of thousands of customers.
"The thing I want to know is if this is a tool that is helping someone make a creative project that is otherwise a huge risk," Temkin told Polygon about Kickstarter. The site also allows them to interact with the fans and keep them up to date with what's happening. Lee said that there may be many ways to raise money for a card game, but Kickstarter offers significant advantages if you want to build a strong base for your game.
"The reason we chose to do it on Kickstarter is that we’re not interested in just building a game, we’re interested in building a community," Lee stated. They’re going to play test the game and offer looks at the product as its being designed. It’s going to be a collaborative process. "We don’t see it as a pre-sale thing, we look at it as building a community, and together we can build this thing way better than it can be built any other way."
The economics of Kickstarter
If Exploding Kittens' creators wanted to print 420,000 copies of the game and ship them, hoping they would sell, the project would cost around $6.3 million, with no guarantee of return. Using Kickstarter allowed them to not only promote the project, but use sales to fund the game's creation, removing that risk and allowing them to increase the profit margin.
While everyone involved with Exploding Kittens will likely earn a very nice payday, the number of copies sold and the profit made from them won't be ridiculous; a better word is meaningful. Kickstarter allowed them to scale expectations and sales while removing much of the upfront cost and risk. It's not a perversion of the crowdfunding model; it's a great example of a team using it well.
(For more on companies using Kickstarter for funding and inventory management, see The Verge's report on Pebble's newest smart watch)
Board games and card games are a brutal business. If you print too few, you lose sales during your initial push. Print too many, and your entire profit margin sits in unused inventory. Kickstarter allowed Exploding Kittens to scale appropriately, and adjust the plans for the game's release.
"That’s exactly why you use Kickstarter. The process of over-ordering or under-ordering is what bankrupts companies. If instead you can figure out the right number, and do it in a safe, guaranteed way with the community standing behind you suddenly you have literally Kickstarted a new business," Lee told Polygon. "That’s the point of that site."
The crew held an AMA on Reddit leading up to the campaign conclusion. We picked out some of the more interesting questions/answers after the break.
bmxdk Q: What do you guys believe the reason is behind the GIANT success? The fact that it's an awesome game or that Oatmeal is a part of the team?
Elan Lee A: Honestly, this is a giant success because of you guys. The fans and the community made this thing real, and then made it amazing.
dippoakabob Q: Where do you plan to sell the game after it's Kickstarter début is complete?
Elan Lee A: We don’t have a retail plan yet. We made a promise to more than 200 thousand people to ship them this game. That’s our highest priority right now.
manateebee Q: Is it hard to be as amazing as you guys are?
Also, Matthew, how perfect is your Tesla?
Elan Lee A: it's a struggle....every. damned. day.
parion Q: So I understand the origin of the concept of the game, where a player has to draw a “joker” card to lose. But… why kittens?
Shane Small A: Cause we love dogs.
judestiel Q: Kickstarter backer here. What amount of money did you expect to get for Exploding Kittens before launch? For Matt, mantis shrimp, japanese giant hornets, or the red velvet mite? Congrats on the success, you still have 90 minutes to go before the campaign ends, are certainly the third most funded campaign ever by the time you read this, and at the current rate you might break 9 million!
Elan Lee A: Before we started the campaign, I called a number of fulfillment houses and asked for quotes to package and ship a card game based on our estimates. Two weeks ago I got a return call from one of those houses, “Hi Elan! Just wanted to follow up on your inquiry and see if you were still interested in that order for 500 decks of cards?” I had flashes to that scene in JAWS where Roy Scheider sees the immense great white for the first time and says in a stupor “you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
jruhlman09 Q: Can I get a prize if I am successfully the last person to back the game before the Kickstarter is over?
Elan Lee A: Yes, but it's one of those special prizes that you have to believe really hard in, for it to exist. If you find it doesn't exist, you just didn't believe hard enough.
bengalese Q: How many cats were harmed in the making of "Exploding Kittens"?
Shane Small A: Let's just put it this way... Fievel Mousekewitz is right. There are now no cats in America.
IvanaDrago Q: I love that you're here! What, ultimately, lit the fire under your asses to make this awesome game? Thank you for all of the laughs!
Elan Lee A: Personally speaking, I lost my job and had to find SOMETHING to do...
raptorkitten Q: Shane - can you teach me how to pop? I can only lock.
Shane Small A: First off... buy a box of Pringles. Once you pop, you just can't stop it.
Second... buy another box of Pringles. Cause like I said, you just can't stop.
And don't miss the the Reddit AMA with the guys behind the game today at 7:30 PM EST.
From the campaign:
30 goat loving, ear donning, enchilada making, record breaking Achievements!! We’ve never seen anything like you guys, and neither has the planet.
You have proven beyond any doubt that you are unstoppable. There’s nothing we can put in front of you that you can’t do. There is nothing too great, nothing too hard, nothing too outrageous that you incredible group of incredible people can’t accomplish as a community.
The next Achievement total they pass will unlock a special box for the game, with a hinged lid and magnetized to stay closed. The ultimate goal is a secret.
From the campaign:
We’re halfway done and we love you with the entirety of our gutmeats, so it’s time to talk about STRETCH GOALS. Stretch goals can cause teams to lose focus, delay shipping, or destroy projects entirely. So we thought we wouldn’t have any, but you really seem to want them, and we love you from our sweat glands, so... starting today, you’ll see this on our Kickstarter page:
Unlocking achievements will earn these stretch goals:
Happy unlocking, backers.
We love you with every morsel of our blackened, charred little hearts.
-The Exploding Kittens Team
Exploding Kittens took everyone by surprise, including the creators of the game. The three people behind this Russian Roulette of combustible cats are Elan Lee, Matt Innman, and Shane Small. Elan and Shane bring to the table an extensive history in physical and digital game design, while Matt (creator of the insanely popular The Oatmeal) brings his unique art style. Together, they formed an unstoppable powerhouse. Elan took a minute out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer a few questions about the group’s successful Kickstarter campaign. Enjoy!
Jared Miller: Were you surprised by the success of Exploding Kittens?
Elan Lee: Surprised is what happens when you find a bit of time left over on the meter you just parked your car in front of. This melted our faces.
JM: How does it feel to break all of the tabletop gaming Kickstarter records out there?
EL: Good? Really good? Joyously, enthusiastically dancing on the tables, while feverishly high fiving until our palms hurt, then wrapping them in moist towelettes and high fiving some more?
JM: When the game was designed, was Matt’s (of The Outmeal) wonderful art always in mind?
EL: The game was originally called Bomb Squad when Shane and I were developing it. When Matt came on board, he suggested we change the name to Exploding Kittens, "because...the internet." Everything else fell into place at that point as if it was meant to be.
JM: Do you think having a well-loved brand and unique art tied to a Kickstarter project is key to success like Exploding Kittens has seen?
EL: There's a TON of design that went into this campaign. I think the version of the video on the Kickstarter page is version 14, and months went into designing and redesigning the wording, the art, and the game. But if you're asking if you should ask The Oatmeal to join your fledgling card game before you put it on the internet, the answer is yes.
JM: A lot of games have stretch goals; however, Exploding Kittens had none at the beginning. Why?
EL: We've recently announced a few. In fact, the Kickstarter community reached a stretch goal that unlocked a complete second deck called The NSFW deck. This means that we're actually going to be making two separate decks of cards. The games are identical, but the art on the NSFW deck is everything we couldn't put in the regular Exploding Kittens deck and still claim it was safe for ages 7 and up. As a result of this expansion, we've tweaked the rules a tiny bit to make it so that combining any two decks allows you to play the game with up to 8 players.
JM: How are the Cards Against Humanity guys helping on this project?
EL: The CAH have been huge in helping us put this together. Even before we launched the campaign, they introduced us to their printer (www.admagic.com), hooked us up with their fulfillment arm, and gave us tons of advice on the do's and don'ts of Kickstarter. Also, they showed us their new office in Chicago and made us drool...a lot.
JM: Do you plan to bring Exploding Kittens to friendly local gaming stores or will it remain an online product like CAH?
EL: Absolutely. We have pretty extensive plans for the game in the future, but right now we're staying laser focused on shipping the cards to every single backer as quickly as possible. Everything else is on the back burner until we fulfill our commitment to all the people who made this possible.
Our thanks to Mr. Lee for taking time from herding exploding cats to talk with us. The Exploding Kittens Kickstarter has made it up to just over $4.8mil and they've still got 20 days left to go. Who knows where this crazy coaster will end?
The game just launched today and it's well over 10x funded already. There's still 30 days left to go to check it out.
Update: Make that more than 33x funded.
We could be looking at the new highest-funded card game here.
Update 2: Possibly one of the biggest starts ever for a Kickstarter campaign. You should be checking this out already by now. What's wrong with you if you haven't? I mean, come on!!!
Update 3: More than 36x funded.
From the campaign:
Exploding Kittens is a highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The deck is made up of cards that let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck.
The game gets more and more intense with each card you draw because fewer cards left in the deck means a greater chance of drawing the kitten and exploding in a fiery ball of feline hyperbole.
The game was created by Elan Lee (Xbox, ARGs), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), and Shane Small (Xbox, Marvel). We think this game combines all the things we're best at creating, and and put together this Kickstarter campaign because we can't build this without you.
So if you're into card games or laser beams or weaponized enchiladas, please help us make this game a reality. We think you'll love it as much as we do.
Hugs and enchilada kisses,
-Elan, Matt, and Shane.