Epic Marketing Strategy

Vaughn Reynolds
© White Wizard Games 2015

© White Wizard Games 2015

Epic Marketing Strategy
By: Vaughn Reynolds


So, White Wizard Games, the guys who brought the award winning Star Realms into the gaming world, are at it again!

I’m fascinated at the way companies plan out their product releases and the psychology behind what makes a hook–or something to draw interest–into a frenzy.

Last night as I went through my emails I saw a notice from Star Realms, which surprised me, as I hadn’t seen or heard anything from them in some time. Well, this one was a doozy, and made up for all the time past–or maybe I was so eager to read the email because so much time had passed since I had heard from them; that’s the fun part!

The email began as follows…

And of course, the first thing I do after reading the initial sentence is to click on the link. Which brought me to this…

And as I watched the video, out of the corner of my eye I could see the backer count and funding amount tick up, and up, and up…

It’s not as ridiculous as Exploding Kittens with it’s backing speed, but as of this writing (3 days into their campaign) they are at almost 200% of their goal! That may not sound like much, but their goal is $50,000, which is 5x larger than Exploding Kittens ($10k) and more than double what they asked for with Star Realms ($20k).


Now as an aspiring published game designer–because at heart, most gamers I know have or want to design their own games–I like to look at what makes successful games tick. It’s partially based on my love of psychology, my new-found fascination with marketing and my ever present love of games.

Jeremy Commandeur over at The Forbidden Limb dislikes cash-based Stretch Goals with a passion. Other folks, such as Reaper Miniatures, milk the stretch goal frenzy which brought in $3.4m for their $30k goal.

The reason I have heard a number of people say they dislike cash-based stretch goals is because you are basically telling your backers, “Hey, you gave me money, not give me more, and I’ll reward you.

The geniuses at Exploding Kittens took a different route. In this awesome podcast interview with Shane Small and Elan Lee, StoryForward learns about their solution to this marketing conundrum. 

What they did was setup goals that were not monetary:

They had amazing achievements which played on the fun and frivolity of internet memes. Things like…

And it worked, of course. They ended up with 219,382 backers, which is the most backed Kickstarter by more than double the campaign in 2nd place.


So, back to Epic, which has a very clever cash-building method. They didn’t make a ton of crazy levels to back, just a nice, clean setup:

  1. A generic entry level with no stretch goals
  2. A generic entry level with stretch goals
  3. A generic level for physical game stores
  4. A bonus limited level for people who want to be a part of the game
  5. An extra limited level for one big spender

The thing that makes their setup genius is #2. It’s only $20 to back the game and get the stretch goals. The base game supports 2-4 players. However, in the video they pitch draft and their “recommended Epic cube” format requires you to buy 3 copies of the game, a $60 value!

As of Wednesday, 3 June at 08:39 EST

As of Wednesday, 3 June at 08:39 EST

Slick. They aren’t forcing you to spend any more than you want to based on how many people you’d like to play with, and which formats you’d like to have available.

Combine that with their scarcity tactic using promos which they point out will be released to the public slowly from 2015-16… and you have a winning combination.

It will be fun to see what final number they hit in 27 days. Here’s their current situation…

If you love Kickstarter, board games, or just want to chat, comment below or shoot me a message, I’d love to hear from you!


In about 48 hours, they raised 150k. By the time I got my email with the new stretch goal, they are over $162k and growing. Well done lads!

Angel of Death © White Wizard Games 2015

Angel of Death © White Wizard Games 2015