When Ed Carter launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2011 to raise $21,000 for his “Glory to Rome” game, one of many games designed in his spare time for his company Cambridge Games Factory, he didn't expect the eager customer response.
After a 21-day funding period, roughly 1,600 people had pledged $73,000-plus toward Carter’s new game, the news blog Quartz reports.
This should have made fulfilling orders and manufacturing a breeze. And why not? Armed with some serious cash, things should've been easy for Carter, right?
First, Carter made the decision to outsource the game’s production to Chinese manufacturers. But then his head of operations quit. As it turns out, his head of operations was the only one who could speak Chinese and communicate with the group's foreign counterparts.
Now the company had no way to communicate with them.
Second, Carter offered customers free shipping if they agreed to pick up the game from local stores. The theory was that the game company could streamline the distribution process and build relationships with local stores.
Of course, worldwide free shipping turned out to be far more costly than Carter expected. And his problems started to pile up.
“Small mistakes compounded his woes: it hadn’t occurred to Carter to add ‘no step’ to the shipping documentation, which would have told handlers not to put anything heavy on top of the fragile game boxes,” Quartz reports.
“Stacking one pallet on top of another crushed them. Free shipping eventually came back to haunt him: Large orders to countries like the US were fine, as were a couple of boxes to Brazil, but sending 100 games to Australia meant fat expenses but not enough to benefit from economies of scale,” the report adds.
As orders piled up, customers become anxious.
Now keep in mind, the board game business wasn’t Carter’s full-time gig. Designing and selling board games was only a hobby. But with all the unforeseen complications, the stress of his hobby was starting to take a toll on his personal and professional life.
Carter ended up losing his job, was forced to invest most of his savings into the game’s productions, and eventually lost his home near Boston (he was living in Amsterdam at the time).
But Carter’s making the most of it and says he’s learning from his mistakes.
"I’m doing this because the corporate world is one of the best games ever invented." He said. "In the middle of the hell, there were plenty of times when I wished I hadn’t kicked it off. But given where it’s landed, I learnt stuff. And the game itself is beautiful."
He now has a new job and most of the units have been shipped. And as Yahoo! Games notes, “Glory to Rome” got great reviews.
“The new Black Box edition offers better and more attractive components and also offers a variant gameplay that I think is an improvement. The result is a terrific game,” RPG.net wrote.
So, hey, at least there’s that.
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Featured image Cambridge Games Factory. This post has been updated.