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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

St. Louis Company Greater Than Games Shows the World How Kickstarter Is Done

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Christopher Badell and Paul Bender of Greater Than Games - PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
  • Christopher Badell and Paul Bender of Greater Than Games

We've all seen the piteous stories on Facebook. Someone has a dream and a Kickstarter, and they desperately need $10, $20, even $50. The causes are good, sometimes even great. A vegan bakery. A Cardinals-themed tiki bar. A pile of shit for a local villain. Some (like, say, that pile of shit) even achieve their goals.

But that kind of Kickstarter is child's play to Greater Than Games. The St. Louis-based company saw its Kickstarter yesterday fulfill its goal in a mere eight — count 'em! — minutes.

In fact, even though the board game designers were only asking for $40,000, as of press time, they'd raised a staggering $328,023.

Paul Bender, the company's operations director, tells RFT that they've had Kickstarters come close to this before — one in 2014 raised $327,000.

But, he's quick to add, that was over the campaign's 30-day window. Based on the speed with which this one is blowing up, and what he knows about Kickstarter, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the company will get to $1 million. "The way it's going, it's statistically reasonable," he says.

Like many board game designers, Bender says, the company has found that Kickstarter is its best way to fund new games — and build up interest in them. It was a Kickstarter that launched their work (that one, which raised a mere $27,880, won an award from the RFT for "Best Kickstarter"), and Bender and his partners have been steadily employing them ever since, getting more and more proficient all the while. If you look at Kickstarter's list of top local campaigns, they dominate.

It's not just that skill at Kickstarter strategy, though, in this case — it's also that people are really, really excited about this game. "Sentinels of the Multiverse" has been a smash hit since that first 2011 Kickstarter, and this latest chapter, titled "OblivAeon," will be its final installment. The company is even in the process of getting it stocked at Barnes & Noble in addition to the usual stores where you see this type of game — and suffice it to say, that demand is not a case of media hype. 

Still, Bender is humble about the company's Kickstarter success. "The board-gaming community is really excited about new products," he says. "I don't know that we've mastered Kickstarter, but we're getting there." He adds modestly, "We've learned a lot of things."

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