Evil Hat's Fate of Cthulhu Kickstarter not shipping to Europe [There's a reason, see tweet in post #8]

iago

www.evilhat.com
Validated User
It's damned if you do, damned if you don't. If you don't offer international shipping, you get threads like this. If you do, you get threads where people flip out like "$50 for SHIPPING?!?!?!?!?"

And that's before you ship the damn thing, where shipping can kill you if you have to send replacements (you will) or even send two or three copies of a thing because it gets lost*.

PoD is a possibility but it's not just as simple as sending an email off to a local printer. There are setup costs, quality control challenges and dealing with competing with yourself. And that's just PoD domestic. I can only imagine adding the international complexity of business.

Fred is a smart guy and I think this choice is the best one out of a rack of crappy ones he can make for Evil Hat. Smart business owners don't want to leave money on the table but sometimes you loose more money in pursuit of customers than if you say up front "Sorry, please wait until the thing comes out and order from a store."

*While researching my own Kickstarter, I heard several independent stories about the Horrors of Shipping to Brazil, where multiple parties shipped multiple copies of different projects that never reached their destination.
Rob gets it pretty well surrounded in this reply here.

It’s down to choosing between whether I’ll get a ton of complaints about charging international shipping and whether I’ll get a ton of complaints about not offering it. In the former case there’s a lot of additional expense and hassle and logistics and a big fat pile of additional risk (that’s not all). In the latter case, there’s not. If you were given that binary choice, which one do you think you’d pick? Be honest.

It’s also a massively multi-factor based decision. Anyone offering a one-factor analysis of why something is or is not happening is leaving something out. I sure am, when I’m responding with a tweet, what with the length limitations.

The shipping cost overruns we saw on DFCO were one of several factors that put us into the need-a-$100k+-loan situation. Some tax stuff, some royalties timing, some bad accounting advice, those all went into it too. But when you look at a big fucking shipping bill and less than 20% of the people that it maps to are producing a significant majority percentage of the total cost, you start looking really closely at why you let them into the picture, and whether or not you can truly afford to keep doing that.

But in the Kickstarter specific scenario there’s tons of other reasons for not doing it too. Like, here’s just *one* component of the decision we made this time: shipping can’t cost more than about 1/6th of the total monetary contribution of a tier. That way, we can know that *consistently* a pledge will provide around 80% of its value as *actual funding* towards the *actual goals* of the campaign, with the remainder going towards the scaling costs of KS cut & fees + shipping, which goes up with every pledge. If we provided another tier that provided significantly less than 80% towards the actual goals, we’d have to either a) significantly increase the funding goals of the campaign (in order to ensure we’d still get the same amount of revenue if the worse-percentage tier got really popular, which is a real risk when you put the keyword Cthulhu on something), or b) look at what the shipping cost could be on this hypothetical international tier, and, and make sure the tier’s priced at six times that, in order to ensure the 80% consistency is sustained. That might sound reasonable to you until you plug some real numbers into it. Like it’s very easily conceivable that shipping costs on this could range from $20-$40 internationally on a single $35 cover price book. How eager are you to pay $120 to get a $35 book? I mean, that’s patently ridiculous when I write it out like that, so of course I shouldn’t *do* that if I offer the tier, but it shows how a popular internationally-shipping tier could just radically fuck up the actual funding-towards-a-goal.

To put the implications of that more simply: the problem with an international shipping tier isn’t in the offer so much as in how it can transmute big success into catastrophe. Success magnifies scale; both in terms of reward and risk. And nothing brings more risk to the table than international shipping. So in order to maintain a sustainable business model, it had to go. There are other organizations out there that are much better at logistics than one guy working out of his living room on his laptop (hi there). That’s why we work with them. OUTSIDE of Kickstarters. To get our stuff out into the world.

To hear some folks tell it today, that makes me worse than Nyarlathotep on his nastiest Armageddon bender. I am become Hick’thulhu, Destroyer of Hopes. As opposed to a mere delayer of instant gratification — which is closer to the truth, and I’m not even that, since it is fuckin’ cheap to pledge $10 to get a look at the full text PDF and start playing while you, along with everyone else in and outside the USA, wait for most of the year while we finish the book up and bring it to print.

As has been said repeatedly, by me, by others, this isn’t an exclusion. Our products are available through other sources, eventually, always, following a Kickstarter. So this is essentially just a matter of convenience. I know it’s inconvenient to get a book a few months later than a KS backer did, but it’s not the apocalyptic scenario a few folks have been trying to bludgeon me with today. It’s sad, and I get it. I’m sad about it too. Angry, even. Frustrated, after trying a bunch of different methods for international fulfillment across the majority of the dozen prior Kickstarters I’ve run, only to run smack into that loan situation and ultimately have to downsize the company because I wasn’t excited about getting into a revolving door of debt situation every few years.

But I can’t keep falling on my sword in order to please every potential backer on the planet. I have to choose the company at some point. So I have, and do again, today.
 

VicenteC

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Rob gets it pretty well surrounded in this reply here.

It’s down to choosing between whether I’ll get a ton of complaints about charging international shipping and whether I’ll get a ton of complaints about not offering it. In the former case there’s a lot of additional expense and hassle and logistics and a big fat pile of additional risk (that’s not all). In the latter case, there’s not. If you were given that binary choice, which one do you think you’d pick? Be honest.

It’s also a massively multi-factor based decision. Anyone offering a one-factor analysis of why something is or is not happening is leaving something out. I sure am, when I’m responding with a tweet, what with the length limitations.

The shipping cost overruns we saw on DFCO were one of several factors that put us into the need-a-$100k+-loan situation. Some tax stuff, some royalties timing, some bad accounting advice, those all went into it too. But when you look at a big fucking shipping bill and less than 20% of the people that it maps to are producing a significant majority percentage of the total cost, you start looking really closely at why you let them into the picture, and whether or not you can truly afford to keep doing that.

But in the Kickstarter specific scenario there’s tons of other reasons for not doing it too. Like, here’s just *one* component of the decision we made this time: shipping can’t cost more than about 1/6th of the total monetary contribution of a tier. That way, we can know that *consistently* a pledge will provide around 80% of its value as *actual funding* towards the *actual goals* of the campaign, with the remainder going towards the scaling costs of KS cut & fees + shipping, which goes up with every pledge. If we provided another tier that provided significantly less than 80% towards the actual goals, we’d have to either a) significantly increase the funding goals of the campaign (in order to ensure we’d still get the same amount of revenue if the worse-percentage tier got really popular, which is a real risk when you put the keyword Cthulhu on something), or b) look at what the shipping cost could be on this hypothetical international tier, and, and make sure the tier’s priced at six times that, in order to ensure the 80% consistency is sustained. That might sound reasonable to you until you plug some real numbers into it. Like it’s very easily conceivable that shipping costs on this could range from $20-$40 internationally on a single $35 cover price book. How eager are you to pay $120 to get a $35 book? I mean, that’s patently ridiculous when I write it out like that, so of course I shouldn’t *do* that if I offer the tier, but it shows how a popular internationally-shipping tier could just radically fuck up the actual funding-towards-a-goal.

To put the implications of that more simply: the problem with an international shipping tier isn’t in the offer so much as in how it can transmute big success into catastrophe. Success magnifies scale; both in terms of reward and risk. And nothing brings more risk to the table than international shipping. So in order to maintain a sustainable business model, it had to go. There are other organizations out there that are much better at logistics than one guy working out of his living room on his laptop (hi there). That’s why we work with them. OUTSIDE of Kickstarters. To get our stuff out into the world.

To hear some folks tell it today, that makes me worse than Nyarlathotep on his nastiest Armageddon bender. I am become Hick’thulhu, Destroyer of Hopes. As opposed to a mere delayer of instant gratification — which is closer to the truth, and I’m not even that, since it is fuckin’ cheap to pledge $10 to get a look at the full text PDF and start playing while you, along with everyone else in and outside the USA, wait for most of the year while we finish the book up and bring it to print.

As has been said repeatedly, by me, by others, this isn’t an exclusion. Our products are available through other sources, eventually, always, following a Kickstarter. So this is essentially just a matter of convenience. I know it’s inconvenient to get a book a few months later than a KS backer did, but it’s not the apocalyptic scenario a few folks have been trying to bludgeon me with today. It’s sad, and I get it. I’m sad about it too. Angry, even. Frustrated, after trying a bunch of different methods for international fulfillment across the majority of the dozen prior Kickstarters I’ve run, only to run smack into that loan situation and ultimately have to downsize the company because I wasn’t excited about getting into a revolving door of debt situation every few years.

But I can’t keep falling on my sword in order to please every potential backer on the planet. I have to choose the company at some point. So I have, and do again, today.
Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. How about the PoD option? (give customers a code to purchase a PoD copy at cost in DriveThru, so they are the ones that deal with the shipping and all of that).
 

DuckanCover

... with only a hatchet and a flashbang.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Yikes...

I take a quick trip out to the vet with the dog, and it seems I've created something of a mess.

To clarify:

I consider myself justly corrected concerning Aetherworks site search function, and the current state of their Evil Hat supplies. On the fly, I simply went to the appropriate publisher listing at Aetherworks, and reported what I found. Nothing I posted was intended to deride either publisher or stockist.

I've made all manner of purchases of Evil Hat products, both from Australia, and on occasional visits to the US. Every time, the process was straightforward and very agreeable, and I've nothing but praise for the manner in which the purchases were handled. I started originally by contacting Evil Hat/Fred Hicks by email, then placing a number of orders over a period of time online. Later, I had the good fortune to be able to purchase items at retail stores in the US (never a shortage, in my limited experience). I did do some ordering direct from Evil Hat while I was in the US as well, I believe. My most recent purchase was the "Fate Horror Toolkit", which I obtained via Amazon (US), soon after discovering that they were no longer shipping internationally. At that time, I had not made myself aware of Aetherworks as a potential source of Evil Hat products.

Nothing but respect to all concerned, including fellow members of the forums, who've very civilly sought nothing more than to correct my perceptions, concerning one of the all too few distributors of gaming products in Australia.
 

DuckanCover

... with only a hatchet and a flashbang.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
In (a somewhat chastened) defense- I was one of the backers of the original Fate Kickstarter way back when. I guess I just miss the days when (it seemed) that easy to get hold of a brand new product. I've been both a retailer of gaming products, and a retail customer in Australia, and that Kickstarter was so successful and (to the untutored eye) looked so damned easy in it's execution.
 

The Unshaven

Registered User
Validated User
Yikes...

I take a quick trip out to the vet with the dog, and it seems I've created something of a mess.

To clarify:

I consider myself justly corrected concerning Aetherworks site search function, and the current state of their Evil Hat supplies. On the fly, I simply went to the appropriate publisher listing at Aetherworks, and reported what I found. Nothing I posted was intended to deride either publisher or stockist.

I've made all manner of purchases of Evil Hat products, both from Australia, and on occasional visits to the US. Every time, the process was straightforward and very agreeable, and I've nothing but praise for the manner in which the purchases were handled. I started originally by contacting Evil Hat/Fred Hicks by email, then placing a number of orders over a period of time online. Later, I had the good fortune to be able to purchase items at retail stores in the US (never a shortage, in my limited experience). I did do some ordering direct from Evil Hat while I was in the US as well, I believe. My most recent purchase was the "Fate Horror Toolkit", which I obtained via Amazon (US), soon after discovering that they were no longer shipping internationally. At that time, I had not made myself aware of Aetherworks as a potential source of Evil Hat products.

Nothing but respect to all concerned, including fellow members of the forums, who've very civilly sought nothing more than to correct my perceptions, concerning one of the all too few distributors of gaming products in Australia.
In (a somewhat chastened) defense- I was one of the backers of the original Fate Kickstarter way back when. I guess I just miss the days when (it seemed) that easy to get hold of a brand new product. I've been both a retailer of gaming products, and a retail customer in Australia, and that Kickstarter was so successful and (to the untutored eye) looked so damned easy in it's execution.
Don't think you made a mess or have any reason to feel chastened - my impression is that people were confused about seeing such different content from you off the Aetherworks site, and that was it.

I don't think Fred's broader post was about your comments so much as a broader trend he's been discussing Allllllll Dayyyyyyyy on Kickstarter and across social media because from what I can tell, randos are actively yelling at him and impugning his ancestors unto the nth generation for the wanton, unjustified cruelty of not doing international orders in order to personally spite them.

Like, not the kind of thing you said at all. Actual rage-monkey internet poo flinging.

I'm guessing it's okay?
 
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DuckanCover

... with only a hatchet and a flashbang.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Thanks TS

Regarding-

"... because randos are actively yelling at him and impugning his ancestors unto the nth generation for the wanton, unjustified cruelty of not doing international orders in order to spite them, personally."

I was going to do a kind of backstory post, to provide my own perspective on being a retail customer as I understood (note the past tense) it in Australia. Instead, I'm going to wade into this...

If you're in Australia, and you are old enough to remember Bank Drafts (from the Wales Bank, and others), International Postal Money Orders (and the PMG), and when a four week turnaround on a mail order was considered a good average, and when the only card you may have qualified for was a "Bankcard" (which wasn't all that comprehensively accepted in Australia, let alone elsewhere), then the concept of waiting for gaming goodies to be available in Australia is well understood by you.

Meanwhile, in the 21st Century, some of us have gotten all too comfortable with the concepts of "online" PayPal, Amazon, and eBay. Like everyone else, I clearly remember that one order (from EM4, in my case), that arrived here, in Australia, four days after I placed it. Great, but certainly not the norm... There's a certain sense of entitlement now, where we assume that, because we can find, order, and pay for something available from a source overseas in sixty seconds or less (via our mobile phone), that it should be in our hands in, what, "a couple of days"?

I also remember ordering an item from a retailer in Ukraine, which took over three months to get here (I'd nearly given up), through no fault of their own.

Where a business model simply can't economically cater for the volume of international orders that they would have to process, because of a successfully marketed product, in demand over a long period of time... We have to accept a delay, before the more nimble middlemen can be engaged with, to get the product to us, "Down Here". In the particular case of Evil Hat, yes, I remember when they would cheerfully, and without hesitation, post out whatever I ordered (and it arrived quickly). That now, for sound economic reasons, it can no longer be done that way, is something I can accept as a condition for Evil Hat to remain in business.

I hesitate to pull out the "old man card" but, seriously, the situation used to be far more frustrating.

Just make sure you get into your local retailer's ear, and generate sufficient numbers of inquiries to justify their placing an order. They can't know about the demand, if no one tells them.

If that doesn't suit you, there's always Amazon.

Hey, we're down here in Australia. Can't be much farther from our favorite sources of supply than that. If we can deal, you can too.
 

flump

Registered User
Validated User
It’s down to choosing between whether I’ll get a ton of complaints about charging international shipping and whether I’ll get a ton of complaints about not offering it. In the former case there’s a lot of additional expense and hassle and logistics and a big fat pile of additional risk (that’s not all). In the latter case, there’s not. If you were given that binary choice, which one do you think you’d pick? Be honest.
I'd pick the choice you went with. Every day. You're exactly right there.

But I'd like to also express the other point of view, which is that International Customers who still want to buy the product have only one lever to express their dissatisfaction with that choice, and that's on social media forums like this.

Here's the root of my frustration:

a) I'm a fan of Evil Hat products. I live in the UK, and currently own hard copies of all of the toolkits, Fate Freeport, two Dresden accelerated, one Dresden Core, Fate Core, FAE and Atomic Robo - amongst other Fate games like Bulldogs, Diaspora and Jadepunk.

b) There has been a (to my mind very successful) social media campaign to spark up interest for Fate of Cthulhu. The game looks fantastic, and the writing about it has absolutely whetted my appetite for the game. Well done to the writers here.

c) But then, when the kickstarter arrives, there's no International Shipping.

d) This is, unfortunately, being a victim of your own success. You have successfully stoked desire for a product and then said some people can't have it*.

e) On top of that, other companies do successfully manage International Shipping. I'm fully aware that I'm not seeing behind the curtain and not understanding why I can, for example, join the Bulldogs kickstarter and get the book, but not the Evil Hat one. Or why I can buy Jadepunk PoD for not very much shipping on DtRPG, but can't do the same for Fate of Cthulhu. I'm sure there's a good reason. I'm also sure that as a customer I'm still frustrated.

f) Explanations like you've put on here and on twitter really help. I'm not blaming you or your company for making sensible financial choices. But ultimately you've made a choice that you know will result in complaints, and, well, here's my complaint. I'm not going to tell you it's a dick move like the person on kickstarter did, because it's clearly not. But I am disappointed and I'm taking to social media to express that. I'm sorry you don't like it, but complaints like this will, and should be, a consequence of not making things available internationally.

* Yes, I know there will be ultimately the chance to buy from Gameslore or Leisuregames, but that isn't the same as doing the kickstarter, and delayed gratification is still frustration. In addition, it makes European customers feel like second-class citizens.
 
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