Guest post: Something like a CMONenon (by Kevin Shaud)
When 1 Player Guild-member and superbacker Kevin Shaud (kevinruns262) told us he had an idea for a post, we told him, sure, go ahead. It was only when typing it in on our site that we realised it isn't grumpy at all. He's fired.
phe·nom·e·non noun: phenomenon; plural noun: phenomena 1. a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. 2. a remarkable person, thing, or event. C·MON·e·non noun: CMONenon; plural noun: CMONena 1. a Kickstarter experience that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. 2. a remarkable Kickstarter campaign that defies all semblance of reason or expectation. If you are like me and have backed a lot of Kickstarter projects, chances are that you have participated in at least one Cool Mini or Not (CMON) campaign. If you haven’t, you really should consider it. A CMON Kickstarter campaign is an experience I feel that everyone should have at least once. There is truly nothing else like it on Kickstarter. CMON’s first foray into Kickstarter was Zombicide. It funded in May 2012, raised $781,597 and garnered 5,258 backers. Pretty impressive, right? Oh, just wait; that’s only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Since then, they have created an additional 41 projects including games such as: Blood Rage, Arcadia Quest, Rising Sun, Massive Darkness, and several more iterations of Zombicide including one in space. They are responsible for two of the ten most-funded tabletop games projects and seven of the top twenty. The lowest grossing of those seven – Zombicide: Invader – raised $3,352,208.
From all of those statistics, it’s clear that CMON has been highly successful on Kickstarter from a financial perspective. The amazing part to me, however, is that’s not even the most interesting part. What blows me away is the buzz generated by their projects and the energy level and engagement of their backers. I have been backing projects since 2012 and am up to over 200 backed. Of all those experiences, the several CMON projects I have backed have really stood out. As a veteran and somewhat jaded backer at this point in my life, I have become pretty much fire and forget when it comes to backing. I check out the project when it launches, either back immediately or hit the button for the 48-hour reminder, and then generally don’t give it another thought until the final two days. But when I back a CMON campaign, it’s different. I get drawn into the vortex of backer energy and taken on a thrilling and wild ride full of stretch goals, add-ons, backer requests, and a total pledge amount that rockets upward almost as fast as the U.S. budget deficit.
Case in point is CMON’s most recent campaign for Marvel United. I backed on day one and ignored the project for a week or two despite the multiple updates per day announcing that yet another stretch goal had been left in the dust. With about a week to go, I started reading the updates, looking at the add-ons, and reading the comments. I found myself participating in banter with other backers and obsessively watching the pledge amount and number of backers rise in anticipation of crushing the next stretch goal looming on the horizon. It was breathtaking and thrilling in a way that I haven’t experienced with any other publisher. I was engrossed and it was…dare I say it – fun.
CMON tends to get a lot of repeat backers so a sort of impromptu community has grown around their projects with people actually getting to know each other (at least in the Internet sense). I would read through the comments and laugh at the back and forth between these people who have been through many projects together over the past eight years. CMON engages with backers in the comments; continuing the long-lived inside joke about Thiago and his magic 8-ball and what does it predict for future stretch goals and add-ons. They listen to backer feedback and on many occasions, have actually capitulated to backer requests. A good measure of backer engagement is the comments section. I have been involved with campaigns with other publishers that ended with less than 100 comments. CMON’s campaigns generally get more than 100 in the first five minutes. Their last campaign for Marvel United currently has 49,161 comments. Zombicide: 2nd Edition has 38,851. This astronomically large number of comments is fairly standard for CMON. So whether you look at funds raised, number of backers, or backer engagement via comments, CMON is a smashing success by any of those measures.
Over the years, CMON has taken a lot of flak for continuing to use Kickstarter despite them no longer being an Indie publisher. I understand that pushback because I generally feel the same way about established companies continuing to use crowdfunding, but I think the difference with CMON is that they make it worthwhile for you to back them. You’ll get a ton of exclusives and extra content that adds a tremendous amount of value to your pledge. Whether you like them or not, no one can deny that CMON has become a force of nature on Kickstarter. They have generated unmatched backer loyalty, energy, and engagement and despite all their blemishes, they know how to run a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. They have been a major influence on how games projects are run and will continue to be a major player for the foreseeable future. They are truly a CMONenon.