The Upsell

15 Oct
October 15, 2012

We’re in the final hours of the Project Eternity Kickstarter campaign and if you’ve been paying attention you’ll note that Obsidian have, on top of rolling out new stretch goals, begun offering a lot of optional extras to induce you to up your pledge by a few dollars or tens of dollars. A campaign almanac, a narrated audio book version of the Avellone novella, PE playing cards and a downloadable documentary.

This is actually a fairly smart tactic called “upselling“, where you attempt to induce/entice customers into spending more. DLC is another example of this tactic. You see the thing is, people who’ve already decided they like and want to buy your product are a lot easier to sell to than people who are still undecided. These people have already signaled to you (via the initial purchase) that they value your product or service enough to spend money on it. Focusing your attention on them, via upselling and cross-selling, is often a better expenditure of your time and effort.*

Most people who could be interested in Project Eternity probably know about it by now. The majority of hardcore fans have probably put their money down already. At this point, it is a better tactic for Obsidian to offer incentives to the current backers to up their pledge rather than hope that more exposure will lead to more pledges. Definitely a smart move. I started off thinking that PE was not a particularly impressive KS campaign, but over its course I’ve become impressed with how well-run it has been. Kudos to Adam Brenneke, who has been running the campaign as far as I know, and the rest of the Obsidian dudes.

Now, it’s easy to imagine this kind of thing becoming exploitative, with sellers trying to squeeze every last drop from customers.

And it can certainly become very gimmicky very quickly, with a kitchen sink of knick-knacks accumulating around the product. But I do believe that it is actually a worthwhile thing, for both parties, so long as the seller is focused on providing value to the customer first and foremost, and in creating a mutually beneficial relationship. For me, for example, the PE almanac is neat. I have bought a number of pen and paper campaign books simply for the pleasure of reading them, though I don’t play a lot of pen and paper anymore. I would go in on it, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m trying to keep my expenses low until I’m earning an income again (I possibly should have avoided pledging for PE, but I decided that this was a worthwhile cause. Pay it forward, aye).

It’s certainly something I’m going to experiment with, with my own games. For now though, I’m head-down and concentrating on putting together a quality base product. No point in offering these kinds of “value added” products without a good base in place.

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3 replies
  1. C. says:

    I realize I’m in a minority of measure zero, but I would rather pay Avellone not to write any novels. The world is horrible as it is, without Avellone’s fanfics. And I like Avellone’s games and think he is a great game designer.
    There are two kinds of writing in computer games. 1: abominable crap to ignore. And 2: abominable crap so horrible it’s actually impossible to ignore. Unfortunately Avellone’s writing is of the second type. I never managed to finish Planescape:Tornment exactly because of this. My wife loves crpgs too, and she too never managed to survive even half an hour of Planescape:Tornment’s writing.

  2. C. says:

    BTW ~3.8mln, more than I expected. Good luck to them. Hopefully, they will deliver something worthy.

  3. gareth says:

    Hmm, yeah, you might be alone in that opinion. I quite liked the PST writing, more than most RPGs.

    But ah well, to each their own. 😉


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