Monday, May 27, 2013

Examining Hex Upsells

Azuriel has been looking at the Kickstarter tiers for the upcoming Hex TCG.  Personally, I'm probably going to pay for at least the $20 tier so I can see what the whole PVE card game thing is about, but I'd been on the fence about what, if anything, to pay for beyond that.

When I look at these kinds of upsells (collector's editions, multi-month subscriptions) I find it helpful to take out the baseline amount that I'm pretty sure I'll spend, rather than looking at the total cost for the total package.  (For WoW's annual pass, I assumed that I'd typically subscribe for 3-4 months during the year in question, deducted that from the total bill, and looked at everything else in the package against the money that was left.)  A wall of text follows, so I'll offer the bottom line up front - based on my analysis, I'm actually leaning towards spending the minimum.

Breaking down the upsell tiers
My results, including stretch goals (with the starter and Penny Arcade merc on the $85 package, which I'm told is intended), and deducting the contents of the base $20 package (two starters, ten boosters, 3 free booster drafts -which I'm told include the required booster packs- 1 promo card, and hypothetically one pack for set 2 if the final announced stretch goal is met)

  • $35 ($15 upsell): One starter deck, 15 boosters, and four extra promo cards (1 mercenary).  
  • $50 ($30 upsell): Two starter decks, 35 boosters, and 11 extra promo cards (3 mercenaries).  (+2 extra packs of set 2, final stretch goal pending)
  • $65 ($45 upsell): Two starter decks, 45 boosters, 1 "primal pack", and 16 promo cards (5 mercenaries) (+2 extra packs of set 2, final stretch goal pending)
  • $85 ($65 upsell): Three starter decks (one of which is "KS exclusive"), 80(+12) booster packs, 1 "primal pack", 20 promo cards (7 mercenaries), and three months of VIP status (one free booster per week, thus the estimate +12 above). (+4 extra packs of set 2, final stretch goal pending)

When you look at the Kickstarter page, the $35 and $65 packages look underwhelming, probably to encourage people to jump from $20 to $50 to $85 (as Azuriel did).  I still think that's accurate for the $65 package, but I re-examined the $35 tier since Carson mentioned it in the comments at Azuriel's place, and your extra cards per dollar of upsell aren't that bad.  I can agree that the $85 looks tempting in principle - though your returns per dollar are starting to taper off (I would not even consider going higher) - but I'm hesitant to spend that much on an un-released product I haven't had the chance to play, even if the prices are "discounted".

Two additional ways of looking at this question:

According to the Q+A on the forums, post-launch booster drafts will have a $1 fee (not clear whether this can be traded) plus you will need to provide the boosters.  This is good and bad - good in that you can run a fair number of booster drafts for a greatly discounted price if you save your Kickstarter rewards, but bad in that A) this requires you to not open your boosters for use in PVE until you can complete the requisite number of drafts and B) it's in some way a hidden fee (i.e. if I got the $50 package and wanted to use all the packs in booster drafts I'd be looking at paying an extra $15 in booster draft fees).

The other thing to look at is the glass half empty approach - how much MORE would I pay if I declined to upgrade now and then paid for the stuff later.  Not counting the promo cards, what would the extra starters and boosters in each package cost if I were to change my mind later?

  • $35 package: $40 retail, $25 penalty for not spending $15
  • $50 package: $90 retail, $60 penalty for not spending $30
  • $65 package: $110 retail, $65 penalty for not spending $45
  • $85 package: Analysis starts to break down due to exclusive starter deck and VIP time, call it $215 retail and thus a $150 penalty for not spending $65

At first, it looks like you're getting really good returns for your additional money.  However, this assumes that you actually NEED more starters beyond the one free newbie deck everyone gets and the two that are included in the base package.  If you have some degree of patience, you can also join the VIP program for $4/month and get one booster per week (i.e. 4 boosters for $4 plus some other benefits, versus $2/booster retail).  If we take the $35 package, forget about the extra starter deck, and instead use the $15 (well, $16) to subscribe for four months, we end up 16 extra boosters... one more than the number of extra boosters in the $35 package.  I believe I have my winner.

I will wait and see whether new and exciting stretch rewards get added to this system later.  Right now, though, I'm inclined to stop at $20 and mentally set aside another $20 or so for VIP subscription time and booster draft fees.  It isn't as sexy as a massive day one collection of cards including unique promotional cards (like the Penny Arcade mercenary).  If I end up loving the game and spending $85 or more later I guess I'll regret it.  Then again, that would be a good thing because it would mean that I actually liked the game, and I'm prepared to pay a premium later rather than risk putting down a lot of money now on a product that I don't end up enjoying.


  1. Heya! The re-examination that my comment inspired is far, far more thorough than any examination I made. To be honest, I threw in $35 purely because $30-$40 is the ballpark of what I'm willing to put down towards a game Kickstarter!

    I just looked over the rewards and went "meh, $35 gets more cards than $20, less than $50, seems fair". The only "new" thing I saw on the $50 was the PDF art book, and I'm not really into that sort of thing.

    So, $35 it was! :-)

  2. Heh, that's certainly one way to do it - and one that Kickstarter creators everywhere are counting on! :)


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