It’s been two years today since I released Legacy 2nd Edition to the general public on DriveThruRPG. As a distraction from the pandemic spreading in real life, I thought it might be worth looking back at this game of hope and community after the end. What went right, and what went wrong? What unexpected joys did we encounter, and what do we plan for the future?
Facts and Figures
So, we started making Legacy’s 2nd edition sometime in the Autumn of 2016. At that point Douglas and I were considering it as a revised edition of Legacy, but as the scale of the changes grew and grew we realised it could be something much bigger. Over the course of 2017 we developed the game, eventually bringing it to Kickstarter in July 2017. The response was amazing – within a day we had blown past our modest £8,000 goal, and eventually closed out the campaign with £62,258 from 1,713 backers.
What did they all pledge for?
With the addition of a post-campaign pledge manager, my final budget for the project was £91,700. What did all that get used for? Well, as a result of the campaign we were able to make:
- A full-colour, gorgeous hardback with ribbon bookmarks and various other bells and whistles, with a print run of 2000 copies.
- Five Worlds of Legacy expansions, printing 800 copies of each:
- A collection of ambient audio tracks
- An almanac of strange and wonderful wasteland locations
- Two print-on demand quickstarts – fighting monsters on a jungle moon in Titanomachy, and resisting Earth’s alien invaders in Non-Compliant.
- 120 copies of the Art of Legacy.
- 500 sets of Custom Legacy dice.
- 600 packs of dry-erase A5 handouts.
- 100 sets of custom acrylic Treaty tokens (out of print).
- Not to mention, 3750 A1 posters in three different styles and 5500 postcards in 5 different styles, thanks to a promise to give one of each style to every hardback backer.
As you can likely tell, we had our work set out for ourselves even with the generosity of our backers bouying us up, and definitely got carried away promising extra bits and pieces. How did it all shake out? Let’s look at Legacy 2e itself.
Final costs: Legacy 2e
You’re likely noticing that writing costs aren’t up there. When this kickstarter launched, I was in full-time work and wanted to put profits from Legacy 2e back into the business. Meanwhile, Douglas was (and still is) paid an agreed amount per book sold. These days, I think I’d budget a fixed amount of wages for myself, and a lump sum for Douglas – this would have made accounting a lot easier down the line.
- Art: £2224 (14 commissioned pieces, 52 stock art pieces, all from Tithi Luadthong).
- Layout: £1000 (by the wonderful Oli Jeffrey, who very kindly showed me the ropes for RPG layout).
- Editing: £1383 (approx. 60k words).
- Printing: £6000 (2000 copies, 250 of which were deluxe copies bound in faux leather and presented in a durable slipcase).
With all costs combined, the first printing run of Legacy 2e cost £18,380. This was well within my kickstarter budget!
This project was a significant success that helped put UFO Press on the map worldwide. After paying all costs and fulfilling all backer orders, I had £22,500 remaining to fund future development and pay my own salary. And the long tail of sales has been a real boon! Post-kickstarter sales have resulted in profits of approximately £25k over the last two years, providing a stable source of income for myself and allowing for a second print run of the Legacy corebook.
Of that wide range of additions above, most have turned a healthy profit. Even the Worlds of Legacy books, which have seen slow sales compared to the corebook, have each individually turned a profit and lead to regular royalties for the authors who opted for that arrangement.
The main misstep I made was the Handout Sheets. Printing a deck of full-colour dry-erase A5 cards at this volume proved very expensive and I misjudged how many of these I’d sell after the kickstarter, with the result that this part of the project was a loss of about £6,000. If you want to ease this loss a bit, you can pick up your own set here 😉
When I made a similar set for the Next World Kickstarter, I learned from this by using a cheaper, UK-based manufacturer and ordering a much lower number of units, with the effect that the Next World Handouts have been profitable.
My other takeaway is that I undervalued the books during the original kickstarter. Selling the 320-page full colour hardback for £30 was below market rates, and the 60+ page Worlds of Legacy supplements struggled to make a strong profit selling for £10 each – or £6 each in the book bundle! No doubt this helped me get so many backers, but there’s a tradeoff there. The great majority of backers bought the book bundle, and so I could have significantly reduced costs by combining the supplements into a single product.
This would have helped get more eyes on the more underappreciated books of the set. Laurence Phillip’s wonderfully weird Primal Pathways and Katherine’s Cross politically-insightful Worldfall have both found it hard to stand out, but I believe deserve just as much appreciation as Godsend or Generation Ship.
The Legacy 2e campaign made a significant change to my life. Previous projects had brought in enough money to make the book with some spare cash left over, but this was enough to make UFO Press my full-time source of income. That’s been invaluable as I’ve navigated the shoals of my personal life in the last few years, and I’ll never stop being thankful for it. Plus, I’ve been able to take Legacy 2e to a lot of conventions – Dragonmeet, Nine Worlds (RIP), the UK Games Expo, Big Bad Con and more. Having a cool product to sell meant I could fund those trips, see the world, and make some really good friends.
It hasn’t all been wine and roses. With this unexpected success, I have to fight down the hope every time I launch a campaign that maybe this one could do Legacy 2e numbers too. This led to disappointment, and made it tough for me to appreciate the successes of the Next World project, Mysthea, or Voidheart Symphony. But, that’s a good problem to have.
My distribution agreement with Modiphius also taught me I really appreciate having control of my product’s distribution and presentation. I’m very grateful to them for the marketing and distribution assistance they provided with Legacy, but as of the start of this year I’ve taken those elements in-house. So far, that’s felt like a good move – financially, psychologically and creatively.
The Ages Turn
With two years of Legacy under my belt, I’m very happy with what our creative team achieved here:
- A gold bestseller on DriveThruRPG , in the top 2.4% of products.
- Finalist for Best Rules and Best Interior Art in the 2019 Ennies, and for Game of the Year in the 2019 Indie Groundbreaker Awards.
- A follow-on kickstarter for Legacy: The Next World, funding three supplement books.
- A Bundle of Holding sale that sold over 1000 bundles and raised $2,121.75 for Mermaids UK.
At this point, I’m happy moving on to other things. The Worlds of Legacy SRD is now live, letting others make their own games based on this system. End Game and The Engine of Life are moving into US distribution, and will hopefully find an audience among the Legacy players there. And Mysthea: Legends of the Borderlands and Voidheart Symphony are getting closer to completion every day. And who knows – as the seasons change and the ages turn, maybe we’ll find our way to making Legacy 3e someday!
Thanks for reading,