Posted Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:55 AM
Okay, so I've been monitoring this Kickstarter campaign over the last 24 hours, and trying to wrap my head around the "apparent realities" of it. So if I understand the situation correctly, the $232K target is based on the need to produce and sell at least 1000 units, in order to bring the cost down to 200$ per unit? If this is the case, then this Kickstarter strategy is not the correct one, in my humble opinion.
To reach the magic number of 1000 units, the main goal should be to make this console available at GameStop, EB-Games, and any other outlets with several accessible locations across North-America. Amazon, eBay and other online outlets also deserve serious consideration in the marketing strategy. The Kickstarter angle should only be used to, well, kick-start the project's development: You gather money from CV fans to finance the development of the injection mold for the outer console casing, then you make a few more prototypes with the final casing, which you can show off at any opportunity (retrogaming conventions, meetings with sales representatives of GameStop and EB-Games, etc.). That's pretty much "phase 1" of the entire project, where you get to dip your toes in the lake and figure out the actual demand for this FPGA console. With the millions of people living in North-America today, I'm sure you can find 1000 customers who will purchase this machine, but certainly not in the span of a single month. Reaching the milestone of 1000 units sold is going to be a long-winded effort.
So anyway, "phase 2" is finding money to purchase the "priority components", which are the components that may become unavailable just a few years from now. I'm mostly thinking of the Spartan FPGA when I say this, but there are other components too, like the 30-pin cartridge port or the Super-NES controller connector, which may be relatively easy to source now, but may become harder to find in barely two years. The idea is to have a good stock of those master components, so you can be sure to meet your supply goals in the foreseeable future. I'm really not sure where the funding for this second phase could come from, using Kickstarter again may not be a good idea... This is bound to be the most difficult step.
From there, it's all about production, packaging, retail channeling and visibility, and you keep at it until all 1000 units have been sold. I wonder if it would be possible to release some complete-in-box repros of such classics as Venture, Time Pilot, Roc 'n Rope, etc. just to give people something to buy along with the Phoenix. Homebrews are a good selling point too, of course.
The point I'm trying to make is that keeping the 200$ pricetag target is doable, but only over an extended period of time, to give all the potential buyers time to discover the product and make it available to them when they're ready to buy it. In parallel, some good uses for the keyboard connector and the SD card slot should be devised and advertised, like the MSX core, and other FPGA cores. If I was an active participant in the project, I would also see if the controllers from AtGames' ColecoVision Flashback could be used on the Phoenix. They're not the best controllers ever, but they're relatively brand new compared to the old original Coleco controllers, so that's a plus, especially for casual gamers who are not going to play with their Phoenix system often.
As a side note, I've never pledged any money on any Kickstarter project before, and up until now, I assumed they took Paypal, which they apparently do not. I pride myself on not having a credit card (I understand that some may find this stance debatable) and I'm certainly not going to get one just for this. So I guess I won't be participating in the Kickstarter campaign, even though I want to.
Finally, I'd like to point out that the 230,000$ target displayed at the top of the Kickstarter page is very likely to illicit negative reactions. Many people who could be interested in the Phoenix are just going to pass on it because they will assume that the target won't be met anyway, especially in just a month. Like I said in the beginning of this post, this Kickstarter strategy is unlikely to pay off.