Before CMON, a miniature board game company, was the largest funded company on Kickstarter in Atlanta, it began as a ranking website for miniature hobbyists under a different name: CoolMiniOrNot.
“The website Hot or Not launched in 2001, where people would rate pictures of people…Our president, David Doust, he saw that site, and he said, ‘I could see this working for hobbyists,'” Jared Miller, marketing manager for CMON, said.
From its inception, the site took off in the niche community, Miller said, and is still active today. But after rebranding to CMON and breaking out in the game board market in 2012, the company has taken off thanks to crowdfunding and adoring fans on Kickstarter.
Zombicide, CMON’s biggest series of games, has raised more than $14 million on the funding site, Miller said, each game earning more revenue and backers than the last. In the game, players control a party of “survivors” who fight to rid the world of zombies using weapons and other tools. Unlike a regular board game with typical player pieces, CMON’s miniature games include figures sculpted, detailed and painted by miniature hobbyists.
The first season of Zombicide earned more than $781,000 after launching their campaign at the same time another well-known board game company held their Kickstarter. The competition and a quick mention in a popular web comic called “Penny Arcade” served as a push to garner attention among miniature fans who couldn’t find games like these at most retailers, Miller said.
“That kind of really triggered the board games on Kickstarter movement,” Miller said.
Ever since, the fans and Kickstarter campaigns have snowballed, earning the company $5 million and more than 27,000 backers on their last Zombicide series, Zombicide: Green Horde, in June. Eleven CMON board games are currently the most funded campaigns ever launched in Atlanta, garnering thousands of backers.
Miller said CMON plans to launch another campaign for a new game, Zombicide: Invader. The game will have an alien theme and plans to launch on April 10. It’s expected to outdo its predecessors.
“The Zombicides for us keep going up,” he said. “Obviously we’re hoping for that support with Invader. We think it’s a really unique offering that will give fans something new.”
With each campaign, CMON sees the crowdfunding take on a life of its own, Miller said. Fans who originally pledge money for the core game and an exclusive figure will spread the campaign via word-of-mouth and social media to reach stretch goals, allowing the company to give backers more free items. Communicating with fans throughout the funding, hitting stretch goals and offering fun add-ons — additional funding options for more game goodies — keeps the games popular, Miller said.
“That’s what I think is the most attractive: basically the bang for the buck that they’re getting and that’s our thank you to them for their support, is just offering constant stretch goals,” he said.
Crowdfunding success has allowed CMON to bring games to customers and retailers around the world, open offices in Brazil, Canada and Hong Kong, launch their own annual expo in Atlanta and go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2016, Miller said. As long as fans keep demanding games, CMON will continue to offer select campaigns on Kickstarter, he said.