Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice Post Mortem - What Went Wrong part I
WHAT WENT WRONG: 1. SHIPPING
We are talking here about shipping from the warehouses to the backers and not about the freight (the transport of boxes from the printer to the warehouses), the freight will be the subject of a future "what went wrong".
Deliveries to some areas were very difficult to manage, especially for Laurence as she had to deal with a few impatient customers on the one hand and some uncooperative warehouses on the other. Knowing that the game would be large and heavy, we looked for solutions to reduce costs for backers. We were afraid of displaying excessive fees during the campaign, which could have put off some backers. We worked with a broker who negotiated rates with warehouses around the world. We have - luckily! - decided to maintain our collaboration with certain partners with whom we used to work such as Meeple Logistics in Europe.
The result was drastic. Our historical partners all handled the deliveries very well, they maintained good communication and quickly corrected the few errors they had made (which is inevitable when you must send hundreds or thousands of orders). They have all our gratitude! On the other hand, all the new partners have proved to be extremely disappointing, generating dozens of errors, often very damaging. They were also most of the time very unresponsive, or even totally absent, to correct them. Some examples of errors: sending a box containing 6 copies of the same expansion instead of sending a single copy of the expansion, sending duplicate orders (knowing that in these two examples, we have found that about 90% of the customers do not report it), sending a "Master Assassin" all-in (7 items) instead of a single core box, sending cleaning products instead of our games, etc. The financial losses, the energy wasted trying to manage these errors with the warehouses and customers, as well as the stress generated are difficult to estimate but they weighed very heavily!
To conclude, I would say that it is highly recommended to ask for feedback from other publishers about each new warehouse and to search for publishers testimonials on the Internet. For example, after these issues, we joined IGA (Indie Game Alliance) where we found good advice, thanks to them! I would also recommend avoiding working with brokers: they will certainly seek the best rates, but they cannot guarantee the quality of service and packaging, which remains the most important thing for us! Moreover, it is unlikely that you will be able to get any help from your broker in case of a problem: he is certainly based thousands of miles from the warehouses, and he has no idea what is really going on there. Finally, errors and the time spent dealing with them will make you lose money, as it did for us.
Oh! And one last thing about shipments, and this is a situation that we unfortunately encountered with almost all our partners. We had very bad surprises for some shipments to remote areas and some islands, where the prices we ended up paying were up to twice the original estimated rate, knowing that deliveries to these areas for large packages can end up costing around US$300! Without forgetting that there will probably be problems with these deliveries (error of address, after-sales service, ...) in these regions and it will also be very expensive. Finally, these destinations often have special regulations (taxes or additional fees, a number to add to the postal address, requests for VAT refund in regions where it is not required, etc.) all this requires more management. It is for these reasons that we have reluctantly decided to remove these destinations from our shipments for all our games from 2022 onwards.