Video Game Kickstarter Tips From Successfully Funded Indies

February 1, 2016by Logan WilliamsCrowdfunding5

kickstarter-logo-small.jpg

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Video Game Kickstarter Tips From Successfully Funded Indies

While creeping around on the ole internets, I’ve noticed a lot of questions surrounding crowdfunding and to be more specific, Kickstarter. Since there have been many excellent games that have been successfully funded through Kickstarter, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to some of these studios for some helpful tips.

Below, you can see the responses I’ve gotten so far. There are also some examples and links to helpful Kickstarter related resources. I believe this article can provide value to a lot of people, so even if you’re a Kickstarter veteran, there should be some useful info to be found.

I want this post to be an evergreen piece of content, so if you want to contribute to this post, please leave your message in the comment section below, or you can reach me at logan@indiewolverine.com.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007292741{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Battle Chef Brigade Logo

Game: Battle Chef Brigade

Kicksterter Goal: $38,000

Total Raised: $100,344

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1453825642218{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”Only show your idea’s best sides. via @TrinketTom” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
Kickstarter campaigns are just specialized game marketing. You still need a strong hook, great presentation, and keen understanding of your competitors. Your video should therefore be professional, fast-paced, and short. Get straight to the gameplay and don’t let up. Each viewer should finish the video excited about what they just saw, not bored. Don’t give them reasons not to back the game – only show your idea’s best sides.

Tom Eastman, President of Trinket studios.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Tom also pointed me to an excellent all-in-one Kickstarter guide written by Ian Kragh (Lobster Sundew on Reddit). You can check out the lengthy guide here: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/1k67t0/a_lobsters_guide_for_video_game_projects_on[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007312341{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Game: Moon Hunters

Kicksterter Goal: $45,000

Total Raised: $178,986

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1453825656746{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”The top mistake I see Kickstarter creators make is only researching success stories. via @tanyaxshort” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
The top mistake I see Kickstarter creators make is only researching success stories. Look up Survivorship Bias and then tell me how many games you’ve found that are similar to yours in some way, yet failed. Those are the campaigns you will learn the most from! For Moon Hunters research, we looked at failed RPGs, failed indies, failed pixel art projects, and failed multiplayer games, and it was a treasure trove of knowledge.

Tanya Short, Creative Director at Kitfox Games.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you’re looking for a place to start, there are some excellent post-failed Kickstarter articles on Gamasutra that deserve to be read.

Also, if you want to learn more about Moon Hunters, Tanya Short wrote an excellent Kickstarter Post-Mortem article on Gamasutra.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007329408{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Game: CodeSpells

Kicksterter Goal: $50,000

Total Raised: $164,014

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454436334071{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”We spent 2 whole months preparing for the launch. via @LindseyDHandley” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
The more you can prepare ahead of time, the more time you can spend doing productive things when the Kickstarter actually launches, like answering backer questions and promoting the campaign! We spent 2 whole months preparing for the launch.

Lindsey Handley, Co-Founder & COO at ThoughtSTEM.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nathanael Weiss (the developer behind successfully Kickstarted game, Songbringer) wrote an excellent and insightful article on Gamasutra, where he goes over ways you can prepare for your Kickstarter campaign. One unique recommendation he has, is to back at least 10 campaigns before you launch your campaign. His reasoning is “Without backing other projects, one simply has no clue about what motivates people to become backers.”

The post is full of other excellent notes and I even share another quote from his post at the bottom of this post!

You can read Nathanael’s post in it’s entirety here: http://gamasutra.com/blogs/NathanaelWeiss/20151103/258182/Is_your_indie_game_worth_the_time_Prove_it_with_crowdfunding.php[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007347260{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Game: Thimbleweed Park

Kicksterter Goal: $375,000

Total Raised: $626,250

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1453825683995{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”You’re not selling people your game, you’re selling them your Kickstarter. via @grumpygamer” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
You’re not selling people your game, you’re selling them your Kickstarter. Don’t make your Kickstarter page an extended back of the box. Sell them a dream, not a game.

Ron Gilbert, designing, writing and programming on Thimbleweed Park.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454261022015{margin-right: 100px !important;}”]This can be said not only for Kickstarter campaigns, but anything you’re trying to sell to someone. People buy the vision, not the product. An excellent video by Simon Sinek masterfully covers this.

Think of the last Kickstarter you backed, or at least thought of backing. Were you sold on the game’s features/mechanics, or the vision behind it?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007365099{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Game: The Banner Saga

Kicksterter Goal: $100,000

Total Raised: $723,886

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454016061897{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”Develop a working proof of concept before starting your campaign. via @StoicStudios” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
Develop a working proof of concept of the game you plan on crowd funding before starting your campaign. It will help you understand the scope of the project and whether or not it’s attainable by your team. Prospective supporters will get a good look at what you plan to develop and if the campaign doesn’t succeed then it’s good to know before you drop a year or more into developing something that no one wants.

Once the campaign is underway be sure not to over-promise on any stretch goals. It’s easy to get carried away when you see money coming in, but it’s the path to under delivering. Good luck!

Arnie Jorgensen, Art Director at Stoic Studios[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007381597{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Deadwood Logo

Game: Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse

Kicksterter Goal: $65,000

Total Raised: $102,230

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1453825712905{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”We hit the publish button on the campaign, and that’s where the real learning began. via @SteamrollerStds” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
We had the benefit/curse of running a failed Kickstarter and a successful Kickstarter for the same project, back-to-back with-in a couple of weeks of each other. We did a ton of research before the first campaign, almost 6 months of worth of prep work. We knew you had to present a very polished presentation in order to sell our game to our prospective donors. We hit the publish button on the campaign, and that’s where the real learning began.

Keith Lackey, Technical Supervisor & Co-Founder of Steamroller Studios[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Keith also sent over an example of some things that Steamroller Studios changed from their first failed Kickstarter:

  • Make sure your rewards tiers are meaningful.
    • Don’t have a tier that adds single things
    • Have one that adds 3-4 things so that it’s tempting to people to upgrade to the next tier
    • Have a $1 tier
  • Organize a huge push up front
    • We had Day-1 backers badges that will be applied to the game and is currently being using in our forums.
  • Make sure you keep your existing fans engaged
    • We had backer achievements which were unrelated to the $ we raised which people could do that would help get the word out
      • Like number of Facebook followers
      • Things that didn’t cost them any money but would help spread the word
    • Started doing twitch streams once a week during the campaign
  • Made demo available… Day 1

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007794746{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]We Happy Few Logo

Game: We Happy Few

Kicksterter Goal: $250,000

Total Raised: $334,754

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1453826407735{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”Don’t overlap with any major gaming events that might draw attention away from your campaign. via @CompulsionGames” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
Don’t, for the love of god, start, end or otherwise do a video game Kickstarter in the week before or during E3. Or, more broadly, make sure you don’t overlap with any major gaming events that might draw attention away from your campaign.

* I was given permission to use the above quote by Naila Hadjas of Compulsion Games[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I was given permission to pull a quote from the We Happy Few Kickstarter recap article by Compulsion Games. You can check out the original post here: http://compulsiongames.com/en/news/23/the-whf-kickstarter-a-recap

As for finding the perfect time to launch your Kickstarter campaign, you can look up major gaming events here: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/network/events and here: http://www.eventsforgamers.com/calendar/

When it comes to project duration, Kickstarter Co-Founder, Yancey Strickler recommends a campaign duration of 30 days or less. He believes that a shorter duration leaves a sense of urgency that helps spark backers to fund your project. You can see more tips from Yancey Strickler in this video interview: http://www.inc.com/inc-live/yancey-strickler-crowdfunding-campaign-tips-from-kickstarter-co-founder-yancey-strickler.html[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007805720{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]BattleTech Logo

Game: BattleTech

Kicksterter Goal: $250,000

Total Raised: $2,785,537

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454266794519{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”Be honest, direct, and don’t be afraid to say no. via @mitchgit” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
Hit your Kickstarter Comments page every day to answer questions and be present. You’ll get a lot of suggestions and requests that have the potential to really help your campaign but might really hurt your development efforts – after all, most people don’t know how game development really works (and if they did, they’re run screaming).

If you take the time to explain why you can’t or won’t take a piece of feedback, your communication will feel more transparent, your credibility will increase, and more folks will be able to share the information on your behalf.

Mitch Gitelman, Co-Founder & Studio Manager at Harebrained Schemes[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The website crowdcrux.com published an excellent article titled “9 Tips For Communicating With Your Kickstarter Backers”. This article is aimed at helping you better communicate after your project has been funded. However, many of the tips listed can be utilized during your campaign. You can check out the post here: http://www.crowdcrux.com/tips-for-communicating-with-your-kickstarter-backers/[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007816056{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]FTL Logo

Game: FTL: Faster Than Light

Kicksterter Goal: $10,000

Total Raised: $200,542

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454002623672{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”Don’t underestimate the amount of work a Kickstarter requires. via @JarMustard” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
Don’t underestimate the amount of work a Kickstarter requires – Not just the preparations, but work during and after the campaign. Unless you have a sizable team or help managing the campaign, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to continue development at your natural speed.

Justin Ma, Co-Founder at Subset Games[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007816056{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Darkest Dungeon Logo

Game: Darkest Dungeon

Kicksterter Goal: $75,000

Total Raised: $313,337

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454077461335{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”It’s critically important to build at least a small audience before launching your campaign. via @tylersigman” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
It’s critically important to build at least a small audience before launching your campaign. Find a way to get some people on your mailing list, FB page, or Twitter, so at least a couple hundred know about your campaign the moment it goes live. We did this with a teaser trailer we circulated months earlier.

Tyler Sigman, Executive Producer & Game Designer at Red Hook Studios[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax_float_content=”false” section_inside=”false” css=”.vc_custom_1453756758665{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1454007816056{margin-right: 100px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Songbringer Logo

Game: Songbringer

Kicksterter Goal: $9,000

Total Raised: $15,063

Kickstarter Page

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1454077955317{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #1e4359 !important;}”][bctt tweet=”The first thing on your list should be to back somebody’s project. via @wizard_fu” url=”http://bit.ly/1Uoywib” via=”no”]
The first thing on your list should be to back somebody’s project. Go browse the video games until you find something that you would like to play. Back the project at the level you are comfortable with, then sit back and watch what they do. Take note of what you like, read all the updates and make comments. Reflect on what motivated you to become a backer.

Nathanael Weiss, Founder & Game Developer at Wizard Fu Games[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

More Resources

If this post whet your appetite and made you hungry for more Kickstarter related information, then you should check out the links below.
If you would like to add to this list, leave your suggestion in the comment section below, or send me an email at logan@indiewolverine.com

[Video] Getting a Kick out of Kickstarter – Marco Rosenberg
6 Tips to Smash Your Kickstarter Goal in a Single Day
The Ultimate Kickstarter and Greenlight Guide
Learning From Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter Success (QA)
10 Daily Actions to Build Your Crowd (not directly Kickstarter related, but a good resource for building an audience before your Kickstarter launch)

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Now that your Kickstarter knowledge is on another level, you are one giant step closer to funding your dream game!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”Download This Post as PDF” style=”flat” color=”sky” align=”center” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Findiewolverine.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F01%2Findiewolverine.com-Video-Game-Kickstarter-Tips-From-Successfully-Funded-Indies.pdf||”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

5 comments

  • Rocky Kev

    February 2, 2016 at 5:41 am

    Great round-up Logan! Love the deep dive you did!

    • Logan Williams

      February 2, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks, Rocky!

      I really enjoyed putting this article together and intend on doing some more similar posts in the future.

  • kreylix

    February 2, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    In general, I think these are all very good.

    But, why do you list “Kicksterter Goal” (sic) as if that is meaningful, important? In only, what, 2% of the cases, is that important. Otherwise it’s just noise – it doesn’t belong in this post. If you’re going to talk about Goal the key thing is to make it as low as you can while being enough that it’s worth doing the project.

    Another key is to do whatever you can to make sure Day 1 is great.

    Becoming really knowledgeable about Kickstarter is very important, too. The recently launched Hero’s Song was clearly an example of not knowing enough about how to make a successful Kickstarter – smartly, they cancelled early and can redo it and succeed.

    • Logan Williams

      February 2, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Kreylix,

      I agree. Preparing for your Kickstarter and making sure that everything you can possibly do by day 1 is complete, so you can have a great start. I haven’t heard of Hero’s Song, but I’m happy that they did cancel early and are taking the time to learn more about the platform and prepare for a successful campaign.

      When it comes to why I added the goals, I believe it’s just a nice way of showing readers basic details about each campaign at a glance. It’s also interesting to see how a Kickstarter goal was $250k and ended up making over 2 Million. The focus of the post is the helpful quotes, links to resources and examples. The goals, total raised and links to Kickstarter pages are there for readers who might be interested in that kind of stuff. It’s also info that takes no time to add to the post.

      • kreylix

        February 2, 2016 at 6:50 pm

        Sorry – the goal thing is a pet peeve of mine; the media reporting on a KS gives it too much importance – “Oh, they only asked for $10,000 and got $2.3 million – isn’t that amazing!” when if they’d asked for $800,000 and got $2.3 million is exactly just as amazing but the media doesn’t see it/understand it that way. Much more relevant to me is How does what they got compare to similar KS projects (i.e., $60 boardgame to other ~$60 boardgames, rogue-like to other rogue-likes, etc.).

        When looking at doing a KS for your game, you need to try to find similar past KS’s and figure why they did/did not do well. You need to determine how you’re going to do fulfillment (perhaps you a fulfillment company in advance), so that the cost of that is factor in to your Pledge pricing. As Justin Ma says above, managing a successful KS takes a lot of time.

Leave a Reply