I recently came across a post by Lukasz Deszczulka on Gamasutra a few days ago that described the lessons learned from his studio’s Kickstarter campaign – and it’s full of awesome advice. It’s sort of a coming of age tale for their game Earthcore: Shattered Elements, and tells a tale about how the studio thought the Kickstarter campaign was a great way to get notoriety and put the game on the fast-track to success.
Of course, him and his team learned a few important lessons to the true nature of Kickstarter. Borrowing a few of his lessons learned, I want to highlight a few popular Kickstarter myths and debunk them. So let’s get right to it.
It’s okay to start on Kickstarter early in development
Nothing could be further from the truth. At the very least, you want to be sure to showcase videos of the game in action on the first day of the campaign. People don’t want to give you money for concepts; they want to fund you for an actual game. You may have had a few games under your belt and your games may have sold gangbusters, and that’s fine. But when it comes to pitching your indie game, proven gameplay will drive crowdfunding.
Thus, be sure you have gameplay footage and enough information to prove that your indie game is on the right track to success. The best crowdfunding campaigns feature a product that is on its way to being a reality. Do the same for yours.
And if you want to get really crazy? Offer a free demo that anyone can play. Give them a chance to try the game out for themselves, and if they like what they see? Chances are extremely high that they are going to send a few bucks your way.
It’s a great way to get a surge of publicity
Not at all. We’ve mentioned before that Kickstarter is a great way to market your game, but only after the campaign has gained traction. Don’t place the buggy before the horse: if you want to get a surge of publicity, keep marketing. Don’t expect Kickstarter to automatically give your indie game a ton of recognition just because it’s on Kickstarter. It isn’t newsworthy, and unless you’re one of the biggest names in game development, nobody is going to care that you have a Kickstarter campaign just because.
What can you do? Make them care – and it all comes back to marketing.
If it fails, the development is a failure
Back when I was hosting Game Academy Radio, I would typically interview indie developers that currently had their indie game on Kickstarter or Indigogo. A question I asked many of them was, “what happens if the game isn’t funded.” A lot of them didn’t really have an answer, and the tone of many of them was that they were unsure if the game would even get made if the funding failed.
We’ve said it before, and it begs to be repeated once again: just because a Kickstarter fails does not mean that’s the end of the road for your indie game. It doesn’t mean that enough people are not interested in the project – in fact, it doesn’t really mean anything if it fails to be funded. There are a ton of variables that keep a campaign from being funded. For instance, maybe the campaign began on a weekend, perhaps you didn’t market it properly or to the right people/publications – again, there’s so many factors that can derail a crowdfunding campaign.
To think that crowdfunding is an all-or-nothing situation is as ridiculous as thinking that placing one’s game on Kickstarter will make headlines: it’s just not true. Case in point: I interviewed an indie developer last year that missed his crowdfunding goal by a huge margin. They marketed nonstop for 30 days, and even though it wasn’t even close to hitting its mark, enough people showed interest in the game that it is in the process of landing on Steam Early Access.
And that’s the takeaway: just because your crowdfunding campaign fails, it doesn’t mean that there are no other avenues out there for you to get funding. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t seek crowdfunding again either. A failed crowdfunding campaign really….doesn’t mean anything.
Find the reason why it failed, fix the problem, and go forward: you’ll be fine.
Have any questions or comments about popular Kickstarter myths? Let us know in the comments below!