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13 Jan 2014

Is a Successful Kickstarter Campaign Possible For First-Time Devs?

I had an interview with Jeffery Foxx about his first game Home Safe – a turn-based strategy title that is shaping up to be pretty special. What’s interesting about the game is not only if Foxx developing the entire thing by himself, but he has also started a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first game. As someone pointed out in the comments this weekend of one of my previous Kickstarter-themed posts, many developers seeking crowdfunding for their indie game are working on their very first game.

I have stated previously that it is important to have a library of games you have developed in the past to showcase on your Kickstarter campaign so potential backers can be aware of the quality they will likely be getting. Yet, if this is your first game, that’s clearly impossible. Therefore, how can you prove to the world that although this is your first indie game, your game deserves to be backed? There are a few ways to ensure your game is fully funded and then some.


Pitch aggressively

You don’t have any proof that you can make an awesome game, so you need to pitch your game aggressively on your Kickstarter page. This means describing your game in detail on the page and telling players exactly what they can expect if they back the game. Is your game a unique RPG that combines the gameplay of Tecmo Super Bowl with the RPG mechanics of classic Final Fantasy titles? Describe the gameplay, tell players every little detail regarding what happens during a regular play session and the ideas you have for the game as a whole.

In a nutshell, take your excitement for your game and transfer it to your Kickstarter’s page. Ensure that readers become excited about it after they have finished reading your page, which will intrigue them to stay on your Kickstarter page. Hook your readers with your game’s description, and use the next tactic to really sell your game and ensure they can’t resist not backing your game.



Showcase your game with in-game footage

This cannot be stated enough: you must have a trailer on your Kickstarter page, and it must show in-game footage of the game. Does it need to be perfectly polished? Absolutely not, but it needs to look good enough where viewers will be able to get a sense for what your game is about and get excited about it. You know the difference between unpolished footage, decently polished footage, and gold footage (footage recorded after a game has launched), so ensure you have decently polished footage in your game’s trailer.

This footage should be about a minute – minute and a half. Nothing too long, but it should accomplish two things:

  1. Show them exactly what the game is all about
  2. Excite them to back the game
  3. None of these can be accomplished without the other!

Afterward, feel free to record yourself talking about the game, what it’s about, what backers can hope to receive if they back the game, and so on. With a killer combination of in-game footage and a wealth of information provided about the game, people will be more inclined to back your game.


Build a community out of your Kickstarter campaign

It’s crazy how this happens, but when a group of people (in this case, backers) get excited about a project, they all come together to not only share information about the Kickstarter campaign, but also discuss the game together and what they would like to see go into the game. Your backers become the most important people of the development process – the pulse of your game if you will. Not only will they be more inclined to tell you exactly what they want to see in the game (they took the initiative to back and fund your game after all, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise), but they also act as the target audience of your game.

The people that back your game are the type of people that want to see your game succeed, and are certainly the audience that wants to play a game such as yours. Thus, dialogue with your backers and always ask for their opinions on various aspects of the game. Improve the game over the course of your Kickstarter campaign and constantly share new information about the improvements, changes, etc. you have made to the game. If your backers discover that you are willing to listen to them and make improvements to your game based on what they tell you, everyone is going to be more willing to provide their two cents about your game as well.

People love it when their opinions are wanted and appreciated, and if you show that you are willing to make a game based on the feedback of your backers? They are going to support your game even more. This will build a community out of your campaign, and once the Kickstarter campaign has been fully funded? You can continue coming back to these people, sharing updates of the game with them, and keep asking them what they want to see in the game.

And of course, always make an effort to ask them to share your upcoming game with their friends on their social networks. With backers being out there and sharing the love of your upcoming game, new people are going to become interested. Not only will this result in a Kickstarter campaign that is fully funded, but it will always result in increased sales once your game is available for purchase.


Spread the word on your social networks

Saving one of the most important points for last, spreading word about your campaign is vital to your success. It helps if you already have quit a few followers on your social networks, but if you do not? Consider reaching out to other indie developers that have a decent following and ask them if they would be willing to announce your Kickstarter campaign. Ensure that they also mention where to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. as well so you can get more followers. Finally, inform the indie dev that you will announce one of their games as well to your followers, forming a bit of a ‘give and take’ relationship with them.

It’s possible to have a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for your first indie game. Is it going to be a difficult road? Absolutely, but the road to a successful Kickstarter campaign is hard anyway. Just remember: constantly update your campaign and always discuss new ideas and concepts with your backers. Always share your campaign whenever possible (via social media, Reddit, interviews, etc.), be aggressive with how much you spread the word about the campaign, and you will set yourself up for success.

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