One of the worst things that can happen after having your indie game funded via Kickstarter is having your backers angry at you. We hear about these stories all the time: backer rewards are late/disappointing, and as a result? The thriving community that was built up as the result of the successful Kickstarter turns on you. The smiling, ecstatic backers essentially turn into an angry mob – and they’re usually out for blood. While it’s a testament to people being fickle and impatient (not everyone, but they do exist), it’s a threat that is real.
If you want to go the ‘Kickstarter route’ and attempt to get your game fully funded, you’re in for quite a battle. Never mind the constant marketing that goes into ensuring your Kickstarter is successful – that’s only half the battle. After your Kickstaretr is fully funded, you need to ensure that your backers are pleased and everyone remains pleased with your indie game’s progress. Thus, here are a few ways to keep your Kickstarter backers happy and excited about your indie game.
Be 100% transparent
It’s advice that’s given a lot here at Game Academy, and for good reason: transparency is king when you are dealing with your fanbase. Especially true when it comes to your Kickstarter backers, keep in mind that your backers are not ‘investing’ in you – at least they don’t think so, anyway. Rather, they are pre-ordering your indie game, and as a result, they are expecting your game and all of their backer rewards to be delivered to them in a timely manner. Your backers are funding your vision – which in turn becomes their vision.
Thus, backers have this hybrid mindset about the funding of your project. As stated above, they are essentially pre-ordering a product they want to buy. On the other, because of their funding, the project only exists because of them (whether that’s true or not is an entirely different story). At any rate, expectations are much higher, and the best way to combat any complications that come your way is to be transparent at all times.
Delays and problems are something you cannot avoid. They happen, and it isn’t your fault. Whenever you need to break bad news to your backers, record a video and break down the reasons behind the news. Be personal with your backers. Talk to them on your level, and do not talk down to them – ever. Be respectful, appreciative, and let them know one of the big reasons you are here is because of them. By doing so, most backers will understand and appreciate your honesty.
Inflate your delivery estimates
This goes for backer rewards, alphas, betas – everything. Delays are going to occur – it’s just the nature of the development cycle. Be prepared by inflating your delivery estimates on everything – even the key chains with your indie game’s logo you promised to ship to backers of certain tiers. As a rule of thumb, inflate everything to 100 days. For example, if you believe delivery of a backer reward will take 100 days at the most, inflate that to 200 days. Your backers will be ecstatic they received their reward early.
Will this drive away some people? Certainly. Yet, it’s better to be careful with your reputation. You don’t want to be the indie developer that failed to deliver anything on time yet was funded a few extra thousand, right? Instead, trade some potential funds for peace of mind – you’ll be glad you did.
Estimate the cost of rewards
This includes estimating the cost of time it will take to prepare your backer rewards for shipment. Create a budget for how much time and money it will cost to prepare backer rewards and ship them. You may not think that a few t-shirts and posters will cost a lot in the grand scheme of getting your game funded, but what happens if a few thousand people back certain tiers where they are obligated to receive these rewards? Then you’re in a pickle.
Prepare, prepare, prepare is the word of the day. Estimate how much it will cost to purchase the maximum amount of rewards for your campaign, how much it will cost to ship them, and again, how much it will cost regarding the time it will take to prepare them for shipment. Scale the amount of rewards you are giving out if you must, and if you are really afraid of paying more than you estimate, consider delivering digital rewards instead. You don’t have to worry about shipping costs, after all.
For those that have had a successful crowdfunding campaign, what did you do to keep your backers happy? Let us know in the comments below!