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26 May 2014

Choosing the Best Funding Goal For Your Kickstarter Campaign

If you listen to Game Academy Radio regularly (and here’s to hoping you do), then you have noticed that I interview a lot of indie developers that are currently in the middle of their own Kickstarter campaign. Such is the case with last week’s interview with Mat Staltman (if you enjoy turn-based strategy and/or SRPG games, check their game Deadrock Divide here), who is currently trying to spread the word about Deadrock Divide.

If you have browsed Kickstarter at least a few times, you will notice that the goal for each campaign is vastly different. Some indie games only seek a few thousand dollars in funding while others seeks hundreds of thousands of dollars. There doesn’t seem to be a specific pattern to it all, and if you are trying to conduct research regarding where to set your crowdfunding goal, you’re probably going to be overwhelmed.

As you probably know, a goal that is too high can keep you from obtaining any crowdfunded money sent to you, and a goal that’s too low? It may help, but not as much as you need. This can lead to angry backers (read Keeping Your Kickstarter Backers Pleased to avoid this). Luckily, I’ve done a bit of research to discover the best way to determine where to set your goal for your Kickstarter campaign. Follow the tips below, and set your Kickstarter campaign up for success.


Remember to calculate cuts

If your campaign is successfully funded, remember that Kickstarter will take 5% of your earnings.

Also keep in mind that Amazon will also take a cut in payment fees (5%) and you actually have to pay taxes on your earnings. This differs based on your location, so call your local government to find out how much you have to pay if you are donated a certain amount.


And additional costs

It’s also worth mentioning that you should probably plan your backer rewards before launching your Kickstarter campaign. If you have to manufacture and ship any physical rewards (i.e. hiring a company to print a t-shirt and ship it to the backer), you need to calculate approximately how much that is going to cost if 100% of your backer rewards are claimed. This will cut into your funding as well, so take these costs into consideration before deciding on a final goal.

Quick tip: If possible, ensure your backer rewards are digital versus physical. A mousepad and T-Shirt with your indie game’s logo is cool and all, but is it really better than giving players an awesome in-game item for free? You have to answer this for yourself.

Of course, you also need to calculate how much it will cost to produce your game. Another no-brainer I know, but if you’ve read about any of the post-Kickstarter disasters, you will find tales of developers failing to accurately calculate how much money they needed to develop their game, only to find later down the road that they have no more money for funding. Don’t get into this predicament! Calculate everything, and after you have a final number? Inflate it by at least 10% so you have extra financial cushioning in case costs are higher than anticipated.


Find the Kickstarter ‘sweet spot’

According to Kickstarter’s latest stats, campaigns that are seeking a goal of $1,000 to $9,999 are the most likely to be successfully funded. In other words, the funding needed isn’t so low that it does not seem as if it’s going to be worth anyone’ time, but the funding isn’t so large that no one is going to not bother with pledging a few bucks here and there.

As for campaigns that are not funded? Unfortunately, the majority of indie game campaigns that fail only earn between 1 – 5% of funding. For indie developers, this means it’s crucial you hit that Kickstarter sweet spot – especially if you don’t have a reputation for developing top-quality games at this point.

Play it safe: ensure you can keep your Kickstarter campaigns costs between $1,000 and $9,999. Easier said than done? Absolutely, but it could mean the difference between a successful Kickstarter campaign and a failed one.


Compare other Kickstarter campaigns

Hey, it’s like anything else in life: analyze some of the successfully funded Kickstarter campaigns for your indie game’s genre and take a look at what they did right. Remember when I mentioned there didn’t seem to be a pattern between one campaign to another? Well, if you look at several campaigns that are aligned with your campaign objectively, you will find that this simply is not the case. One of the best ways to analyze Kickstarter campaigns is via Kicktraq, so use it accordingly.


Do the following:

  • Find a few campaigns that are similar to your indie game.
    • Developing a sci-fi epic? An endless runner on iOS? Find successful campaigns and take a look at what they did to be successful.
  • Did a majority of them have a reputation before the campaign began?
  • Are you able to find them in the press easily (i.e. did they market appropriately)
    • Did they provide lots of updates across social media?
    • Find any dev diaries on YouTube? How many hits do they have?
  • How many updates did they provide?
    • Did they communicate back and forth with their backers on a regular basis?


There’s a lot of different dimensions that go into a successful Kickstarter, but one thing is certain: each successfully funded Kickstarter campaign had a goal that the public were comfortable with funding. How they enticed the public to fund the indie game? Well, that depends on the campaign, but know this: even the most wildly successful Kickstarter campaign would have been unable to obtain the funding it needed had the goal been too high.

Thus, that brings me to my last point: finding the ‘sweet spot’ for funding is certainly important, but what’s even more important is what you do to entice ordinary people to give send a few bucks your way. If you think you can entice enough people to fund your first epic indie game at over $100,000, hey, give it a shot – just be prepared to hustle, hustle, and hustle some more as you market and engage with your backers/potential backers across social media and your Kickstarter campaign’s page. The odds are certainly not in your favor, but then again, nothing is impossible.

If you want advice you can sink your teeth into today, it’s this: consider playing it safe and staying between the $1,000 – $9,999 range (especially if this is your first indie game). If you think you can reach a higher goal? Do your homework and find the right goal for your campaign. Again, there’s no definitive answer I can give other than to play the Kickstarter game safely. Keep costs down if possible while marketing appropriately, and you will be setting your campaign up for success.


Do you have additional tips for finding the best crowdfunding goal for your Kickstarter campaign? Let us know in the comments below!

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