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7 Oct 2013

Creating a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

We hear about the successful crowdfunding campaigns from various indie developers on a regular basis, and it’s enough to make any indie developer want to stop what they are doing, create a campaign on the spur of the moment, and see what happens from there. Crowdfunding is attractive to be sure, yet for every indie game (or any product for that matter) that is successfully funded, there are hundreds of crowdfunding campaigns that fail. Crowdfunding isn’t a tactic that will guarantee that your game becomes funded in a matter of days; instead, it’s simply another avenue of obtaining funding and nothing more. Yet, it can be helpful, and by using proven tactics and techniques to market your crowdfunding campaign, you may have a fighting chance to obtaining funding for your upcoming indie game. Here’s a few things you need to know.

 

Research

Conduct research on similar crowdfunding campaigns on crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. For example, if you are looking to acquire funding for your top-down shooter, find out which games in the same genre were successfully crowdfunded. Look at their campaign page, see what type of information is there, and so on. Usually, the most successful crowdfunding campaigns are full of information regarding the game, links to more information about the game, multiple videos, answers to questions asked from backers, and so on.

In addition, look at the backer rewards for the game as well. Of course, you do not need to offer a ton of backer rewards for your game as this can become expensive and time consuming (and unless you can absolutely afford it, do not provide physical backer rewards for your game – digital all the way!). Take into account the type of backer rewards that were provided in the campaign, and learn a little bit about how you should reward backers that meet certain milestones in their funding.

 

Strong Following in Social Media

If you do not have a strong following on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and so on, you need to start building your social network immediately. A strong following on social media is mandatory if you want your indie game to be crowdfunded successfully, mainly because this is how information regarding your crowdfunding campaign will be shared among the public. While there is no ‘set-in-stone’ number of followers you need to have a small community of followers that ‘Like,’ ‘Retweet,’ and ‘Share’ your comments, pages, and more on a regular basis.

How can you obtain new followers? One of the best ways is to run contests. I have written for a few online gaming publications over the years, and a quick way to obtain followers is to instruct your current followers that if they want to be placed into a contest, all they need to do is share/retweet a page advertising the contest. From there, their friends will share/retweet, their friends will do the same, and before you know it, a snowball effect has begun.

And once these individuals have begun following you? You can then keep them around by posting quality content on a regular basis. No, you cannot grow your following via social media overnight, but you can entice people to follow you, and from there, you can turn them into fans of the content you post. And the best part? If these people like what you post, become fans of what you do, they are going to be more than willing to share your crowdfunding campaign with everyone they know.

 

Ensure You Already Have a Percentage of Your Campaign Funded

Crowdfunding Insider states that Seedrs, an equity crowdfunding platform has stated their data shows that crowdfunding campaigns that start their campaign with 30% of funding have about a 90% chance of being successful. Why is this? Because backers want to support crowdfunding campaigns that they know have a great chance of success rather than ones that seem as if they are going to fail. If you think about it, it makes sense: after all, how many crowdfunded games and products have underwhelmed backers since the crowdfunding phenomenon began? Quite a few. Therefore, you need to make your potential backers realize that not only are you going to offer an incredible game, but you are already 30% of the way to making this game a reality. It sounds a lot better than someone stating they have 0% funding for the game, right? I mean, anybody can have 0% funding for the game; in fact, most of us do already.

But if you state you have 30% funding already? That says only one thing to the backers: you’re serious about your game, and it’s already on its way to becoming a reality. From here, the hard work involves ‘pitching’ your game to potential backers and letting them know that your game is not only on its way to being successfully funded, but deserves to be funded. And the best way to do this?

 

Create a Compelling Campaign Video

If anyone is interested in backing your crowdfunding campaign, they are going to watch the video and make up their minds regarding whether they want to fund the campaign or not. Thus, this is where you need to sell the idea that they need to crowdfund your game. Consider hiring a professional that will shoot your video for you. Believe it not, if someone believes the video is low quality, they are going to arrive at the consensus that your game is going to be of low quality as well. Long story short: put the time and effort into creating a quality video, and your potential backers will be more willing to believe that you put the same effort and quality into developing your game.

From there, show footage of the game while talking about the game. Ensure the video is no longer than four minutes long, as people will likely begin losing their attention on the video at the four minute mark. Thus, within those four minutes, you need to sell the viewer on what your game is about, what they can expect from the game, where your funding is right now, and what you need from them. It’s a lot of content to explain thoroughly within a few minutes, but then again, nobody ever said crowdfunding was easy.

 

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Explain your game in the first two paragraphs – or better yet, the first two sentences. Again, you may want to consider hiring a professional writer to write your campaign for you. The goal in the written portion of your campaign page is simple: clearly showcase exactly what your game is about. Nobody is going to fund your game if they are unclear as to what they are funding in the first place.
  • Set a goal that is achievable. You do not want to raise a ton of money, only to have your crowdfunding campaign fail because the goal was set a little too high. Rather, set the goal at a minimum amount you would be happy with earning, and from there, earn bonus funding by creating stretch goals. The goal is to hit your initial milestone early to ensure you are going to be paid, and from there entice people to fund your campaign via attractive stretch goals (e.g. porting your game to another platform, providing ‘special editions’ of your game, etc.).
  • Last but not least: communicate with your backers on a regular basis! In my interview with Aaron San Filippo last month, he discussed that one of the secret to Race the Sun being funded successfully was in the fact that the team communicated with their backers on a regular basis. They told them what they liked and didn’t like about the game, and from there they improved the game during the campaign, shared what they fixed, and asked for additional input about the game. If you show that you value what your backers think about your game and show that you are willing to improve it based on their feedback, they are going view your game as ‘a game of the people.’ They are going to feel as if they had a hand in the process of developing your game (and they will be correct for believing this), to which they are going to be more willing to share your game with others, increase their backing, and beyond.

Combine these strategies with hiring a PR firm (optional but highly recommended), and you will have a game that is on its way to being funded. Sure, there is no guarantee that your crowdfunding campaign will end in success even by following these techniques, but even so, your chances of success are increased. Get out there, have fun creating your crowdfunding campaign, and do your part to let the world know that you want to see your indie game realized and why they need to be a part of it!

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