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24 Jul 2014

Will Your Kickstarter-funded Indie Game Ship?

It’s a brutally honest question, isn’t it? Even so, it’s a question you need to ask yourself before you begin your quest to seeking crowdfunding for your indie game. Just because you obtain crowdfunding does not mean that your indie game is automatically going to become reality. Things happen. From running out of funding due to under budgeting (it happens more often than you would think) to simply not being ready to juggle your backers and the development of your indie game, there are a handful of reasons why your crowdfunded indie game may not ship.

Assess your team (and of course, yourself) as you discover if you are truly ready to dive headfirst into the crowdfunding scene by answering the questions below.


How green are you?

By that, I mean how experienced are you with developing indie games? Have you ever released a game before? If your answer is no, then I urge you to please reconsider. Why? There are many instances of Kickstarter campaigns getting funded due to a great idea, but the person/team behind the project? They are incapable of actually finishing the development of the game.

This happens with nongame-related Kickstarter campaigns as well. From indie films to developing new products, you see instances all the time on Kickstarter in which people believe that just because they have a great idea, that’s all they need.

That’s wrong on so many levels; especially when an entirely new concept is in development. Because…


Is the design foreign?

Consider this example. Suppose your team has only developed simple, touch-based puzzle games for iOS, yet now you want to up the ante. You want to develop a fully realized, 3D space simulator, and you have a great idea that will have players clamoring to get their hands on your game. Even during the prototyping phase, everything seems to work well.

You hire a concept artist, and they blow you away with the content they produce. The trailer your team develops? It perfectly captures what your indie game is all about. And hey: there’s even some gameplay in the trailer as well.

People are going to drool over this, yet even so, think twice before asking the community to crowdfund your indie game. While it appears that your idea is solid and you are on the right track to bringing your idea into reality, there is still a ton of things that can go wrong that can kill the project.

Developing an indie game for a substantial amount of time only to eventually have to give up on developing the game sucks, but you know what’s worse? Having to answer to backers that funded the game! Thus, only seek crowdfunding if you know that your indie game is going to be finished.

Even then, you can never be 100% sure.


What’s the timeline look like?

We’ve said it quite a few times here at Game Academy, but we’ll say it again: you need to calculate the maximum amount of time you think it will take to ship your indie game and then double the amount of time. If it looks as if it will take a long time to develop the indie game (over two years), you may want to hold off on seeking crowdfunding.

Your backers are going to be impatient, and they’re not entirely at fault. They funded your indie game and they want something in return, and if you are taking a long time to release the product, they are going to want reasons why it is taking so long for the game’s release. The longer it takes, the more impatient your backers will become, and the higher the chance your backers will start demanding a refund.

The rule of thumb for indie games that are large in scope and will take much longer than average to develop is this: only seek crowdfunding when you absolutely need it and when you have a substantial portion of the game already developed. By doing so, you can show off a ton of actual gameplay footage to potential backers, they will notice that the game is already well on its way to becoming a reality (i.e. it still isn’t in the prototype phase), and they will be more willing to throw money your way.

Of course, if you are developing an indie game for PC, you could just release it on Steam Early Access and develop it at a somewhat normal pace (just be sure you release updates regularly).


The main thing to take from today’s post is this: a successfully crowdfunded campaign does not mean your indie game is going to become a reality. There are still many hurdles to overcome, countless challenges to meet, and backers breathing down your neck. Be certain that you can finish the indie game before beginning a Kickstarter campaign, and you should be fine.

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