Over the past couple of months, there has been a lot of rhetoric on the crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding phenomenon, particularly as it relates to mobile and gaming. A few highlights we’ve seen: KickStarter’s updated rules to keep project listers accountable; emerging platforms to invest in games; and how crowd-funding even works. But the post that caught my eye was the one featuring Chris Crawford, and his failed attempt to reach his funding target for his Kickstarter project, Balance of the Planet.
Chris’ experience highlights the strengths of crowd-funding platforms, as well as their weaknesses. There are a variety of reasons why most mobile app or gaming projects don’t reach their targets, but the biggest one of all is dead-simple: generic crowd-funding platforms, like Kickstarter or IndieGogo, while they work very well for many types of projects, are not designed for the mobile app developer in mind. Period.
This is why you’ll continue to see innovation shift from just how products are funded to how they are funded and designed as they come to market. Gaming/mobile apps are no different, and are already part of a trend toward more “vertical” crowdfunding solutions. How can these help developers tackle their specific challenges? By building a deeper, more relevant connection with their community, and providing utility that they can’t get anywhere else.
For mobile developers, the challenge goes beyond just funding; it’s also about validating a vision and generating market support for it. In fact, getting a mobile game out to market is getting easier, as technology gets cheaper and better. The greater hurdle is developing a product that’s engaging, can break through the clutter and get traction. It’s less about raising money for $100K+ campaigns, and more about building community engagement and support.
Mobile developers uniquely need to address a variety of questions early in the cycle of developing a game. For starters, what are the best tools at their disposal to design, build, test and measure the progress of their app? Where to find beta testers? Is there a way to acquire early adopters and app “ambassadors”? The list goes on, and it’s one that’s thought about by every developer whose vision is to create an app that has legs.
When you think about it, it’s remarkable that there are more than one million apps in the app stores, with gaming and entertainment apps driving most of the activity, yet, the process of bringing an app to market is opaque. It’s also disjointed, with very little connection to the end customer, at least until launch, which is when the marketing fury typically begins. But, what if the developer opened themselves up more to the crowd – consumers, companies and other stakeholders – not just for hard dollars, and some sales, but for genuine feedback and support?
This is the promise for crowdsourcing 2.0. Stay tuned…