We’ve come to Kickstarter with an old-school post-apocalyptic RPG Encased in mid-September. The timing was good: high-profile projects did not come out for the first two weeks, and we tried to attract as much attention as possible from foreign and domestic media, as well as from bloggers. We managed to complete the campaign with the final result of 122%, having collected more than $122,000 total, but it was worth a lot of effort.
Black Tower is an aspiring indie publisher that pays special attention to games with RPG and RTS elements. We’ve originated on the basis of Dark Crystal Games studio, which is currently developing a post-apocalyptic RPG Encased.
Board games and gadgets still rule here.
This was said more than once, but is worth being repeated. In the "games" section you will have to compete not only with visual novels, dating simulators and pixel-art indie games, but also with board games, for which Kickstarter is the ideal pre-order platform. Such projects receive funding more often, and the platform almost always gives them featuring blocks at the main page. It’s them that collect +1000% funding.
The reason is simple: on Kickstarter, the physical rewards that you offer to your backers are extremely important. And a board game is directly the quintessence of the idea of a physical reward, brought to the absolute. What lesson can be learned from this? Make cool physical rewards, this is important.
The number of successful campaigns is growing. But the requirements for the projects are also growing.
The times when a small project of enthusiasts could have collected a huge amount of money are long gone. Get ready to spend several months on preparation routines and appropriate a promotional budget. Achieving impressive results without a budget is possible in only two cases: if you have a successful game, popular in the West, or famous people are involved in your project. If this is a bit wrong, then you have problems. There are chances if the project appeals to the audience for whom crowdfunding is a hobby.
To raise money for a project, you need to spend a lot of time and funds to adequately plot the campaign. Keep this in mind.
It's hard to make new people register for your project.
Only 10% of our backers first registered on Kickstarter to support Encased. The funds collected by this user group were less than 10% of the total pledges amount.
All this - despite the active public relations program, large game communities in social networks and vast subscribers email base. Attracting a new audience to Kickstarter is an extremely expensive and difficult task. New users should not only have faith in your project, but also go through a rather long registration process, bind their bank card and get comfortable with the interface of the site. Advertising, aimed at the Kickstarter audience, showed a much more convincing result.
The most important thing is to attract professional backers.
It is easier to work with “professional backers”: they follow the campaigns closely and seek to support only projects that are guaranteed to become successful. It is important to maintain a positive momentum and remind people of the progress of the campaign. It is useful to look through the profiles of those who have already donated from time to time, to study their interests and projects in which they have invested before. In fact, Kickstarter by now is a platform where professional backers select projects that they will be interested in supporting. They actively ask questions, know the internal mechanics better than you, and will read your every update and every comment carefully.
When Kickstarter featured our project on the main page of the game section, it almost did not affect the results: the audience of professional backers already knew about us, and the impact from the others was not that significant.
Kickstarter — not that newsworthy as before.
Kickstarter campaign seemed really newsworthy for us. But practice has shown that Western media are tired of crowdfunding: some did not write about the campaign on principle, others asked to be informed when we collect 100% of the required amount.
This is not the media only. The overall attitude to crowdfunding is rather negative. Top gaming journalists rarely write about it, bloggers do not talk about it, even in gaming subreddits it is forbidden to mention a project if it runs a crowdfunding campaign. Nevertheless, we’ve sent press releases several times during the campaign, using different reasons: launch, first successes, 100% achieved, week to conclusion and post-release. As a result, we’ve received more than 200 publications.
Analytics remain very uncomfortable.
We actively used ads on Facebook and Google Adwords. For effective advertising, you need proper analytics, and this turned out to be a big problem.
At first glance, Kickstarter provides good analytics tools for evaluating your efforts. You can set up a Google Analytics counter on the page, or use the built-in statistics. However, you can’t adequately set the goals, so you won’t understand which ads bring not only clicks, but also purchases. Kickstarter provides a tool for creating referral links, but it does not work as desired. First, it is contraindicated to add UTM tags to the links created in it: in many cases, the interface simply will not understand them. Secondly, the tag is lost during most attempts to log in to your account.
Over the entire campaign period, ROI was around 140%, which is considered a good indicator for crowdfunding. Especially effective were the ads, reminiscent of the imminent end of the campaign.
Signing in knocks referral links off.
If the user enters the campaign page and is not logged in to Kickstarter, after registering or logging in he will end at his personal account page, and he will have to search for your project manually. The referral link will expire this way. The user will have go to “looking” for your project at the site itself. In statistics, his transition will be credited in favor of the internal tools, and you will not know which tool works and which one does not.
The link is generated after the start of the campaign.
It was a great revelation for us that the link to the project is generated only after the start of the campaign, therefore, you cannot complete all the preparatory work in advance. We had to cope with it via redirects.
It is easier for your audience to support you in other ways.
If any audience has gathered around the game, then you shouldn’t count on it, if only any of your fans are not registered on the site. It will be easier for them to support you in early access, or in some other way, but not on Kickstarter. Lack of regional pricing is not the only problem. This is the general background of the entire campaign: anything, anywhere, but not crowdfunding.
Sell the game after the campaign conclusion.
Do not forget the tail sales. After a successful campaign, people will want to support you: someone did not have time, someone did not trust the platform, and someone is used to paying with PayPal. Yes, in 2018 Kickstarter still does not support it.
In conclusion, it is needed to say that the Kickstarter campaign today is difficult to consider not only as a means of attracting money for the development, but also as a newsworthy reason and the PR campaign of the game.
To get funding, you need to invest a lot of effort, time and, paradoxically, money. Prepare art, texts and quality press releases. If you have a small team, be sure that you will be almost totally immersed in work on launching and supporting the campaign.