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August 24, 2019
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Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Successful Kickstarters Is Wrong

by Michael Kelley on 03/12/14 07:56:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Successful Kickstarters Is Wrong (Unless You Thought Social Networking Size Was the Sole Determiner, In Which Case You're Correct).



Motorcycle crash victims are more likely to have tattoos than the general populous. It can therefor be concluded that tattoos cause motorcycle accidents. Or at the very least, tattoos cause people to ride motorcycles, who then go on to have more motorcycle accidents than the general populous.






Similarly, every Kickstarter scholar worth their dowsing rod will tell you that the number one key to Kickstarter success is a good video. I'd like to suggest that this is correlation, not causation. If good videos resulted in successful Kickstarters one could reasonable assume that Film & Video projects would pwn the "most funded" page. After all, who better than a videographer to make a better video? It's there in the name. In reality, Film & Video projects make up just two of the top twenty funded. 1





Just what causes success then? Size of social network. In addition to being the only two "most funded" film projects, the aforementioned are notable for featuring TV stars Zack Braff and Veronica Mars.




Good videos result from having a number of people willing to lug lights around and set up dollys and man cameras and edit in illegally downloaded music. Each of those people are a social network multiplier. Good videos even result from good products which are in turn typically the result of collaborative efforts. Each of those collaborators is a social network multiplier. Sizable social networks cause success.



How can you make this knowledge work for you? Even if you don't need help or criticism, invite it! This will make your helpers and critics stake holders. They then become social network multipliers.


Triple A developers spend 2 to 3 times the development budget on marketing2. They know that how good the game is isn't nearly as important as how well the game is perceived, or being seen at all3. In the low-rent world of indies, your social network head count IS your marketing budget.



I hope that this realization has been as much comfort to all the friendless, solo-developer Kickstarter failures out there as it has been for me. Friend me on Facebook and check out my soon to be latest failure, The Blind Shrine Maiden!






2 Takahashi, Dean. "EA's chief creative officer describes game industry's re-engineering." 26 Aug. 2009. <>.

3 Wilde, Tyler. "Study: Professional game reviews strongly affect consumer behavior." 23 June 2012. 12 Mar. 2014 <>;.

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