If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter yet, you should be. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform designed to help people bring their ideas and creations to life (for an in-depth understanding of what Kickstarter is, click here). Kickstarter is a wonderful resource for people and companies to get support for projects they might not be able to fund on their own. The problem is a handful of unprepared project creators and their mistakes are leaving backers frustrated with the Kickstarter experience, turning some people off from it completely. As someone who intends to use KS to get our first product to the market, this is very disheartening.
Through the social media board game groups I’m a part of, and the people I’ve talked to in the industry, I’ve noticed that many are disappointed with the quality of several tabletop card campaigns. It’s clear that many project creators have not researched what it really takes to run a successful Kickstarter. While I haven’t ran my own campaign yet, I have been researching the successes and pitfalls of running one since early last year and several things have become abundantly clear.
Simply put, do your research before trying to launch anything. Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into? Running a successful Kickstarter takes time. Many people have described it as having a second full-time job. The campaigns that are the most dependable are those that have a plan, starting well before the launch of their Kickstarter to well after the campaign is over. There is so much to consider.
Does your game play well? Any game going to market should have been thoroughly playtested and blind playtested; that means lots of people besides your friends and family.
Do you have an existing fanbase? You need the supporters before launching.
Do you have professional representations of your game and art? Legitimate working prototypes that are either what your game will look like or really close to it should have been made in advance.
Do you have solid reviews or other feedback to help promote your game? Quality reviews will help your audience trust you and your product.
Did you accurately budget everything? You will need to calculate everything from manufacturing to shipping and more. I’ll just say I’m incredibly grateful we have a very solid accountant on our team.
Do you have a plan on how to get your game to the public once your Kickstarter is over? Keep in mind, Kickstarter is the launching point, not the end goal.
Are you treating the people who are working for you as professionals? It’s too common that I hear about people telling their artists they will pay them more if the project funds. Sorry, but that isn’t respectful and many professionals will not work for those types of stipulations.
After truly surveying your situation, you’ll probably come to one of 3 conclusions:
1. You can handle everything and you’ll complete a great Kickstarter on your own.
2. You’ll want to do most of the work but may need some help. If that’s the case, either reach out to people in the community or look into services like Game Salute or Kickin’ It Games.
3. You’ll decide it is too much handle on your own. If that’s the case, I suggest pursuing a publisher to print your game.
The point is this: Poorly-run and unprepared Kickstarters ruin the experience for everyone. Make sure you are 100% ready and fully understand the amount of work you’re getting into. There are many people and small companies who need Kickstarter to make their dreams a reality. If you plan on doing your own Kickstarter, I encourage you to check out some of the following resources:
Stonemaier Games’ Kickstarter Lessons– With two successfully funded games, Jamey Stegmaier has written extensively on running a solid Kickstarter campaign.
Funding the Dream– Richard Bliss has interviewed a plethora of different guests all focused around crowdfunding. Personally, I prefer the earlier episodes.
Hyperbole Games Working with Artists– Game designer Grant Rodiek discusses some basic standards to follow when hiring an artist to illustrate your game.
Have more tips or resources? Please add your suggestions and thoughts in the comments below.
Happy Mitten Games
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