Or How To Fall In Love With Kickstarter All Over Again
Well here you are. One of those darn publishers who’s gone and mucked things up with Kickstarter. Shame on you. But I can see it in your eyes, you want to change! You just don’t know how. Well, that’s okay! I’ve decided to present ten handy tips just for you (Yes, you specifically… Don’t hide from me, I know you’re there… I can see you!) to help you improve your Kickstarter game! Be awesome! Be a force for change! Help make Kickstarter a better place for everyone!
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• Don’t start your campaign until you are near ready to go to production.
I can understand a few last minute tweaks to game play, or maybe not every piece of art is ready; but if you’re not at least ninety percent of the way there, you shouldn’t need any money yet.
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• Be thankful for the gift you are being given.
The old adage really rings true here: “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Folks are trusting you with a lot of their personal money. Money that they actually worked to earn, for which you are doing respectively very little in return. Alternatively, you are being given a chance to do something incredibly awesome. Be thankful for that.
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• Do not ‘sell’ the Kickstarter experience.
Being a backer on some Kickstarter projects can be a lot of fun. And I completely understand that this takes a lot of work to maintain the communication for these projects at that level. But! All too often I see campaigns pitching this as a benefit of being a backer. Your customers are not the folks being given the awesome free ride experience here- You are. Be mindful of that.
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• Be as transparent and communicative as you possibly can with your backers.
The interesting thing about professional transparency is the oversight of speaking to the uninitiated. Let people know what’s going on on a regular basis- I’d recommend about twice a month. Explain what’s happening for those who are new to the Kickstarter experience. Quiet Kickstarters are not fun on the backer end of things. This type of activity will really build your social capital, which may not affect your current Kickstarter, but folks will remember this when you start the next one.
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• Avoid early bird prices.
It’s one of those sort of quasi-unethical things that a lot of campaigns do to push to their funding goals and build backers faster. This is a slippery slope type issue, because you’re effectively charging customers two separate prices for the same product, at the same time. I’m not sure it’s wrong… but I’m definitely certain it’s not right.
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• Be honest in your Kickstarter campaign.
To put it bluntly, many companies lie in their Kickstarter campaigns. My favorite is “this game might not be available in retail,” but “you’ll save money” is a good one too! Most of the time neither of these things are true, so don’t suggest that they are. When I see outright lies like this in a campaign, it tells me that I shouldn’t trust your campaign or you.
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• Stop using stretch goals.
Let’s be honest- stretch goals within the context of most board game projects are, for the most part, completely disingenuous. Suggesting that if you don’t get that last $20,000 you’re not going to be able to produce that Dr. Giggles mini (deep cut 90’s reference) isn’t true. You were going to cast that mold already, and you’re not fooling anyone by saying differently. If you really need to use stretch goals, go for it. Just make them real. Alternately, if you’d like to drum up more excitement for your project, I recommend daily or even random content reveals. That will keep folks tuning in and help with those last minute pledge drops.
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• Stop inventing expansions to increase your Kickstarter pledges.
Hey, here’s a novel idea- how about no expansions for your new game at all? I promise that your customers don’t need it. Focus on the core experience of your game. Save the expansions for the next campaign.
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• Do not produce a deluxe edition of your brand new, and more importantly unproven game.
This is a big waste of time and money for everyone involved. Save the Deluxe Edition for the 10 year anniversary.
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• A couple of little exclusives are fine, but don’t lock off big pieces of game content as Kickstarter exclusive.
Yes, it will boost your Kickstarter sales, but people will notice; and it will cost you in retail sales and social capital in the long run.
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• Finish one Kickstarter campaign before you start the next one.
This rule exists for a very good reason. Honestly, I feel like I’m talking to children when I say this. Finish one project before you start the next one. Dividing your focus between multiple tasks of equal importance is and always has been a fool’s errand. Something always suffers. Keeping your attention on one thing at a time will make certain you are producing the very best product and experience that you can.
— 1 —
• If you don’t need Kickstarter, stop using it.
You know who you are. Crowdfunding is not intended to make you rich, or support your company. Do not allow your company to become reliant on the Kickstarter model- it’s too tight a rope. It’s intended to get your business off the ground, and get your product into retail distribution. The responsible management of your business after that is up to you. And, if your company can’t survive without those constant cash infusions, it’s time to re-evaluate the way you’re doing things.
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Well there you have it. Twelve handy rules to help you be the very best Kickstarter content creator that you can possibly be. And you can be better, I promise you, it’s true. This industry needs a better you. We believe in you. I believe in you. Just make it happen!
This is the third and final in a series of three articles. If you’d like to check out the other two articles, those links are posted below: