How to Run a Successful Kickstarter for your Indie Game
24/04/2021 Written by The Game Marketer
Kickstarter is a fantastic way for Indie video game developers to fund their projects. Although it can be hard to do, there are many successful video game Kickstarter campaigns that have raised over a billion dollars in funding and helped launch new Indie games that would not exist otherwise. How do you know if your video game Kickstarter campaign will be successful? The answer is simple: create a great project page! In this article I will go over the different aspects of creating a successful Kickstarter video game campaign from start to finish so you can make sure that yours is one of those successes!
Have A Clear Goal For Your Campaign
One of the most important aspects to a successful Kickstarter Indie video game campaign is deciding on your goal ahead of time. Do you want to raise just enough to get the project completed or do you need large sums for a project starting from scratch? Increasingly we also see a lot of developers running Kickstarter campaigns just for the publicity and marketing exposure.
Knowing your goal will help you plan your video game crowdfunding accordingly.
Do you want to make enough money for the project, or do you need large sums?
How much does it cost in order to get started with this type of video game development?
Is marketing more important than funding?
If you can build a detailed plan ahead of the campaign it will mean you can create a much more accurate picture of what you need and what your objectives are. This means your funding goal will be much more aligned with your campaign.
Marketing Should Start Before the Campaign
Do not wait for your Kickstarter campaign to begin before you start your marketing. If you can start marketing before the campaign, it will be more successful. Many Indie games plan their Kickstarters months in advance as part of their overall strategy.
A pre-launch video is a vital way to get interest in your video game Kickstarter and build momentum for when the time comes. You should upload this onto your website, social media, YouTube etc. beforehand so that people are already getting excited about your project! - This makes them much more likely to jump into the Kickstarter once it does launch.
Build a website where people can register their email address for updates.
Create an email list or update your existing one with a countdown to the launch of your Kickstarter campaign. We recommend that you create this well before it launches as people will want to sign up and be alerted when your game is closer to launching!
Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit
Create a small Facebook ad campaign before the Kickstarter launches so that people can sign up for updates.
The more awareness you can drive before the campaign launches the better as once your Kickstarter does begin you are on the clock. It is also worth noting that unlike other platforms like Indiegogo, if you don't hit your pledge target before the end of your campaign you will receive nothing.
Do Your Research
This is key if you want to launch a successful campaign. It is worth your time researching what worked and did not work for campaigns that have been on Kickstarter before yours. What platforms are people using? How much did they need to raise? Did the style of video make an impact on their success rate or video duration etc.? Presuming you have a little cash to spare you should try to invest in some of the other projects, noting what you liked about them, so you can replicate it in your own campaign.
Take note of their pledge goals and how they have tiered them, so you can figure out what works best for your own game.
Finally, and most importantly find out if your game is unique or not in the context of Kickstarter. If it is, then you can get away with more and there is a lot less chance that your campaign will look like everyone else. You want to be realistic in terms of what features the game has but also try to find new angles or ways of marketing it that are clever. Think about how people would feel if they saw this project. Kickstarter is a wonderful tool for marketing video games, but it cannot help you if your game is not unique enough to stand out from the crowd.
If there are already 100 different farming simulators on Kickstarter, then adding one more will not do much good because they all look and act the same and nothing new will catch people's attention.
Have Great Visual Assets
You must showcase your Indie game! Kickstarter is a visual platform and people need to see something on the page other than text, with stats showing that crowdfunding drives that use images and videos generate 105% more funds. You could have the best idea in the history of games, but the reality is people make judgements on whether to read details based on eye catching imagery and video. Take high quality screenshots/videos and make sure they're in focus and detail relevant and interesting parts of the game. Show off the graphics, show gameplay, etc. Kickstarter makes it easy to upload video clips of your game, so make sure you have gameplay footage and trailers.
You will also want some concept art or sketches for people who don't know what the game is about but find themselves drawn in by a great presentation, especially if you don’t have much actual gameplay yet.
Your campaign can not be fire and forget, you need to be constantly updating your page, social and website with milestones and news. This creates a buzz about your Indie game, a sense that something is happening, and others should get involved in the action.
Make sure you also communicate with those who have pledged money to your Indie game project, these are called "backers". The most important thing is that you keep in touch with them and answer any questions they may have, this can be done using email or by updating the project's timeline. Make sure all those who back your game get some form of message.
Run Ad Campaigns
It might seem odd to run an ad campaign for a game you haven't made yet, but you have to treat your Kickstarter campaign just like a game launch. You need to get the word out and get backers if you are going to succeed.
You can start running Facebook ads to get backers before your Kickstarter is live. This will build up anticipation for when you go live and hopefully has those who have been following your campaign excitedly looking forward to backing it on launch day. Once the campaign is running you can direct traffic direct to your page just be sure to be targeting correctly with ads that clearly show your game in its best light and that it’s a Kickstarter.
Think About Your Reward Tiers Carefully
All of your tiers need to mean something and ideally give tangible value to the backer. A lot of video game developers offer rewards that are just digital copies of the game, but you can create something much more than that. For instance, consider offering backers access to beta trials and early demos. Many games give out merchandise and other physical items. You never know what backers will be interested in so if you can offer a wider variety of tiers, the better chance you have at getting people to back your campaign and get excited about buying into it now rather than waiting for launch day.
There are backers out there that could want to give thousands of dollars, but you have to give them a reason, it being an interesting Indie game is not enough.
In this article, we have talked about successful Indie game Kickstarter campaigns, what makes them work and why you should consider giving them a try if you have an idea for a video game or are just starting development. Aside from the funding Kickstarter can be an excellent marketing platform that gets your game to a much larger audience whilst giving you the funds to do more development and marketing. Kickstarter campaigns for Indie games are a great way to get your game out there and make it available to people that might not have been able to play or support the game otherwise.
It is also a good opportunity if you do not want to lose creative or commercial control by working with other private investors and publishers.
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