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Kickstarting your game the right way

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Kirkatronics
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Hi all, this is my first post here, so I'm sorry if this isn't the right area.

I'm still in early stages of developing my card game but wanted to research how to successfully use Kickstarter.

Does anyone have any tips or, even better, a best practice for Kickstarting my game?

I've been looking around and it seems difficult to spot any some fail and some succeed.

mindspike
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Have your order form in hand.

The best, most useful advice I feel I can offer is this: have *everything* done ahead of time.

I would have all your development, all of your components, an advance copy of the game. My advice with the crowdfunding is that you are simply waiting for the Kickstarter to tell you how many copies to order, and your printer is standing by.

This approach increases your risk by requiring you to lay out all of your initial costs, but it also means you dramatically reduce the risk of not being able to fulfill in a timely manner. It's an important consideration.

Good luck!

Kirkatronics
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Joined: 09/12/2016
Thanks for your supportive

Thanks for your supportive reply, I appreciate it a lot!

I'll take your advice and make sure it's as ready as it can be.

mcobb83
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Go read this blog. Yes, I

Go read this blog. Yes, I mean all of it. Yes, I know there is a lot there. This guy has kickstarted multiple highly successful games.

http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/

radioactivemouse
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Advice

Kirkatronics wrote:
Hi all, this is my first post here, so I'm sorry if this isn't the right area.

I'm still in early stages of developing my card game but wanted to research how to successfully use Kickstarter.

Does anyone have any tips or, even better, a best practice for Kickstarting my game?

I've been looking around and it seems difficult to spot any some fail and some succeed.

I think the biggest misnomer about Kickstarter is that people don't realize the work you need to do in order to have a successful campaign.

You're pretty much running a business.

My personal advice would be several things:

-Establish a name in the game community before launching your Kickstarter. It could be as small as being a regular contributor at a convention where you talk to a lot of people and those people know you're a cool person that loves games or as big as starting your own game channel on YouTube and get followers.

-Plan plan plan. Your game should be pretty much done by the time you launch the campaign. In addition, your business plan and your manufacturers should be ready to act right away. It's difficult enough to keep up with the Kickstarter campaign when it's actually happening, so if you're still developing your game while the campaign is going, (if you don't have a team already) you won't be able to devote the time you want in your game and then you'll have a crap game and a bunch of people expecting something you can't deliver.

-Research and ask advice. I think (?) there's forums for people that do Kickstarters, I'm not sure. I applaud you for asking for advice, that's the first step.

-Have a team. There's going to be so many things you need to be aware of that you'll be easily overwhelmed with the logistics. This is why so many established businesses do Kickstarter well; they have a team that has specific functions. Create a team...even if it's just your family. The more you devote time to your product, the better quality you'll give. If you're doing everything, you'll devote less time to the project and will likely show in the end product.

-Start small. This is my personal advice. If you can do a complete campaign with a small project, you'll have the experience necessary to do a bigger project. If you do a big project and you fail (which happens a lot), you'll be left with a bad reputation and a bitter taste in your mouth.

Anyways, that's my advice. Take what you want from it.

Kirkatronics
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mcobb83 wrote:Go read this

mcobb83 wrote:
Go read this blog. Yes, I mean all of it. Yes, I know there is a lot there. This guy has kickstarted multiple highly successful games.

http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/


Thanks, I'll give it a look.

radioactivemouse wrote:

I think the biggest misnomer about Kickstarter is that people don't realize the work you need to do in order to have a successful campaign.

You're pretty much running a business.

My personal advice would be several things:

-Establish a name in the game community before launching your Kickstarter. It could be as small as being a regular contributor at a convention where you talk to a lot of people and those people know you're a cool person that loves games or as big as starting your own game channel on YouTube and get followers.

-Plan plan plan. Your game should be pretty much done by the time you launch the campaign. In addition, your business plan and your manufacturers should be ready to act right away. It's difficult enough to keep up with the Kickstarter campaign when it's actually happening, so if you're still developing your game while the campaign is going, (if you don't have a team already) you won't be able to devote the time you want in your game and then you'll have a crap game and a bunch of people expecting something you can't deliver.

-Research and ask advice. I think (?) there's forums for people that do Kickstarters, I'm not sure. I applaud you for asking for advice, that's the first step.

-Have a team. There's going to be so many things you need to be aware of that you'll be easily overwhelmed with the logistics. This is why so many established businesses do Kickstarter well; they have a team that has specific functions. Create a team...even if it's just your family. The more you devote time to your product, the better quality you'll give. If you're doing everything, you'll devote less time to the project and will likely show in the end product.

-Start small. This is my personal advice. If you can do a complete campaign with a small project, you'll have the experience necessary to do a bigger project. If you do a big project and you fail (which happens a lot), you'll be left with a bad reputation and a bitter taste in your mouth.

Anyways, that's my advice. Take what you want from it.


Thank you for your response.
I know it will be a long hard process that I can't do alone, that's one of the reasons I'm here. I've been reading quite a bit around here and can see its a bustling metropolis of experience.

I'll take your advice on getting a team too, even if it is just family for now.

In the mean time I'll get a plan together, that is one MAJOR thing I missed.

I decided to start small, my card game runs off a deck of 8-10 cards, but it will still be a huge task.

Tedthebug
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'Beware' of timezones

Disclaimer: I've never run a Kickstarter

But, I've listened to podcasts, read as much as I can & read enough comments on projects such that I determined that I don't want to run one myself. You seem determined & willing to put in the effort up front so that's a good sign to start with.

One thing I've noticed is that these days, with modern communication methods, people think you are ignoring them, & therefore your project is risky, if you don't respond within about 2hrs (& preferably 1hr). I've come across projects where the developer was managing it on their own & didn't notice & respond to questions in the comments on their Kickstarter for a week (& in one case until almost a month later when the project had closed).

Time zones makes this difficult to manage on your own so try to find some people you really trust to help answer queries 24/7 in the lead up & during the Kickstarter. Even if they just acknowledge the questioner & prepare a list of outstanding queries for you to answer when you wake up it shows that your team thinks everyone is due the respect of an answer as soon as possible & that engenders some respect back.

Good luck

Kirkatronics
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Tedthebug wrote:Disclaimer:

Tedthebug wrote:
Disclaimer: I've never run a Kickstarter

But, I've listened to podcasts, read as much as I can & read enough comments on projects such that I determined that I don't want to run one myself. You seem determined & willing to put in the effort up front so that's a good sign to start with.

One thing I've noticed is that these days, with modern communication methods, people think you are ignoring them, & therefore your project is risky, if you don't respond within about 2hrs (& preferably 1hr). I've come across projects where the developer was managing it on their own & didn't notice & respond to questions in the comments on their Kickstarter for a week (& in one case until almost a month later when the project had closed).

Time zones makes this difficult to manage on your own so try to find some people you really trust to help answer queries 24/7 in the lead up & during the Kickstarter. Even if they just acknowledge the questioner & prepare a list of outstanding queries for you to answer when you wake up it shows that your team thinks everyone is due the respect of an answer as soon as possible & that engenders some respect back.

Good luck


Time zones and response times have always been an issue for me, especially being based in the UK. I would definitely have to get some assistance with responding, or at least make it obvious I'm not on their time zone.

I Will Never Gr...
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mcobb83 wrote:Go read this

mcobb83 wrote:
Go read this blog. Yes, I mean all of it. Yes, I know there is a lot there. This guy has kickstarted multiple highly successful games.

http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/

Exactly what I was going to say.

Start with Stonemaier's blog. Spend time reading it. Read it two or three times. Take notes.

Then go read the blogs from Minion Games' James Mathe here: http://www.jamesmathe.com/category/kickstarter/

Once you've gotten through those two, you're ready to START thinking about your Kickstarter.

Take your time. Do it right. Build an audience before you launch. Have a good amount of backers (in the ballpark of 25-40% of your total funding needed) lined up (and hopefully guaranteed to back) before you hit launch.

Don't get discouraged if things aren't going well. You can always cancel and relaunch after correcting issues. There is no stigma attached to having cancelled a project on Kickstarter as long as you show you've learned lessons from it and applied that knowledge.

Kirkatronics
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I Will Never Grow Up Gaming

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
mcobb83 wrote:
Go read this blog. Yes, I mean all of it. Yes, I know there is a lot there. This guy has kickstarted multiple highly successful games.

http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/

Exactly what I was going to say.

Start with Stonemaier's blog. Spend time reading it. Read it two or three times. Take notes.

Then go read the blogs from Minion Games' James Mathe here: http://www.jamesmathe.com/category/kickstarter/

Once you've gotten through those two, you're ready to START thinking about your Kickstarter.

Take your time. Do it right. Build an audience before you launch. Have a good amount of backers (in the ballpark of 25-40% of your total funding needed) lined up (and hopefully guaranteed to back) before you hit launch.

Don't get discouraged if things aren't going well. You can always cancel and relaunch after correcting issues. There is no stigma attached to having cancelled a project on Kickstarter as long as you show you've learned lessons from it and applied that knowledge.


Thanks for the advice. I've literally been reading the blog solidly since I learned of it. It's well written and informative.

I'll check out that other blog too.

Soulfinger
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It couldn't hurt to emulate

It couldn't hurt to emulate this guy:
http://www.bgdf.com/node/18584

questccg
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I don't get it

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Build an audience before you launch. Have a good amount of backers (in the ballpark of 25-40% of your total funding needed) lined up (and hopefully guaranteed to back) before you hit launch.

Every one keeps talking about getting backers before the launch... I'd like to know what the SOURCE of these backers is?!?!

I've had some interesting talks over at the CON I attended last month. We were discussing Scythe and Jamey in particular. The organizer told me that what Jamey doesn't tell people is that somehow HE connects with OTHER "Ambassadors" of his game. Presumably this fits into the category of sizing up what you can do to help Jamey (in various ways).

Jamey heads up a gaming group in St. Louis and my organizer said he pretty much has a small community of loyal people that come to game nights on a regular basis. So if he would say publish a game - he MIGHT reach out to OTHER organizers in other places... And they may then generate a buzz with their crowd of regular gamers looking for a fun NEW game...

I'm not in any shape contradicting Jamey's results - but this kind of information is not on his blog. Basically the organizer suggested that like minded people with the capability of networking - can have an IN at certain places... Look it helped me get an "on consignment" for Tradewars - Homeworld even if I can't sell the game: I was offered SHELF SPACE! Oooh...

My guess there are probably other ways Jamey networks - but we're not privy to all that information.

Like I said I find it ODD that everyone is saying BUILD BACKERS BEFORE ... and no one seems to be able to explain HOW?! :/

Just my perception on the matter...

questccg
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I found another SOURCE

In Canada we have this Elite gaming group called "The Game Artisans of Canada".

The collective is divided into local gaming chapters supposedly for the sole purpose of designing new and exciting board games.

Unfortunately in my Province (Quebec), we do not have a local chapter. This is for a couple reasons: it's a French vs. English issue. Learning more from my coach, he told me that the French community have a well built network of events for French speaking board game enthusiasts. The English community have ZERO in comparison. My coach tells me that the reasons why the English community has so little is because it's difficult to bring the right people to the table...

Getting back to The Game Artisans of Canada... I initially spoke with a representative in Calgary who referred me to a representative in Ottawa who couldn't give a shit (pardon the expression) about me. Perhaps this was a French / English rift - sort of you poor SOB you live in a Francophone province where all they want is French everywhere...

But what The Game Artisans of Canada seem to do quite well is COLLABORATE on games - different people like Graphic Designers, Illustrators and Game Designers all live within this well oiled community of gamers. And their people (from what I have seen) do produce great quality in terms of game appearance. I can't tell from game play - because I've never heard about most of their games...

Which brings me again to Jamey. If an ORGANIZATION with Chapters around Canada cannot produce the NEXT "Scythe", how in earth did Jamey do it?! He must be a real people person - because I would estimate that "The Game Artisans of Canada" dwarf in sheer numbers alone the resources and connections that are possible (and that's only across Canada - EXCLUDING Quebec).

So maybe if you're part of "The Game Artisans of Canada", you might have some people who can credibly push your game (in the right direction so to speak!)

Cheers.

I Will Never Gr...
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questccg wrote:I Will Never

questccg wrote:
I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Build an audience before you launch. Have a good amount of backers (in the ballpark of 25-40% of your total funding needed) lined up (and hopefully guaranteed to back) before you hit launch.

Every one keeps talking about getting backers before the launch... I'd like to know what the SOURCE of these backers is?!?!

-Family and Friends (your number one source for day one backing)
-Building a mailing list (typically through running a blog or other resource that gamers are willing to view on a regular basis)
-Facebook groups (participating regularly about other topics not related to your project, joining in conversation, asking for advice and opinion, etc)
-Attending and demoing heavily at conventions (get names and email addresses!)
-Attending and demoing heavily at a variety of game stores and gaming groups (get names and email addresses!)
-Getting a variety of play test groups involved early and often (get names and email addresses!)
-Marketing to a variety of groups (gamers, stores, distribution channels, etc)
-Contests

Most of this can take years of networking and a level social skills many don't have, as well as a healthy dose of cash.

You need to network.
You need to build an audience over time through appropriate channels and methods largely dependent on your game and your particular skill set.
You need to utilize those channels effectively.
You need to build a buzz about your game and get others excited enough about it to continue that buzz throughout the length of the campaign.

In short; there is no one answer to this question and there is definitely no quick way to accomplish it. What works for one person may utterly fail for another.

I Will Never Gr...
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Yes!

Soulfinger wrote:
It couldn't hurt to emulate this guy:
http://www.bgdf.com/node/18584

Absolutely. Anyone looking to build a crowd and gain peoples interest and appreciation should be doing all of that at minimum.

questccg
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How do you expect anyone to have such a network?

Maybe for an online store who SELLS to people - it's easy to have a list of e-mails of potential buyers. But to a person, it's rather impossible to keep track of that many people - they can't be very close connections... Seems to me just like Facebook LIKES: so they like what you are doing, that doesn't mean they will back your game.

Your Facebook community will be a very little percentage of your backers. As the say in techno terms, the conversion rate is near zero.

Even if I was a social butterfly, I think I could maybe maintain contact with maybe 10% of those people. Why one earth would you contact a person you met at a CON (Aside to peddle your game)? It's not as if those relationship are very close... That's why my estimate is around 10%... Otherwise you'd be constantly shooting off e-mails to people you hardly know - just to reinforce your network.

That sounds like somebody's JOB! :P But I get it... not my cup of tea.

I Will Never Gr...
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Networking is, in a way, a full time job

questccg wrote:
Maybe for an online store who SELLS to people - it's easy to have a list of e-mails of potential buyers. But to a person, it's rather impossible to keep track of that many people - they can't be very close connections... Seems to me just like Facebook LIKES: so they like what you are doing, that doesn't mean they will back your game.

Your Facebook community will be a very little percentage of your backers. As the say in techno terms, the conversion rate is near zero.

Without making use of my online store I have a mailing list of about 200 people for my current game project. This is through networking and social media.

When I did my first run at Kickstarter for the game a couple of months ago (relaunching in the new year with lessons learned and major improvements made to the campaign with input from helpful backers), about 20% of the backers were directly from Facebook. 20% is a major percentage. To put that number in perspective, 45% of the backers were direct through Kickstarter. 10% from Kicktraq and the remaining 25% were from a variety of other sources, including my email list and other referrers (reddit, instagram, bgg, blogs, etc).

questccg wrote:

Even if I was a social butterfly, I think I could maybe maintain contact with maybe 10% of those people. Why one earth would you contact a person you met at a CON (Aside to peddle your game)? It's not as if those relationship are very close... That's why my estimate is around 10%... Otherwise you'd be constantly shooting off e-mails to people you hardly know - just to reinforce your network.

That sounds like somebody's JOB! :P But I get it... not my cup of tea.

When people sign on to a mailing list it is to receive semi-regular updates on the subject matter they signed on for. That is why you need to build a mailing list. That is why you would contact someone you met at a convention. Using services such as Mailchimp makes it easy to keep track of them all and send out updates. Mailchimp and similar services also provide you with statistics as well, including how many people actually opened that email and clicked on any link provided in it; this is valuable info to have!

You're not looking to befriend people or form a relationship (outside of a business/potential sales contact). You're looking to make initial contact with them, get them interested in your product, then keep them in the loop as to major developments. This helps keep them interested, and when the time comes provides a higher likelihood they will back the project.

Yes, you're constantly shooting off emails to people you don't know. That's part of marketing.

A mailing list can be similar to Facebook likes, but it's far more likely to be people who are genuinely interested in the product as they've had a chance to look at it, touch it, get a feel for it (those who sign up for it at conventions/meetups/flgs/etc anyway) and they are indicating they want to continue to be informed by signing up for it.

Even Facebook provides benefits when utilized to somewhere near it's full potential. There are a number of facebook groups that are a wealth of information AND potential customers; you just have to figure out how to work the system properly and efficiently.

Let's face it; effective networking, building an audience, marketing a product and selling that product to the end user IS a full time job. It takes a lot of time, effort, skill and patience and it takes having a thick skin to push through all of the negatives that come with the job.

If the job is not your (or someone else's) cup of tea, it's probably best left to someone who's cup of tea it is, else you're just spinning your wheels and going nowhere fast.

mindspike
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questccg wrote:My guess there

questccg wrote:
My guess there are probably other ways Jamey networks - but we're not privy to all that information.

Like I said I find it ODD that everyone is saying BUILD BACKERS BEFORE ... and no one seems to be able to explain HOW?! :/

Just my perception on the matter...

I think Jamey lays out pretty much everything in the category, "Build Your Brand". Building backers before the Kickstarter launches is all about building investment in your project. It's exactly the same as asking them to back your project, you just haven't asked for the money yet. I think "your backers" refers to the people on your mailing list, the participants in your blog, anyone who is actively involved with your project prior to asking for the sale.

Every other sales job I've ever worked involves building the client's investment and involvement before asking for the sale. I'd be surprised if this was any different. I've found Jamey's blog to be incredibly helpful for many different businesses.

Tedthebug
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Building a network can just be from conventions

I'm really new & don't have much of a following, but we attend conventions, big & small, when we can. Yes this is costing us $ but we are treating it as a hobby so we just keep the costs within our hobby budget. At the conventions we get a few likes for Facebook & some people will leave their email address on our surveys (we use a digital survey so they type their emails in so we don't have to try & read it). After the convention we send out a short email thanking people for trying our stuff & then we send out a quarterly update & remind people to follow us on Facebook for more regular updates.

We don't have a big following but we do have about 60 people follow us on Facebook (about 10 are family or friends) & around the same number on email (I'm not sure of the overlap but I do know some people opted to only do one as they asked when doing the survey if they could as they didn't want to give their email or don't use Facebook). From this small group we get feedback on prototype pics we post up & some volunteer to help test if we send PnP's.

We haven't run a Kickstarter, & at this stage I'm not keen to run one, but even at this stage I'm having to remind myself to keep in touch with people just so they don't forget about us.

ren
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It's about branding yourself

i agree so much with what everyone has said.
I haven't done a Kckstarter. I don't even have a game fully designed yet. But I've backed a lot of Kickstarters and have been watching and learning with the intent of considering to run a Kickstarter of my own one day. Now that I'm close to having a game ready I've focussed more on branding myself. Being active on social media, talking to people at conventions, spending time at game stores and other events, and now starting blogging and youtubing. It takes a lot of time and money, but I want to be successful and this is my world. I love gaming and would do a lot of this anyway, the desire to build a following, however, adds an extra push. If I'm not able to build a base of followers, then I won't be choosing Kickstarter. I've seen enough to know I want to be confident in how many backers I can get before even attempting.
The difficulty is working all that while still doing everything else (and having your regular life). I'm still trying to find my team, too, as I switch focus to finding followers. While branding yourself can be time-consuming, the team has been the most difficult for me.

Good luck!

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