Disclaimer:  This “guest” article was written by Eddie, Novaleaf’s Game Dev Lead.   

What does it take to run a successful Kickstarter campaign? This is the question that we asked ourselves a few months ago when we decided to use kickstarter to fund our new game, God of Puzzle. Since then, we did everything that we could think of to ensure the success of the campaign, and we would like to share our stories about this little adventure with you. We hope that this information will help some projects get the backing that it deserves.

A Disclaimer

Please note that we have just launched our kickstarter, so while we don’t know for sure that this approach will work, this post is the first of a series.  We’ll be sure to inform you of our progress (good or bad) bi-weekly as the data comes in.

The Research

We’ve looked at several hundreds of projects on Kickstarter over the past few months. We also didn’t have thekickbackmachine in the beginning, so finding failed project wasn’t an easy thing to do. In addition to just looking at them, we also kept track of projects that has similar scope so that we can observe the progress of it over time. Finally, we analyzed the data and listed out why a project failed or succeeded.

The List

So, we’ve ended up with a list that we thought was crucial information on what to do to give our project the highest chance of success. I’ve listed the most important points below, but keep in mind that there are plenty of projects that didn’t do everything right but still able to generate tons of money. So, following or not following the guidelines in this list doesn’t ensure success or failure; but doing everything this list will definitely maximizes your chance of success:

1. Make sure your project is awesome

Seem really obvious right? Well, from my observation, most of the project that failed are projects with mediocre/not so original ideas. When you have a project with an ingenious idea, you really don’t have to do much to get funded.

2. Present a team that can get the job done

If the scope of your project is big, make sure you have the team to back it up. Be honest and realistic with what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re a couple of college students, you’re unlikely to get funded if you’re asking to fund a huge project, like an MMO.

3. Show ONLY the cool stuff

This is extremely important, and you need to think carefully about this one. If you have some work-in-progress stuff that’s still pretty rough and doesn’t really represent the quality of the final product. Do not show it. People will assume that what you’re showing is more or less what the final product will be. Instead, show only the best stuff you currently have. If your best stuff isn’t at a presentable stage, then maybe it’s too early to start a Kickstarter campaign.

4. Leave your audience wanting for more

If you’re trying to fund a game by showing a playable alpha/beta. Make sure you don’t show the whole game. Most people decide to back a project because they want to see the final product. If most of the final product is already here, available to play for free, they’ll lose the craving and may not fund the project.

5. Be honest and positive

People appreciate honesty, and people don’t like whiners. If you show any of these negative qualities in your pitch, some backers will be more reluctant to support you. For example, giving statements along the lines of “the mainstream game industry are for losers” will surely offend a lot of people. As many people working in the mainstream game industry are actively looking at kickstarter projects.

6. Make important information easy to find

Don’t assume that people will read everything. Don’t assume that people will watch the entire video. Put the most important information first, if possible put it in the video or use pictures instead of plain texts. Research by looking at other successful projects will give you plenty of ideas how to make important information stand out.

7. Fair Rewards

This is another obvious one but difficult one to get right, so make sure you put a lot of thought into this. People who’re thinking about backing the project will look at the rewards before they make the final decision. Give back as much as possible and give something that people will value. Research and see what kind of rewards successful projects are offering and try to see if you can do better, or at least do the same.

8. Find your audience, and bring them to your project

This is probably the hardest part of running a kickstarter project. During my research, we came across many information confirming that traffic of people visiting kickstarter just to browse the available projects is extremely low. You have to do everything within your power to promote your project and bring people to it. Your goal is to make it viral, make people share links to your project on their facebook, make news sites and bloggers aware of your projects, make people in forums starting threads about your project. If you’re good at this, and your project is interesting, you will get an unusually high number of backers.

9. Give updates and Interact with your backers

Don’t forget that a backer can change their mind at anytime. They could raise their pledge amount, or back out completely. So, when you get a new backer, you want them to at least stick around until the end of the project. Providing frequent interesting updates with new information is important. If a backer is excited about the project, he or she might tell their friends about your project or even increase their pledge level. Start discussions, give some backers-only updates, make them feel great for backing your project.

10. Create a professional looking pitch, but don’t over do-it…

This one is not very obvious to see; according to our research, your pitch could be perceived as one of the following: poorly done, indie, professional, and “too much”. It’s obvious that your pitch should be perceived as either indie or professional depending on if you’re a small team or a professional game studio. And you definitely don’t want people to see your pitch as poorly done. So, what is “too much”? Too much means your audience see that you’re wasting your money on creating an expensive pitch (especially the video), so they’ll think that you’re not really low on cash. However, everyone don’t think the same way, so some people may actually appreciate the extra investment you put into the pitch. Use your judgement.

Until Next Time…

A lot of these are pretty obvious, right? Anyone who spent the time to properly research should ended up with a similar looking list, but I believe that forgetting to do just one or two items from this list could mean the difference between failure and success.

Finally, I can’t say that all of these information are “proven”, because as I’m writing this our own project is just published on Kickstarter.  So, as we gain more experience, we’ll make sure to give updates on any new and important information we discovered.