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Thread: How to lead a successful Kickstarter campaign? (promotion?)

  1. #1

    Default How to lead a successful Kickstarter campaign? (promotion?)

    I'm an artist-turned-programmer/developer who recently decided to try my hand and making my first really "big" game project. It turned into quite a project, and I even mustered up a little team, all of us artists, and we ended up starting a Kickstarter campaign.

    We thought we had it all figured out and would be able to promote well, but we're starting to learn just how difficult promotion is. We've posted topics in all kinds of forums, made a facebook page, encouraged all our friends to promote... really tried to get the word out.

    But it seems like our campaign still isn't all that visible. We've all seen plenty of worse-looking projects get funded for much higher goals, so we're not sure what we're doing wrong. Granted, it's only been about 5 days, but all the pledges were on the first couple of days, and almost all of them were people we knew. We've generated about $100 from strangers and promotion.

    I actually bought an ad on a site, which still has not gone live (even though it should have--this is the third time I've had problems with this site and ads, so I'll probably never buy ads there again, even though it does reach a lot of people and it's really cheap).

    But for example, when looking for other forums and stuff to promote on, we have trouble. Not only are we noob users with 0 posts trying to get people to give us money, but often there are rules that say you can't post advertising or whatever.

    We don't really know what else we can do.

    I signed up for this forum like 2 or 3 years ago but I never posted anything, just lurked a lot, and then kinda forgot about it.

    What do you guys have to give as advice for an ongoing Kickstarter campaign? Other than what Kickstarter already gives you as advice. Where should we looking? What should we be doing? It's ongoing, so we don't have a chance to go back and plan from the beginning again, so what kinds of techniques help keep interest and generate new interest to an ongoing campaign?

    I searched for a topic like this and didn't see one.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2


    I think your biggest problem is that the video on Kickstarter doesn't say an awful lot about the game. Sure there's a lot of babbling about "would you like to do this? would you like to do that?", but I found the guy really hard to listen to as he talked at 100mph (sorry if it's you, but you did ask). Don't know why but I got the impression that you hadn't even decided exactly what you were doing yet, and the lack of any working prototype (at least, that I could see), only serves to emphasise that. The screenshots of three bugs asleep on the floor doesn't really tell me a lot. Why aren't they doing anything? Who would want to nurture a bug anyway? Bugs are for squashing.

    Also, the amount you're asking for ($3,000), doesn't make any positive noises. It tells me it's going to be a cheaply made, sub-standard game. That would barely employ me as a programmer for a month, let alone the duration of a complete project.

    Hope this helps, though, it probably doesn't.

  3. #3


    Disclaimer :
    - sorry, I'm going to be harsh...
    - I have absolutely no idea if I'm representative or not of the Kickstarter crowd

    So :
    1- Like outlined by Desktop Gaming, "Funding will be paid to officially hire and pay the staff, as well as commission some extra work that will need done" and $3000 goal absolutely don't match, except maybe if you live in the cheapest 3rd world country on this planet (and in that case, you shouldn't have access to Kickstarter ).

    2- 1st idea exposed at the start is attractive ; art all around it is not : it looks like you scribbled a few poorly designed pictures over a week-end and was done with it

    3- did you ever do a decent video game in the past ? I'd never not put my money on a totally unknown 1st timer

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Adelaide, Australia


    I won't be as harsh ;-) but I do agree with the other guys to a certain extent.

    I disagree with ManuTOO about the poorly designed pictures, I think you probably do need some more concept art, but associate it with some of the features you are working on, and present it much better than you have.

    Make sure you proof everything. I know a lot of people don't care about spelling and grammar, but really it does make you look amateurish. For instance in the video, at about 30 seconds you spell project wrong. Really? Didn't you proof it?

    The biggest problem I think you face is that you are attempting to fund a game not yet started and yet haven't completed a published game yourself. Thaoo Hanshew's profile isn't all that encouraging to be honest. It should read like the Joseph Diko profile, not all about leaving retail management hoping to fulfill your dreams, that is irrelevant. In this area just tell us what Thaoo's credentials are.

    You don't have Bethanny's profile up yet either. Which gives me the impression you have jumped the gun thinking that Kickstarter is a silver bullet to funding. If I were you, I'd cancel this Kickstarter, and get all your stuff together first. Photo's for profiles, professionally presented concept art, and really make your presentation sparkle. Don't write in the first person all the time. It's a team after all.

    And Kickstarter funders for the most part are investing in a game they want to play, you need to sell them on not only why they want to invest in your game, but also on why they want to play it. Since you don't have an IP like Wasteland behind you, which fans have been clamoring about for years, you need to get your own fans who are excited about your game. It's all about marketing and word of mouth.

    Don't present the gameplay/features as a wall of text. Use bullets, break up with small pictures, and headings.

    Take a step back, and read it objectively and ask yourself. Would you contribute to this project?

  5. #5


    I think it's a really tricky situation. Aside from anything else, I look at the pitch and see that there's no in-game footage yet so presume that implementation is barely started then I look at the amount requested and see that you're asking for $3000. If you were bankrolling a mobile game using a professional games studio, I'd expect it to cost a minimum of $50,000 to $100,000, so it makes me think the project isn't realistically going to get finished.

    But if you asked for $100,000 then the kickstarter crowd would think it's absolutely crazy money to ask for for a simple mobile game because the public generally underestimate the cost and difficulty of game development. Maybe you could get away with that if you were a well known name in the industry.

    I think your only real option is to start implementing. Presumably, by only needing $3,000 you were planning for most of the work to be done for free or profit share, so the lack of the $3,000 shouldn't be an obstacle to getting the game to the 50% complete state (and if it's really 50% complete then it should look about 90% complete to the lay person). Once you're there then you can make a much better pitch by showing people what they'll get, and satisfying them that you can deliver by showing them the in-game footage.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Adelaide, Australia


    That is another good point. I looked at your profile and you're in Indiana?

    $3K isn't much to live on in the US, so we've got to assume that you're independently wealthy. Are your team, or are you all working for equity?

    If you do need to pay yourselves I think you have underestimated how much your project will cost by a few light years.

  7. #7


    We attended a How do Crowdfund panel whose participants included the guy behind the crowdfunding bible. All the panelists said the same thing: You have to do massive aggressive press outreach. Period.

  8. #8


    The problem is that the game you're pitching doesn't sound all that interesting. The impression you give us is that you're going to make a bad Pokemon clone. The unique features you talk about don't sound very unique and the concept art is incredibly basic.

  9. #9


    Kickstarter is a marketing tool so the best way to run a successful Kickstarter campaign is ... to have released a previously successful game. Not really helpful I know but it's hard enough to promote an actual released game so when you try to promote something that might get completed one day well ... It speaks for itself.

    Over a year ago I run a successful tiny tiny crowdfunding campaign of $1,000. All the money came from friends, coworkers, players from my previous games and some indie devs who knew me. I'd focus my efforts on trying to reach this kind of people since you're after $3,000. Forget about trying to reach complete strangers until your name rings a bell from past work.

  10. #10


    Too many people seem to think crowdsourcing is easy or that it doesn't take much effort, pre-planning, etc. It couldn't be further from the truth, especially as the crowdsourcing scene becomes more cluttered.

    Step 1: Look up many of the successful Kickstarter campaigns, especially those that were funded well and above their target goals.

    Step 2: Read and watch EVERYTHING these successful campaigns did. Take note of the level of polish, even in their original promo videos. How much talking is there? Do they show text to help support certain points or aspects of their project? What's the pacing like? Your video has a TON of talking at a relatively fast speed and very little visual prompts to support all of that talking. The pacing is pretty much consistent and in my opinion, way too fast. When presenting you need to often go slower and make things simpler so your audience will absorb as much as possible. Go watch an Apple keynote to see a great example of how to give a lot of info in a solid, clean, approachable way.

    Edit: Also consider doing a bit more post-processing on your narrator track. It's somewhat messy and as an audio guy, it's really sticking out to me. Others may not notice it directly but I can guarantee you it does make an impression on the subconscious level.

    Step 3: Spend some time watching various campaigns currently happening and see which ones make it and which ones do not. This will take some time. Write down the differences between them, adopting what you liked and saw as successful while dropping what didn't work out. Ideally, you'll be working on the game during all of this, which will give you even more to present and a higher level of polish.

    Step 4: After spending some serious time studying and observing what works in Kickstarter, spend even more time carefully crafting your own pitch. Be super picky. Take your time and even do some test runs with people (preferably not friends and/or family who would might lie to you because they care about your feelings) and see what works well. You probably should use an NDA for that last part. Treat this step as if you were presenting to the execs of your favorite game publisher for a once-in-a-lifetime pitch. That level of polish, intent and attention to detail will only help increase your odds of success!

    Step 5: Publish it! And hopefully you would have learned several of the solid approaches that help (but do not guarantee) success with crowd sourcing.

    Hope that helps,

    Last edited by nsmadsen; 02-26-2013 at 12:55 PM.
    Nathan Madsen
    Composer-Sound Designer Austin, TX USA

  11. #11


    The pitch video is the show stopper (it is boring) and I stopped watching it half way. This video might help you get into the right mindset, but you need to do some further study in this area:

    Marketing your Game

  12. #12


    We ran a successful 10000$ campaign last year, but it was one of the most stressful periods of our company's life.

    1. Prepare to halt all production on the game and put 100% effort into getting the word out. What does that mean?
    - Get a press release out, this helps a little bit.
    - Contact local newspapers digital or rags and find an editor or writer who frequently publishes tech related stuff. Best to have a legitimate reason behind why you are worth a story.
    - Get on twitter and start making friends. If the campaign is already started, it is way too late for this to have an effect. It takes a long time to be able to say anything people will listen to.
    - Facebook groups. Make your own and engage other Kickstarter campaigns. Don't come across as greedy, be engaging and earnest. Offer help or advice and perhaps they will offer the same.
    - Put some $ into setting up a Facebook Ad campaign and a Google Adwords campaign, but use it right. Just because your hitting a big audience doesn't mean it is the right one.
    - Update frequently with changes and engage the people who have kindly given you their hard earned money. Give them a voice and give them respect.
    - If you think you are offering something spectacular start sending emails out to different news sites. IGN, Kotaku, Polygon, Gamespot, RockPaperShotgun, Indiegamer. Give them info, give them pictures, give them exclusives. (We were building a social game - these sites do not care about that kind of game. The audience doesnt care about that kind of game. Gamezebo, however, does.) There are SO many sites out there
    - If you have a blog use it, if you need to start one, then do so. But it is already too late for it to have an impact.
    - If you have a newsletter, use it.
    - I want to reemphasize engaging other kickstarter campaign and offer MORE help.
    - If your step cousin from another marriage is Scarlet Johannson (SP? Make sure it's the right one!) ask if she can tweet about it.

    2. Kickstarter works best if you bring money to the table. Don't sneak it up on people. This doesn't help you now, but for anyone else reading: Try and get your friends and family on the same page as you and when the campaign is launched. Make it an event as big as you can. Imagine it as a business, go out and find people interested in investing (backing) you early and count on them to show up when the green light shines. Know you have X $ on the table before you ever get a single cent of it.

    3. Provide updates before and after the campaign. Whether you succeed or not you found people, however few, who believe in you. Update them on your new facebook pages. Engage them. They are not robots who don't exist after the campaign ends. Feed them and make them fat and happy with information

    4. Don't be fooled. Kickstarter has this false image of being the gateway to infinite funds. For some sad reason this really only becomes understandable to people who have ran a campaign on it. Successfully or not. Your kickstarter campaign is a business and a wonderfully bittersweet experience. Cherish it, hate it, and learn from it!

    Also take solace in this. There was recently a project that blew me away. It was something I really cared about, and many of you probably saw it as well. It was a project created by not only David Flippin Fincher, but BLUR studios, and of course my comic book hero Eric Powell. These are NOT small names. They hosted this project

    The Goon and that kickstarter campaign was 10 days out and hadn't even reached half of their goal. While they were of course eventually successful, due to a massive media bombardment. For some reason knowing that those three super-talented and relatively famous people were probably sitting in computer chairs pulling out their hair trying to figure out what they did wrong... it's comforting, haha! You hear all these mega success stories about 1 million dollars in a day or 500k$ in 3 days... But I believe there is simply no magic "win" button even for superstars.

    Phew. Buckle down Hope this is of some help.

    Scott Pellico

  13. #13


    Great post. Thanks Scott. The more I hear about what it takes to succeed in Kickstarter, the less I want to do one. lol

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Adelaide, Australia


    I wonder if there is a place for a business that specialises in running Kickstarters for businesses that don't have the time to put in that much effort.

  15. #15


    I have been thinking the same thing for a while. It used to be programmer, designer, artist. Now it seems every indie company, needs a community manager/social media expert.

  16. #16

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Adelaide, Australia


    @Davaris -- I think it's because those aspects of the internet, and running a business, seem to have become more important to getting above the noise.

    Once upon a time an indie could release a game, make a little bit of noise, and everybody would know about it. Nowadays, there's so much clutter you have to really focus time and effort on marketing to get noticed.

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