Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, indiegogo and other smaller ones, are the land of opportunity for indie games where they can make it or fall in glory. Recently, we have been planning for a possible launch on indiegogo, and we have been consulting a lot on tips for successfully crowdfunding an indie game, and we have thought in sharing them with the community.
Contents: Tips for successfully crowdfunding an indie game
What is a crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is the method most commonly used by start-ups or growing businesses to access alternative funding. It is an innovative way to obtain funding for new projects, businesses or ideas.
It can also be a way to cultivate a community around your offering. By harnessing the power of the online community, you can also gain useful market intelligence and access new customers.
This guide is aimed at entrepreneurs, business owners and companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses. If you are thinking about ways to fund a new business or idea, or have heard about crowdfunding and want to learn more, you may find this guide useful.
How does crowdfunding work?
Crowdfunding platforms are websites that allow interaction between fundraisers and the crowd. Through the crowdfunding platform, financial pledges can be made and raised.
Crowdfunding platforms typically charge a fee to the fundraisers if the fundraising campaign is successful. In return, crowdfunding platforms are expected to provide a secure and user-friendly service.
Many platforms operate on an all-or-nothing funding model. This means that if the goal is reached you get the money and if it is not reached, everyone gets their money back: no hard feelings and no financial loss.
There are several types of crowdfunding which are explained below. This guide offers unbiased advice to help you understand the three most common types of crowdfunding used by SMEs and for-profit startups: peer-to-peer crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding and reward crowdfunding.
What types of crowdfunding exists?
|Peer-to-peer lending||The crowd lends money to a company with the understanding that the money will be repaid with interest. It is very similar to traditional bank lending, except that many investors are borrowed.|
|Equity crowdfunding||Selling a stake in a company to a number of investors in exchange for an investment. The idea is similar to the way common stock is bought or sold on a stock exchange, or to a venture capital.|
|Rewards-based crowdfunding||Individuals donate to a project or business with the expectation of receiving in return a non-financial reward, such as goods or services, at a later stage in exchange for their contribution.|
|Donation-based crowdfunding||Individuals donate small amounts to achieve the broader funding goal of a specific charitable project without receiving any financial or material reward.|
|Profit sharing/revenue sharing||Companies may share future profits or revenue with the crowd in exchange for current funding.|
|Crowdfunding of debt securities||Individuals invest in a debt security issued by the company, such as a bond.|
|Hybrid models||They offer companies the opportunity to combine elements of more than one type of crowdfunding.|
We have ourselves gone once through a crowdfunding campaign which failed, and from the learning that we have performed on top of it, we have been able overtime to understand some basic mistakes that we have done with it, so we have though in condensing all those learning in to a set of tips that can help other fellow game developers.
So, here are 15 tips to help you launch your indie game successfully.
Tip Number One: A crowdfunding campaign doesn´t increase your game visibility or discoverability.
This one of the major mistakes that most game developers make when thinking about a crowdfunding campaign, thinking that the campaign will actually leverage on the crowdfunding platform and increase the overall visibility and discoverability of your game.
This is totally false and quite the other way around. Crowdfunding platforms are actually benefiting from the traffic that you will be generating toward your landing page on the platform, and if they see a generous amount of free traffic that they think could generate a successful campaign, then and only then, they will start to promote your game to their user bases.
This usually means, that either we have already a large number of backers lounging for your game and able to bring all the pledges you need in the first 24h or you game will actually never take off in the platform independently of all your efforts to promote it.
This leads us to the tip number two.
Tip Number Two: Make sure you have done your research.
As every aspect of life, researching and planning are key to success.
A crowdfunding campaign as the same requirements, you must understand every aspect associated with it, right from the first thought about it, up to the point where you actually have all the details aligned to actually launch it.
There are a lot of different aspects that you need to research, from the marketing and promotion to public and press relationship, copywriting, design for the materials, video editing for the trailers, voice overs, music, etc….
You need to consider all the dimensions of the campaign and where to find the people that could be interested in your game.
Remember that you need to have at least half of the backers ready to give you their pledge as soon as you launch your campaign.
We live an universal education world, where you can easily find information and knowledge just for any discipline your could need, from marketing and graphic design to computer science and more, you can find classes that meet and give you your learning goals, especially if you’re going to run your own indie game studio.
Tip Number Three : Contact other developers going/went through a crowdfunding.
you may think that you know what you are doing, or you may think that you have the right team or right collaborations to help you move your crowdfunding campaign forward. But, in reality, you don´t know nothing until you actually have gone through one.
This is the reason, you should contact other game developers that have ran or actually running a crowdfunding campaign, and ask them for knowledge and for cross promotion. Although you may think that no one will answer you, you’ll be surprised at how helpful people are. On the other hand, you will aslo be contacted by other game developers with the same doubts and hesitations as yours, so apply to them the same medicine that you are looking for yourself and share some knowledge and be a friendly fellow game developer willing to help.
Tip Number Four : Build your community early.
It’s easy to think that Kickstarter is a magical platform that attracts hundreds of thousands of backers, but it’s not. If you want your campaign to succeed, you need to build a community and a following for your game in advance, such as a Twitter account or a Discord , YouTube channel, or an email list.
This will help shouting out about your game and get people interested and thrilled about your game, and if not, then this will means that you are somewhat missing the key points about your game and you should probably review it.
The main purpose of building a community and get people excited about it beforehand, and in time to get a lot of people ready to fund your game from day one.
Tip Number Five: Connect Connect and Connect
As the name indicates it, all the efforts should be put in promoting the game, and there is no better way to promote a product of service, than going through connections of other game developers that can help you leverage from their user/followers bases.
The more connections you will be able to made across the industry, the more potential gamers you will be able to reach due the network effect of your connections.
Tip Number Six: you should know when to launch your game’s campaign.
With Crowdfunding platforms timing is important and critical, you don’t want to launch your campaign on a weekend or vacation as people are less active at this time of year, spring and autumn are usually the best time of year as people are busy during the summer and winter. The trend can change, so make sure you have done your research beforehand and that you are actually following the pattern evaluation.
Tip Number Seven: Take advantage of all the pledges and rewards the crowdfunding platform.
Don’t hesitate to define as many pledges you thinking could be interesting for you and for your game. There is no rule about how much categories you should have, the only thing that you have to take in consideration if that the player or backer should have a clear understanding of the value that it will receive if backing the project.
The more granularity you are able to put on your campaign, the more probabilities you will have that one of them will actually match a backer capacity to fund a project like yours.
Tip Number Eight: Try to Reduce the physical product to a minimum.
Everything physical in a digital space you will lead to an higher cost, higher complexity due to logistics, shippings and returns, which in turn will transform into unhappy customers and overall negative word to mouth marketing.
Although physical products are very cool and can lead to a higher perception of quality, the fact is that the complexity of dealing with this dimension will eventually end running into process problems that will generate unsatisfied users.
Try to be as most digital as possible, and space where you can change solutions and focus very quickly as to avoid giving the user the opportunity to complain.
Tip Number Nine : There’s nothing more unprofessional than inconsistent art and branding in a campaign.
There is nothing more unprofessional than to have bad design choices in places where most of your audience you will be looking at. A Crowdfunding Landing page, will be the heart of your campaign and there so all the design and graphical aspects of the page(s) should be taken to the maximum level of care.
Prepare the best art available from your game, and if you don’t any available, generate them from high quality assets and generating mockups that could fill in part of the overall look & feel for the game.
Be careful with colour palettes and with fonts. Especially fonts, as it is very easy to over abuse, and that could lead you with a very strange imagery for your project.
Tip Number ten: Don´t tell! Show it!
Show gameplay as early as possible This seems like common sense, but it’s not as obvious as you might think.
Show gameplay images or videos as early as possible Whether it’s in the campain’s trailer or the description below, people will get an immediate idea of what your game is and how it plays.
You have plenty of events, social promotions hashtags and other promotion mechanisms that can help you grabbing some interest over your game.
Tip Number Eleven: Why talk about the game when you can play it yourself.
Within the line of the previous point, and taken more in depth. Demos are a great way to show a vertical part of the game or basically a bit of polish. Demos are essential to help the player understand correctly the value delivered by your game, and the different messages that you could be distributed across your channels to leverage of the exposition achieved.
Tip Number Twelve: Get the crowdfunding platform to redirect traffic to your home website.
Always remember that everything that you do on third party platforms are not yours, and could be disabled or deleted in question of minutes. There so, if you are using them, don´t fully trust them and usually plan to have your own page at the end of the funnel as to guarantee that you will be able to collect all the visitors that will follow the different different options that you will have being available of an interested player.
There are several solutions to implement this, from Simply showing it in GIFs, screenshots or even infographics is a good way to guide people through the site without bombarding them with a wall of text. Even better are demos.
Tip Number Thirteen: Being ready !
Whether it’s fundraising or the first post of the stretch goal, you don’t want to do it while you’re in the heat of a campaign, so it’s crucial to have it ready before launch as to focus at each stage on the right actions to be taken.
Tip Number Fourteen: Set the right funding objective
Crowdfunding platforms tends not to promote projects until they’re funded or at least have more than 50% of funding in the first days of the campaign. If you are realistic with your goals, you will be able to achieve the efficiency threshhold and probably be successful.
If is better to ask for 20 euros and only receiving 15 euros, you will get nearer to the 15 euros than to the 20 Euros one,, which will get more probabilities to have success.
Tip Number Fithteen: Review your campaign before you think about launching it
Remember to ask your friends, family and other game developers to look at it and ask if there is any missing information or bugs.
Tip Number Sixthteen: Have a page in other digital stores.
It maybe sound strange to say that you should have already landing pages in other digital stores, if you are still trying to get funded on a crowdfunding platform, but you need to have them, because even if your campaign is failure, it will actually won’t a loss of time and energy, because you may receive some wish lists or cross-sells in the other platforms, and in the end you will end generating some marginal revenues that could come handy during the game development.
Going through a crowdfunding campaign can be very stressful, especially nowadays, as the complexity of being successful is much more difficult due to the fact that the amount of projects that have been launching on these platforms have been growing on year to year bases. Some of them successful ( a minority) others unsuccessful ( the great majority), a lot of the successful ones have revealed to be sophisticated frauds which have made the funders to be much more selective on the projects where to deposit trust, which in turn causes you to show how truthful and honest you can be.
Also, a crowdfunding is winned before the release button is pressed, don’t fool yourself, or you have already at least half of the backers needed to be successful prior to the campaign, or your campaign will never actually launch as the crowdfunding platform will not leverage your visibility through its users bases.