Each week, I will show you educational case studies on Kickstarter. These are strictly my opinions on Kickstarter best practices, but opinions based on experience at that. My listing these campaigns are always an endorsement of the product itself, no matter my critical commentary of the campaign. Enjoy!
A real-time, app-driven board game of WW2 submarine warfare. This underwater war thriller will put your skills to the ultimate test.
The Good: Watch the intro video all the way through. Do you know how to play the game? Not exactly, but you understand that you are working on a team and that there are four roles in the game doing simultaneous tasks with the overall goal of taking out enemies and navigating a patrol route. That’s a powerful and influencing intro video. It isn’t quite a how-to-play, but it shows off the components in a storytelling and thematic way, even placing you in a specific day in history from the very beginning. Most new creators will not be able to afford this level of animation production, but it is possible to capture the backer imagination and to explain the object of your game entertainingly and thematically, which is the goal of an intro video.
The Bad: This one is going to be minor, but I have seen it in enough campaigns to worry about it trending. If you get many reviews for your project, you should quote them in your campaign and give them space to shine, etc. But don’t put them all in a rotating gif in an attempt to show more than one without sacrificing real estate. Pick one, typically the one with the most significant audience, and highlight that one near the top. Put the rest either sprinkled throughout the campaign or in a dedicated review section.
The Misinformed: I do genuinely like this campaign, so don’t bring out the pitchforks just yet. You know what UBOOT severely lacks in their campaign? Polish and cohesion. This is an innovative and premium product with a high price tag and a professional intro video to match. But I can’t quickly decipher relevant information from scrolling the campaign. It shouldn’t take that long to find specific elements, such as social media links. The stretch goal graphics are about the minimum effort you can design something thematic. They are making likely seven figures by the end of this thing. I want the campaign to look like they did.
5 Stack is an incredibly “easy to learn” chip stacking board game, that involves strategy and chance. Fun for 2-6 Players, Ages 5+.
The Good: Oh lordy, what a beautiful and well-crafted how-to-play video. Creators, this is the standard. Period. Dot. End of Story. This is exactly how you want to approach post-production in your videos. Cut scenes to break up any downtime in the video. Place music and professional voiceover in the video. Capture the best angle to explain a specific part of the gameplay. Add overlays to incorporate text explanations to what is happening on screen. Also, one thing I want to praise is the live stream calendar. That is new to me, but something I think might end up being pretty important as time goes on.
The Bad: The pledges don’t include shipping. This is a mistake. You as a creator need to establish how much it will cost to provide worldwide fulfillment by soliciting freight/fulfillment/logistics partners who can offer you quotes based on the product’s estimated size, weight, units per carton, and carton size and weight. Not doing so, especially as a new creator, gives backers little reason to trust you.
The Misinformed: The numbers are all off for this project. $35,000 funding goal, $48 per copy of the game, and no shipping included. That means they need more than 700 backers to support them to fund. 700 people who agree to that post-campaign shipping. That is unrealistic. I can tell why this is happening from a backend perspective. Making your games in the US is a great cause and possibly something I can get behind if you can make the numbers work, but in 99.9 percent of projects, that is impossible. The creators are being forced to manufacture many thousands of units in the US, causing their funding goal and product price to balloon. This is at most a $39 per copy project, with a $12000 or so funding goal. That gets you around the magic 300 backer number, and you can effectively manufacture and fulfill a project on those margins by producing in China.
An action-based strategy game for the new millennium! Mine, hack, trade, and store coins to be the first one to fill your vault.
The Good: It is great that Yahoo has covered the project, along with a slew of other high-profile outlets. You as a creator can and should do outreach to your local press and beyond if you have a topical theme or hook that is newsworthy. It is unfortunate that press did not lead to better conversions in this campaign. I would have likely shared a quote from each article and linked to the specific articles to close that trust gap better. Honestly, the pessimist in me is questioning whether these outlets covered this game at all without better-defined proof. That is something you should consider when displaying high-profile coverage.
The Bad: First of all, early birds are bad. A 24 to 72-hour timed stretch goal that benefits everyone is the preferred method of funding quickly. But I have bigger fish to fry in this section. Blockchain, you buried your how-to-play very low in the campaign, did not teach the game in a captivating enough way in that text and image section, and outsourced your how-to-play video to a third-party branded media entity. I am all for soliciting media in general, but you need to have your own internally branded how-to-play video. That is the bare minimum requirement in today’s market. And that how to play section needs to come at the very least before the stretch goals.
The Misinformed: What Hell hath wrought this intro video? I am going to pretend I am in on the joke that the bad 90’s animation work is intentional, but even if that is the case, isn’t that a theme departure given the recent popularity of cryptocurrency? That video is a complete redo to me. An intro Kickstarter video is the first thing many would-be backers will experience. Why not spend time on something that will immediately sell the best parts of the game in 60-90 seconds?