The proper way to crowdfund your video game
Updated: Feb 19, 2022
So you have decided to start crowdfunding your game. Congratulations! It’s a big step, but if done right, it can really take your game to the next level.
Financially it can be incredibly lucrative, with game projects raising more than $23 million on Kickstarter in 2020 and mid-2021 numbers looking promising despite the pandemic. It also gives you another platform and opportunity to find and connect with your audience from a marketing perspective.
With that being said, crowdfunding isn’t for every project. For every benefit you get from it, there is a lot of hard work behind it and can be very demanding from an indie developer's point of view. If that hasn’t scared you off yet, then great! Here are some tips you should consider when creating and running your own crowdfunding campaign.
Promote early and often
Start your crowdfunding campaign promotion months in advance on all of your social channels. You can’t only rely on whatever chosen crowdfunding platform you are using to build your audience. Use your current followers and networks to slowly build up hype for your game, give them a reason to be interested in what you are making and then when you are ready, start a social campaign to launch your crowdfunding campaign.
A bonus to this approach is that you can use your followers to test if there is any particular interest in merch or other additions you could make to your rewards tiers.
Choosing the right rewards and how many of them
Speaking of rewards, there are many things to consider when creating tier lists. Do you create an extensive list to give backers a sense of real choice? Or do you keep it short and simple to not get bogged down with too many rewards to give out? The answer is somewhere in between.
A 2019 study on the relationship between crowdfunding success and reward options found that if you have a relatively low number of reward options, adding one more has a marginally positive effect on your crowdfunding performance. On the other hand, if you have a relatively high amount of rewards, adding more has a negative impact on your campaign.
In essence, giving too many options to your backers creates more uncertainty and discourages them from pulling the trigger and making a final decision.
Don’t skimp out on the production value
The video game industry has grown dramatically over the last decade, and the same can be said for Kickstarter efforts. Once upon a time, you could potentially fund your video game project with a few screenshots and a promise, but those days are long gone. Just like other technology consumers today, crowdfunding backers can sus out whether your projects can stand the test of time or not.
Invest in a good trailer, make sure all videos of you and your staff are well lit, stable and audible, and keep your messaging text clear and concise. If potential backers see that you don’t care about the details here, how will they know that your final product will be as promised?
For more examples of this, check out one of my favourite indie developer Youtubers John Stejskal of Lost Relic Games, break down a Kickstarter project.
Remember: It’s not all about the money
Just because your game may have reached your target milestone, no matter how big or small it may be, it isn’t as big of a feather in your cap as you might think. A recent study on video game crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter found that successfully funded projects do not necessarily mean a game is successful in user scores or sales after the fact. What’s more important to your crowdfunding campaign is not the money at the end of the day but rather the community aspect of the platform.
Long story short, the number of backers you have is far more important than the amount of money you’ve raised as a whole. This metric is a stronger signal of the importance of a project with engaged followers. Most importantly, the same study found a direct correlation between the number of backers a project has and a higher chance of market success in terms of revenue and user ratings.
More backers also give you a greater and more diverse community to connect with as your project goes on. This leads us to the next point, community interaction.
Connecting with your backers
You have to treat your crowdfunding platform like any other social channel. That means it lives and dies with how often and what you update it with. This can seem daunting over a 30+ day campaign, so make sure you have a content plan ready before pulling the trigger and starting your journey.
How often should you update? According to Kickstarter, there is no magic number on how many updates you should give backers, but the platform recommends posting consistently and often. After all, this is your chance to reach out to your supporters and build your community. While the campaign is up and running, you should be updating consistently with one post a week minimum, but we recommend 2-3 if you can. This way, backers can see your work and where their hard-earned money is going. Don’t forget your post-campaign updates either! Make sure you have at least one developer post a month afterwards as you keep your backers up to date.
More important than regular updates is interaction. Make time in your schedule to regularly check in with your campaign and reply to every question, comment and concern from your backers. This goes a long way in building a community.
Going with the right partner
Like other marketing efforts, running a crowdfunding campaign can feel like a full-time job in itself. The good news is that you're not alone. There's an incredible amount of value in teaming up with a marketing partner to help run and organize your campaign.
Consider working with a marketing team like Cold Pixel, where we can handle everything from community and social media management to sales and continuing business. Reach out to us to learn more!
That's it for now! Follow us to keep up to date and learn more tips and tricks for video game marketing.