by Kevin Mark Rabida . November 13th, 2014
At least that’s what this failed kickstarter video game developer insists in the final update of his Official H.P. Lovecraft game The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
“I didn’t want to believe it, because I love the idea of crowdfunding, but there’s no way around this: we are experiencing its decline.”
True enough, despite the increased number of projects, successfully-funded projects, and funding per successful project, the video game category sees a drop in funding this year.
The OUYA, the third-highest-earning Kickstarter. Photo credit: luipermom
For video game startups, crowdfunding is the most viable way of turning concept arts into actual video games. (Unless you have an angel investor) and this drop threatens the future of indie gaming.
Or does it?
Creating a Kickstarter page doesn’t necessarily mean that you would immediately get the required funding. It isn’t a seed you plant to grow a money tree. It’s merely an avenue to sell your idea.
The decline in video game funding doesn’t mean that Kickstarter, or crowdfunding itself, is gonna die soon. In fact, it’s not going anywhere, and would probably be one heck of a while before it dies down. But there’s one thing in the rise that might be the explanation for this all: crowdfunder caution.
Crowdfunding is a sales pitch to your would-be investors. And investors wouldn’t want to part with their money unless they would get a return on investment.
Unless you’re big-time like Tim Schafer and his game Broken Age
Only a third of kickstater games fully deliver. With the failure of half-million crowdfunded games Yogventures and Clang, backers have become aware that video game projects can fail. And with it comes the wariness from funding a game that won’t deliver, or worse, a scam. (Looking at you, Yogventures.)
In any case, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world for indie game developers and fans.
In case you forgot, MMORPG means “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”. By massive, it means colossal, humongous, ENORMOUS. For independently-funded projects, they are very high risk investments. It’s alright to aim high, but unless you have a good track record or a veteran in the industry or a good following or a freakishly epic idea, chances are your MMORPG would fail.
The sheer size of the funding needed to pull it off, and the challenge of managing a project of its size, will pose some trouble and might put your project into development hell. Stick with traditional funding for that.
It’s nice to have a concept for a video game. I do, too. Lots of them. But I won’t immediately go to Kickstarter with those in my pocket. I need to show that I can actually deliver. I need to have proof of concept.
It’s not enough to give a plot and concept art (more on that later), show your target market a gameplay video, or a working prototype. The key is to develop your game as far as you could until you need the funds before putting it on Kickstarter so you can provide tangible proof and not a skeleton.
Screenshot of Pillars of Eternity (working title: Project Eternity)
I see this in a lot of video game Kickstarters. Sure, the concept art of your idea is great, but you need to show how they would actually look like in-game. Concept art gives me a decent backstory on how your design came about, but screenshots are the bits that get shared and could potentially create traction and drive traffic to you.
Speaking of traffic, marketing is integral in every Kickstarter, not just with video games. Relative to other products, the video game industry has an advantage because of the sheer amount of people in the market and that established culture that you could take advantage of. It’s just a matter of finding the right target market.
Also, promote your game like your life depends on it. Focus on what makes you unique. Interact with your backers and potential investors.
You are making a sales pitch. Nobody wants to see a boring Kickstarter page. Build up a consistent image with your game and apply that to your page. Buy a domain for your project and apply the same. If you can’t do it, hire an artist. (Our folks at You The Designer might have a say on that!)
Reward tier from Mighty No.9
Rewards are a great way to entice your fans to fund you. But structure them in such a way that would be beneficial to you. Think of rewards as bonus to your early investors. Keep them reasonable so as not to drain your valuable resources, but epic enough to keep things interesting. Try looking at previous successful projects and the interval between tiers as well as the rewards offered.
Your work doesn’t end after your Kickstarter campaign. Your market needs to know where their money goes. Try to update consistently, such as every other day or during weekends on your progress. Don’t keep your backers guessing where the heck you are right now. That’s bad PR.
CHECK OUT: The Necessity of “Shaving the Yak”
Any more tips on what makes a good video game crowdfunding campaign? Tell me your thoughts!
Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.
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