Victoria Tran is the community developer at Kitfox Games, the independent Canadian studio behind Moon Hunters, Shrouded Isle, and the upcoming Boyfriend Dungeon. This was written a week after the launch of Boyfriend Dungeon on Kickstarter, which reached its goal of $50k USD in just over 6 hours. At the time of posting this, it is 269% funded with 17 days to go.
Specific social stats in game development are hard to come by, so when our game went semi-viral and the Kickstarter was quickly funded, I thought it’d be interesting to get a look under the hood at how it’s performing, explain what we’re doing, and think a little about why.
For context: Boyfriend Dungeon is an action-RPG dungeon crawler in which the weapons you use transform into beautiful people—take them on dates to level them up and become more powerful together. We first announced the game back in October 2017. When we launched the Kickstarter on Aug 15th, it was funded in a little over 6 hours. At the time of writing, it’s currently 252% funded with 21 more days to go.
A word to the wise: we didn’t know you’d need 5 business days to wait for Kickstarter approval. Luckily we were auto-approved (and didn’t know about it) but uh, let’s all learn from mistakes because this could’ve been a huge disaster. Thankfully, Anya from Kickstarter is a rock star.
A very panicked email :’)
There was also a mysterious error midway through launching, which you can watch happen in real-time at 33:55—hooray for livestreaming! (I WAS SCREAMING INSIDE.)
Here’s a quick shot of the top places that ended up pledging (so far anyway! Still 3 weeks left to go).
Further breakdown of the direct traffic stats
Of the top 3 of our referrer information, the biggest surprise was actually Twitter’s contribution! According to another one of our contacts at Kickstarter, having ~25% come from Twitter is an enormous amount—far above the average percentage of contribution from there.
Most of my community developing efforts have been focused on our Twitter, since most of them live there and, relatedly, Boyfriend Dungeon ended up becoming a trending topic on Twitter for a couple of hours post-Kickstarter launch.
So thanks, Twitter community!
Plus, our Steam coming soon page got extra wishlists and traffic throughout the week, and hopefully will stay higher throughout the month of the campaign:
Steam Page Visits
Here’s an overall list of what changed on social since the start of the Kickstarter on August 15th until the end of the day:
Newsletter: 146 new subscribers
Twitter: 479 new followers
Facebook: 26 new likes (Didn’t link Facebook on our Kickstarter page)
Discord: 204 new members
Tumblr: 80 new followers (Also not linked)
Launch Week Press Coverage
A week before launch, I contacted various press outlets about the new trailer we were revealing, with a casual mention of the Kickstarter launch. No idea if they would actually report on it, but it was worth a shot! (Kickstarters, in general, are not newsworthy by themselves.) A day or two before launch, I also sent out a (polite) reminder that the trailer would be dropping soon.
Out of the around 300 press outlets I emailed, only about 15 of them actually wrote something (not counting more minor press/retweets from influencers). Here are a few:
- PC Gamer
- Rock Paper Shotgun
- Hardcore Gamer
- Shack News
Outlets that covered us that I didn’t contact/were unexpected:
- Geek & Sundry
Major love and shout outs to all the press for the coverage! â¤
Please give Tanya, our game designer, props for designing an incredibly marketable game and making my job that much easier. Everything about Boyfriend Dungeon was a hook and easily promoted. (A good explanation about game hooks and design on this post by Ryan Clark.)
- The name. It explains the game well but still makes people do a double take after hearing it. The name itself is a hook.
- An easy one-liner explanation that anyone could generally use: “It’s a game where you date your swords and fight monsters.”
- Kitfox already had a solid following before Boyfriend Dungeon’s Kickstarter announcement (~10k followers on Twitter), and 3 released Steam games.
- Eye-catching art & the transformation sequence (thanks Particle Beam!)
- Snazzy trailer
- Catchy, all-original music (thanks Marskye, Maddy, & Omar!)
- Hot people
What didn’t work?
- Imgur didn’t do so hot—I’ve seen a few games find trending success with that platform (see: Hidden Folks) but for us it didn’t seem to make a huge dent, with only 7 “points” and 800 views. To be fair we posted once only and haven’t tried too hard, but I’m willing to try again with just pure images.
- Reddit —we posted a few places but none of them got traction… a few others posted about it and those did much better (especially in /r/Games, /r/GirlGamers, and /r/gaymers)
- ResetEra sort of worked and sort of didn’t work! As I’m not on the site, a thread about our game was purely dependent on the community there taking notice, which some of them did. Shout out to one of our Discord members Sabrina for being super helpful in starting a second thread once our Kickstarter began.
- Spotify—A week before launch, I had prepped with Marskye to have our two singles Without a Weapon and Spellbound to go up in time for the Kickstarter. Unfortunately we hit so many snags with the art not being approved by the gods of the music world. Apparently you need separate images for each single. And it has to have the name of the single on it. But not the game logo. But actually, the game logo is okay. But it’s still rejected. So far only Without a Weapon has (mysteriously) made it through, while Spellbound is still out there in purgatory…
Wait, what do I even do with this information?
When measuring social media stats, it’s easy to get overly attached to raw numbers and analytics. As cool as it is to see Twitter followers and YouTube views climb, stats help determine the quality of a community and what resonates with them. Wade through the numbers and find what matters to you, and what helps you refine your own strategy.
My strategy was on this boy~~~
I wanted to share this information since it’s not always readily apparent what is considered a success or failure in the social sphere, or what to expect or even hope for in a grass-roots marketing campaign. Maybe you launched a Kickstarter and got 6000 new followers in the first day instead of 479 like I did. Maybe I found success on Twitter, but someone else got their top referrers from Facebook.
A lot of stats I’ve heard (e.g. what a good conversion rate is) are from general marketing standards and is not game industry specific. Indie game specific stats are hard to find! I think it’d be great if we all shared and learned from each other more.
Hopefully this was a helpful glimpse at organic, indie game-development-marketing-magical-community-management stuff. We’ll give another update once the campaign is over. But always beware survivorship bias, and be critical of the information anyone provides. There’s no way to be 100% sure of why a game was successful or why something goes viral.
Take what you will, learn, and adapt!
…. And back us on Kickstarter if you like what we do!