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Creating Great Campaigns For Kickstarter

Tutorial for indie gamedevs on what should you do to succeed with your Kickstarter project. The Tunnelers game (40% of funding within first week) used as a showcase.

Kickstarter is a great tool to get promo & funding for indie game projects. However, only less than half of all the projects get the funding, while others fail. 

Winning or failing is not just a matter of luck. It is about a good idea being backed by:
a. research
b. video pitch
c. attractive heading + thumbnail
d. lots of visuals
e. good rewards 
f. engaging potential backers

Recently we have launched Kickstarter campaign for our game called Tunnelers. We are not there yet, but within just a few days we achieved 40% of the requested amount. Just with the help of our fans and friends, without being promoted by Kickstarter or any other major media. 

I´d like to share our feelings about why we have decided to go for Kickstarter and what we have tried to be among the winning half. Before you continue reading, I suggest to see the project page first.

1. Good idea

Start with an idea which you believe in (This game will be super-cool!). If it makes business sense too (People will buy it), you´re good to go.

Otherwise it will reflect on your project sooner or later and you might end up being sad and desperate, wasting your time and money.

In our case, Tunnelers is circulating in our veins. We believe in our work and that people will appreciate when it comes out. Still we may fail, but at least we had a lot of fun (which you don´t get if money is your primary motivator)

2. Research
So far, there has been thousands of projects, hundreds thousands of backers and over $1M has been pledged just to games. There are lots of posts giving you advice (free of charge) on what worked and what did not. We spent lot of time researching the successful projects, but even more time those that failed. 

During our research we found out that more than 65% of all the visitors at Kickstarters are men. Thus we decided to use our girlfriends, since we know men like pretty women and thus are willing to support them more :)

3. Video pitch
This is the place where you tell your story. Why have you come, what do you want, what do you give in return, asking them to pledge. It should be attractive, fun and explanatory. Tunnelers story is about girls, desperate about their boyfriends spending thousands of hours on the game which they want to release free of charge. Fun and unique. I haven´t seen similar concept yet and we hope it will be the way to make it to the Kickstarter homepage.

But even more importantly, this is the place where you share your passion, show your attention to detail and prove how much you believe in what you do. All those things you don´t say or write, yet everybody feels them. 

In case of our Tunnelers pitch video, we have spent over 150 hours just to create 2 minutes long video. It could have taken much shorter, but we kept trying and improving the quality until we were really happy about the result.

Again, we may fail with our Kickstarter campaign, but deep in the hearts of real gamers, we know we gave it everything we could. And still, it was lot of fun. 

4. Attractive heading + thumbnail
Little picture, heading and brief project description are the first things most people will see (even if you share it on Facebook or embed the video to your website). Make sure it is fun or interesting and that people will be willing to click on it. 

In the case of Tunnelers, we had various options. We tested them on our friends and relatives and used the one with best results. 

5. Lots of visuals
Having so much information on the Internet, people save as much time as possible. That means seeing pictures rather than reading tons of text. Kickstarters are no different, so show them the pictures of your game, be it in-game screenshots, artworks or even sketches. 

After 2.5 years of working on Tunnelers we have plenty of them, so our challenge was to choose those we like the most :)

6. Good rewards
Remember, Kickstarter is not donation, modern way of begging or some type of a charity. Instead, it is a form of Groupon´s deal-of-the-day. People group together to buy things at discounted price. 

If they don´t like your rewards, they won´t buy them, even if they like your idea, pitch video and lots of screenshots.

Take your time, think how much would you be willing to pay for a similar product. If you get that, check if the numbers work and it still pays off to devote your time and skills. If it doesn´t, think about the rewards and price again. 

In the Tunnelers case, we provide the game itself with all the updates and premium features.. which is not much thinking basic version will be free of charge anyway. So we provide exclusive features players won´t be able to buy – such as an access to future beta versions, OST, or even the option of us creating your own tank or a map with your advertisement.

7. Engaging potential backers
Once you have your project published on Kickstarter website, don´t just sit and wait until somebody notices. There are dozens of projects added to Kickstarter daily and they all compete for the spot on the homepage or New & Noteworthy section.

Share your idea with as many people as possible. Post it on your blog, Facebook and Twitter, your YouTube channel, ask your friends and followers to share it further. The more you try,  the more backers you will get eventually. 

In our case, we used our Facebook fanpage, Twitter, sent direct mail to all the people signed up for our newsletter and even e-mailed all the gaming media out there. Again, try to do everything that comes to your mind and is feasible, so when your project fails you won´t be able to blame yourself for poor performance. 


And that is how we do it. Next time I will post the results and discuss how we did.
Please, go ahead and share your opinion.

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