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With Kickstarter campaigns, there's such a thing as 'too polished'

In a new Gamasutra feature, Ryan Payton, the creative director of successfully-funded Kickstarter project République, recounts how his campaign met resistance for appearing too professional.
In a new Gamasutra feature, Ryan Payton, the creative director of successfully-funded Kickstarter project Republique, recounts how he met resistance for appearing too professional. Payton writes how he and his collaborators put in extensive effort to make sure the Kickstarter page for Republique was as polished as it could possibly be -- only to find out this made gamers question the studio's need to look for crowdfunding. "We decided that we would communicate some of our studio's values (high quality, meaningful, honest) through our Kickstarter page and video. Maybe if people saw how beautiful our game was, how pro our trailer was, and how polished our pitch was, they'd get behind our ambitious aims for Republique -- or so we thought," writes Payton. "A week into our campaign, we were surprised to see dozens of comments online from people saying: 'Look at that game, look at how expensive their video looks... They don't need our money.' Meanwhile, our company bank account was getting dangerously low." Payton worked hard with multiple production companies to put together an amazing trailer for the game -- with the side effect that gamers didn't see a project in need. "Initially, I was frustrated at the 'too polished' complaints, especially when I remembered the late nights and weekends Craig Cerhit put into our video content. I often thought about the rich guys on Kickstarter intentionally making rough-looking webcam videos to appeal to peoples' charitable instincts and subsequently pull in six or seven figures in pledges," writes Payton. "While aggravating, I understood the point. While I don't necessarily agree with the commonly used analogy that running a Kickstarter is a digital form of panhandling, if that were true, I was standing on a street corner in a freshly pressed suit holding an iPad with a typed out message 'Need money. Anything helps.'" Later updates to the Kickstarter page, writes Payton, had more of a homegrown feel -- and were very fan-oriented, which helped turn things around. The full feature, a step-by-step postmortem of how the Republique Kickstarter went from failure to success in the end, is live now on Gamasutra.

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