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7 Kickstarter Lessons: crowdfunding indie games

Curious insights gained from running and observing Brazilian projects on Kickstarter.

Nando Guimaraes

August 7, 2013

3 Min Read

In the past few months we have seen a few Brazilian game dev studios showing interesting content on Kickstarter. Most of the projects I followed got funded (Chroma Squad, Adventurizator and Soul Gambler), which has made me super excited and happy––the game we were trying to fund, though, failed. I would like to share a few lessons I have learned from running and observing these campaigns.

Ah, I almost forgot. If you want to check our game, it is called Dream Swim, and this is the unhappy Kickstarter page (Steam's Greenlight page).

Lesson #1: Forget about funding
It is really difficult to fund a game on Kickstarter from scratch. Either the developer is largely recognized or incredibly good. In order to show appealing and convincing content to potential pledgers it is extremely important to have at least 80% of the work already implemented. If the game is still a prototype or concept with a great deal of awesomeness, it just might not be enough. Keep working.

Lesson #2: Understand the audience
There are projects which simply fail to gain the trust of potential pledgers. Not because they might be bad, but because they may not be directed to that specific niche. The more hipster, the better.

Lesson #3: Spend on video
Don't follow the guidelines Kickstarter provides. Instead, invest a great deal of time and resources on a video that seems and feels professional. Hire someone that knows how to produce a great video.

Lesson #4: Bet on Dollars
Try not to use any other currency; it is always better to aim globally. The only exception to this lesson is when most potential pledgers are located in the region that uses it. 

Lesson #5: Spread the word
Contact everyone: from social networks to local television. Get ready to shoot out two updates per week with interesting content about the gameplay and other cool features. Prepare a special online page with extra resources about the project (in the same fashion as a press release), and start sending emails to every website/blog that comes to mind.

Lesson #6: Convert cool people
Credibility strengthens the project's message. Make sure to get awesome comments from respected industry professionals and seek the support of a network of people caring about independent projects––not just nearby friends and colleagues.

Lesson #7: Pledge to self
Pretend to be an investor––if there is a real one, even better––and pledge a huge chunk of money to raise the progress bar up during critical campaign moments. I know this may sound like cheating, and that it might go against the essence of the crowdfunding idea, but from what I have noticed, it works. People like to bet on winners.

Huh… wait. What?

Yeah. These lessons are closer to a marketing strategy than they are to a crowdfunding campaign. Unfortunately, Kickstarter might become a waste of time and energy if the project is not mature or appealing enough for the specific target audience that pledges on the platform.

Getting funded during the early stages of development, where resources are used for production, and not marketing campaigns, might still be the biggest problem for most independent studios––specially in Brazil.

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