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To Crowdfund Or Not To Crowdfund Your Next Game?

Crowdfunding has become quite a buzz since the JOBS Act was signed into law this past Spring. One of the biggest benefits of Crowdfunding can be pre-release marketing of your independent game title and of course much needed development or marketing funds.

Elisabeth Boylan, Blogger

June 5, 2012

4 Min Read

Crowdfunding has become quite a buzz since the JOBS Act was signed into law in the United States this past Spring. The Bill will allow small businesses and game studios raise capital in different ways via crowd funding intermediaries in exchange for selling equity.

At VectorBloom we first learnt about crowdfunding service KickStarter about a year ago. A site where varied artistic projects including games and film ran campaigns to raise modest amounts sometimes under $5,000.00 and upwards to $60K or $70K or more. KickStarter had a grass roots community feel for creative projects that otherwise would not be able to raise capital or production funds if not for the crowd.

As attractive as the opportunity appeared, due to restrictions of the platfrom, as Canadians it wasn't an option for us to run a campaign on KickStarter. However, I had personal reservations about how it would come across to be raising 'donations' from backers in exchange for 'rewards' like credits in the game, virtual posters or T-shirts.

I'm sure most game developers felt this way until Double Fine Adventures raised over $3.3 million dollars on KickStarter of their $400,000.00 goal. The shift in perception would have tipped from 'You must be hurting to be raising funds on KickStarter?' to 'How much can you raise on KickStarter?'.

As iOS Developers, it was an option for us was to run a campaign on Appbackr.com. Which is exactly what we did for our in-house game title Big Top Ballet. Instead of offering 'rewards', as a 'concept' game 'backrs' on Appbackr could earn up to 54% from sharing in app sales of the game upon commercial release to the App Store. Not a bad return for Backrs and we weren't selling equity, just sharing in app sales. 

We raised a modest amount just under $5000.00 for the Android and iOS campaigns combined. Not much for releasing a multi-platform indie title with incredible electronic music, but we facking did it. The biggest benefit I anticipated was pre-release publicity for an indie title that we have since released to Android, Chrome, Mac, the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and are competing with as a 'Work In Progress' game at IndieCade

Last month, I was invited to speak at Vancouver's 31st Annual Angel Forum about our user experience crowd funding for Big Top Ballet on Appbackr.com. My original presentation titled 'Why The Crowd?' is on SlideShare.

The process of running a crowd funding campaign has many invisible benefits and stressors highlighted in Big Top Ballet's case study on Appbackr.com's blog. As others have attested to, running a very public campaign for an unfinished creative project on any crowd funding site is going to be a taxing and stressful process. Because of how time consuming running a crowd funding campaign can be, I expect new business models and publicists to jump on crowdfunding to alleviate the stress of marketing a successful campaign and then take a cut on the total funds raised. Moreover, Gambitious.com's recent announcement of a game focused crowdfunding service highlights that more of these sites will emerge, each with their own culture and benefits. 

If you need development funds and have a game concept that you are CRAZY committed to, I highly recommend it for developing a thicker skin and for challenging yourself and your team to perform as though you were competing in sports tournament.

Big Top Ballet:

Big Top Ballet™ is an alternative game with a trippy play experience. Featuring epic electronic music by DJ ill-esha, the title debuts with Game 1 of a 12 part series, where players build a kaleidoscope of spinning ‘paper ballerinas’ by dressing them with floating costume pieces. 

With a stylized backdrop of cirque, dance and a music box of incredible sound that transports players into another dimension. Big Top Ballet is an unfolding narrative of many layers exploring the dreamscape of fantasy, nightmares and the subconscious.

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