Kickstarter is an amazing way to make board games, projects and a $55,000 Potato Salad. But creating something new is not a guarantee. Only 36% of projects successfully fund. Funded projects face risks like delivery delays, quality issues and even failure. As a backer, there are things I do to make sure my pledge is well spent. And as a game publisher, here are my tips to ensure we complete your project successfully;
Step 1 is Planning
Making stuff is the fun part, but running a Kickstarter requires planning from beginning to end. Use a prioritized project list and set deadlines for all tasks in the three key milestones of your campaign;
- Play testing with designers and product development with your manufacturing partner
- Content and marketing before, during and after your funding campaign
- Game fulfillment and shipping logistics
Research your potential partner
When you back a Kickstarter, it is a partnership. You risk a little money and promote a game to others, even when you haven’t played it yourself. Do a little homework to ensure you can trust the game company with your money, and the game with your friends on social media. Visit their website. Check out reviews and recommendations. Ask questions on their Facebook or Kickstarter Comments… the best publishers love the opportunity to communicate.
Team work makes the dream work!
Crowdfunding to make games is the ‘new norm’. Backers and Publishers can use the "Wisdom of the Crowd" to make great decisions. Asking for “How to…” advice on Facebook Groups and surveying gamers about product decisions is a swift path to great information from others who care about making games.
If you are running a Kickstarter, ask for help. Media updates, quality graphics, manufacturing deadlines, shipping decisions… it is too much for one person to do well. In addition to paid services, many folks will offer their time and input because they care about your dream too.
Demo your product at game conventions and ask players to join your cause. Seeing is believing!
Glenn leads a demo of Fickle, so I can run the camera
Marketing is not a scam, it is Authentic
To be successful in the social media age, everyone has to accept ‘The Funnel’ and be part of the experience. Gaining backers requires ongoing communication to find people that share your passion, and authentic information about your project so they can decide to join your campaign. If sharing your passion feels like ‘selling’, you are probably doing it right. If it feels like a scam, then it is probably not authentic.
There are almost 2000 games on Kickstarter today, and they all want attention. So, you have to pay for marketing, word of mouth only gets you so far. Be strategic with Facebook Boosts, Google Ads and your marketing dollars at game conventions.
Transparency As “fail forward” is more acceptable in our iteration driven internet lives, it is ok to try something new or release game information with the expectation that it can change. Be clear with backers that making a game (and shipping, and paying bills) costs money, your fans will be fine paying for something they believe in. With these risks in mind, focus on quality! Great rules, components that match your backers expectations and attention to detail will make your backers happy, and reduce the risk of errors and rework.
The CEO of Blue Piper manufacturing also designs games! A true ally for gaming.
Know Your Manufacturing Team
Global sourcing is standard practice for manufacturing board games, which means your game could be impacted by elections, import laws and simple misunderstanding. Take the time to get to know your chosen manufacturing partners; understand their constraints and plan accordingly. If you can meet them in person, even better! Business is a relationship, take care of it.
BARD Games on the Eastar factory floor
Shipping and Logistics
The movement of products has been forever changed by Amazon, online sales and home delivery. Shipping products internationally is fraught with risks and a big expense per game. Fortunately there are many fulfillment partners dedicated to receiving and mailing your successful Kickstarter. Research your best options; a fulfillment partner, fulfilling orders yourself or even offshoring your distribution plans.
Know your fulfillment costs and share the burden with your backers, even though Amazon has us all fooled into believing in “free shipping”!
Do your legal paperwork
Do a simple trademark (and boardgamegeek.com) search to make sure your game’s name is available. Follow the rules on Kickstarter, or they could hold up your campaign funds. Make sure you have legal agreements in place with your designers, licenses and vendors… you want to come to an agreement about money and terms upfront, not after the funding!
No one can control all the economic, personal, political and trends that determine the way your Kickstarter will go. So, focus on what you can influence, and be honest with your backers. This will reduce everyone’s risk and ensure all backers will get a great game.
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