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Subject: Running a great Kickstarter campaign. rss

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Michael Fox
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Some of you may be aware of a game that I've designed along with my friend Mark Rivera called Ace of Spies. It's a card game involving collecting sets of cards in order to complete randomly allocated missions and... well, we're both pretty proud of it. Even more so now that we're finally able to get it into the hands of gamers when we launch our Kickstarter campaign on April 20th.

The question I have is what do YOU think makes for a good Kickstarter campaign? In the lead up we've launched a Twitter feed that's gaining followers (currently on around 240, not bad considering! Have a look yourself at http://twitter.com/Ace_of_Spies ) and are running a couple of giveaways involving codebreaking. Feedback has been generally positive with many people saying they like the fact that we've tried to do something different.

There's been a few campaigns that have really stuck out in my mind recently. The folks at Dice Hate Me ran a brilliant one with Viva Java, a fantastic mix of humour and fun combined with a great looking game. Tasty Minstrel always present solid campaigns packed with information and lots of gameplay (really looking forward to checking out Ground Floor). Clever Mojo also seem to have their heads screwed on when it comes to getting the word out there, keeping backers up to date with an almost crazy level of detail in their updates!

We, of course, are relative newbies to this game. While we may not follow every suggestion people have, we want to listen to what you have to say. So far, we'd like to think we're doing OK... but what say you?
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Scott Nicholson
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Don't be evil.

I really dislike kickstarter campaigns that are overly manipulative. I feel that the way that some people have done their kickstarters makes me feel manipulated, so I don't participate.

It's not against the rules of kickstarter to be manipulative, just like it's not against the rules for credit card companies to do much of what they do to manipulate their customers. I see many projects that are not focused on the spirit of what kickstarter is, but rather, on making as much money as possible.

Just step back and ask... "Is this something an evil overlord would do?"







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Michael Fox
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Good call Scott - we certainly plan on invoking Wheaton's Law throughout the duration of the run.
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Ron Z
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No throw-away items.....mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.

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Michael Fox
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See, personally I wouldn't mind a mug or a shirt - but then I drink a lot of tea and love (good) t-shirts. Some campaigns seem to do that well, some make it feel... I dunno, cheap?

We do have plans for extra stuff, admittedly - but they're very much in keeping with the theme of the game.
 
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Joe F.
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Make sure whatever the stretch bonus is, that it is for the game/product you are supporting. Don't give me something for another game. That isn't in the spirit of kickstarter (IMO). If I back your game, give me stuff for your game.

A game I'm backing is giving a copy of another game that they make, just makes me feel like, why am I backing 'A' and you give me something that was sitting in your warehouse; game 'B'. (I already own a copy of the 'B')
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Michael Fox
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Well, there's no worry about that... it's our first game so there's no warehouse filled with Game B!

Saying that... hmmm... a game about bees...
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Mark Rivera
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Thanks for the comments so far guys. Really appreciated. If you'd like to have a look at the posts we have put up so far and let us have some feedback about our pre-Kickstarter build up that would be very much appreciated also.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/114316/ace-of-spies
 
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Jonathan Powell
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I think a couple of Kickstarter projects have suffered with overly complex and/or convoluted pledge levels or simply too many pledge levels.

I tend to avoid the projects that don't provide much information. Provide as much information as possible--rulebook link, art, video showing gameplay not just request.

I wish you success.
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Michael Fox
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Thank you Jonathan! We'll endeavour to provide as much information as possible
 
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Mark Rivera
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Really helpful. Many thanks!
 
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Steve Duff
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Avoid the weasel stuff - "This EXCLUSIVE widget is only for KS backers and will never be sold separately!" (but it turns out it's included free in the expansion six months later). Or, a nearly identical version that's red instead of blue is offered, with the "See, the blue one isn't available anywhere, we kept our promise".

Not being a weasel means describing everything accurately. It still ticks me off that Flash Point Fire Rescue promised a "Scenario Book", which turned out to be a few paragraphs, not even one page in length. The dreaded half page book, coming soon to a bookstore near you.

What should you have? A finished rulebook, downloadable. Final artwork for almost everything. Nice distinct backer levels, not too many, but allow folks to find their proper niche.
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Lorien Green
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I agree with Ryan about keeping the tiers simple. I would also say that you should include the option for people to pledge $1 if they want to. You don't have to have a reward on that tier beyond "our thanks" but people really will back your campaign in some cases at that level, for whatever reason, and there's no reason not to give them that option.
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Stefan D
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Success no particular order IMHO:

1) Reasonable Price
2) Reasonable Postage cost
3) Not too many pledge levels
4) Discounts for multiple copies of the game
5) Stretch Goals that relate to the game (Additional cards, quality components, upgraded components, expansions etc etc)
6) No t-shirts/mugs or toss like that (Although i am also British and drink tea by the bucket... i have enough mugs of my own design tastes )
7) Video outlining who you are and what the game is/how it plays
8) Decent art work... dont go in half-arsed
9) Aiming for 9/10 updates over the course of the KS project (and dont make them backers only).
10)Be involved with your backers on here and on the KS page.. reply to people and talk to them, get involved with the people supporting you.

I use them as an example a lot but Farmageddon really got pretty much everything right.. great designers that were engaged, decent cost and postage costs.... look where it got them... $25k and what is more telling... a handful shy of 1250 backers of the game... that is a lot of people.
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Michael Fox
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LorienGreen wrote:
I agree with Ryan about keeping the tiers simple. I would also say that you should include the option for people to pledge $1 if they want to. You don't have to have a reward on that tier beyond "our thanks" but people really will back your campaign in some cases at that level, for whatever reason, and there's no reason not to give them that option.


See, I think this is a GREAT idea - there's a few campaigns where I've had the opportunity to register my interest and keep abreast of their updates with the $1 pledge. I get to learn more about the product, I feel more involved and most of the time I'll end up raising my pledge.

Definitely something I want to have with Ace of Spies!
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Jonathan Warren
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idlemichael wrote:
LorienGreen wrote:
I agree with Ryan about keeping the tiers simple. I would also say that you should include the option for people to pledge $1 if they want to. You don't have to have a reward on that tier beyond "our thanks" but people really will back your campaign in some cases at that level, for whatever reason, and there's no reason not to give them that option.


See, I think this is a GREAT idea - there's a few campaigns where I've had the opportunity to register my interest and keep abreast of their updates with the $1 pledge. I get to learn more about the product, I feel more involved and most of the time I'll end up raising my pledge.

Definitely something I want to have with Ace of Spies!

This is very important. I generally pledge as part of a group, but then pledge $1 to get access to the updates and allow me to comment if I want to.

Here is an example of a bad Kickstarter game project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1679800548/hungry-honey-.... After you have viewed the page, try searching out information on BGG

BTW, 'exclusive' means 'exclusive' - don't resort to semantics during or after the campaign to change it's real meaning - although generally any item offered as a bonus that's game-changing should never be exclusive (IMHO).
 
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Stefan D
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JoffW wrote:


Here is an example of a bad Kickstarter game project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1679800548/hungry-honey-.... After you have viewed the page, try searching out information on BGG


Wow yea... especially since adding a couple of dice bumps up international postage by $5 at EVERY level!
 
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Michael Fox
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Sheesh. I'd like to think we're doing better than that already...!
 
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Meow San

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idlemichael wrote:
Well, there's no worry about that... it's our first game so there's no warehouse filled with Game B!

Saying that... hmmm... a game about bees...


a game about bees in Ts with memes.

regarding vids on game play... apparently alot of KS projects seldom show anything on their vids regarding game play mostly just pple telling you stories of their games 90% of the time than shows what you might really get. as a potential backer i felt there's a high risk that perhaps i might like the initial idea but i might not like the whole game play when i get the game. which in the long run i might not support your next product anymore.

show enough on the game play in brief format and the components too. but keep some as a surprise. one thing though.. spend some money on prints to make them look nice if u have some of the cards or board design out. Tip best prints are usually around art colleges where students can get their stuffz printed.
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Pandasaurus Games
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I have some very specific thoughts, but in general:

don't have a ton of stretch goals that seem to disregard the base games playtesting in an efforto make as much money as possible.
 
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Ryan Frazier
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I had a pretty negative experience with Kickstarter and I probably won't be buying anything for over $20.00 for the foreseeable future. Paying $50 for $20 worth of cards, a very, very big box and some basically unnecessary game boards left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

So I guess my suggestion is: make sure your players get what they're paying for.
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Julia Ziobro
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Remember that you can't change the pledge description levels after you enter them. Keep 'em clear and simple.

Please PLEASE create your text in something else and then SPELL CHECK it before you put it in Kickstarter.

I'm in the US so it doesn't affect me, but I like to see a reward level or two for multiple copies with free worldwide shipping. My expat friends in the UK, France, and Taiwan thank you in advance.

Nice stretch goals. Upgrading components is an especially great Kickstarter reward, especially if some of them will never be released via FLGS or other distributors. I'm still sad that I chickened out on Caveman Curling and didn't get the Black Sheep.

Keep it fun, keep it friendly, don't misrepresent. Put your heart into it. Don't be an icky big business. Show us some of the sweat equity. Demonstrate that there's been a TON of playtesting (don't ask your backers to do it via PnP; if you put up PnP, make sure it's polished and represents your game very well).

No silly pricing. It's got to be really impressive and polished to get more than $50 out of me. If it is really impressive and polished and plays with more than four people, you could get me to fork out $75. It's happened.

I love game-designer diaries. That tipped me over on Fleet and made me back at a much higher level than I would have otherwise. There was so much fun in that designer diary that I wanted to sit down to the game table RIGHT THEN.

I am a words person. I almost never look at any videos. If you think your video will carry your entire project, you're wrong, at least for people like me who will probably not ever watch your video. Ditto on having Vasel review it; get some written-word reviewers on the job (like me!) whistle

Make sure that at least half of your updates are visible to everyone, but know that having some backers-only updates could entice me to back a project that I'm waffling about (sometimes).

I've recently backed a few projects that left me cold but that represented an unquestionably good value for $$ financially. I'm not excited about this kind of Kickstarter and hated encouraging those projects.

Clear as mud?

Put your heart into it and that will shine through. The Kickstarters I've backed most enthusiastically have had strong personalities.

JAZ
http://www.kickstarter.com/profiles/juliaz/projects/backed
Edited to fix grammar
 
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Matt Riddle
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IWe have been pretty successful Fleet and I give full credit to art and game. We kept our videos short and to the point. We showed actual gameplay and got a lot of positive feedback. I want to second the don't be a weasel/db. People will see through it. Don't push. Present your product honestly. If people are interested and it looks good they will back. I back a lot of projects. We and farmageddon had the advantage of being relatively cheap. I expect fleet will near the 1k backers mark that farmageddon achieved. I don't know what pricepoint your game is at, but as its been stated, make it fair. Also, art art art art art. People have to want to look at your project first then they can decide if its any good.

If you have any private questions, gm me.
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Meow San

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JuliaZ wrote:

Put your heart into it and that will shine through. The Kickstarters I've backed most enthusiastically have had strong personalities.


wow girl... u backed tons of stuffz! n looking at yet list i might wanna get edo n ground floor which i had no idea exists
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Joel Eddy
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Am I the only that finds Stretch Goals "weird"?

I've backed plenty of projects that have them, but I find them a bit "strange". Of the projects I've backed, none of the stretch goals have seemed to really matter that much, and I probably would take them or leave them all together.

I find it VERY uncomfortable to expect me to go to my friends and say, "Hey dude back this project! It looks awesome (plus I would like to achieve a stretch goal)."

Just odd. Apparently they help a project get more funding though... so may you should have infinity stretch goals.

They just don't sit right with me for some reason.
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