Part of my regular routine is to do some location based searching on popular crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo looking for new game projects. I do this because I want to promote the cool game related stuff that people are doing in Oklahoma. Sadly, there are very few campaigns happening and many of the ones that are happening are not all that great. I want this to change. I know that game developers in Oklahoma are just as talented as those in other states and we can see the kinds of success stories you read about in the press.
I have been thinking about this for a while. There are a lot of things that can and should be done better that will certainly help make your campaign better. And by better, I mean get attention from gaming press and get money from backers. If you haven’t checked it out it yet, you can still listen to Goldfire’s Kickstarter Success presentation from a couple months ago. These, however, are my thoughts as both a member of the press and a potential backer on what I want to see done better in crowdfunding.
1. A Clear Message: Probably the biggest thing that impacts your success would be a clear and concise description of the project. It is really surprising how many times I have come across a crowdfunding campaign, both from Oklahoma and outside, that do not describe what the game is or what the goals of the campaign are. Any descriptions available are not clear and are often confusing.
If you are trying to pitch a game project, there are two things that you need. First, you need a short description to open up the campaign. This should be 2-3 sentences which quickly describe what your game is. In many circles this is called the elevator pitch. Meaning, a short enough description that you could recite to someone in an elevator before you or they get off. This needs to be able to convey exactly what your game is without boring your audience. The second is a more detailed description of the game, where it is in development, what your goals for completion and distribution are, screen shots, video etc. This is where you get into the finer details. The Elevator pitch gets people attention and should get them interested in reading the rest. The larger description should sell the potential backer on the game.
2. Be Well Written: This one should be a given. You really need to have someone else proofread your campaign for you. Even if you feel that you write well, it never hurts. If you are not a strong writer, you need to find someone else who is. Poorly written campaigns will not convey the message you want. This problem is compounded exponentially if your campaign is full of bad grammar and typos. If what you have written would not get an A in high school English class, it should not go up.
3. A Quality Video: After reading the initial elevator pitch and browsing the rest of the description, many people will then watch your video. Often, most people won’t even bother. However, just because a minority of people watch the video doesn’t give you permission to slack. If the video is just you reading your campaign, get rid of it. If your video is longer than 5 minutes, cut it down to under 5. If you aren’t showing gameplay footage, artwork or something else visual about your game, get it in there. Basically, this is what I want to see in a campaign video: Game trailer type visuals.
But, I also want to meet you. This campaign is as much about you the developer as it is about your game. People want to know who you are and what this project means to you. If you are camera shy, that is okay. I have seen some pretty clever ways campaigners have introduced themselves without actually being on camera. It is all about your comfort level. But if you are not in it, that is a negative.
4. Proof of Concept: I want to see what you have done prior to the campaign. If this is your first game, I want to see a demo. I want to see something that shows me that you are capable of making what you say you want to make. If you have made games in the past, link to them. Show them off. If you have a demo of the game you are campaigning, that is a huge plus. But basically, I want to to put my hands on something. Very few people will back an unknown with no history of game development. It just doesn’t work that way.
Along these same lines, if your campaign involves any amount of learning game development or learning the tools you propose to buy, then that again is a turn off. If you don’t already have your tools and skills in place before pitching your campaign, then that probably means you will stumble and fall along the way and potentially never release.
5. Regular Updates: Get involved. Running a crowdfunding campaign is basically a full time job. If you are not spending all your time both inside and outside your campaign promoting it, then you are not working hard enough. I rarely support a campaign early. I tend to wait and see what kind of updates come along the pipeline in the first week or so. If nothing happens in the first week from the campaign owner, then it is a no go for me. Of course not all people are like that. Many people will back early if the pitch is done well. But if there is nothing to keep those people excited, you will find that excitement wearing off quickly.
6. Social Media: Along similar lines, I expect to see some kind of presence on Twitter and Facebook, at least. Those are valuable tools that you need to be using to promote your campaign, and yourself. But don’t just get these when you plan to do a campaign. You should already have them. If I go there upon reading your campaign and find no updates from before your project, I have to wonder how serious you are. In this day and age, early buzz and early fans help when promoting your project. Get on there and get active.
7. A Quality Website: While your campaign profile will be your online home for the duration of your campaign, you shouldn’t ignore having a good web site. This is where you can put even more information about your game and you. I want to quickly find a little space on the web that has been personalized by you. Some place to call your own. If you have a web site, it is another piece of evidence that you are in this for the long haul.
8. Let Us Know: This is probably a given, but I want to hear about your campaigns the moment you put them up. While I check on a fairly regular basis, I generally only check Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Sometimes I even forget one of those. Sometimes, I may forget to check for a whole week at times and it could be days before I see your campaign. And if your campaign is on some other site, I may just never see it. Early press coverage is good for a good campaign. So please, send us a message when your are ready to go.