Broadly speaking there are many steps you need to take when preparing your crowdfunding campaign, and below are some points to consider. Crowdfunding could be via Indiegogo, or Gamefound, or somewhere else, but since it’s where my experience lies, for this article we’re going to say Kickstarter…
1. Crowdfund or Traditional Publishing?
Is Kickstarter really your best bet for launching your game? Decide which approach is best for you. If it’s traditional publishing, make sure you research the publishers you approach, check out their rules for submitting games, ensure that your game matches with or improves their catalogue.
Some publishers (like ourselves) don’t accept submissions, but people still send them game pitches without asking, which doesn’t send a great message. So show that you’ve done your research and that you’re personally interested in that publisher. If you can find a publisher they will take a LOT of the hassle out of the process for you.
Game design comprises between about 2-10% of the total process of what goes into making a game, and this will be reflected in what a publisher might offer you as a percentage of profits. If you are lucky enough to be offered a contract don’t share it on social media and ask what people think, have a professional with some legal or accounting knowledge go over it for you. And if Kickstarter is for you…
2. Blind Play-testing by Strangers
There is a 100% need to blind-playtest your game, don’t just play it with your friends and family. Ideally, you give some strangers the rules and components to your game and let them figure out how to play. Observe where they’re going wrong so that you can make the rules clearer in your next draft, and also determine whether or not they love it as much as you do.
Bite your knuckles and hold your tongue whilst they get stuff wrong! That’s a huge learning curve for what needs to be made much clearer in your rulebook. “Playtest UK” have a great play-testing network, you can contact them online or at UK Games Expo – they helped with my first game. I’m sure there are similar services in other countries and at your Friendly Local Game Stores and conventions.
Maybe offer your play-testers discounts or incentives or free copies of your final published game to incentivise them to help you out. I might have what I think is the best game ever because my friends and family think it’s great, but getting it played by blind play-testers and having their detailed feedback is crucial to obtain that objective perspective.
3. Build a Community
Be as involved with the gaming community as you can. Be active and positive, promote your own games and other people’s games too. Commission some pieces of art, share your rulebook online (no one’s going to pinch it, everyone’s too busy making their own games), set up some social media pages and groups, get feedback and buzz on your ideas (and free typo spotting!) as early as possible.
You could also try courting YouTubers, promoters, and influencers too. Some designers have had gigantic success by approaching people like Dice Tower/Rahdo/and other big YouTubers directly and pitching or even tailoring games to them to promote.
4. Persistence is Key
Stick with it! You have a brilliant game in you (maybe more than one) and sometimes it will feel like moving heaven and earth trying to get your game made, but the difference between those who have great ideas for games and those who actually make them into real games is persistence. And once you’ve funded your journey is just getting started. If you stay active and keep pushing your game after your Kickstarter ends you can expect to sell another 30-50% again via your pledge manager.
It is vital that you have a pledge manager in place. BackerKit and Gamefound are great. Also consider keeping any advertising campaigns going on BoardGameGeek and Facebook to continue selling games. Be cautiously optimistic with your print run and round up to the nearest thousand units when ordering.
If demand is there you can always do another print run, but if it isn’t and you over-purchase you will be paying storage costs for all of those games just sitting on warehouse shelves. Expos like UK Games Expo are a fantastic place to shift stock and get a signal boost too.
Shipping is insane. Hold back charging for your shipping costs until your pledge manager launches, otherwise Kickstarter will take a huge chunk of your shipping funds. Do not subsidise your shipping like other Kickstarter companies do because as anyone who backs big Kickstarters can see, they are truly paying – or charging – for it now. Cost it out up front with your shipping/fulfilment partner, by country, and make sure you charge what you are charged. You will also have to pay freight shipping to your hub/s on top of that, as well as import taxes, and those costs can be staggering if you’re not prepared.
Hope this helps, and good luck with your projects! :)