As some of you might know, Kickstarter will officially be available to creators in Canada starting September 9, 2013. As part of their promotional campaign, Kickstarter’s been sending teams to various cities across Canada to hold informational workshops and meetups and I got to attend one of these sessions earlier this week.
The goal of the event seemed mostly to introduce the Kickstarter team to Canadian creators, so most of the information presented was pretty general and available elsewhere. Some of the creators I spoke to were disappointed, and it got me thinking about what the real advantages of conducting a crowdfunding campaign are. Especially for independent game makers.
There still seems to be a misconception that crowdfunding is just social media enabled begging, but personally I think it makes more sense to approach your crowdfunding campaign as part of your marketing plans. Most of the work you have to do to set up your campaign should be part of any marketing plan anyways, but the place where crowdfunding really stands out is in the direct communication these platforms enable with fans of your work. Rather than focusing on raising money, successful crowdfunding campaigns are the ones that can also create a loyal and vocal community.
It’s with this in mind that I wanted to share some of my favourite community building techniques I’ve seen in successful crowdfunding campaigns.
Be AccessibleWhen mapping out your campaign, try to schedule in some sort of Google Hangout / streaming event where your backers can interact with you directly. It should be an occasion for backers to ask questions about the project, but it should also be something fun that will get them excited about your game and being part of a community. gamesbymo’s campaign for their game A.N.N.E. included a streaming event with composer Miyamo taking requests. Live stream a game, play an MMO with your backers, whatever you want to do, just don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Get Your Backers InvolvedPeople give to crowdfunding campaigns to be a part of the creative process. Go ahead and plan special ways that your backers can be involved in your campaign beyond giving money and sharing your campaign with their friends. Tripleslash Studio’s campaign for Magnetic by Nature included t-shirts as a backer rewards, but went the extra mile by allowing backers to choose the final design. In fact, based on backer feedback, Tripleslash actually redesigned the t-shirts from scratch to make sure everyone was happy. This made sure that backers really felt that their rewards were unique and special and proved that the game makers valued the input of their fans.
While backer rewards are good for enticing your potential backers to contribute more money to your project, there are other ways to give back to your backers that can also help to build excitement around your game and your campaign. gamesbymo again did very well here by holding an art competition for backers with additional rewards for the winners. It was really great to see fan art for something that wasn’t even available to the public yet, but it also helped to reinforce the game’s art as a major attract and selling point for the game. Find out what makes your game really special and find a way to engage fans of that aspect and reward them for their enthusiasm.
Yes, some of these suggestions are a little labour intensive, but I bring them up merely as examples of how to create a sense of ownership and enthusiasm in your backers. A crowdfunding campaign is sort of like a political campaign in that way. As much as you are selling your game, you are also selling a vision, your passion, and hopefully creating that same passion in others.