Running a Kickstarter - What we're going to do on our next one
Hey, Adam here from The Code and Key Escape Rooms. We kickstarted the Silver Spoon Caper with Studio Cypher as a way to help market the Silver Spoon Caper. We also wanted to reach game players who might not have experience with itch.io. We've wanted to experiment with using Kickstarter to help make and distribute some of our products so this was a good chance to get our feet wet.
Our Kickstarter Campaign
We set our funding goal for the Kickstarter at what I thought was a realistic level ($500) to fund on the first day. A fully-backed game makes backing "risk free" to anyone that wanders across the game from the main Kickstarter site.
We also set our lowest funding level at $3: the price of the game itself. We have several reasons for this low price: The Silver Spoon caper lasts about an evening, we want be inviting to a community, and we realize that people have been financially impacted by the pandemic. We set the time for the campaign at around a week and a half to cut down on our stress while we spent time managing and promoting the campaign.
We did it! We funded on the first day late in the afternoon, and then picked up about another thousand over the course of the campaign. This seems to be fairly standard for a Kickstarter: the bulk of your funding comes at the beginning and end of your campaign.
We had 3 main tiers:
- $3 (game only)
- $10 (game + Studio Cypher's game + Name in credits)
- $50 ($10 rewards + a special puzzle thank you card)
We also had two stretch goal tears at $250 & $500 that nobody backed. The backers who invested the most were family and friends who were either invested in us as creators or invested in Studio Cypher/The Code and Key. Most of the high volume traffic on the first day came from posts we made on social media or emails we sent out personally or as a part of the business. A lot of the funders in the second half of the campaign came through Kickstarter itself (although we were still pushing it through social media).
What we're keeping and working towards for the future
In the future I'd like to make sure that any future Kickstarter projects that I'm involved in have the following:
- Regular social media presence in groups at least a few months before project is announced. The time between thinking of running a Kickstarter and actually running a Kickstarter was very short: just a few weeks! I'm currently trying get involved with online communities that are interested in products that we hope to bring to market (and The Code and Key Escape Rooms do more than just escape rooms and digital puzzle games). I hope to get people excited about our products long before we take them to Kickstarter.
- Draw on our backers from other Kickstarters - hopefully this won't be our last one! We want to draw back in the crowd we had from before.
- Set our funding goal higher - In the Silver Spoon Caper, we committed to making the game regardless of the Kickstarter funding. The Kickstarter was mainly a test and a boost to get the game in front of more people. With increased community building efforts, we should still be able to fund on day one but at a higher goal. How high? That will be determined by the product - material and manufacturing for physical games can get quite high.
- Really push this towards our target audience - One of the themes of this Kickstarter was that we didn't have a lot of time to plan and prepare. While that worked out for this launch, I would prefer that we really leverage our target audience. This includes social media marketing, partnering with influencers (even small ones), and extremely targeted ads. And of course, figuring out our target audience beforehand!
- Better explain our game/product so people know what to expect - for The Code and Key Escape Rooms, we focus on puzzles and puzzle games so not giving too much away is a delicate balance. Do we do a video? Do we give away something like it but not the whole thing? How many puzzles do we put in the trailer? Determining this will require planning and research, which I plan to do before our next Kickstarter.
- "Converting" followers to an actionable response - I suspect that some of this had to do with the pandemic, but we had quite a few followers who didn't end up backing the Kickstarter. This GDC talk about email marketing displays a lot of the same principles that we hope to do with our email and social media.
Hopefully this helps you if you’re looking to do a Kickstarter for your game. Understand your target audience, build your presence, community, and following by exciting and interacting with them, and then push at the end to hopefully draw those people into an actionable response.
If you have any questions or suggestions on how to run a good Kickstarter, we'd love to hear them! Go ahead and throw them down in the comments section.
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