Letting down your backers may be the worst feeling ever. Here’s how to make sure you can deliver your funded Kickstarter project as promised.
There is one thing worse than a failed Kickstarter project. That is abandoned funded projects. This kind of circumstance is a bad thing for all of the stakeholders involved, from the developers, backers, and Kickstarter itself, because it lowers people’s trust in this kind of investment.
So it is in everyone’s interest that a funded Kickstarter project is delivered as promised. Backers may understand if a project is delivered a bit behind schedule, but not delivering it at all is a nightmare.
So how can you, as a developer, minimize this chance of failure? We asked Cipto Adiguno, CEO of Ekuator Games, how.
Ekuator Games has delivered a game funded on Kickstarter, Celestian Tales: Old North, and now it has one more successfully funded project Celestian Tales: Realms Beyond. Heres 5 things on how Cipto and co-planned and did it:
The most crucial first step is to have a clear vision of the end product. A lot of Kickstarter projects started off as a grand idea without proper borders on what kind of game they really want.
Pale Blue, for example, simply knows that it’s a side-scrolling action game. Its development team wasted a lot of time because they cannot decide specifically what kind of game they were aiming at — whether to focus on the story, to have combo-mixing as the core gameplay, or to be a mass-killing game like Dynasty Warriors on a side-scrolling format. Without a clear vision, the project will go into an endless development spiral.
Determining the Goal
Deciding on the Kickstarter goal is also an important matter. It’s different for each project, but as a rule of thumb, you can estimate all your expenses for the game to finish and divide it by 2.
This minimizes the risk of not getting to pass the goal, yet enough to convince potential partners to fund the rest. This is what we did with Celestian Tales: Old North. If we ask for NZD 60,000 from the start there’s a very high risk that the project won’t get funded, but NZD 30,000 is not enough to make it to the finish line. Good thing, in the end, we reached twice the target amount and didn’t need additional funding anymore.
But if the project only reaches 100% then you’ll definitely need external funding.
Back then we didn’t have any potential deals, but after the Kickstarter succeeded, a lot of publishers approached us. A Kickstarter success is concrete proof that there are buyers for your product. It’ll no doubt help a lot in securing deals.
And if your product is really awesome, there’s always the possibility to get more than the target, eliminating the need for external funding.
Don't Overstretch Your Goal
One of the holes developers make at this stage is deciding on a lot of Stretch Goals. Sometimes your project goes wildly successful and you have to promise for new stuff to keep the momentum going, but often these extra goals change the scope and scale of the original concept and it simply becomes too big to manage.
Project Phoenix is one among many who fell into this trap, and in the end didn’t deliver.
Don't Stray from the Core Vision
I believe games are a form of art, and like any kind of art, you’re not going to be satisfied by it. But if you keep making it ‘better’ every time, the project won’t ever finish — this is what we call feature creep. Keep it simple and close to the main idea and focus on delivering that instead of adding something more.
New ideas will inevitably pop up from time to time so shelf them for your next product, not this one.
Keep In Touch with Backers
Whatever you do, keep in contact with backers. Making games is difficult, but you don’t have to hold the burden on your own. Backers also believe in this project, and they even invested money in you to make it a reality. So it’s their right to know what’s going on, and they can give support on getting through hard times.
The connection between Creators and Backers is ultimately the best thing Kickstarter offers, arguably more than the money itself, so don’t waste it.
Other than voicing their opinions about what features should the game have/not have, our backers are also some of our most fervent testers. Compared to formal QA that looks for technical bugs, backers often spot subjective matters such as gameplay problems or unintuitive design.
They also give us moral support. Sometimes when our team feels down and burnt out, reading how there are people eagerly waiting for us to finish our work of art is uplifting.