Curiously, do you take into account things like the changing public perception of Kickstarter (we found that many people still don't understand the functional nature of it [i.e. they aren't billed until the project ends and succeeds]), changes Kickstarter itself has made, the influx of games as part of the ecosystem of KS projects, etc?
First, about backers, public perception and showing gameplay.
I've noticed that, in general, backers are expect higher production values for projects and feeling more entitled like if Kickstarter was an online store like Etsy
. I see there is an issue that a large group of backers out there that will not make a pledge to a campaign if it is not already 100% funded.
Part of it is to avoid the emotional pain of backing a project and then seeing it fail. I've yet to cancel a pledge and have only reduced a pledge once, but my budgeting reassigns pledge amounts from failed campaigns to newly launched ones like a numbers game. If more people played that numbers game, a lot more smaller campaigns would get funded in my opinion. There is a danager of overspending if done in an undisciplined way.
Even relatively recently I see backers in comments section that don't understand Kickstarter. They ask about things like will their credit cards be charged if the campaign doesn't reach its goal. The number of backers that do understand what they are doing is the majority. Many people are impulse backing projects.
For project creators there is a big problem of devs seeing Kickstarter as a marketing platform when really it is a payment collection platform that won't do all their marketing work for them (Sealark
being an exception). Projects like Wildman
also went into Kickstarter too optimistic about their fanbase (And then blame
was targeted toward the ecosystem when really the campaign was mismanaged).
Taking public perception into account is done through my instincts more than through an exact science. There are stigmas against types of games such as iOS only games being "money grabs", etc. Kickstarter fatigue
can be overcome by projects like Shovel Knight
that feel reinvigorating and having disposable income at the start of a new month. There are hardcore gamers that are sick and tired about being bombarded by friends with messages to check out projects. Some people consider a Kickstarter project to be scam if anything is suspicious. Projects that are close to being scams make people angry. Many campaigns are late and underdelivering.
This is a really interesting topic that we have talked about internally a good deal. I strongly think that leaving a lot up to the imagination can definitely be a positive factor for a Kickstarter. However, I think that is usually only the case for a team/game that has a famous name or a pronounced pedigree. For an unknown developer or relatively unknown developer (like us), a lack of a functional gameplay foundation is just another mountain to climb in terms of finding an audience and getting them to commit to your project.
is relevant. Being both famous and vague can bring in a lot of other people's cash (This can apply to outside of crowdfunding as well). When footage of
was revealed there was a group of people that did not like what they were seeing because during the campaign their imaginations went wild thinking it would be a their ideal game from Double Fine in the tones of
, etc. when what they had really backed can be summed up as a project for Tim Schafer and his studio to make an adventure game. The risk that the game would not fit their tastes was a real one. Building an understanding about what the project is should be one of the project creator's priorities. As well, if you can't convey what the game is to someone then you might not have your project properly thought through yet.
Instead of being specific versus being vague letting people's imaginations go out of control, it should be about establishing how the game has a lot of future potential (deep game mechanics, competitive multiplayer, procedural content, modding support, etc.). The now
should be well detailed, its the future
that needs to be easy to imagine with a clear route of how to get there.
Would our KS have been successful if we had not shown a minute's worth of semi-varied gameplay? Would you have backed it if all we had was some nice concept art and the pitch? I am inclined to strongly believe that we would have not just failed to reach our goal, but failed miserably.
Without the gameplay it would have been very hard for Devler's Drop to get funded at that goal amount and lost at the bottom of the popularity rankings. Not having gameplay could mean not having had success at PAX. When I watch footage like
for Delver's Drop I can get enough of a sense for the game that I can simulate playing it in my head. I can watch and see core ideas for the game already executed. Execution is often the hardest step and seeing it down well leads to a "
" that project creators should hope for as it can bring in a flood of backers.
Second, the design and feautures of the site have been overall gradually improving over time.
Internal searches for projects is getting better, but it is still needing work. Kickstartr (no "e") was originally designed to for the geographic location of projects to be of more important than they are now. Because of that history, it was designed to search by physical location first. This can be a problem if your title is too similar to a town or city's name. For example, entering “auro” to find the game Auro
came up with a result for a coffee shop project in Aurora for the state of Illinois. To actually find Auro required the extra step of clicking on the line "Were you looking for projects in Aurora, IL or matching the word "auro"?
". It has now been reversed. The search bar still depends on exact spelling.
A project's description that appears below the project thumbnail image used to not be displayed on the project page. That was a feature I was very happy to see added. The tag system was also welcomed.
On a backer's profile the projects they had pledge to previously displayed the percent the project was funded and the time remaining. Now it only displays the number of days remaining. This has made it harder for me to check up on how each project is doing as I now have to click on each of them instead of looking over one page. How projects are starred has also been messed with so they aren't in the order I want them to be in.
On the Backers
tab for a project, backers were listed in chronological order. That was changed because users like myself were always appearing at the top. Now there is the system of "You’ll see these names updated every 10 backers, in no particular order. If you just backed and you don’t see your name yet, stay tuned! All names will be listed when the project ends no matter what
The analytics available to project creators is getting better.
Third, about what the game projects like Double Fine effect
did to the Kickstarter ecosystem.
These large superstar projects, like Project Eternity
, bring new people into the Kickstarter ecosystem after they've ended that stick around to back other campaigns. When those superstar campaigns post updates it brings people back and they check what is popular while they're on the site. Without the Games category, Kickstarter would likely not have exploded like it did in the first half of 2012. The Products and Film categories had some strength to them, but Games (including boardgames) generated a lot of news for the site's existence in 2011 and 2012.
Kickstarter's creators had a different vision for the site of funding local artisans in your city and now have to cater to users needs that weren't foreseen before of having superstar projects with international scope. From the Staff Picks
and the Kickstarter Tumblr
it is still apparent that the Kickstarter team themselves are more Art category oriented. Staff Picks for the Games category can often be illogical.
With the presence of
, I see a new unofficial extension of the ecosystem that is creating a positive feedback loop. People that have an Ouya will back games on Kickstarter with Ouya as a supported platform. The Ouya's game library will benefit and having good games available are one of the primary forces that drives sales of a video game console. Developers will see that they can profit from having an Ouya port which drives 3rd party development. Developers that need funds could then turn to launching Kickstarter campaigns. More people will consider buying one of these consoles as the game library expands. I expect to see Ouya accesories like 3rd party case mods appear on Kickstarter too similar to how the Raspberry Pi
accesories are getting kickstarted. The Occulus Rift is also tying into the Kickstarter ecosystem.
In addition to crowdfunding specialized gaming blogs like Kickstarter Katchup
emerging to make promotion easier, there are also backers organizing themselves into groups of passionate game supporters like the Obsidian Order
Finally, on the topic of letting imagination run free. At an average around $33 per backer, Delver's Drop was funded with just 4,534 backers. A very tiny fraction of the number of gamers out there. There is a population clock
showing over 315,000,000 people in the USA and over 7,000,000,000 worldwide. Imagine a crowdfunding project (Not necessarily on Kickstarter's platform or a game) in within two years that crosses the 100,000 backers threshold (Pebble
did 68,929). Take a look at VGChartz
to see how many people are buying video games weekly. Now imagine that what we consider to be a AAA scope game today could be funded through Kickstarter within two decades (What is considered AAA in the year 2033 should be surprising to we citizens of the year 2013). What this vision depends on is that developers can continue to push the boundaries of video games. Fraud, failures and poor legislation could also temporarily stunt crowdfunding's growth. Reports
on the growth of crowdfunding show it already at $2,700,000,000 for 2012 with the potential to easily rise a few billion dollars higher this decade.I know I've been typing too long when the forum hangs at "Fetching preview" for a few moments.