Game Designer: Crowdfund Your Project
December 18, 2013
•IADT General, Game Design and Production
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Crowdfunding is a new and exciting way to launch a product or technology that may not have the opportunity to obtain funding through traditional means. One of the largest and most successful crowdfunding sites is Kickstarter, and everyone from startup companies to product inventors are getting in on the action. Many game designers are finding this innovative, crowdfunding resource especially useful in acquiring funding for their projects.
Kickstarter works as a platform for creators to gather backers for their projects. A project creator, the game designer, will decide on a minimum funding goal and a deadline to meet the funding goal for their project. They will then introduce their idea on the site, and people can choose to pledge money to back the projects. If the funding goal is met by the deadline, they receive the money from their backers, minus a 5 percent fee that goes to Kickstarter. Creators will often offer rewards to their backers at various pledge levels as a thank you and incentive for their support.
Kickstarter allows game designers to create games with the potential for high demand, but for various reasons, larger, traditional game publishers haven't made them. Mainstream publishers are often looking for much bigger payouts than these smaller, yet highly anticipated, games can produce. They tend to spend their extensive resources on games expected to sell in the billions and are loathe to extend those resources to smaller projects. The most successful Kickstarter campaigns have included reboots of beloved, older franchises; new projects by gaming industry legends who find appeal in the freedom of the platform; and quirky, unorthodox content with innovative game play. For example, Wasteland 2, the highly anticipated sequel to a renowned, standard-setting game, Wasteland, successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter for nearly $3 million. Double Fine Adventure raised $3.45 million within a month and was created by Tim Schafer, a prominent game designer. Republiqué is a stealth survival game with a unique point-of-view gameplay perspective that earned $555,662 in its successful crowdfunding campaign.
Tips for Game Designers to Create Their Own Crowdfunding Campaign
- Be Credible: If you have credentials and have completed projects in the past, especially successful ones, you are more likely to earn the trust of your backers. They don't have to be gigantic name brand developments; just make sure they are projects you are proud of.
- Have Something to Show Off: In the case of Wasteland 2, Brian Fargo had story boards and concept art drawn up for his campaign. Some game designers offer videos outlining the concept and design of their games or a short demo for people to enjoy.
- Offer Rewards: The incentives for contributing at different pledge levels need to be appealing to your potential backers. At the very least, pledgers should feel that they will get a copy of the completed game for no more than what its retail price would be at release time. Ideally, they should get it for less than the eventual retail value as a reward for having faith in your project before it is completed.
- Spread the Word: There is a whole suite of gaming sites and community forums to tap into and spread the word of your campaign. Shout it from the rooftops. Gamer culture has a voracious appetite for new content. Enough is never enough, so if you have a really cool idea, the community itself will generate momentum for your campaign.
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