Russians on Kickstarter.com

Published on June 20, 2012

Russians on Kickstarter.com

    What is Kickstarter

    In this article I want to share the knowledge acquired during my research on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.com. I will write from the point of view of the developer of computer games, since this is my profession, but everything described is suitable for other projects. In addition, I will explain some very obvious things - on issues recently received, they were not as obvious as I thought.

    Kickstarter is an American crowdfunding portal for public finance. In short, ordinary people are thrown off on a variety of projects that they like - whether it's a heavy metal stand for an iPhone, a dance project or a game. The latest sensational news in the field of gaming were the achievements of Brian Fargo, who collected “ Wasteland 2"$ 2,933,252 and Tim Scheifer, who raised $ 3,336,371 on Double Fine Adventure .

    But these are the stars of the gaming industry that everyone knows. Their community has been formed for decades and has tens of thousands of players. Many are interested in the question: can a young and unknown team raise funds for the development of the game using Kickstarter?

    According to statistics provided by the Kickstarter team, only 25% of game projects raise the necessary funds. These statistics include projects of stars in the gamedev industry, so the chance of young and unknown teams is even lower - in my subjective assessment, no more than 15%. Whether it is a lot or a little is up to you.

    What determines the success of the Kickstarter campaign

    First of all, the success of the project depends on the presence of five elements:

    1. Developer videos where you and / or your team are. This video should be interesting, entertaining and - preferably - with a sense of humor. A sense of humor in a video is considered the "rule of the thumb." At the same time, as the study of videos from various projects shows, the audience does not like circus and clowning, silly jokes or arrogance. The motto of the video is banal: be simpler, be yourself and be sincere. How to make a good video for Kickstarter can be seen here .
    2. A video showing your game , gameplay or simulating it (in the case of projects from other areas - respectively a video showing what you want to do in the end). For example, you do not have a game yet - but characters are drawn, the world is thought out, a map. You can show how the characters will move around the map, interact. Talk about the combat system, if any, and so on. So, for example, Two Guys from Andromeda did, until they had a prototype in HTML5. Often, gaming companies already have a working prototype of the game, which they demonstrate in the video.
    3. Awards (rewards) . This is one of the strongest motivators why users invest. For example, very often for $ 15 you can get a box with a game, which after the game is published will cost for example $ 50, and for a reward of $ 50 you can get a gift edition + T-shirt + flash drive from the game’s logo. The rewards can be many different, from $ 1 to $ 10,000. For example, Tim Schaefer “sold” four dinners with him and Ron Gilbert to four different people. The cost of the meal was $ 10,000.
    4. The amount you want to collect for your project . If you put too little, you collect too little (with rare exceptions, when developers asked for example $ 10,000 and raised $ 200,000, FTL project ). If you ask too much, they will not believe you and will not invest in you. Again, stars like Brian Fargo might ask for a couple of millions, even though he claimed $ 900,000. Therefore, we must soberly assess our strengths, the complexity of the project and the potential interest of the audience not only in your game, but also in the genre of your choice, setting, and more.
    5. Preparation . This is probably the most important factor. Kickstarter is 90% PR, 10% your project. Links to major news sites, a list of forums and blogs, pre-prepared articles and reviews, art, photos or thumbnails of prizes (rewards) and more. It is highly advisable to enlist the support of a good, experienced PR company, which already has established contacts with large specialized portals.

    Obstacles to domestic teams

    The biggest difficulty for domestic teams is that Kickstarter works with Amazon Payments. And Amazon Payments does not work with anyone other than residents of the United States. In other words, if you are not an American, then getting on Kickstarter as a developer will be difficult for you. Payments themselves are accepted from all over the world - to become a “backer”, that is, the person who supported the project, you can, if you have a regular bank card.

    But there are always solutions. If you are a developer, and you have partners in the USA - reliable friends or relatives - you can negotiate with them. Having concluded an agreement with you, they will be able to become your representatives and create a project for you on Kickstarter. This is the simplest of all that you have to do. In addition, you can open an account with a US bank yourself (personal presence is required). This will be enough to launch your project on Kickstarter.

    The next challenge is low organic traffic. On Kickstarter, the search for projects or their presentation to the audience is rather poorly organized, there is no single community - therefore, without the articles on the top thematic sites and the wide dissemination of information about your project in the media, the project itself is unlikely to raise the required amount. That is why paragraph 5 above is so important. If you want to succeed, then you will have to search for contacts, arrange articles and reviews in advance. In addition, you will really need the help of your backers. Without their support, the chances are minimal. You can disseminate information on hundreds of small sites that are thematically relevant to your project - but there is a general opinion of the creators of projects that an article on one large site will bring more benefits than a hundred small ones. Of course that doesn’t mean that small portals must be neglected; if there is a possibility of posting information there, you must definitely do it.

    But that is not all. Many projects do not take into account the cost of making the awards they promise to beckers. For example, one project claimed sweatshirts with symbols, the production of which, together with mail, cost more than the amount paid by the backers (unfortunately, I can not find this link specifically). Another example is another team , which, together with taxes, not counted by the cost of sounds and music, the underestimated cost of making awards, has only $ 4,000 left to develop. Therefore, carefully consider the cost of making all the game content, all the prizes, shipping (international shipping costs about $ 15).

    Our on Kickstarter

    For example, the Belarusian game “ Legends of Eisenwald ” has successfully received funding: a small one, only $ 83,577. But nevertheless, it is a success despite all the difficulties that the domestic team is facing. This is the first game from the CIS countries, collected such a serious amount on Kickstarter. Now the developers of Eisenwald Legends believe that they could have collected twice as much. However, the Russians (and CIS residents) practically did not support the project: about 70% of the funding came from the American audience, 15-20% from the German audience and the rest from the rest.

    The second domestic project - al-Skyjacker"- set a goal of $ 200,000. For a project of this level, this is quite a bit, especially despite the fact that the project already has a playable demo version. However, apparently the genre of space simulators (rather hardcore and niche in itself), the origin of the team and such an amount frightened American beckers. Now Skyjacker went on a second run, taking into account the mistakes of the previous (canceled) campaign.

    But even if the project does not collect the required amount, the developer is far from being laid back (of course, provided that he survives without the necessary funds): his project becomes famous. Projects on Kickstarter are monitored by both ordinary users and bloggers, thematic information portals, discussed on forums and in person. This allows you to form a community and, if the project is done, start already with some good (for starters) number of players. In addition, so far there are no prohibitions on Kickstarter to re-submit the project. After gaining experience and feedback from your audience, you can improve your project, take into account comments and make changes, then apply again. The only thing that you most likely will not be able to change is your country and the "nationality" of the project (real, and not the one indicated on the site). Besides,

    A bit of patriotism and optimism

    With this article and my experience, I hope to arouse optimism in our developers, and a sense of patriotism in the players. After all, Russia is a huge country, with a huge number of players. Having come together, we may well show the Americans that our projects also have a future on Kickstarter, that they are no worse. The main thing is that a suitable project appears. Soon, taking into account the experience of our colleagues and all of the above, we will submit our project to Kickstarter. In order not to violate the rules of Habra, I will not give a link - as I understand it, this can be attributed to advertising. After that, we hope that our people will show greater interest in compatriots on Kickstarter. Will there be a competition between our audience and the US audience? I think now - hardly. But in the future it may well be after all, if you look at the English projects - they are strongly supported by the British (which alone is Totalbisquit and its CynicalBrit). By the way, we do not know such a strong community of leaders. And of course, it all depends only on ourselves, our players and developers - and on the quality that developers can offer players. If a domestic crowdfunding community is formed, then this will give a huge impetus to our indie developers. Regarding the domestic games industry, enormous changes can occur: the games will be made the way players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever). By the way, we do not know such a strong community of leaders. And of course, it all depends only on ourselves, our players and developers - and on the quality that developers can offer players. If a domestic crowdfunding community is formed, then this will give a huge impetus to our indie developers. Regarding the domestic games industry, enormous changes can occur: the games will be made the way players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever). By the way, we do not know such a strong community of leaders. And of course, it all depends only on ourselves, our players and developers - and on the quality that developers can offer players. If a domestic crowdfunding community is formed, then this will give a huge impetus to our indie developers. Regarding the domestic games industry, enormous changes can occur: the games will be made the way players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever). our players and developers - and from the quality that developers can offer players. If a domestic crowdfunding community is formed, then this will give a huge impetus to our indie developers. Regarding the domestic games industry, enormous changes can occur: the games will be made the way players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever). our players and developers - and from the quality that developers can offer players. If a domestic crowdfunding community is formed, then this will give a huge impetus to our indie developers. Regarding the domestic games industry, enormous changes can occur: the games will be made the way players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever). games will be made as players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever). games will be made as players want. Developers will no longer be put in an interesting position and will be able to decide for themselves what to do; what games they want to make; what games are really interesting, and are not just a means of making money from their “patrons” (I will not show my finger with whatever).

    A few words about payments.amazon.com

    It accepts payments, transfers money from backers to developers and is engaged in checking accounts, cards and other financial issues of payments.amazon.com. One of the main problems for foreigners on Kickstarter is Amazon - it is he who works only with US residents. Now, as far as I know, Kickstarter is looking for ways to solve this problem and become an international platform.

    Amazon's Benefit is an excellent payment system. I think that’s why beckers so boldly and generously support Kickstarter projects. Its essence is simple: you can support the project with any amount (from $ 1 to $ 10,000). But until the project collects the requested minimum amount, the money remains in your account. Amazon blocks them, but they do not leave your account. This gives beckers confidence and peace of mind. At any time, they can change their bid on Kickstarter, or cancel it altogether (and this happens with any projects - you need to be prepared for this and treat with understanding).
    In case the project is successful - the money is transferred by Amazon at this moment. If the project has not collected the required amount (at least $ 1), the payment is canceled and the money will not be transferred anywhere.

    Not everyone can use Amazon, so many developers on their sites make additional payments via PayPal (and / or other payment systems). For example: one game project collected about $ 580,000 on Kickstarter and on its website (via PayPal) got about $ 35,000 (I don’t remember the exact numbers, but the order is like that). Thus, it makes sense to duplicate the acceptance of payments through alternative payment systems.

    Useful resources

    Kickstarter project statistics site - Kicktraq.com . Before creating a project on Kickstarter, I strongly recommend that you study similar projects there, daily influx of backers, average payment, and more.

    The Russians on Kickstarter group is for those who are interested in the development of the Russian audience on Kickstarter, who have any questions or thoughts regarding Kickstarter (it was mentioned by Alexander Dergay in his interview ) and the experience gained there.

    Divine Space (our project): I don’t put sin away. When we launch the project on Kickstarter, I’ll try to write notes from the battlefield in another article where I will tell you how they prepared, what they did, why and why.

    Acknowledgments

    Thanks for the information, tips, hints and other help in writing this article: Alexander Dergai (Legends of Eisenwald), Evgeny Zhukov (al-Skyjacker), Vic Wertz (The Terah Project) and Chris Pope (Two Guys from Andromeda).