From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
The Kickstarter panel of day 3 of PAX AUS this year was excellent. The panel members had all successfully run Kickstarters for their tabletop games, and this was the focus. There were other panels that looked at computer games, but this was really about tabletop and so for those thinking about computer games or any other project the points may not carry across.
The bar has been raised high on Kickstarter by other successful tabletop projects. Some general points about the game and some concept art are not going to cut it any more. There should at least be completed professional art, and a prototype run of the game to show off at launch.
With the high bar, the project page needs to look good and communicate clearly with your audience. Tell them exactly who your game is for and what they will get for their pledge. Avoid waffle.
This will run around $1500 for maybe 60 copies so it’s not free. However it allows you to test out your manufacturer in terms of the quality they can provide. It also gives you something pretty to show off on your project page. The final consideration here is that it gives you something to send to reviewers. All the panel agreed that having reviewer with large audiences talk about your project has a direct impact on pledges.
Not every paragraph here starts with a P. USD is the currency of choice. While it’s not compulsory to use, everyone understands it. Global audiences can cope with non-native currencies, but it tends to confuse the 50% of the Kickstarter audience who are from the US. Also your manufacturer’s bills will often be settled in USD so it makes the accounting easier. In Australia banks will allow you to set up a foreign currency account and you can use this to pay bills and receive Kickstarter payments.
Kickstarter, not crowdfunding
The platform is Kickstarter. Other sites exist, but this is the main one. The audience are all here, and part of what makes Kickstarter useful is the browsing audience, where people simply go shopping for projects they might like to back.
50% of the Kickstarter audience are based outside the US. Don’t alienate them with higher shipping rate, use a flat rate.
Handle these with care. They are great for showing changes to your project page. Having something new and positive to update your audience with every few days is great. Be careful to make the stretch goals genuine and not something that should be in the box anyway. Use it to reward all backers with higher quality pieces etc. The panel also felt that not revealing the stretch goal amounts was useful since it gives you the flexibility to change things as needed to keep that project page updated with good news.
Use checklists to make sure you have everything ready, and start months in advance. Raise the word through friends, family, and fellow gamers. This can give you an initial surge of early pledges that makes your project appear on third-party sites like Kicktraq.
Advertising and marketing
Timing your launch around key gaming events (like PAX!) that you can promote your project at is great. Make sure you have a list of important events you could promote at and have a presence there. BoardGameGeek and Kicktraq are two useful online advertising platforms where you can reach and audience of gamers who back projects. $800 will buy you 30 days advertising on BoadGameGeek. Facebook advertising is also useful as you can target specific demographics and locations to make sure your ad is reaching the right people.
Everyone on the panel felt that joining online or face to face designer groups and being an active contributor were both important.
You will receive enquiries during a project, make sure you put aside time to give each an individual response.
Understand your costs
The advertising and prototyping costs have already been covered. Also consider your manufacturer, and the cost of moving your product from them to the port (if any). The location of your manufacturer will be important, proximity to a shipping port is best.
Use online resources
My thanks go to the panelists who were so generous with their time and knowledge: Dann May [Chief Creative Officer, Game Salute/PolyHero Dice], Allen Chang [Co-founder, Rule & Make], Kim Brebach [Owner/Director, Secret Base Games], Dylan Shearer [Game Designer & Marketing Lead, Table Tyrant Games], Al Caynes [Owner/Director, Senyac Games].