So I’ve launched my game on Kickstarter twice now and failed twice.
The first time was a big flop, and I totally accept that one. Cheap video, minimal graphics on the page, barely any awareness and little final art to show off. I was dumb.
The second one… well it hardly did any better. And I’m not sure why. I have TONS of finished artwork, I have a lot of really positive reviews, I’ve been demoing the game intensely (exhaustingly so) for a year, and the game is 99% finished.
Cancelled Nightlancer Kickstarter page
I have some theories, though.
1) I tried launching it to coincide with a ton of events, I thought this would help the campaign. But I don’t think it had any noticable impact (didn’t notice significant boosts after events), and I’ve been wondering about it since – maybe the events actually had a negative impact. My guess is people are all fired up to get cool stuff at the show (UKGE was the main one but Q-Con is also pretty big and I hit both) not put money down to maybe get stuff later.
I had a moment of this feeling myself when I played a demo of the Fallout game at UKGE, then they told me it’s still on the ship and isn’t available to buy yet. I’d have bought it right there if they had it, but now I’m kinda busy and don’t want to go chasing it down.
2) There were some IRL dates that it was poorly chosen around. 4th July for one since looking at my demographics about half of my backers are in the USA, and also it has been suggested that it was starting/ending right before a lot of people would pay rent, which might have an impact as well.
3) A game with a similar theme and big following launched (Shadowrun Sprawl) about a week earlier, but I didn’t catch that it happened until about a week after I launched.
4) A few reviews didn’t come out (notably influential ones, Undead Viking and Unfiltered Gamer) until a day or a week after the launch. I didn’t allow enough time to get reviews out in time. Some people might argue that this could have helped boost it post-launch, but I think they’d have had a better impact if they were there on day 1. Ultimately I didn’t get past that first hurdle of hitting 50% in the first few days, so no amount of mid-campaign boost is typically going to save me at that point.
5) My game just doesn’t have enough appeal
6) I didn’t have enough of a following to get a great day 1 and encourage backers that are on the fence that it’ll go the distance.
7) The funding target (£17,500) is a big one for a first-time publisher. People don’t know me, I don’t have any sort of track record, so reasonably they’re not ready to take a big risk on me.
My guess (hope?) is that #3 and #4 are the main problems. #6 is probably a factor, but that’s not something I can just make happen (or at least, I lack the skills to really help encourage visibility). #7 too also seems like a fairly significant factor.
I don’t think #1 and #2 made a BIG impact, maybe I’m wrong, it’s hard to tell. But #1 did have an impact on my available energy levels for the campaign.
I don’t think #5 is the case. I’ve got consistently positive responses from people who have played and the vast majority of my reviews are positive. But I feel like I need to include it for completeness.
So what I really want to know is, is there anything I’ve missed?
Which of these factors seem most important to fix?
What else might I have gotten wrong?
How can I do better next time?
(I’ve got some ideas for what to do next, but I’m currently focusing on diagnosing what the problem is before trying to decide what solution is best)