Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by jkweath, Oct 23, 2019.

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  1. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    Hello,

    I was wondering if anyone here has had or is using Kickstarter or another crowdfunding service, and if so what your experience with them is like.

    I've never looked into using a crowdfunding service myself, but I've thought about researching them for my upcoming project.

    If I did use something like Kickstarter, it would likely be to fund art illustrations and possibly a marketing budget.
     
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  2. sura_tc

    sura_tc Loner Veteran

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    Not sure Kickstarter is any good anymore. I got burnt by few projects that ran away. Since then I no longer visit Kickstarter.

    Patreon, however, is popular for devs, especially for adult game devs.
     
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  3. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I'd say it depends of IF you have any experience releasing games (which you do I see). If you can show people hey, here is what I made in the past, it will show them that you are capable of making and finishing a project. But if you are a new dev, I'd say odds are stacked against you.
     
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  4. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    If you are a new and unknown dev—unless your game looks amazing and different and unique, I would not pursue a Kickstarter.

    I would only ever do a Kickstarter if I already have a following that is interested in the content I am producing. That way I’m guaranteed some people backing the project as well as can use them to promote the campaign to new people.

    Yes, a lot of devs have been burned by Kickstarter. But also A LOT of backers have been burned as well and so there is a lot more caution around kickstarters for gamers these days then there was before.
     
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  5. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    While all of the above is true, I'd still not write it off as completely impossible depending on what you want to achieve.

    If you're looking for a decent amount of money, say, ~500$ or more, then I think it will start to become somewhat of a challenge, and you'd probably need a well established following as well as an good looking project. And with good looking project, I mean nice graphics/illustrations as I believe that the visual aspects is what will sell your idea. Not the music, not the game play, the story or the listed features. They could all help but if you're running Kickstarter what will grab peoples attention is what they see as soon as they land on your page.

    Then again, if you're just looking to see if you can "grab" a few dollars that you otherwise wouldn't have gotten and throw them at marketing, you can probably pull it off more easily by setting a lower target (50~100$) and just aggressively market yourself on social media, discord, forums and all that jazz.

    Recently I saw this game get some money thrown at it, and well, without criticizing it too much it's no t exactly what I would call a top-notch RPG maker game:


    Then again, he had a low 25$ (CAD) goal and continually posted updates and stuff about the campaign in a somewhat active RM Facebook Group so I'd say he did put in some effort into the campaign itself. And it's possible he did other stuff as well that I didn't notice/know off. And well, we don't know who donated so while I don't think so, it COULD be that it's mostly a bunch of his friends and family. Impossible for us to know.

    Bottom line is, is you're just looking to grab another 100-300 bucks, you might be able to pull it off if you put effort into it. If you're looking for thousands of dollars... well, that has a huge chance of failure.
     
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  6. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    @Parallax Panda I'm actually not sure how much I would request - $500 maybe? My goal would be to fund art illustrations for the sequel to Knight Bewitched, so I could easily show people that game, and refer to my others, and explain what my goal is for this one. Granted I'll definitely be paying for a few illustrations myself, but with an extra $500 I could pay for more and at higher quality.

    Judging from the comments here though, there might be a lot more work involved than I'd imagined.

    I was curious as to whether or not kickstarters got any natural exposure from the site itself or if the developer was responsible for directing 90% of traffic to the kickstarter. So far it's looking like the latter, and if that's the case I probably don't have a chance of hitting a worthwhile goal. Still, it's worth looking into.
     
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  7. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    You'll probably have to direct most of the traffic yourself, but well, even a lazy campaign with a low goal could theoretically succeed and if you'd plan to spend the money out of your own pocket anyway then running a Kickstarter to see if you can gain some of it back might be worth the chance. If it fails, you only lost the time invested into it and if you didn't invest A LOT of time, it could still have been a good experience?
     
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  8. sura_tc

    sura_tc Loner Veteran

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    This is the key part. You do need either a very charming or a sexy female character(s).

    This is how it works on the internet, I am afraid.
     
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  9. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    The danger with that advice though is you may get people who will fund the game under the wrong impression, then will be upset that the game isn't what they think it is. Since I don't make adult games I'd rather people buy the game for what it really is, than risk people buying the game thinking it has more mature content when it doesn't.

    See also anytime Steam devs uses certain tags and it is not in the game as much as some people think it should be.
     
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  10. sura_tc

    sura_tc Loner Veteran

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    It's pretty rough to start out. If you are established, you can push your true goal.
    If you are starting out though, do whatever it means to get your name out.

    Sadly, gameplay isn't high on list of things people look for nowadays.
     
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  11. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    That's...actually wrong. There are many games that people thought would do awful with that reasoning that did really well. Plus you don't want to get your name out for the wrong reasons, as a ticked off customer base will hurt your next release badly.

    But yes, starting out is hard. That's why most recommend making a few short free games to get your name out there first, and is why my next game is free. Sure, I should have done that for my *first* game, but the idea for it came to me really late in the other project.
     
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  12. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    Well, I for one thinks that an attractive (and slightly sexy) female character on display would help your cause. How much you want to push that (in your game and in your marketing) is up to you, the dev, but as long as you keep a balance between marketing and game content, I see no problems on the horizon.

    But yeah, if you show of a hot woman in some comproimising pose, wearing say, a chainmail bikini... and then that character (and no one similar) is present in the actual game. That might lead to some disappointed customers. But why would you do that when you can just put the same ”fan service” in your game as well and make everyone happy?
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
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  13. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Parallax Panda : Fan service does not make everyone happy. I panned a game as it was too in my face and felt like it was made entirely for that reason. Not everyone likes it.
     
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  14. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    @bgillisp
    This is a bit off topic but I still wanted to comment on it, I’ve heard the argument before that making a few free games is better when starting out but I don’t agree. Not if the goal is to do commercial games.

    This reasoning might have held some truth a “few” years ago when there were less games out there but as the market is now I say get your (commercial) game(s) out there as soon as possible (In part, I’m speaking to myself here). Because;

    A. The competition grows everyday and it’s not getting better, releasing sooner increases your chances for profit.

    B. While the only reason to release something for free is to have more people play it (and thus gain an audience), there is so many games out there now that you’ll probably not get that many more downloads anyway. Compare to if you just sold the game.

    So in my opinion, if the goal is to go commercial then releasing free games is a waste of time and resources.

    And yes, fan service does not make everyone happy but it makes many people happy. You don’t have to take it to the Senran Kagura level with animated “flesh-bags” bouncing all over the screen, but some legs, some cleavage, an attractive face and maybe some enticing dialogue (this is what I’d call mild fan service) can almost never fail. The more extreme you go, the more people you risk to turn off, but then again, you can probably gain an equal number of new customers. Or more.

    Sex appeal IS a really well tested and used marketing tool after all and I think it has proven itself throughout the ages that it works (if done right).
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
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  15. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I don't know. I think you could do a short game as marketing for a bigger game myself, especially on some sites. Even AAA companies have done this trick before in the past. Whether it works is hard to say, but with RPGMaker more are willing to give a free game from a new dev a chance vs a commercial game from a new dev.
     
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  16. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

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    Definitely some off topic stuff here but I like the discussion.

    @bgillisp your conversation reminds me of one of the many RPGMaker fan-service games I saw awhile back called "The Chosen RPG". It was a clearly low-quality game, but it was ultra-fan-service-y and even had the "sexual content" tag (despite many reviews questioning why, as the game didn't have any sexual content)

    Anyway, that game sold really well, but the reviews definitely pointed out that the game was purchased more for the boobs than the gameplay, which was mediocre. Later on the same developer made a sequel with the same formula, but it got trashed as the gameplay was even worse than the first game; it didn't sell anywhere near as well.

    Seems like the fan service got his foot in the door, but the gameplay kept him from getting any further. I'd actually agree with @sura_tc in that there's a lot of games that manage to sell due to really good marketing or fan service, but if the gameplay's no good then they won't have near as much luck with future game sales.

    On fan service, it's almost worth making a separate topic as there's been a lot of discussion about it over the past week or so. I have more to say about it, but long story short, IMO there's an acceptable level of fan service that usually has a positive impact on sales. But it's sort of like the uncanny valley effect where you can quickly get into too-fan-servicey waters, possibly turning off your main audience and sort of half-attracting a different one that you may not want.

    @Parallax Panda I have actually noticed a few developers gain a huge surge in popularity from releasing free games. Games that come to mind off the top of my head: FAITH, Baldi's Basics, Doki Doki Literature Club... Granted whether or not those developers were able to find any financial success from those free games is a different story, but they've gained enough notoriety that any future game release will have a lot more publicity and a huge audience to market to.

    And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't One Shot and LISA start as free games before they were recreated? If so, those games saw huge financial success due to the audience they'd accrued from releasing their games for free previously.

    Of course, those games are more the exception than the norm, and I imagine there's a lot of free games that gain no visibility and thus no future financial benefit. I suppose the dilemma is that a low-quality game probably won't get anywhere even if it's free, but if you spend a lot of time making a high-quality game, it's much more tempting to sell it than to give it away in the hopes that it'll help build an audience for a later commercial release.

    Now that I think of it, this is probably another separate topic worth discussing on this board. I've never tried giving away a free game myself but there's definitely some developers around here who have experience with that.
     
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  17. sura_tc

    sura_tc Loner Veteran

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    One thing I clearly learned from making games is that humans are quite, still, primitive.
     
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  18. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

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    @bgillisp & @jkweath

    I’m not saying it can’t work for some, because for some it has. One Shot and LISA did start off as free games, true. But I think that from a perspective of maximizing profit, making free game(s) for marketing comes across as a gamble.

    I believe it is like Jkweath said, a bad or mediocre game will not give you much of an audience anyway (because there’s a sea of “so-so” games out there).
    If your game is good or great on the other hand, well, why aren’t you selling it? If selling games is the ultimate goal you have - sell it!

    In theory, not selling it might result in more people playing it and you growing a larger audience quicker than you might otherwise had. Or, it could be that you just lost out on thousands of dollars? It’s a gamble, and in most cases I don’t think it’s worth it considering all the time and resources you have to put into making a really good game.

    The exceptions would be if you’re still learning and can’t make a commercial game yet. Or if there is a game jam with good media coverage (maybe even cash prices) that you can participate in. In those cases, sure, make a free game. Otherwise, don’t.

    Those are my 6 cents.

    As for developers who have done this. I know @Matseb2611 have made several free games before making commercial ones, and I think it’s true for @Indinera as well. But they started out a long time ago and I’m not sure you can copy their strategies* (not sure what they did was intentional marketing attempts*) and have success in today’s market.
    Especially if we’re talking STEAM, it seems to me that the best time to get your new game on there was yesterday.

    As for the fan-service, I too believe in that universally acceptable level of sex appeal that Jkweath mentions. And that it will only help your game. It’s what I meant with “some legs, some cleavage and an attractive face”, but it can probably be hard to make it “just right”. Although I think this is more if a problem with dialogues than visuals since crafting conversations can be a bit more... ambiguous.

    But that might just be the artist in me that says it’s easier to nail the visuals. An author might disagree.

    [EDIT; just read my post and realized I keep building onto the topics which is not part of the original discussion about Kickstarter (although you could argue that the part about fan service could be applied to best practices for your campaign). So let me add that the creator of Killer Gin recently had a quite successful kickstarter and I saw them push it quite aggressively in social media. Maybe ask them for some advice if you do decide to try it yourself Jkweath?]
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
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  19. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Please would everyone get back on topic

     
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  20. JosephSeraph

    JosephSeraph White Mage Restaff

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    While that's true, for the time and effort invested you're... Probably better off just getting commissions or something? Or just campaigning to scout people to work with you in your game, for free, if it's a free game and you're nice enough to work with. A whole month's work of aggressively pushing and marketing a kickstarter not only is not worth it, it's also ugly.

    Uh, I guess that works? I mean, it's probably the most low effort way to get a substantial amount of funding, I guess. However..

    I think Kickstarter is best for outstanding projects. Like, projects that really stand out. And if you want to do well on Kickstarter, you really have to justify your decision as to why you're going that route, as well as showing you're very competent by yourself and need the extra funding tol make your vision come to fruition. @jkweath is obviously capable of that, seeing as how they have multiple games released under their belt.
    So my route would be, set a realistic goal for what the game presents itself as (not for what you want to achieve, but for what you're communicating; optics are important) , make a really good and competent demo and show people that you can finish this. Clearly communicate where the money is going but already have some of that investment to begin with (ie. have a vertical slice, or even a prologue story, of 30 minutes or so done for the kickstarter, with really good production value, and convince people that you can do a whole game like that with the help of funding)
    That's probably ideal. Also, Kickstarter is kind of a very public platform. If you're aiming for a small amount of donations to fund a few key pieces of artwork, then you're maybe better off just campaigning via twitter tumblr etc. and asking people to donate directly to your Paypal. It's a route.
    Say, you have a RMN gamepage where you keep a very clear tab about your funding and the game's finances and invite people to contribute by donating to a link, perhaps even allowing them to choose which of the game's funding goals that money goes to (for example: you have a checklist of 4 characters that need full portrait art, each at $200, as well as 12 icons, each at $30. Someone donates $100, and they specify they want those 100 bucks to go directly towards portrait art to said specific character)
    The benefits of this are that kickstarter doesn't take its cut (only paypal), it's easy and simple to communicate directly to your small community, and you give a lot of control to people who support the game without making a monthly contract like Patreon or binding yourself to backer rewards like on Kickstarter; good for a small scale project.

    Anyway, these are my 12 cents.

    Lmao you're making me push to do this, and then genderswap the character in the release (but keep the bikini).
     
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