How to crowdfund an indie videogame in 30 days


Learn the secrets and myths of a successful crowdfunding campaign: How we drove 2,000+ backers to fund an indie video game.


Backercamp is an independent full-service firm for crowdfunding projects.

We analyze campaigns, develop strategies, and provide guidance that leads our clients to reach their fundraising goals. Through our proven metrics, we create marketing strategies that pinpoint the project’s target audience to create a natural synergy between the project, the media partners, and the backers.

After supporting more than 4,000 projects, we wanted to share even more of the expertise we gained over the years by creating closer partnerships with our clients — thus the Full Campaign Package was born.

This highly customized service allows us to to make a more profound impact on those select projects we love by working side by side with our clients; pairing a great product with great crowdfunding expertise — a winning combination.

Exoplanet: First Contact

Exoplanet: First contact — is a single-player, story driven wild west video game developed by Alersteam.

As with all partners, we did a deep analysis of the project and ran it through our application process and metrics. We saw a lot of potential and decided to work with this exciting project.

Okay, we won’t keep you squirming in your seat for the next ten minutes…just so you know — they made it! And even exceeded their goal by far. But how did that happen and what was Backercamp’s part in this exciting journey? Keep reading and we will explain in 8 lessons how we got to that little peak in the graph below, along with some other tricks of the trade that helped this campaign raise 150% of their goal!

1. The Biggest Investment is your Time

Whether your team is large or small, with crowdfunding there is always a lot of work to be done: turning the complexity of a Kickstarter campaign into something clear and easy to digest for backers is a laborious process.

Far from being easy, crowdfunding is a full-time job (sometimes even enough work for two full-time jobs) with tons of moving parts. As most projects don’t have the budget to hire experts for every task — most creators have to learn to do all of these things themselves.

Budget breakdown for Exoplanet’s campaign

It is particularly important to calculate the project’s needs and costs with a high degree of accuracy. We like to define budgeting as the most important element of a campaign, it’s imperative to avoid potential pitfalls and stay ahead of the curve.

This is where backercamp came into play. As video game experts, the guys from Exoplanet were happy to hire professional help when it came to project management, so they could fully focus on the development of their game and brand.

Takeaway:

Define the project’s scope and plan your budget ahead of time, determine how many people (and their roles) are needed to finish each step. For example, in the Exoplanet’s campaign we had a team of almost 10 people (Alersteam + Backercamp) working on the campaign.

2. The Power of the Steam Community

Steam Greenlight is a system that recruits gamers to choose the next new games to be released on Steam. Exoplanet started posting information, screenshots, and videos for their game to seek support from the community before going live.

This means, they started creating an active community around their game during the development process, and got feedback from potential backers before launching their campaign.

“Far from being easy, crowdfunding is a full-time job, sometimes even enough work for two full-time jobs with lots of moving parts.”
Exoplanet’s Steam profile

Takeaway:

Exoplanet managed to create an engaged community that is interested in their product, even before the launch. This was a vital element of their success as they were able to drive people to their campaign from day one.

3. Launching the Campaign

When it comes to successful crowdfunding campaigns, they all have one thing in common — a high level of detail. The best campaigns have been worked through hundreds of times and edited to perfection.

“Turning the complexity of a Kickstarter campaign into the something clear and easy to digest for potential backers is a laborious process.”

Copywriting & Graphic Design

When the Alpha version of the campaign arrived in our hands, we made it our mission to optimize the text to make Exoplanet: First contact more compelling to potential backers. We got to work right away improving the description, elaborating simple and straightforward Calls-to-Action, while focusing on delivering a clear message to convert visitors into backers.

We also had to make sure Exoplanet had all the graphics they needed to shine and have an excellent look and feel. Good graphics are a key factor for a successful campaign. A good graphic can explain your project at a glance and win over potential backers.

Updated Backercamp Graphic –Looking good, Jack!

Reward Adjustments

Creating a sense of urgency and an incentive to buy is key for crowdfunding projects. We created some early bird rewards that were a lot less expensive than the retail price, and a powerful call-to-action for potential backers.

All gone!

Rewards are the key behind any crowdfunding campaign. Most backers will not support you, out of pure good-will but out of the chance and desire to get an outstanding product for a great price, before everyone else.

4. Promoting the Campaign

No matter how good the product, visuals, and graphics are, it’s not worth a thing if you aren’t able to drive potential backers to your campaign.

Exoplanet did an amazing job creating interest and traction among its specific target group that would be interested in the game, and our task was expand the hype beyond the inner circle.

Let Imgur work its magic

Imgur.com is an online image sharing community and image host. Imgur describes itself as “The most viral images on the Internet, sorted by popularity”.

When Alersteam first posted about Exoplanet on Imgur, it worked like magic: the post got more than 390K views and 10K points, which led to a wave of hundreds of backers.

Leverage your project’s assets in community-driven platforms like imgur and reddit.

Press Release Distribution and Marketing Actions

We announced the campaign to targeted media, journalists, and bloggers across the globe. We wrote and sent out a press release to maximize exposure for Exoplanet. We made a huge list of people that might be interested in the game and followed up with them.

Contacting the media is a very important step. The biggest mistake here is to contact the wrong media partners. Not every journalist is interested in writing about a video game, so we had to find the right individuals that are interested in this kind of project and would write about it.

Some of the media outlets and blogs Exoplanet was featured on

Some other marketing actions involved:

  • Writing newsletters and guest posts.
  • Setting up the Media Kit.
  • Proofreading their campaign Updates.
  • Posting on all our Social Media Channels.
  • Interviews and Reddit AMA (Ask me Anything) with Exoplanet developers! They were getting so many questions about detailed feedback on the game, the campaign, or other materials, that they decided to bring the discussion and their answers to Reddit.
Alersteam Exoplanet’s AMA on Reddit
  • Adding a Thunderclap campaign: it may help for other Kickstarters, but it had a little effect on this campaign.
  • Reaching out to Youtubers — We shared the Alpha version of the game and asked them to review it on their channels for a wider exposure.

5. Balancing Promotion Efforts

Should we do a huge PR campaign at launch? Or wait until the project gets funded? What’s the optimal approach when allocating efforts in a Kickstarter project?

Well, it really depends on the nature of the project, but in the case of Exoplanet, the strategy was to perform a ‘soft launch’, and let the project reach grow organically among the early backers and their inner circles.

Design your campaign to survive the project’s trough, it may be harder than expected.

With this approach, the campaign was optimized for surviving the most terrifying phase of the project, the mid-campaign phase (AKA — mid-campaign slump). By diversifying the PR efforts throughout the campaign, we pushed gradually as the project got funded, and avoided get most visitors during the first (least funded) days of the campaign.

The strategy consisted of a soft launch and balanced distribution of the PR efforts throughout the campaign.

Backers prefer to join projects that are at least 30% funded, as 79% of projects that raise more than 20% of their goal end up successfully funded. It seemed like a sound strategy for Exoplanet to save up their PR fuel for that moment.

Takeaway

Reverse your frame of mind: Would you prefer to back a project that’s likely to succeed or one that’s still on it’s way? As a project creator you should look at things from a backer’s point of view, in order to design a compelling funding campaign.

6. Keeping Backers in the Loop

In online marketing, Content is King, so along with your PR strategy, you should plan your update posting in advance. Releasing fresh content will allow you to engage with current and potential backers, form relationships, and keep the momentum going.

Exoplanet released 13 updates during the campaign, which makes an average of nearly one update every two days.

22 minute commented gameplay released in the 11th update

· 5 ‘Storytelling’ updates.

· 3 Updates about stretch goals.

· 2 Cross promotion updates.

· 1 Announcing Reddit AMA.

· 1 Celebrating 100% funding.

· 1 Gameplay.

Using updates for Cross Promotion

Cross promotion is a type of marketing that involves two parties. It’s a great way to get other people to promote your project. Each side will help promote the other project’s product. In this case, Exoplanet mentioned CivCraft in one of their updates to both spread the word and encourage their own backers to support them, CivCraft did the same with Exoplanet — What a great partnership!

One of the projects Exoplanet cross-promoted

Using updates for telling a story

Updates can be action-packed — Yes they can!

Storytelling turned out to be an effective way to engage with backers, making the project more personal and exciting. Exoplanet had a special talent for telling stories. Some of them were more than 5,000 words long and backers loved every bit!

Meanwhile, at Backercamp, we made sure their copy was perfect. We took care of proofreading and editing to guarantee an optimal reading experience.

7. Reaching the Goal, and Beyond!

Day 16: They made it in style and we all celebrated Cowboy Style. That’s right, We danced with Jack, the Space Cowboy, to the wonderful rhythm of Opa Gangnam Style:

…And what a wonderful day it was :)

“Backers prefer to join projects that are at least 30% funded, as 79% of projects that raise more than 20% of their goal end successfully funded.”

Stretch goals

It’s not over until it’s over, we still had many days to go. So, we aimed higher, and shot for the moon — We decided to aim for the Stretch goals.

A stretch goal is a target set by the project creator that exceeds the original goal. Alersteam decided to release them as soon as they reached their 25% funding mark and they managed to unlock two of them, which is a great success.

Use graphic design to explain your stretch goals.

Exoplanet’s milestones:

· 50k Origins of Jack

· 60k Build your Ship

· 80k Random Encounters

· 110k Assemble your Crew

· 150k Alien Mangrove Forest Biome

Takeaway:

Stretch goals can make a project more challenging to complete, so we don’t recommend them for every case. If used properly though, they can increase your momentum and bring in a bunch of hesitant backers.

8. At the end of the day

We’ve enjoyed this journey and most importantly, we’ve learned invaluable lessons along the way. It was a road full of unexpected twists and turns, but it was definitely worth it.

Thanks to Alex and the whole Alersteam team for trusting us, and for letting us be part of this exciting adventure!

Finally, if you would like to contribute to Exoplanet, you still can!


Nuria Germán, social media and project manager at Backercamp.


Backercamp Project Services

If you need help with any aspect of your project, the team at Backercamp is always happy to help!

Check out our services at www.backercamp.com, and feel free to drop us a line at hello@backercamp.com.