Having posted about my experience completing my first Kickstarter and my success therein it has been asked what I put the success down to. We hit almost £3,000 in 12 hours with little or no advertising and ended up 148% backed. So how did we do it, well we did all the things they tell you to do, we were active on Facebook and BoardGameGeek and present at multiple conventions. We previewed our Kickstarter page and had friends ready to back as soon as we went live, but then so does everybody.
I honestly think that our relative success came from the added value of games design. Wherever a product is marked up for sale the majority of profit available to its seller comes from added value. A chef takes ingredients and gives them added value by preparing them into a meal to justify their markup and profit. As a games designer I put added value into bits of cardboard and paper by organising them into a game. This added value is something I can essentially give away to make my game more attractive to backers. Now, again, everyone is attempting to do this. However, I believe the difference is based on how much game the game design can support. For example, some games have a large amount of game, with boards, chips, miniatures etc. and a lot of game design to support them. Take Blood Rage for example. At that point you have added value from sculptors, artists and games designers, but you have a high final price, meaning that the added value is not significantly higher than the final cost to consumers. On another level you have a simple, fast paced party game, like Exploding Kittens. At that end of the equation while the game design is often finely balanced the customer's perception of the game design and its added value is relatively low. As such either of these games has to provide reasons on top of their pure games design for consumers to back them. As a games designer I can at least attempt to create the games design to support a game as in depth as Blood Rage in a box the size of Exploding Kittens. At that point I'm offering a large amount of added value beyond the price point of the game, which costs me nothing but makes the game more attractive than one might expect. I do this because I can't afford the other elements those games offer rather than because I'm unusually brilliant. I've also deliberately chosen two hugely successful campaigns to underline that our final total of just under £9,000 is after all only a relative success.
I also truly believe that any designer seeking to attract the public rather than just satisfy their own desires should be designing to a brief that they have created for themselves and that brief should include low unit price, wide player numbers, attractive theme and clear game play elements. For low unit price, justify and reduce your components, if you can do without plastic do so, if you can cut out components do so. Widen player count as much as possible, but do it honestly. People are pretty tired of front of campaign player counts that need expansions or stretch goals to play. At least I am. For theme, with SSO I built a game recreating popular existing sci-fi films. Try to keep themes clear but broad, sci-fi horror movie, post-apocalyptic car combat, broad definitions that give a very clear mental image. Finally, try to find a game play definition that people can grasp with a one or two sentence description to get people off the Kickstarter search page and onto your Kickstarter page.