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Turing Post Partum – game vs crowd

A few weeks ago we successfully funded our fourth Kickstarter project, namely for Turing, and so I’m going to write another Kickstarter analysis blog. I see more post mortem Kickstarter blogs than ones from successful projects, which is a trend I’ve been trying to correct, and this is another shot at that.

So, a little background. We’re a tiny independent company, so all of our Kickstarters are pretty small, little or no advertising and game design over product. In the case of Turing, our playtesting regime had taken a beating over the last year or so due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we didn’t want to leave a whole year without putting out a new game. Turing was something that I had kicking around for years and years. As a game designer you’ll often find that playtesting on the primary game you’re working on, for whatever reason, needs to be cut short during a session. At that point it’s a great idea to have something else you’re testing that you can pull out of your pocket quickly to avoid wasting that time, Turing has been that for a while, so I knew it worked as a game. However, it was always going to be super small and cheap but very artwork intensive and it took me a while to work out how to make those two things work. It all came together and I realized this was a game I could put out for essentially zero investment, which made it the perfect project for the pandemic year.

Turing did fine, for a project that had around £500 of upfront investment for the graphic design and images it actually did fantastically, £5,232 return on that was a result that I was personally very happy with. However, it was the slowest funding Kickstarter we’ve ever had.

That graph shows a game reaching its goal with three days left in the campaign. Interestingly, and entirely personally, I didn’t find that anything like as stressful as I was expecting. It was a good deal less stressful than our first campaign for SSO which funded in 11 days of a 30-day campaign. I suspect that’s because it was a campaign with far less riding on its shoulders. It has a few interesting points though, firstly, despite funding with only three days left it still reached a very healthy 130% amounting to over £1000 more than the minimum funding, which backs up something that I’ve said pretty often which is that just because your game doesn’t fund in the first 48 hours, or even the first week, that’s no reason to cancel if your goal is realistic and honest. Secondly, there’s a subtle but important little bump around August third of about 5%, this was a direct response to an update with a call to action in it for people to share the project around. I’ve never been totally convinced of the impact of such requests since I’d always assumed that people would tell friends who might be interested in a campaign they’d backed because that’s what I do, but here it was a very real and valuable boost. The rest of the stats were pretty standard.

17% is a pretty good conversion rate, actually the best that we’ve had in any of our campaigns.

What is most interesting to me about the Turing campaign is to compare it to our original campaign for SSO. Here are the stats for SSO again:

They make a good set of comparisons, both games had a single level for a pocket-sized game costing £10 with £2 international shipping. Both had pretty much zero money spent on their campaign, SSO had about £300 spent on advertising, Turing had nothing. SSO had a mailing list of three names, Turing had a mailing list of around 600. Subjectively, the page for Turing looks far, far better than the one for SSO and is considerably more professionally presented. Turing had full reviews, live streams, support from boardgame influencers and a digital try before you buy version, none of which was available for SSO. SSO was our first launched project, by the launch of Turing we had two completely fulfilled campaigns and a third funded campaign. On pretty much every level Turing had far more going for it on most of the standard measures than SSO. Despite that, SSO funded to nearly double the amount of money in half the time of Turing.

It should be that Turing our performed SSO on every level, but it absolutely did not. The only difference that SSO had in its favour was that SSO was a game designed to appeal to Kickstarter, pocket sized with a sci-fi pop culture theme and a minimum player count of one. Conversely Turing is an image interpretation game much closer to a party game with a higher player count and no specific theme. Incidentally, for those who might suggest that the difference was that Turing launched into a post pandemic world with less available funds, we launched an SSO re-print shortly after Turing, it’s the fastest funding project we’ve ever had and at time of writing his just passed 189% funded with 17 days to go. In short, something major to consider that theme and game design, elements that are entirely free to a game designer, appear to be worth around half of the funds that are ultimately raised. More to the point they are worth more than potentially expensive and lengthy to acquire mailing lists and even reviews.

I hope this might have been helpful in planning for your own campaigns, we should have another of these available to post for SSO: Second Edition in a little over 17 days.


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