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I am a programmer and I recently started creating small games in C++. It was to practice my skills and learn more about game development and the techniques used to program a game. Recently I got the idea to create an indie game with a friend of mine, but the problem is that the development has to be funded so we can actually make time to create it. So the first thing that popped into my mind was the idea to kickstart it on kickstarter.com. This is a commonly used method to gain attention for the development and get people to fund it, but when I look at the projects submitted in the 'Video Games'-category and sort them on end date, I find out that only about 10% will reach their goal in time. What I notice is that almost every successfully funded project has a good story and a nice amount of promising concept art. But it doesn't seem to guarantee a successful kickstart. I also see a lot of games which have all the things that would make them succesful, but somehow they they don't really seem to get off the ground. I have the feeling that there has to be some advertisement done to gain more attention, but also make it attractive and rewarding enough to get people to fund your project. I've listed a few things I think will greatly improve the amount of money raised below:

  • Make it look attractive: This means there has to be a nice logo or an image representing the game that attracts people. Also there need to be a lot of things that show what the final product will look like and what the game currently looks like in some gameplay. The concept art will define the style that the game will have, but also create an attractive cinematic promise.

  • Video of project: A youtube video that represents the game will probably be a very good way to explain the way the game works, is played and show some insights. By talking to the viewer as the developer you get more personal and really encourage them to fund.

  • Rewards: To get people to fund your game, you have to make it as attractive as possible by creating a good reward-system. The more money they fund to your game, the more they will be rewarded. This can be done in-game, but also physically by sending them a T-shirt or something similar.

  • Website: Setting up a website seems a very important thing to do as it will be a way for people to get updates about your game and will a thing to build on as you progress in your development.

  • Promotion: This might be the most important part of the kickstarter campaign, as it will let people know what you are doing. The more people know, the more people will fund the project. I thought about a few ways to do this, but it is something I don't know much about it.

    • Divide the development into separate stages: Alpha, Beta and Release. This will create more reward options, but also create opportunities to gain attention for each stage.

    • Game news: websites or blogs that focus on discovering new games and reviewing them would be a great way to get attention. The problem is that I don't know if these websites/blogs are willing to write an article about a game in development.

    • Youtube: Youtube seems to be a great way to promote your game. By this I don't mean paying Youtube to advertise, but asking Youtubers to play your game seems to be a very efficient way to let people know about your project. This can be done by giving Youtubers special access to your game, but the problem here is that you have to have something presentable, which you probably won't have in the first stages in you development.

EDIT:

  • Risks: By explaining the risks you are taking by starting your project, you show people that you have thought about every aspect of the process, by which you will gain more trust. As jsx stated: 'when you've outlined the things that can go wrong after telling someone the solutions, they end up telling you why those things aren't really problems. And having that person tell you why your project is going to succeed is a great position to be in'.

These are all the things I could think of to get people to fund your project, but there have to be more and better ones. Are there more (efficient) methods I don't know about or tips about the things I wrote in the list above?

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you realized that kickstarter won't do the promotion for your product you already realized more than many of those 90% of projects which fail to reach their crowdfunding goals. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Feb 1 '15 at 0:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't know people thought that, haha. Why would anyone think that? \$\endgroup\$ – jzx Feb 1 '15 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe many think that kickstarter on it's own is efficient enough. The thing is, people might see your project there, but you want them to actually click on your project to see the story behind it. This is something that can be achieved by specifically promoting your game on other platforms I believe. Also there are not enough people actively browsing through the kickstarter projects looking for projects to fund. Another problem is that once your project isn't shown anymore on the frontpage of sorting-by-'newest' it won't get many more views. \$\endgroup\$ – kdnooij Feb 1 '15 at 0:32
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The most important thing, and the one I think causes most game projects to fail, is not understanding feasibility. To put it another way:

The Risks section of your business plan, Kickstarter, or whatever, is the most important part.

Maybe not to everyone, but to you and your team, and especially to the people who can market your project to their audience. You need to really understand your risks and address those if you want people to invest in your project and address those directly. Otherwise there's no point in having any of those things.

If you know or can find a project manager, they can help with this.

Here are some example considerations:

  • People not being interested in the finished product is a risk. So what is going to make them interested in it? What makes your product better than similar/cheaper/other versions of the same?
  • You could end up working so slowly that you would never finish, not knowing when to make changes to the plan. How are you going to demonstrate momentum? Are you going to keep a dev blog? Engage in an early release program?
  • Your team might not be capable of doing what you say, in the time you've budgeted. What have you or your team completed in the past? Is this bigger or smaller than past projects? How does this compare?

The fundamental reason why projects are successful (in terms of funding or completion) is this understanding and management of risk. You post concept art to demonstrate competence. You talk about the writing to capture people's interest and imagination, to show that the story is well written. You give examples of past projects to show that you're capable of commitment. If you can't take a good hard look at your project and tell me the most likely reasons it could fail and how you're addressing them, you haven't put enough thought into it for me to give you money for it.

Once you can address all the risks, ideally with evidence but a passionate explanation can go a long way too, that's when you know you have enough to go ahead with a financing campaign.

As an exercise to find out what's important to your project, you can examine similar but failed campaigns on crowd funding sites to see what risks they failed to address adequately. Especially helpful are the ones that look really polished, but didn't come anywhere near their funding needs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You have a good point! Although I think it shouldn't scare people away, so I think it's good to show that you have thought about everything by explaining the risks and answering the questions you gave, but it should also be for yourself to see if you are actually going to be able to take those risks. \$\endgroup\$ – kdnooij Feb 1 '15 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes - when you've outlined the things that can go wrong after telling someone the solutions, they end up telling you why those things aren't really problems. And having that person tell you why your project is going to succeed is a great position to be in. \$\endgroup\$ – jzx Feb 1 '15 at 0:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a nice approach indeed, but still you have to balance it I think to be in that position. \$\endgroup\$ – kdnooij Feb 1 '15 at 0:33

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