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If this was a perfect world, Kickstarters would go off without a hitch. They would launch on time, and they would all be good games. Unfortunately, nothing is ever perfect. Kickstarter projects will always have problems, and sometimes, the product in question won’t even come out. There are always a couple of reasons why Kickstarters fail, and I am going to talk about a few that come to mind. If any other good examples of what to avoid come to me in the future, I’ll write another article.
Rule 1: Make sure, and I mean, make sure you have the entire budget down!
Why?: This should be pretty obvious. We have seen so many Kickstarters tank because the budget was not properly calculated and the Kickstarter ends up running out of money. You need to take into consideration how big your team is or how big you want it to be, office space, dev kits, and how much it will cost to make physical rewards on top of the actual game. Sadly, it is all too common to see Kickstarters go down the drain because someone on the team didn’t manage the money or know how much they actually needed. What’s even worse is that even if the game fails, there is no way to get refunds for some of the backers who put in more than the needed amount.
Example: You can go through a couple of different examples of how certain games ran out of money and couldn’t continue on. I mean, granted, I always think, “why not put it on Early Access so you can get more money”, but that’s another point for another time. If you want more recent examples of Kickstarters running out of money because the developer didn’t think the budget through, or worse, they took the money and ran, there are Kickstarter projects like Mansion Lord, Yogventures, The Stomping Ground, or Midora. So, if I haven’t said it enough, make sure you know your budget inside and out!
Rule 2: Don’t go up during a major media event or certain times of the year!
Why?: You want to make sure you have the greatest amount of attention for your Kickstarter campaign for the 30 or more days it will be up on the site. You want to get the game funded in the shortest amount of time possible, and be able to do some additional stretch goal funding as well. That is why you should avoid putting your Kickstarter up during certain parts of the year, or when huge media events like a comic con or E3 is happening. No one is going to be focusing or talking about your Kickstarter. Heck, it took at least four days before the failed Red Ash Kickstarter was finally talked about by the mass public, due to it being released during, I think, San Diego Comic Con, and how it was also launched on the 4th of July. Like I said, just avoid certain periods of time of the year and big media events unless your Kickstarter is just perfect.
Rule 3: Don’t post your Kickstarter if you have nothing to show
Why?: Maybe if this was 2012, you could get away with not showing off gameplay if you were a big enough designer who has worked on many classics. You know why Kickstarters like Yooka-Laylee worked? What about Battlechasers? How about Pixel Noir? Want to know what all of these have in common? They had gameplay to show off! They didn’t just have a mediocre webcam quality video and some mediocre concept art to show off. You can’t do that anymore. I can’t even show you an example of how many Kickstarters fail at this because there are so many!
Rule 4: Avoid being a feature creep
Why?: So, what is a feature creep you may ask? It means that you keep adding features on top of features to make your game sound appealing to everyone. Just make a base game with elements that will complement each other. Don’t try to be everything, or else your entire game will be a jack-of-no-trades and a master of none. If you must have certain features, then maybe make them stretch goals. If you have an action game, you probably don’t need survival elements and a collectible card game element. It’s like watching a chef on Chopped put truffle oil on their dish, you already did enough! Don’t put on anything that will ruin the overall experience.
Rule 5: If the Kickstarter page is flooded with a lot of similar games, don’t contribute to the flood!
Why?: I am so tired of having to swim through the newest video game Kickstarter page and see five different MMOs, open-world survival games, and other mediocre-looking Kickstarters because everyone thinks they can do the same thing everyone else is doing. It doesn’t help that the indie/big budget scene is already flooded with the same types of games. Why not stick out? Why not be original? We don’t need to another open-world survival game.
Rule 6: Please, and I mean please, be honest!
Why?: Do I really need to explain this? Be honest with where your money is going, how much you actually need, why you went to Kickstarter, and so on. Just be upfront with everyone! This is why people loved the Indivisible Indiegogo because the developer broke down why they needed over a million dollars. Don’t lie to us. Don’t be the Red Ash Kickstarter.
Well, this was a fairly negative article, so how about I put some links down for some Kickstarters you should definitely check out, even though I think they should have waited until the holidays were over.
The Last Shore: This is a sprite-based isometric action game with some exploration elements, like traveling to different islands and finding artifacts to confront the Gods of the main character’s world. The sprites look great, and I hope the exploration is worthwhile instead of dropping us into a huge world with nothing to do, or dropping us into a huge world with nothing but one objective to do. Anyway, I think this game looks really promising, so if you like Legend of Zelda-style games, then you should definitely think about backing this game. It only has two weeks left on Kickstarter to get funded.
Night Cry Assault: This Kickstarter is a little more self-explanatory. It’s a 2D beat em’ up that is very much like the old Streets of Rage and Final Fight. That’s pretty much it. I hope the graphics improve a little since they aren’t the best looking as of right now or whatever build they used for the trailer, but I digress. If you love beat em’ups, and want something different than Castle Crashers, then maybe think of giving the developer, Xtra Mile Games, some of your cash.
Deserted: Deserted is an isometric exploration action game with a combat system that should be familiar to anyone who has played Dark Souls or Bloodborne. It has an eerie minimalistic sci-fi look that really does drench you into the atmosphere of this savage planet you are on. I just hope the graphics don’t confuse the player about where they can and can’t go, not bank on having a familiar Dark Souls-style combat system, and hope the overall journey is worthwhile and not an underwhelming experience. Still, I wouldn’t be giving it a shout-out if I didn’t think it was a promising-looking game. If you like what you see, consider backing the developer, Zebik Media’s, new game.
Psychonauts 2: Come on, it’s a sequel to one of the best games of all time. Go back it!