5 Brilliant Crowdfunding Techniques in Current and Upcoming Kickstarter Campaigns

22 September 2016 | 20 Comments

In this series, I highlight some of the interesting choices made by current crowdfunders regarding their project’s reward levels, stretch goals, and overall campaign design (the projects themselves, not the content or product). This isn’t an endorsement or promotion.

Vengeance

I’ve watched a lot of great Kickstarter videos. Heck, I think Scythe had a great video, thanks to Josh McDowell. But I have to say that I think Vengeance has the best project video for a board game I’ve ever seen.

It’s a little graphic, but if you’ve seen the movie Kill Bill, you can handle it. Watch how the video mixes the narrative with rules and gameplay, all at the same time. It’s completely seamless. It also conveys how well the theme is integrated into the mechanisms.

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Fidget Cube

A few weeks into the Fidget Cube campaign–when it had raised about $3 million–I e-mail Adam at Kicktraq to see if he knew what had happened about a week into the project. That’s when the project went from earning tens of thousands to millions, seemingly overnight.

As it turned out, that’s when the Fidget Cube got picked up by two significant media outlets: The Awesomer and Digital Trends. But how did those outlets find out about it?

I’m not sure. But I do know that the Fidget Cube does something really clever on the project page to make it easy for media outlets to feature it: It includes a big button high up on the project page that provides all press materials in one place. Richard at Board Game Authority describes the utility of this feature at this point in his fantastic video dissection of the project.

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I also really like the sharing button directly below the press kit button:

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It does something I discuss in detail on this post. Instead of asking backers to share the project with everyone, ask them to share the project with a very specific person in their life. It not only significantly increases the chances that they’ll actually share it, but it also means that they’re sharing it with a relevant potential backer.

Chimera Station

There are a few interesting things happening in the reward sidebar of Chimera Station. The first is that there are different rewards for English, Chinese, Brazilian (Portuguese), and German versions of the game. The descriptions are each in those specific languages, as TMG is partnering with international publishers to create multiple localized versions of the game in the first print run (which I don’t actually recommend, but TMG knows what they’re doing).

The other thing is the specific wording of the future availability of the special deluxe version of the game. I like that there’s absolute clarity right in the reward level about how many copies are being made and to whom they might be sold post-Kickstarter:

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Biohazard

A few days ago on Facebook, a poll appeared in my feed via The Boardgame Group. From what I can tell, the designers of the upcoming game, Biohazard, were sharing a question in a number of different groups. Within reason, this is the type of “promotion” I really like, because instead of just blasting “Hey, like/support my thing!”, they’re engaging people by asking an interesting question.

It’s how they asked the question that really intrigued me. You can see it in the image below. They created an image of 3 different versions of their dice and edited in images of 3 of Facebook’s buttons. In this case, the buttons don’t retain their intended meaning; rather, it’s a polling device.

In fact, I’ll say that it’s a brilliant polling device. First, it’s seamlessly integrates with the graphic. Second, it’s super easy to click one of the buttons. Third, other than the image editing (which you’d have to do anyway for a visual poll), it’s actually easier to set up than an actual poll. Fourth, it’s not immediately apparent what other people have voted on, so there’s no majority bias. This is really, really clever.

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Skyways

Here’s one more Facebook technique. It’s not new–people have been using Facebook events for Kickstarter launches for quite some time–but it’s only recently that Facebook has allowed you to respond to an event by clicking “Interested” instead of “Going.” For some reason I found that much more compelling than “Going,” which felt like too strong of a commitment for something I’m just curious about.

Also, I really like the use of the Facebook event system because it allows for flexibility in changing the launch date without any confusion. Skyways changed their launch date a few days ago, and I got a notification about it. Now, as I’ve noted before, people hardly ever care if you move your launch date–so don’t launch if you’re not ready!–but for those who do care, now they can easily stay in the loop.

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These projects represent a small sliver of unique crowdfunding innovations. Feel free to add your thoughts about these projects or others in the comments!

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20 Comments on “5 Brilliant Crowdfunding Techniques in Current and Upcoming Kickstarter Campaigns

  1. Great tips, thanks so much! I particularly like the idea of creating a Facebook event for your launch date.
    If you’re really creative, like the guys who ran the Waynesaw campaign, you can do all sorts of crazy things with your video and take it over the top, hoping it goes viral. Well, they reached their goal so I guess their tactic worked!

  2. “Having my name or my family’s name sort of etched in stone gives me a feeling of pride and ownership….like I help built the place.” I really like that, Denny, and I can definitely relate to it. I definitely like the idea of crediting some or all backers on the product itself. For all of my games, we credit the playtesters and proofreaders by name either in the rulebook or (in Scythe’s case) on the side of the box bottom.

  3. Jamey, thanks for the post. I love the innovation that is being created in the Kickstarter world. There’s alot of useful techniques for me to consider in my upcoming campaign this summer. The Biohazard dice poll is genius….visuals and simplicity mixed together is always a winner. Kudos to the Alekzander and the Biohazard team.

    A cool pledge level from two different projects I’ve backed is a “name recognition” pledge level where my name or custom message is displayed. Of course, this works better for projects that are physical locations like the “Tabletop Gaming Cafe” in Columbus, OH and the “All Square” Restaurant in Minneapolis.

    The “Tabletop Gaming Cafe had a pledge level that give you a hex space on their bar counter for custom message or name.

    The “All Square” Restaurant has a pledge level where your name will be displayed forever on their Wall Of fame (a wall dedicated to back names).

    Having my name or my family’s name sort of etched in stone gives me a feeling of pride and ownership….like I help built the place. In years to come, I can always go to those locations and see my name as a reminder of their beginning.

    I know most Kickstarter campaigns do a name recognition on their website or newsletter, but what’s your thought on a more permanent name recognition level like the ones above and is that something you could ever see as a pledge for a board game campaign, like in the rule book?

    Below are the links to the Kickstarter campaigns I mentioned. The game cafe campaign has ended, while the All Square campaign is still going.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1843824153/all-square-grilled-cheese-with-a-purpose?ref=hero_thanks

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tabletopgamecafe/tabletop-game-cafe-columbus-oh/description

  4. There’s a popular tool called “presskit()” that helps you create a page with all the information the press might need to cover you.

    https://dopresskit.com/

    It was created for video games, but I don’t see why it can’t also be used for board games (even if you just want to copy the page template).
    It requires a website running PHP, so there’s a little hurdle to overcome during setup.

  5. Hi, Gordon Calleja, the Vengeance designer here. Massive thanks from the guys over at Mighty Boards for the Vengeance video mention. We are honoured!

    We wanted to go down the Posthuman path of showing what we hope happens in players’ minds when they play the game, but in Posthuman that was a bit easier to pull off than Vengeance. Posthuman traces a journey spanning days with several events happening over time. This meant that we could use a narrator’s voice over to describe what’s going on at the fiction level, while the visuals show the mechanical level.

    With Vengeance this was a bit of a challenge since the more exciting part of the video is the fight scene and you can’t really narrate a fight scene. We also needed to guide viewers’ emotions so it starts of dreary, builds anticipation in the Montage part and explodes in the Fight part (which follows the cycle of emotions in the game structure). And the surest way to do that is music. Obviously, evocative music, especially non-ambient music, will compete for attention with the voice over. So we decided to switch to the illustrations to show the fictional, mental image part.

    Our main concern there was that we have three sections viewers need to keep track of and it might frustrate or confuse people having to split their attention that way. It was still a worry when we launched, but when it still caused goose-bumps on the nth viewing internally, we figured the cool-factor will overcome the attention-split issue.

    Quick shout-out to Fabrizio Cali who animated the video and did the 3D work, Torvenius for the illustration and Marvin Zammit+Jeffrey Galea for the groovy track!

  6. The UX guy in me thinks a facebook reaction poll, which is a clever idea, should avoid the “thumbs up.” The default and typical “thumbs up” reaction probably heavily skews the results in its favor. I know it’s really a promotional tool, and not scientific, but if you wanted better data for a business decision, I would exclude it. As a bonus we’d see how many people “thumbs up” the poll when it wasn’t one of the reaction choices.

  7. Hi, my name is Aleksander and I am a part of the team behind Biohazard Game.

    First, I would like to say we were (positively) shocked to get a mention from the Jamey Stegmaier himself! That was an honour, thank you!

    The poll worked really well for us. Not only we reached a HUGE number of people (we’re talking tens of thousands here) and got TONS of reactions (several thousands), but also it turned out people preffered the design of the dice we thought was the weakest! Which means our product will appeal to more people when we release it! Also, we encouraged people to make suggestions about what other designs they would like to see and that gave us some really cool ideas for future!

    We believe the post in question was so successful for four reasons:
    – cool looking picture to draw attention (yellow and black combo on the dice increased the effect even more in our opinion)
    – icons edited into the picture were self-explanatory (no need to read, aka invest time)
    – we said the poll will decide which design will be chosen for the final product – that gave people purpose to click (they felt like their choice meant something and could make a difference)
    – clicking reaction icon boosts the post, which makes more people click reactions and the post explodes

    In short, I cannot recommend enough this type of post!

    1. Thanks, Aleksander! I appreciate you sharing those other benefits. I really like that kind of engagement (the type that makes the product better), and it’s a nice bonus that every interaction with the post made it more visible via Facebook’s algorithm.

  8. The guys at Mighty Box have had awesome videos for both of their campaigns! Check out the video for Posthuman as well. It’s showing game play while only giving the narrative for the game play that’s happening. My mind was pretty blown by it!

  9. Great thoughts as always, thanks! I’m curious what you think of the discussion on Chimera station related to a) not revealing stretch goals initially, and b) having many be for deluxe only. I like the idea of the game so was unfazed, but there is a LOT of heated discussion about those choices in the comments. Curious about your take? Thanks!

    1. Joshua: I understand why they’re doing it from a creator perspective, but if you’re going to separate stretch goals, I think the best way to do it is to base it on backer count on the specific rewards that apply to everyone. Otherwise, if you base it on the overall funding amount, non-deluxe backers will feel like they’re moving the needle towards something that doesn’t impact them (some might even take it a step further and feel like they’re paying for something that doesn’t impact them, which isn’t true, but they may feel that way).

      As for the timing of when a project reveals stretch goals, it’s a big topic, and I’ve found there’s really no way to do it perfectly. Here’s where I discuss it in detail: https://stonemaiergames.com/the-current-state-of-stretch-goals-2016/

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