Kickstarter Lesson #237: Entice New Backers with Kickstarter Live

13 November 2017

Leo at Mythic Games has cracked the code on Kickstarter Live.

One year ago, Kickstarter announced a new featured on their website: At any time during a live campaign, you can launch a streaming video of yourself that appears as the first thing people see on the project page. People can comment on the stream, and whenever a new backer pledges, their avatar pops up on the screen for a few seconds.

I’ve been keeping an eye on how different creators have used the feature. While I’ve seen some cool stuff, I must admit that I never really understood how powerful of a tool it is until Friday. That’s when I got an e-mail from an alert reader about the use of Kickstarter live on the Joan of Arc campaign.

As soon as I read the message, I went over to the project page to discover (a) there were 3 minutes remaining on the campaign and (b) Leo, the communications director at Mythic Games, was currently hosting a live video.

Within about 30 seconds, it all clicked for me. I’ll describe why in a moment, but just to convey how powerful it was, within 20 seconds I went from admiring the success of the project but not being interested in the game to coming within inches of pledging the $120 required for the base game.

In the end, I didn’t make a pledge, but I was truly surprised by the impact of the live video. In particular, I was surprised that Kickstarter Live had the potential to attract new backers, not just engage existing backers.

Here’s why I think it worked so well for Joan of Arc and why it has the potential for your project:

  1. Leo hosted the live video for hours every night. This is a big commitment, but it makes a powerful statement for a creator to say, “I believe in this so much that I’m going to devote my undivided attention to this project.” It’s great to see active creators in their project comments–I tried to reply to comments within minutes during my projects. But live video is another level, and backers really seemed to respond to it on Joan of Arc. Now, how do you fill your time if your project is only getting a few backers an hour? That’s up to you, but I think it’s important to have a plan. Also, you don’t need to be there for hours, but spending an hour with your backers on live video once a day could have a big impact.
  2. Leo used live video primarily for engagement. Leo didn’t use live video as the primary way to share news or new information. Live video isn’t good for that because it’s transient (unless you have the time to watch hours of video later). Rather, Leo was literally just there to greet new backers by name, chat with existing backers, collaborate, and cheer on the project. His passion for the project was truly contagious in the way he expressed himself on the live video–he was very energetic, enigmatic, and positive.
  3. Leo acknowledged new backers by name. One of the most important KS Lessons I’ve written is about treating your backers as individuals, not numbers. It’s a powerful thing, to be acknowledged by name, especially in public. This is actually a big reason why I almost pledged to Joan of Arc without knowing anything else about the project. I wanted to feel included and acknowledged. This is a human thing, and I think it applies to projects big and small. If you ever backed a Stonemaier project, you might recall the toasts we filmed after each campaign ended, which was similar.
  4. Leo’s positivity helped the project overcome some hurdles. Joan of Arc wasn’t a perfect project. Like any Kickstarter campaign, they made some mistakes and had hurdles to overcome. But backers could count on Leo to be there every night to talk through it with them and to remain a positive force. Kickstarter is all about trust, and sometimes creators can seem so distant. Kickstarter Live changes that.
  5. Leo used the videos as a way to reach stretch goals. I mention this because I think stretch goals pair with live video as a motivation for attracting and engaging backers. Part of Leo’s unfettered enthusiasm was that every new backer meant another step towards the next stretch goal–even in the short time I watched the video, he said some version of “We’re really doing this! We’re going to reach the next goal!” at least a dozen times. It made me feel like my pledge could make a positive difference.

One thing that occurred to me when thinking about Leo’s use of Kickstarter Live is that you can’t attract new pledges via live video if potential backers don’t even know about the livestream. In this way, I think it’s important to share on social media when you’re live, in the hopes that the echoes of the internet will help those announcements reach newcomers.

However, it’s also a powerful tool just to do something compelling and awesome. That’s what made the reader reach out to me, and I’m pretty sure I saw others talking about the Joan of Arc videos on Facebook earlier in the project. I know for sure I saw someone talking about a live video on a recent TMG project (Downfall) about a month ago. Basically, if you do a great job with your live video, there’s a good chance some of your backers will talk about it elsewhere too.

The last question I pondered is: Can this be replicated without Kickstarter? Obviously that’s important to me since I don’t use Kickstarter anymore. There are other live-streaming options, but they’re missing the feature of having new “backers” pop up on the video. I think they’re still worth trying, though.

If you were a Joan of Arc backer, why do you think the live videos worked so well? Or if you’ve seen another project use Kickstarter Live to generate new backers and engage existing backers, what made it work?

30 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #237: Entice New Backers with Kickstarter Live

  1. I believe there is a new feature on Kickstarter that you can be live on Kickstarter and Facebook at the same time. This is done through Kickstarter. I actually found, watched and participated in a Live event because I was notified via facebook of the Live event. The only issue is that even though it is through Kickstarter, people can still comment on the Facebook live video too. So either have someone else helping you watch one of the feeds OR be really good at watching both feeds at the same time. ;-)

  2. It’s worth noting that two of the last three stretch goals are direct results of these live sessions, Leo’s greeting to new backers of “Welcome, you are in a good place” during Mythic Battles: Pantheon has become a slogan of the fans in regards to Mythic Games, and eventually someone suggested that we needed a Good Place Inn to go with all the other buildings for JoA. And what’s an inn without an innkeeper? Backers had suggested a Leo mini during Mythic Battles, but he seemed a little uncomfortable with that (as he did when it was again suggested during JoA). In the end we got the inn, as well as minis of Leo and Quirkworthy, who, while not doing the lives deserves as much recognition for his presence in the comments section.
    Leo’s enthusiasm is definitely contagious. I wasn’t too interested in JoA when it was first announced, and ended up going all in… :)
    If you’re interested in how he handled the slower nights, Kickstarter archives the lives, so you can watch older ones. That live during the last hours of the campaign was pretty full throttle.

    1. Tim: Thanks for sharing that line: “Welcome, you are in a good place” is an awesome greeting, especially for Kickstarter. Love it! That’s really cool that it even inspired some of the in-game content.

      I appreciate the heads up about the older videos. I’ll try to find them!

  3. The Too Many Bones Undertow campaign recently did something similar with Kickstarter Live. They had a live feed when they opened several times during the campaign and were live during the closing. It brought so much excitement to the project that my 4 year old who was in the room while I was watching asked me immediately after they were done “when are we getting that game daddy?” It blew me away that the enthusiasm they exuded even had an impact on my young child. It is a great tool that can show the backers how excited the creators are to make and share this with you.

  4. It’s a very powerful tool, I pledged for Joan of Arc and I know Leo was at least a motivating factor. His enthusiasm and willingness to interact with backers makes Mythic Games seem so much more trustworthy and likable (I can still remember him yelling about the Atlas model featured as a stretch goal in Mythic Battles Pantheon: “You get an Atlas! Everybody gets an Atlas!”). You want to see them succeed.

    Video content in general is still under-utilized though. It’s insane to me that companies introducing new tabletop war games don’t make a half dozen battle reports and slap them up on Youtube immediately. It’s a gigantic inefficiency in marketing that’s just inviting some company to jump in and reap all the rewards.

  5. I wonder if someone might be able to take the Twitch format, with Overlays for showing donations/pledges and be able to integrate it into the Kickstarter Live stream. I am not 100% sure how they work, but know they are bots looking for things that trigger on screen events during a Twitch Stream. It would definitely help with interacting with the crowd.

      1. If you’ve ever seen a AGDQ stream, It’s something like this. The host/announcer is constantly reading off donation messages as they come in over top of people playing games on stream. They have tickers and stuff of big donations along the bottom.

        If kickstarter allows arbitrary video feeds (I.e. OBS output) then you could get really fancy with things.

          1. AGDQ is “Awesome games done quick” a video game speedrun week long charity stream

            OBS is Open broadcaster software, a video streaming program

  6. I tried Kickstarter Live while running my recent Steam Highwayman project and saw some of these possibilities, but felt I never reached a critical mass of viewers.

    However, reflecting on what I experienced, my backers appreciated my enthusiasm for the project most of all. I did use it to report (at the time, this was how I felt I could provide enough content) but also talked about the writing.

    Serious limitations on the chat technology were an issue. A sync to Facebook was lagged by about 25s and chat was only enabled for mobile users. If these have been fixed, I’ll certainly consider redeploying onto Live for volume 2.

    So in all, I’ve a lot to reflect on from this article. Thanks for the recommendation of the Joan of Arc project – I’ll take a look and see what might work for me in future.

  7. Hello,

    Scythe was the first project I backed in Kickstarter, and I was very impressed by your engagement with the community, the quality of your product (game, rules, components, art) and how you kept everyone up to speed with what was going on through frequent updates. I then backed both games of Mythic Games: Mythic Battles Pantheon and Joan of Arc. So I think I’d share my view as a backer of Stonemaier Games and Mythic Games, which would back both with no reserves whatsoever.

    I think what Mythic Games did was crank every part of that kickstarter experience to 11. The Kickstarter Live is the cherry on top of an incredible work. If it wasn’t supported by everything else it really wouldn’t make much of a difference.

    Starting by the post campaign of their previous project. There was a weekly written update during the 11 months until the delivery. Only once was that update one day late! The comments page had the daily presence of the community manager to answer comments, several times a day sometimes. There were kickstarter lives, and videos in beastsofwar.com also after the campaign pledging. The rules were proof read, discussed, the PnP was used, and discussed on their forum, with the presence of the community manager. This kind of presence makes us feel part of the team that is developing the game and nurtures a very positive environment where everyone can share how hyped they are about the game and collaborate to make it better.

    Looking at how the campaigns are structured, I find it similar to how achievements work in MMOs. Every day you get that boost of endorphins from hitting a milestone and unlocking a new toy. This is announced in a post that congratulates the backers, shows off the new toy and teases the next one. During the lives, Leo shows off the miniatures they already have, gives the backers some of the backstory of those miniatures, and answers questions, even if it is the same question asked for the millionth time. This being a creative art and tastes and sensitivities being what they are, they’ve had their share of misses. When that happens, they acknowledge it. They may or may not change it, but several times they did change some stuff mid campaign. He also, as you said, greets every backer, and asks everyone to greet the newcomers and answer what questions they may have. This is incredibly powerful and makes the backers care for the community as well. Three things i can share from JoA: the 666k stretch goal (the beast) was received with mild disappointment by the backers… two weeks later that sculpt had been redone from the ground up. The inn, and the leo mini were two stretch goals that were included due to the insistent request of the backer community… and when the 2100k stretch goal was beat with 30 minutes to go, they included an additional miniature at 2150k

    The products themselves have excelent artistic direction, in a very rich setting which helps feed those daily and weekly updates. A lot of work is done creating the lore of the game and tying it up with the game. The writing, the sculpts of the miniatures, the art for the boxes and books, they are all very well done.

    Mythic Games definitely nailed not just the Kickstarter Live, but the entire Kickstarter driven business model.

    1. As a backer of both Stonemaier’s and Mythic Game’s products I couldn’t agree more !

      The commitment of the team is just incredible and really make you want them to succeed.

  8. I have been experimenting a lot with live streaming over the past 18 months or so and can say without a doubt that a big chunk of The City of Kings success was due to this. I feel like it has become one of the most powerful tools available to us on Kickstarter and highly recommend it.

    During my campaign I tried 2 approaches, streaming directly on Kickstarter and also streaming on a third party (YouTube).

    I ran a “The Internet plays The City of Kings” on YouTube, where I controlled 1 player and allowed the viewers to vote on ALL actions of the 2nd player. It was a lot to manage but it built a relationship between me and many people and let them feel as if they had played the game. It was really like doing a demo at a convention but to hundreds of people all at the same time. When you have a larger, complex game, creating this experience and letting people “play” is priceless. Another added bonus was after this video, many of my backers suddenly talked as if they had played the game and started answer lots of questions in the comments section. ( Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh0le-ed8Nk )

    I also did several other live streams during my campaign, one at the launch (on Facebook), one during (on KS) and one at the end (on KS).

    The launch one was small, we had a smaller following then but it was great to share the first 30 minutes of our campaign. The number of backers we had was much larger than anticipated and I think my reaction and joy to that helped excite people in those early moments.

    The mid campaigns were a great way to answer questions and to build relationships, as you say talking to people by name and being there really helps you connect to people.

    The end? I can say without a doubt that streaming the last hour of a campaign is a fantastic way to say thank you to people, to answer last minute questions and to bring everyone together for the big countdown.

    I plan to use live streaming even more during my next campaign and really recommend people try it out.

  9. Hello,
    I have watched several lives from Léo on MB:JoA, and Jamey you are wrong on a Bing point : Léo was using this lives not only to welcome backers but also to give informations and answer questions.
    That’s why his lives were followed by more and more backers, not only for the “you are in a good place”.
    I agree with you that Kickstarter live videos may be a very powerfull tool if well used by KS manager…

  10. One kickstarter I backed used the live stream feature when it was becoming apparent that they were not going to reach the funding target, they used the video to engage with some of the current backers and get ideas about how the campaign could have improved – biggest point was reduce pledge levels from around 10-15 to 2 or 3. A few months later they re-launched and funded having taken on board the feedback – it was so much easier over live chat to have that discussion than over an extended period through the comments when the thread of thoughts gets lost.

  11. What a great blog! I went and looked up Leo’s live videos and I was getting a rush and an urge to back and the project isnt even live anymore! Definitely something that all project creators should keep in mind when launching new projects!

  12. Great write up Jamey, I did a Kickstarter Live event for my campaign Groves and I thought it went very well. We ended up having someone join in ask a few questions and then back while the event was going on. It was cool to see someone get the answers they were looking for and decide that the campaign actually was for them, then see them back.

    I also think it is a great tool to connect with and thank you supporters in a more personal way. I like to let them ask anything they were thinking and give them answers they might not otherwise get.

    All in all I would highly recommend it. I would also suggest coordinating to have a few friends join it as well with seeded questions so that if there is every a slow moment, they can ask it to make sure there are no dead periods or awkward moments.

    Thanks again for the post!

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