31 July 2017 | 10 Comments
I had the pleasure of chatting with Denny Weston at Gen Con 2016 about a game he was preparing for Kickstarter. It was no ordinary game; rather, it was a lawn game for which Denny had extensively researched and tested the components. He asked me a key question about high-cost products that I couldn’t answer, which lead to a fascinating conversation on this blog post.
Flash-forward a year later, and Denny has taken all that insight into consideration as he launches his Kickstarter campaign on August 1. I invited him to share some of the things he’s learned along the way (unrelated to the original blog post), and he agreed. Thanks Denny!
Tomorrow I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign for my fantasy-based outdoor game called Kingdoms Lawn Game. The road to get from idea to this point has been winding and full of many turns. One such turn has been getting previews, reviews, and everything in between.
Previews VS Reviews
Let’s start with the obvious, what’s the difference between a preview and a review of a game?
A preview of a game is typically a general overview of the game from an objective point of view. A review is a more in-depth look into the game and contains the reviewer’s personal feelings about the game.
Previews often are paid for, while reviews are usually free.
Where to Start?
Like most who are launching a Kickstarter campaign, I wanted to have a few reviews/previews of my game on my Kickstarter page. There are plenty of people/companies who offer these services. A few great examples in the game industry are:
- Bower’s Game Corner
- Cloak and Meeple
- Tantrum House
- Jon Gets Games
- Rahdo Runs Through (must play with 1 or 2 players)
- The Dice Tower (published games only)
- The Secret Cabal (published games only)
With these options and so many other choices, where does one begin with choosing a third party reviewer or previewer to check out your game?
- Research their guidelines: Most companies reviewing/previewing games specifically tell you on their website what kind of games they review/preview. I tried to make a good first impression by making sure my game fit their criteria before emailing them a request.
- Consume some of their content. Before contacting a content creator blindly, I took some time to watch their reviews/previews. What stands out about their reviews/previews? What makes them a good fit to preview your game? I love the clean, crisp, professional look of the Tantrum House previews….so I reached out to them. I included in my email why I liked their previews so much and how I felt my game was a good fit to be previewed.
The most important thing about reaching out to previewers/reviewers is that you send each of them an individual, personalized email. Content creators get tons of generic mass mailings, so you’ll stand out if you take the time to show that you’re targeting them specifically. Beyond that, here are a few tips:
- Time Frame: I contacted content creators at least 3 months before I needed the preview. I know that might sound extreme, but most previewer’s schedules fills up fast. Plus, the previewers I’ve worked with were willing to wait and post their preview until I needed it….so there’s no harm in getting the preview done early.
- Include graphics. When I first contacted one reviewer, I did not include any images of Kingdoms Lawn Game…that was a mistake. Their response, “I’m sorry Denny, but I’m all booked up”. When I responded to them for their time, I included a few pictures of the game and received a more excited response. “Denny, this looks awesome! On second thought, I can make some time for you.” When contacting a reviewer always include graphics. And if you have a one minute or less video demonstrating the game, send that too.
The Cost of Previews
As I mentioned above, previews usually have a cost. Now, that cost is not always monetary or mandatory. Here is a list of what you might find:
- A monetary value ranging from $50 to $200 ($200 is the most I’ve come across)
- A suggested donation to their Patreon profile
- A copy or copies of the game if the Kickstarter campaign is successful
- FREE, if a previewer is new and looking for exposure
When sending out Kingdoms Lawn Game for preview, I emailed beforehand asking to please send me the preview before posting/sharing. Why? So I could confirm the game is being demonstrated correctly. On a few occasions, the game was being played incorrectly and/or terminology in the game was being used incorrectly. On these occasions, I first thanked them for the preview, mentioned a few positive points of their preview, and then communicated the errors. In all cases, they were more than willing to edit the video with the corrections.
I also asked the company about the root of the errors. It was a good learning experience to ensure my rulebook provides clear instructions. Is there something in the rulebook that made them do that action or say that word?
In the End
Reviews, previews, and everything in between were a vital part of my journey. It allowed me to see Kingdoms Lawn Game through the eyes of an experienced game player who also was a blind play-tester. The information and insight was priceless. To watch some of the previews on Kingdoms Lawn Game, check out our Kickstarter campaign!
What do you find more helpful when you consider backing a Kickstarter project, the previews or the reviews?
- Kickstarter Lesson #27: Bloggers, Podcasters, and Reviewers
- 4 Different Strategies for Featuring Reviews on Kickstarter
- Kickstarter Lesson #188: No Money Changed Hands for This Review