indie game kickstarter marketing

How to Market Your Indie Game Kickstarter

If you’ve read our blog post on Why You Don’t Want to Run A Kickstarter, you may already be aware of some of the challenges that come with running a Kickstarter campaign for an indie game, including the time, effort and money that you will need to spend to improve your chances of hitting that mythical 100% funded klaxon. If you are confident that Kickstarter is the right thing for your game, and you have the resources to make it work,  there are some things relating to marketing that you can do to minimise the risks that come with crowdfunding. 

Wanderlost by Eli Segal https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/3l1/wanderlost

Everything In Its Right Place

Before you start working out the details of your Kickstarter, one of your main questions will be: how much do I want to raise? Is it $5,000 or £20,000 or maybe even €100,000? Whatever your total fundraising goal – you should always significantly reduce it to get the number that you officially put on Kickstarter. Why? Multiple reasons; 1) Kickstarter is an all or nothing crowdfunding platform – a lower goal will improve the chances that you walk away with at least something and prevent the utter frustration of reaching 90%+ funding only to lose it all in the final hours; 2) a lower goal looks more achievable to potential backers, meaning that they are more likely to invest into a project they think will succeed; 3) a lower overall goal can help you reach over 25% funding in the first 48 hours, a key indicator of the potential of your project to succeed. 

Reaching 25% or over in the first 48 hours can also greatly improve your chances of catching the attention of the Kickstarter team and their algorithm – helping you reach more players by being featured on the homepage, in user recommendations and as a “Project We Love”. 

Kickstarter Homepage, https://www.kickstarter.com/

How (not) to Disappear Completely

One of the most important things you need to think about to make your Kickstarter marketable and appealing are the visuals – what does your page look like? Have you got a high-quality trailer? Is there an attractive and consistent brand visible throughout your stretch goals, backer tiers and add-ons? 

A lot of marketing is visual – many times players will want to find out more about your game and Kickstarter because a piece of concept art or a trailer has caught their eye. If you don’t have a person on your team who specialises in design, it may be time to start searching for a new team member, freelancer or agency that can support you in making sure that your Kickstarter page looks as amazing as your game. Don’t forget – you are asking people to purchase a product that doesn’t yet exist in its final form, putting their trust in you and your vision. High-quality visual presentation can be one of the most important ways in which you can communicate that you are taking crowdfunding seriously and are really trying to build something that you believe in. 

The Wandering Village by Stray Fawn Studios, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/strayfawnstudio/the-wandering-village

You and Whose Army?

Your community will be one of the main driving forces behind your Kickstarter’s early (and therefore ongoing) success, by backing you on day 1, spreading the word to their friends and generally helping you reach as many potential players as possible through their sheer excitement and hype. 

It is therefore important that you have grown an engaged and sizable audience prior to kicking off your crowdfunding campaign, and continue to regularly update them with campaign progress, exclusive content and your heartfelt appreciation for all their support. Not only will your community be instrumental in helping you reach that 25% funded in 48 hours, greatly increasing your chances of success and further visibility, but your community can also often be in a position to become true champions of your vision and even get you over the final hurdle!

An incredible example of this that I myself experienced was during the Kickstarter campaign for A Fox Tale by the lovely Danny Peet. Having backed the game as an excited consumer, and taking part in the Discord, I was absolutely astounded to see how the community came together in the final hours of the campaign when A Fox Tale only had a few hours left and still hadn’t reached full funding. What I witnessed was a heart-warming example of the importance of community – as dozens of individual fans came together to share the campaign as widely as possible, upping their own pledges, identifying opportunities and supporting one another and the developer in the Discord. Those last few hours were tense – but through the power of the engaged community of genuinely invested fans that Danny had built – the game was fully funded and the server celebrated their achievement with many a fox-themed gif! (Huge thank you to Danny for letting me use this amazing anecdote). 

A Fox Tale by Danny Peet

PR-ove Yourself

Generally speaking, Kickstarters are difficult to sell to press and influencers before they have been successfully funded. A game going into crowdfunding is not a particularly exciting prospect to write about – there are dozens if not hundreds of new Kickstarter game projects launching every week, and a high percentage of them ultimately fail to meet their goal, meaning that the press understandably doesn’t want to take a gamble and report on a potential non-game. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you should forego PR entirely. While reaching out to the press at the start of your Kickstarter campaign may not lead to a lot of coverage, it will prime key members of the press and content creators to your game, helping pave the way for coverage if your game does reach its goal. Try to find a unique angle to your particular game to improve your chances of grabbing their attention, and include additional news-worthy content such as a trailer, announcement or demo alongside your Kickstarter news. If your game has a well-presented unique premise, and plenty of other news going on, the Kickstarter can become a part of a bigger feature rather than the focus of coverage. 

Once you have successfully hit your goal, you can follow up with anyone you spoke to at the start of the campaign, as well as reaching out to new opportunities. You may also find that hitting particular stretch goals can be news in and of itself – for example, if the game is being released on a new platform, as it will open up new types of outlets and content creators for you to consider.

Mask of the Rose by Failbetter Games, reported by Imogen Beckhelling on Rock Paper Shotgun https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/fallen-london-romance-game-mask-of-the-rose-is-fully-funded-on-kickstarter

Like Spinning Plates

Running a Kickstarter campaign for an indie game can be challenging, time-consuming, expensive and frustrating. But it can also be incredibly rewarding, inspiring and exciting. By ensuring that you have thought about minimising risk by making your Kickstarter as marketable as possible, you will be well on your way to seeing that funding bar tick up to your ultimate goal!

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