Case Study – Unbound: Worlds Apart
Alien Pixel Studios needed $25,000 to finish their ambitious multidimensional puzzle-platformer, Unbound. They were planning to head to Kickstarter in the near future to raise the funds, and approached Game If You Are to help.
“Launching a Kickstarter takes months of planning and preparation, and it’s here where Game If You Are helped us a lot – devising the right strategy, setting the objectives, building hype in the press, and growing our community. As a result, our campaign hit 165% of its funding goal!”
Sergiu Craitoiu | Co-founder | Alien Pixel Studios
Project type: Crowdfunding | Services: Marketing strategy / Public relations / Social & community / Digital advertising
Alien Pixel Studios approached us in January 2019 with a fascinating game and a problem: midway through production, they’d made great progress on development, but were in need of funding to finish the project. They planned to head to Kickstarter and had a tentative campaign launch date of March or April – but with little visibility or awareness outside of their native Romania, were concerned about their prospects of raising the money they required.
We played an early version of their game, ad were blown away by its creativity and its potential. However, we too were concerned about a crowdfunding launch that early in the Spring. Kickstarters often live or die in their opening 48 hours, so it’s vital to have momentum to take into the campaign – and with a small community, light on potential high-value backers, we knew there were some challenges we would need to overcome.
We began by sitting down with the team at Alien Pixel Studios and mapping out their ‘sales funnel’ – a way to visualise how the studio was making people aware of the game, then making those people interested, then making those people genuinely engaged and ready to pledge their money on a campaign. We saw that there were significant gaps at both the top and bottom of the funnel: not enough people knew the game existed, and while the studio was seeing some success with engagement on social media, not enough of those people were primed and excited enough for us to be confident in their funding.
We developed a strategy focused around the development of a Discord community, and drawing people from high-value territories such as North America and Western Europe into that community. We worked with Alien Pixel to develop an attractive and impactful trailer and a polished vertical-slice demo of the game. We sent this demo first to the press, achieving significant attention from a range of leading PC gaming and generalist gaming outlets. We also revealed that people who joined and interacted with their community on Discord would receive exclusive access to this demo, and drove targeted traffic to their community via targeted social media ads – leading to hundreds of new community members, excitedly discussing the game and its demo.
With a more established community in place, we revealed the game’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign. We opted to delay its launch by a little over a month, to give the community the chance to get used to – and, indeed, excited about – the prospect of a crowdfunding campaign, and to invest time in developing personal relationships with our key target backers: the people we believed would invest significant money into the project at an early stage. Via a number of collaborative ideation sessions, we designed the Kickstarter campaign itself – plotting out key activities that would take place throughout the campaign, and setting out key performance indicators and milestones that would give us confidence that the campaign was on-track for success.
When the campaign launched, the game’s community flocked to the page to back the game, resulting in thousands of dollars donated within just a few hours, and the campaign being featured on Kickstarter. We also re-approached the press. Media can often be reluctant to cover games that are actively crowdfunding – many journalists worry about the implications of endorsing a game that may or may not get finished – but as they had already played a polished demo, this concern was eased and we were able to generate more news stories about the game while releasing the previously exclusive demo to the public.
Within just one week, the campaign had achieved 50% of its funding goal, and Unbound achieved 100% funded with a week to spare. We went back to the press one more time to announce the project’s success – leading to an additional round of coverage, and a new spate of backers. A huge boost of funding at the end of the campaign eventually saw Unbound reach a whopping 165% of its original target.