5. Friends Who Kept Hope Alive
Our Kickstarter would have not been successful if not for the heroic efforts of Billy Berghammer and Selina Rodriguez, two friends who saw a friend in need (me) and fully invested themselves in turning our Kickstarter campaign around.
With dozens of daily Kickstarter emails and a constant stream of press interview requests pouring in, I was so overwhelmed with the immediate needs of the campaign that I didn't have time to take a step back and plot out a proper strategy for the remaining three weeks of our campaign.
That's when both Billy and Selina came to the rescue, and worked with me on mapping out a calendar filled with daily content updates including team interviews, behind-the-scenes clips, new announcements, and fresh prototype gameplay footage.
Their content was very deliberate -- it was created to energize the current supporter base and appeal to the countless fence sitters who were looking for answers to specific doubts they had about the project. Both Billy and Selina mingled with the community to gather more feedback, so we could make more informed decisions about what content to produce in the precious remaining days we had on our campaign.
I remember that Selina, Billy, and I were disappointed by the initial lukewarm response to our PC and Mac version announcement, but instead of throwing in the towel, Billy devised the clever #KeepHopeAlive social media campaign that encouraged backers to utilize their Facebook and Twitter feeds to get the word out. Billy equipped them with cool avatar images and desktop wallpapers to fuel the viral campaign, energizing the community as we finally gave them an avenue to directly help us out in our crazy campaign.
One unintended victory to the #KeepHopeAlive campaign was how it began to shift the community's opinion on us and our Kickstarter. We started to see more and more comments like Alexey N's: "I don't even own an iOS device, but I'm going to back these guys. You have to admire their hard work in trying to see this game get made."
Even our resident artist, Jeremy Romanowski, got in on the action, posting a heartfelt message on Reddit to appeal to the community for their support, which garnered over a thousand up-votes.
Then, it was the announcement that veteran voice talent David Hayter and Jennifer Hale would be lending their voices to République that finally supercharged the campaign, leading to $60,000 in pledges in one day. The campaign was turning around, and people could feel it, and thankfully we #KeepHopeAlive to keep the community engaged and the momentum going all the way to the end.
The day before our Kickstarter ended, we were at $355,000 in pledges -- still far off from the $500,000 finish line. There was a lot of anxiety, but we continued to stay positive, reflecting on the strong pledges we received the previous day ($50,000).
Instead of focusing the team on Kickstarter success or failure, we decided to host a Livestream party for the final three hours of the campaign and just have fun regardless if we hit our funding goal. Too distracted to work on the game, the team started prepping food and activities for a big online thank you party for the community. At the time, over 7,000 people had pledged a total of $355,000 towards our game. We wanted to thank them, even if we failed and didn't receive the money.
What transpired what something I was dreading the entire month: dozens of articles with headlines like "République May Miss Kickstarter Goal." While I was anxious about that negative press, it was calling renewed attention to our campaign, which we smartly prepared for: we uploaded an entirely new debut pitch video that reviewed all of the news from the past 30 days (PC & Mac announce, David Hayter & Jennifer Hale), showed new gameplay footage, and addressed all the feedback we got from the community. We slapped a "New Video!" sticker on the top of our page, welcomed all the new and returning visitors, and crossed our fingers that this time they would pledge.
The subsequent 24 hours were a blur. Pledges rolled in like never before, sometimes to the tune of $1,000 per minute. We were on track to hit our funding goal during the next afternoon's Livestream party. Life was good.
I managed to get three hours of sleep before our final day, keeping busy on Twitter, Facebook, and responding to last minute questions that came into our Kickstarter page. Then, at 7:57am on May 11, République finally surpassed its funding goal. I starred at the computer monitor, frozen for a moment, reflecting on all the hard work and stress that the past months had brought, all the help we received from friends, old and new. I then posted this to Twitter: "We did it! We reached our goal! Thank you everyone! This has been surreal. (Trying not to cry like a big baby right now.)" I lied -- I was already crying.
The final three-hour Livestream was the best idea we ever had. We don't know if the 4,500 views sparked increased pledges, and we didn't care -- it was all about connecting and celebrating with the thousands of dedicated backers and enjoying the victory together. By the time the clock struck zero, we were at $555,512 and hugging each other.
Three months later, it's fun to look back at the crazy 30 days we spent promoting our Kickstarter, and is equally rewarding now being an alumni and offering guidance to future Kickstarter hopefuls. But we feel like this is still only the beginning -- we've got a year to deliver on our promises, not only because we want to make a great game, but also because we feel like we owe it to the 11,611 friends who backed République.
Special Thanks: Cindy Au, William "Chip" Beaman, Billy Berghammer, Robert Bowling, Craig Cerhit, Jennifer Hale, David Hayter, Victor Lucas, Ophir Lupu, David Papazian, Penny Arcade, Rena Strober, Greg Rice, Selina Rodriguez, Stoic, 8-4 Ltd.