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Your Kickstarter project got funded... Now what?
Your Kickstarter project got funded... Now what? Exclusive
August 22, 2012 | By Tom Curtis




Over the past year or so, we've seen plenty of developers turn to Kickstarter, asking players to fund their projects in lieu of traditional publishers. Games like Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, and The Banner Saga have demonstrated that crowd funding is both viable and potentially lucrative, and surely there are plenty more success stories still on the horizon.

But securing funding on Kickstarter is just the first step. If your campaign succeeds, you'll have to take on a whole new set of responsibilities. You'll have business plans to sort out, backer rewards to produce, and of course a new video game to make. So where do you start?

We spoke to a number of developers who've already found success on Kickstarter, and found they had plenty to say about the challenges developers face once a campaign comes to a close. Whether you've already completed your Kickstarter or are just considering the platform, these tips will help you ensure things go smoothly once that backer money's in your pocket.

1. Tie up the loose ends

Regardless of how organized you were throughout your Kickstarter, you'll have tons of logistics to sort out once it's all over. At the very least, you'll have to answer tons of emails from your backers dealing with dropped pledges and credit card issues, and you'll likely have to send out a survey to your supporters to determine how to fulfill their backer reward orders.

And as Replay Games told us, gathering that information can be quite difficult. The studio, which is publishing and co-developing the Leisure Suit Larry reboot, found Kickstarter's communication channels to be one of its biggest shortcomings.

"We weren't expecting the deluge of red tape to come with the closing of Kickstarter," Replay CEO Paul Trowe told us. "The downside is that you can only send a Kickstarter backer questionnaire once for each tier. So once you send out your questionnaire, you better make sure that all your questions are in there, because you don't get to send out another one."

2. Make time for business

On top of dealing with the deluge of backer information, Doublebear Productions' Brian Mitsoda (Dead State) pointed out that you'll also have have to take on a number of important business responsibilities.

Once Amazon and Kickstarter take their commission from your earnings, you'll have to determine your final budget, sign business contracts, and chart your production timeline. Based on his experience, Mitsoda said developers should expect to spend at least 10 hours per week on these and other business and production tasks.

"Having a budget to make your game is a dream come true, but it's also loaded with new responsibilities and obligations," he said. "You're now a developer and business manager -- welcome to the wonderful world of fiscal responsibility!"

kickstarter1.jpgReplay Games' Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded

3. Be careful who you work with

In some circumstances, you might want to use some of your Kickstarter funding to recruit or hire outside help, but if you do, be careful not to rush into anything. Replay Games tells us that it learned that lesson the hard way, as it had to abort a key business partnership at the last minute.

The company planned to use its Kickstarter money to partner with an independent studio in Tel Aviv. This unknown development house had already created a working Leisure Suit Larry prototype, but once the Kickstarter ended and Replay met with the team in person, it found that the studio just didn't have the resources to work on a game of this scale.

"We also encountered a great deal of hostility when we parted ways with that developer, because we had sold the Kickstarter on the strength of [that studio's] demonstration artwork," Trowe said.

The team has since signed a partnership deal with the New Jersey-based N-Fusion Interactive, which will co-develop and help represent Replay's game in the months ahead. While Replay admits that it should have been more discerning about its partners from the beginning, the team's mistake is an important reminder that you should always carefully evaluate outside help before signing them to your game, otherwise you're letting your Kickstarter dollars go to waste.

"If you're working with a partner, make sure you've either worked with that other developer in the past, or get to know them very well, because you're about to embark on a huge adventure that can potentially put your entire company at risk," Trowe said.

4. Don't forget your backers

Now that the masses have given you their hard-earned money, you need to make sure to keep them in the loop. After all, they're the whole reason you can afford to make your game, and you'll want to maintain that good will to continue generating excitement for your game.

"Try to establish a normal cadence of communication with your backers," said Republique lead developer Ryan Payton. "Achieving success on Kickstarter is an incredible journey, and many of your backers now have deep, emotional ties to your project... Setting that established cadence will put your backers' minds at ease."

But if you're used to the freedom working independently, just keep in mind that your backers will have lots of requests, demands, and expectations, and you might have to adjust your approach to development to consider and address their concerns.

FTL developer Justin Ma explained, "We have obligations to be reasonably transparent with our [backers] and take their opinions into consideration.... While none of this has severely impeded our ability to work on the game, it's definitely makes us less agile."

kickstarter2.jpg
An early concept shot for Wasteland 2

5. Make your game!

While handling backer questions and business issues is certainly important, your biggest responsibility is to actually get started on your new game. You've secured your funding, so now you owe it to your backers to bring your vision to life.

"Take advantage of the focus you have been given," said inXile CEO and Wasteland 2 developer Brian Fargo. "Don't worry about anything else except making sure you are firing on all cylinders. Do not get distracted and work harder than you have ever before. The ones that deliver will be able to continue this kind of relationship."

At this point, you should have the resources you need at your disposal, and Alexander Thomas, one of the developers behind The Banner Saga, said the key is to look forward and continue giving your project everything you can.

"Just keep it up," he said. "As long as you keep your backers informed and happy, stay transparent and get the thing done you've already locked in some degree of success. Not many people get that opportunity!"


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Comments


Kevin Fishburne
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First already be working on your game, and hopefully for some time.

Second promise only the ability to play the game, for free, forever.

Third if you offer tangible rewards keep them simple and easily fulfillable.

Fourth don't pre-partner with anyone, ever, unless it's merely reconnaissance.

Fifth finish your game as you were going to already (but hopefully a little faster), give it to your backers for free forever, and promote it to new users. Sell it for whatever they'll buy it for, but continue to improve it with updates for paying customers (free for backers).

Lee Zhi Fei
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Is there like a page in Kickstarter for successfully funded AND COMPLETED projects? Particularly games~

Guerric Hache
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This is something I've been wondering about as well. It would be nice to have a centralized way of tracking the progress of successful Kickstarter projects on their way to completion and publishing.

Cynthia Gayton
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Looks like Wikipedia has a table of funded and allegedly completed projects - you have to go through all the links and find out, but as an example, Wasteland 2 is not expected for release until October 13. Pre-orders are being offered to raiise additional funding. The funding goal of $900,000 was exceeded by more than $2m. kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2 and wasteland.inxile-entertainment.com

Maria Jayne
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4. Don't forget your backers

This is an issue I'm currently wondering about. I helped fund a project where the developer was hugely active and responsive during the funding drive. Now that they are funded of course, the information about the game has dropped off completley. They aren't a huge dev team and they didn't get enough to sit on gold plated swivel chairs but after giving kickstarters their own special secret forum space, we've heard nothing about the game for months.

Now of course I do know that they are probably working hard on making the game for me, I'm not expecting videos or a constant stream of screenshots, but a quick post by a dev once every couple of weeks, 5 minutes worth of text explaining what they have been up to or one of the challenges they are working on would not hurt. It's a closed forum for the investors only, it should be a more informal place for developers to speak to them.

Cynthia Gayton
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This is potentially a huge issue for so many crowd funded projects. As with most financial investments, there are expectations that the money be invested wisely - otherwise, there would be reluctance to contribute money again - not only to that one project, but similar projects in the future. As a contract between the parties, if the anticipated "reward" doesn't come through, what can you do? There is usually little information about what backers can expect post-funding. Under these circumstances, there should be a difference between "gambling" and "investing" otherwise, it is just a gift to the project. What would you have wanted to know about post-funding communication prior to your contribution?

Bob Johnson
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NOw what?

Run for the border. Enjoy the beach. That's what. ;)

David Phan
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Git'er done!

75% of Tech Projects Funded on Kickstarter Don't Finish on Time
http://www.techvibes.com/blog/75-of-tech-projects-funded-on-kicks
tarter-dont-finish-on-time-2012-08-21

Colin Schmied
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As much as a booster I am of the Kickstarter idea I am curious what will happen when someone inevitably fails, and fails badly, to meet their promises. When publishers and studios screw up consumers generally remember what company was responsible and then adjust their buying preferences accordingly. It's not that hard since there only are a few dozen major players out there. Obviously some consumers don't pay attention to that stuff and just buy whatever they think looks good to them regardless of the maker. Publishers also will be obviously aware of any studios that consistently don't deliver and take steps to increase quality or just stop working with them.

With Kickstarter the responsible party may just be a few people or a cobbled together studio. That's not as easy to keep track of. Will some way to let others know that "these guys are known to have not met prior promises" evolve other than just word of mouth? Will it be like some sort of blacklist? It will be interesting to see where it goes.

k s
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Those are interesting questions and I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens in the future.

k s
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I've considered using kickstarter to get funding to hire a graphic artist and "pre sell" some some copies but beyond that I wouldn't promise too much more maybe some t-shirts for a high level tier.

jean mator
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what paul trowe says is incorrect, he was dealing with admob for 1.5 years, he knew about their game history and the games they had in the pipeline. in those 1.5 years he did not pay them a dime, only promised to make them the developer, if and only if they make the demo and he could raise funds, i have no idea why on earth would admob continue to work with a client who doesnt pay, but that is another story. to top this, he made sure they know that without handing over the rights to the demo they wont be mentioned in the KS campaign. but as things turned out, the first video only listed them as "in association with", he didnt even acknowledge them as the developer, until many weeks later. paul likes to play the innocent card, but he is known to be a hard person to deal with in the industry.

Emmanuel Henne
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Now thats not "hard", thats downright AWEFULL, I dunno why they didnt invest in that studio so the studio could add more staff !?
And is this another case of not asking why a studio can offer their services for free ?
I mean, does this Trowe guy wanna play the innocent, after he accepted that the studio provided the demo FOR FREE and then he gave them the boot ? I hope they got ANY compensation for their effort.

Daniel Boutros
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That's messed up :-/

I'd be hostile too if I was treated this way!

Emmanuel Henne
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How does one keep track of all the backers ? I mean You gotta send out those free copies once the game is finished, how do You manage the database ?

jean mator
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they actually had many people(15-20), the company leased an office for 20 people, just for that demo. most of these people had joined and worked for almost free, on the promise that they would be working on their childhood game. for example, that T-shirt thing was done by them (for free) especially for the KS campaign over a weekend so that the funding would get a fast injection from the crowd, and it realy made a difference.


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