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On Kickstarter, consider asking for as little money as possible
On Kickstarter, consider asking for as little money as possible
July 10, 2013 | By Mike Rose

July 10, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

Born Ready Games ran a successful Kickstarter campaign recently, and as part of a talk at Develop Conference today, the studio's CEO James Brooksby discussed the dos and don'ts that he learned from Strike Suit Zero's successful Kickstarter campaign.

Brooksby's key point focused on how much a studio is asking for with its Kickstarter -- in particular, companies planning a Kickstarter should take a good, hard look at their concept, and consider whether they can potentially cut it down to make the asking target budget more feasible.

"If you didn't pay yourselves, you rented out half the office, you didn't get these new PCs, you didn't do everything you desire into the game, but you'd still be happy with it... what is that [dollar amount]?" he asks.

"You really have to think about what that is," he adds. In other words, could you sacrifice parts of your concept to make a Kickstarter campaign that makes more fiscal sense?

Brooksby says that what he often finds with Kickstarter campaigns is that developers should be asking for far less than they actually are -- usually around a third of what they actually think, he argues.

And doing this culling can be a real soul-searching moment -- what encapsulates your idea, but isn't as large-scale as you imagine it now?

Before you even start out

Before you start your Kickstarter, you should be 100 percent certain that your funding campaign is going to succeed.

Brooksby says that when his team was gearing up to launch its Kickstarter, they simply weren't 100 percent happy with their video and their promo materials. It became a nerve-wracking moment, to the point that they eventually decided to stop preparations, go back to development on the game, and make it just that little bit better before the Kickstarter came.

The videos and the materials have to come across so strongly, he reasons, to the point where you simply know that the Kickstarter is going to do well -- else, it will fall apart. If you think it could be better, make it better.

Note also that it takes at least a good two months to set a Kickstarter up -- you have to make a video, then you decide it's not good enough, then you go around and around in loops until you finally settle on what you believe is the best.

The worst thing a studio can do, says Brooksby, is email around asking for advice when their Kickstarter has already started. Get tips before you begin, he says, and also make sure you have a community built up.

In particular, it's worth paying for cheap Facebook advertising to get lots of Facebook likes, Brooksby reasons. By doing this, you can then message each of them and ask for money once the Kickstarter launches.

For much more on Strike Suit Zero's Kickstarter, read the studio's extensive postmortem here.

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Matt Hackett
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I'm doing this -- launching a Kickstarter this Saturday, only asking for $5k (enough to finish, but just barely). Makes a lot of sense, as stretch goals can fill in the blanks.

James Yee
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Hey Matt can you contact me when your project launches? I might want to do an interview for the Kickstarter Conversations blog. (

Marvin Papin
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I don't think the amount needed is important, players knows that if it fails, they get back their money. Since much project had some delay problems or some other problems. More and more people prefer to wait and by the game at release date. The most important thing i thing is the thing that you can give to the backer if they back.

If the reward is just 5$ less than the 20$ at the game's release, would you like to take the risk that the project could be canceled or bad. Unfortunately, many indies yet do not really know how fast money goes away at different scales : look at double fine adventure, with the global success of their kickstarter, they probably look too muck bigger.

Erase that risk doubt by giving them a cool thing that non-backer will not have and of course a good project and that would be fine, even double.

Apart, i really think the quality of a designer resides in its capacity to be objective, able to recognize a project that appeals many player and the way he can show them why it's cool. That thing plus a good reward and that should work pretty well.

Dale Taylor
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Many Kickstarter backers do not understand they will not get charged if it doesn't fund. Many do not understand they will not get charged until the end. And Kickstarter is terrible at educating the general public. is failing its project creators with outdated advice from the Salad Days. Choose as small a goal as possible AND long as possible. You need to fine tune your demographics during the first two-weeks of 45-day campaign. Then you can have a normal 30 day campaign. We found the people who "liked us" and said they would support us -- were NOT our backers. Instead the GAMING community (both video and board) stepped up. That kind of knowledge can't be had without being in the battlefield. What people say and what people do are two different things. Whatever you think your demographic is, it is NOT. Your demographic is a subset of people who already know what Kickstarter is! Kickstarter itself is too confusing for most busy people, they will bounce.

Dan Jones
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I definitely think the amount matters, because savvy potential backers will see the red flags immediately if the target number is too high. It isn't just a matter of "will the campaign reach this lofty goal?" but often, "does this team unrealistically overvalue their product?"

I'm not suggesting we necessarily want every team on kickstarter to live on $0.29 ramen cups for the next 30 months, but we also don't want to see teams trying to replicate the old glory days of fat publisher funding on the backs of hard-working fans. If your project isn't important enough to YOU to be willing to "tighten the belt" on your own lifestyle in order to make it a reality, why should it be important enough for your fans to do so?

Bear in mind that for a lot of your potential backers, pledging even $20 to your cause might mean giving up something else they were planning to buy. Give that the respect it deserves, rather than looking at kickstarter as free money to put you on easy street while you follow your dreams.

Marvin Papin
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I agree, but from 100 000$ to 200 000$ players just adjust "price to quality" and check if the wanted money fit to the global quality that they could finally get. It just have to be a descent amount of money.

Tyler King
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I also think, personally at least, it is a red flag when kickstarter campaigns ask for too little money. Anyone involved in development knows that you aren't going to make a full scale mmo for $100,000, or even $1,000,000. That also scales down. If I see someone only asking for $5,000 or $10,000, I want to know why they think they can finish the advertised game for that only that amount.

Jonathan Jennings
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I have to agree with Tyler, I read a story about some college kids who were going to try to make a game on the same scale as skyrim with game maker and they asked for $10,000 can of course guess how the story ends. no game and i'm sure the guys working on it were disappointed themselves.

I honestly prefer developers get too much myself comfortable developers will generally make good games the sacrifice comes in putting in time and energy to make sure as fans we get the best title possible .

I think of the likes of kickstarted as a personal contract, the developers take the responsibility / duty of making a game that the fans want and if we fans want the game they are producing we fund it . There sacrifice is getting the game out the door which as developers we all should be able to agree isn't easy most of the time . so if we can eliminate financial stress and hopefully support a team of honest devs who just want to get their vision out to the masses I don't see why they should ask for the bare minimum or why the bare minimum is good for their development process.

Kujel s
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I've been thinking of doing a kickstarter campaign at the end of summer when kickstarter is finally available in BC and my goal is to get enough to get the xaramin licence I need to port to Ouya from windows.

I'm thinking of two reward levels, level 1 is $1 and level 2 is $5. Level 1 get's your name on the credits as a backer, level 2 you get level 1 and you get a free copy of the windows and linux versions.

Brian Schaeflein
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I have no data to back up my theory, but...

I don't think people care about having their names in the credits. They especially don't care when every mook with one dollar also can have his name in the credits. It's just not a selling point.