Before you do anything else, understand that not every game is a good project for a Kickstarter. And if this is your first or second campaign, even less games are a good fit.
Appeal and Audience
In order to be successful on a crowd funding campaign, your game must either have broad appeal, or niche appeal. For example, games with pretty art and a Tolkien-ish fantasy theme will appeal to a great many people.
However, it can work just as well if it targets a niche as long as that niche is large enough. For example, if you design a game about teaching people Japanese, like Bernhard Hamaker did with Japanese: The Game, then you’re targeting a very small subset of the population that want to learn Japanese. However, that subset is quite motivated to learn, which means they’re willing to put some money behind that effort.
Despite the success of Japanese: The Game, educational games are generally a quite tough sell in any market, and Kickstarter is no exception. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is that educational games are almost never any fun. In order to entertain you often have to tread far away from the detail and minutia involved in learning. This is why educational television is filled with reality shows and historical dramas that are only tangentially related to education.
Costs vs Potential Backers
If a game is very large, or needs a lot of custom miniatures, or tons of expensive artwork then those things can very easily push it out of the realm of possibility. Backers don’t just flock to your game just because you happen to run a Kickstarter. Your initial backers will come from your friends, family, and social networks (both online and offline). If you need $30,000 worth of art just to make the game work, then you’ve likely priced yourself out of what you can realistically achieve in your first campaign. The smaller funding goal you can make on your first campaign the better chance of success, because you will not have nearly as many backers on your first campaign as you do on subsequent campaigns in most situations.
Custom Plastic / Wood / Metal
If your game needs custom plastic, wood, or metal bits then that is almost always a death knell to a first-time campaign. The reason is that the cost of moulds and tooling for those pieces is relatively high. For example, one mould by a Chinese manufacturer will likely run you $5,000. That $5,000 doesn’t get you any components, it’s just the cost of the tool that is needed to make the component. So that means you’ll need to raise $5,500 worth of funding (due to Kickstarter / Credit Card fees) to NOT send your customers a single game.
There are of course exceptions to this. Sometimes the bits are so cool that lots of people will back the project because they think the custom miniatures are ridiculously cool. The question you need to ask yourself is “Do I want to risk the success of my campaign on custom bits?”
Move Forward Criteria
Generally speaking smaller card, tile, or board games with fewer components are best for an initial campaign. You should do your best to have stellar artwork that appeals to people on a primal level. Your game should either appeal to a huge audience, or a niche audience that you already belong to and can motivate to purchase easily.
In our next article we’ll talk about whether you are ready to be a kickstarter campaigner. Stay tuned.