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What mistakes devs should avoid when launching Kickstarter campaign

Independent developer Seyed Nasrollahi analyzed the results of his game “Operation Outsmart” on Kickstarter, and the game only reached about 10% of the original goal. Despite the bad results, he decided to share his experience with other developers.

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Nasrollahi is the founder of indie studio UnifiQ Games, which has been developing Operation Outsmart since June 2020. It is a sandbox RPG, where players control koalas and build different machines.

On September 17, Nasrollahi launched the Kickstarter campaign. However, it was backed only by 70 people, collecting $3K out of $33.8K. Last week, the developer published a postmortem on Reddit, sharing his key mistakes.

  • According to Nasrollahi, the audience is the main driver of success: “If you have a big crowd, your game will fund no matter what. If you have a small crowd, your game will not fund no matter what.”
  • Prior to the launch, UnifiQ Games had 1220 followers on Twitter, 45 members on Discord, and 112 signups on Kickstarter. It is really hard to run a successful campaign with numbers like this, but Nasrollahi decided to try, nevertheless.
  • He later realized that the number of pre-launch signups on Kickstarter is one of the main metrics. “For an average project, legend says you roughly end up having backers anywhere from half to double the number of pre-launch signups,” the developer noted, citing results of successful campaigns that launched around the same time as Operation Outsmart as examples.
  • As pointed out by Nasrollahi, developers should attract an audience through channels like Twitter, Discord, and mailing list, while also trying to promote their games on Reddit, Imgur, and TikTok. It would help build a small fanbase and attract people who might sign up for the game prior to the campaign’s launch.
  • “Ridiculously high” target was one of UnifiQ Games’ main mistakes. The campaign was always below 10% of the target, which probably scared a lot of potential backers away. So the best advice here is to be more realistic. “We’ve had a better chance of gaining more backers if the target was £10K,” Nasrollahi wrote.
  • Another mistake was a large gap between tiers, where there were no interim options between £15 and £40. According to the developer, it put off a lot of backers who would have pledged £20-30. So it is better to think carefully about all offers and rewards beforehand.
  • Nasrollahi also said that the best way to work with the press is to approach them a couple of weeks prior to the campaign’s launch and send them a playable demo. It also might attract a new audience that wouldn’t have found out about a game through other channels.

“Crowd is the cake, everything else is cherry on top,” the developer concluded.

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