Fearsome Wilderness is looking great and it’s not too late to get in on late pledge at MyMiniFactory (Edit: ok now it’s too late).
At Geektopia Games, we’ve made a lot of progress from being just a group of guys adding on to existing games. Just since 2019, we’ve figured out how to design prototypes physically and digitally, develop the games, develop art and graphics including sculptures, get manufacturing quotes, get the financing, and manufacture the games. From there, we ship our manufactured games from China to the U.S., store them in warehouses, market them, and sell them, both on Amazon and to distributors and retailers. That’s pretty much A to Z.
One thing we wrestled with regarding Cage Match was whether to take it to Kickstarter, and ultimately, we decided not to. With Fearsome Wilderness, it was pegged for Kickstarter from the beginning, and it was a huge success as far as we’re concerned. We raised over $25,000, enough to unlock all of the stretch goals that we really wanted, including the hardcover rulebook.
So how did we do it? Can anyone do it? Most importantly, can we do it again? I honestly don’t know. I’ve seen Kickstarters that I thought looked pretty great, fail, often to succeed in a second try (Movie Empire is an example, one that I backed the first time as well as the successful second time). I’ve also seen Kickstarters that I thought looked kind of meh, succeed. I’ve definitely seen projects that I thought were good, but not great, go through the roof. As far as that goes, I haven’t exactly figured out the formula, and wasn’t sure we’d succeed either. I thought we probably would, and there was even a chance we’d go through the roof, but you just never know for sure, and I won’t know for sure next time either. But, I do at least have enough ideas to share:
Bring the Content
Your game doesn’t have to be the best game ever made, but it has to be good and needs to stand out in some way.
Fearsome Wilderness includes:
- A unique, underused (IMO) theme in Paul Bunyan and the Fearsome Critters, which is public domain.
- Excellent and original artwork, and a lot of it. Each creepy critter is a work of art in graphics, and then another work of art in sculpture. The hero figures, quite honestly, are amazing.
- Fancy components, including custom wood dice and those aforementioned figures.
- 3D-printable models for the 3D creative. More on this later but I think it adds to the general “hobbiness” of the project.
- The game play itself is fun and easy to understand, with its Yahtzee-style roll-3 times mechanic, but enough twists to keep it fresh and interesting.
- A 12-week campaign and a 120-page rulebook add to the overall geeky goodness.
Fearsome Wilderness isn’t just a game. It’s content that a hobby gamer can sink his teeth into.
Bring the Crowd
We brought about 18K people to our Kickstarter page. A typical month on the blog only brings about 2K, so that’s not too shabby.
- 62% of the traffic to our Kickstarter page was direct. This was a combination of people we personally knew, as in we emailed or texted them or whatever, and people who found us through Kickstarter. Based on other data I’ve got, I figure roughly 50% of the traffic (50 of the 62 points) was strictly from Kickstarter.
- So if 50% of our traffic was direct from Kickstarter, that would mean that 12% of our traffic came our direct, personal referrals. I think that’s about right, and this was a very high-converting group.
- 12% of our traffic came from Facebook. That’s a lot of personal referrals there, and a lot of work Matt did promoting the project through our page there, but also from paid marketing.
- Another 8.7% from Board Game Geek paid marketing. That’s a pretty decent amount but I suspect it didn’t convert at a very high rate.
- Another 4% from Instagram. This is where Matt has his own following, and it brought traffic.
- 3.1% from MyMiniFactory, with whom we had a partnership. I believe this was particularly high-converting traffic, which I’ll discuss in a bit.
Overall, whether it’s our friends or our marketing, I estimate we brought 50% of the total traffic to the page.
Bring the Party
Traffic isn’t enough. You need actual backers and preferably a lot of them. With an initial funding goal of $10K:
- We got nearly $6K — over half our goal — just from people we knew, including some of the followers of this here blog. Thank you! In the end it’s nearly 25% of the funding from just 12% of the traffic.
- Nearly $5K from people who strictly wanted 3D printable content. There was also a sizeable crowd that wanted all of the content, including (but not limited to) the 3D printable content that didn’t include our personal contacts. I’m probably giving MMF too much credit if I figure that $5K came strictly from them, because that’s about 20% of the funding from just 3% of the traffic but I don’t have another explanation.
- $2.7K from other marketing, not our friends or family, not MyMiniFactory. Fen the blogger, with his Patreon page, was particularly helpful in sending some people over. We got Fen’s attention just by Matt doing good work and posting about it, so don’t be shy about self promotion.
- And then Kickstarter traced its own contributions to 49% of the total. So they basically matched what we brought.
Some things matter less
I see a lot of projects with fancy, animated videos, and very professional-looking pages. Matt has pretty solid graphic design and editing skills himself, but there’s certainly nothing fancy about our video or page. You want to look like you made a serious effort, but you don’t need to look like you’re spending big bucks.
Another thing that much is often made of is the reviews. We do have some positive reviews of our game, but not a bunch, not from any of the really high profile reviews like a Tom Vasel or Rodney Smith, and we don’t make an especially big deal out of the reviews we do have. I would expect that approval by the big reviewers can add a lot of credibility as well as direct traffic to your site, so by all means, you should aim for those and get them if you can. But, you don’t need high profile reviews to succeed.
I asked a few years ago, is Kickstarter over-saturated? There was no way to know for sure without giving it a go ourselves. I admit it’s only one project, but I think we have an answer: No, it isn’t. There’s room for good projects with strategies to bring crowds. In the end, it seems like Kickstarter will, at least in this case, roughly match what you bring. So, if you need $10K for your project, you need to pretty much plan on funding $5K yourself, through a combination of family and friends and marketing. Bring the $5K to Kickstarter and if your project is good, you will likely find the other $5K through Kickstarter. But it also means, the more you bring, the more Kickstarter throws in. When Kickstarter matches what you bring, your marketing dollars are essentially getting 2-for-1! That’s a good deal. Besides, I think the MMF partnership, the Facebook and BGG marketing, and all the little social media things we did were all important to creating enough momentum, which you need because KS backers want to back a winner. We brought around $12-13K and Kickstarter matched it for $25K total. That, essentially, is how it works. There’s also that chance that your project will catch fire and earn many times what you were expecting.
So all in all, if you’re going the self-publication route, you need, and likely have, some funding to begin with. You will spend hundreds if not thousands on art development, higher end prototypes, and you better plan to spend some money on marketing. If you’re going to do all that anyways, then you should go for Kickstarter if you can come up with a plan to bring a crowd. There’s some time and money and stress involved, but all of those things will be involved in launching your game no matter what, might as well see if the Kickstarter crowd wants to support your project.