I was chatting with the incredible PR guru Emily Claire Afan this week and received insight into the merits of using crowdfunding as a form of marketing. This is perhaps not groundbreaking news for some, but upon evaluating a lot of independent releases this year, few have done this properly.
We should start by outlining what crowdfunding really offers developers. If your new to crowdfunding, take a look at my intro to game crowdfunding article. In the advent of digital distributors like Steam and Humble Bundle, developers have the ability to produce a game with a full end run to their customers without a publisher. With the typical publisher financing model now removed, developers require funding from a new source.While I rarely see a studio who can fully finance a game through crowdfundind, it is a great opportunity to supplement financing for production. So for this argument, let’s define a crowdfunding initiative as a platform for early monetization and community interaction at the center of an awareness campaign.
After creating a basic media kit and pitch deck to interact with your customers, your crowdfunding portal becomes the base of operations for sending potential customers. The concept I think many developers should consider is creating a game crowdfunding operation as a means to gain awareness and present your game concept in such a way that the effort, time and resources can be offset with monetization. Regardless of if you make a profit with the operation, you’ve exposed your title to potentially thousands of potential customers – an operations usually costing independent developers an arm and a leg.
So what are some major actionables to include in your campaign?
I am a huge advocate of creating dialogue with your customers in a community based fashion. Forming a community around a game is hard work and requires strategy and effort, but has the potential for massive payoff! Many ignore this function of marketing because the cost and return allocation can appear disassociated and impossible to determine, but rarely do I see an excited community who isn’t evangelizing the game to their friends and peers. My biggest recommendation is to encourage crowdfunding backers to participate in your community. Even if it’s just a Facebook page, having a way to dialogue and interact with your users becomes one of your most important assets.
Talk “with” instead of “to”
Turning your presentation into an infomercial about your game feels natural and is easy to do, but it’s likely the biggest mistake a developer can make. Gamers crave an authentic relationship with developers to know what experience they can expect with their game. Invite your audience to a dialogue instead of a lecture. This is as simple as asking specific questions of your audience and responding to answers they give. Ask what your audience is excited about and comment with expansions of how these points play a role in your game.
To state this frankly – players are interested in what the game experience will be and not in its concept. I know from experience that customers are far more critical and distrusting of a game that doesn’t have gameplay footage to show. And why shouldn’t they be? Would you buy a home you couldn’t tour first?
I know this is just scratching the surface of the discussion so let me know advice you’d give to developers in crowdfunding their game. Are you thinking of putting together a crowdfunding campaign? I’d love to brainstorm with you!