The number of board game projects on Kickstarter is getting higher exponentially. More and more established brands are using it, so you as a first-time publisher (and admit it to yourself: a nobody compared to them) have to put lots of effort in your board game design and your campaign. I think for your board game Kickstarter to stand out (analyzing the situation in 2017) you have some possibilities.
1. Follow a trend
That’s how Exploding Kittens (who doesn’t watch a funny cat video) or Unstable Unicorns (unicorns are everywhere) work. It will get much attention for sure. Who doesn’t have vivid images of burning furballs in his mind? But most of these games only live from the hype but don’t have that much to offer. Maybe not all but most of them. You have to make up your mind if that’s what you want.
2. Aggressive pricing
Make a game with lots of miniatures for an absurd low price. That’s a steal for most potential buyers they won’t think long about. But to achieve the relevant economics of scale you have to sell lots of units. Otherwise you won’t make a profit. And you need to make one if you want to design more than one board game. (To make it clear: That’s a route I wouldn’t go, because in the long run this will kill the market.)
3. Explore new themes
The 101st high fantasy setting with dwarfs is nice, but there are 100 other themes out there you can use for your board game Kickstarter. Try to let your imagination wander. Get inspired by books, movies, real life or anything else. Try to be unique. There are so many themes out there worth exploring. It is risky but the reward can be high if you hit the right theme.
4. Exciting new mechanics
It is possible. Somebody must have come up with an idea in the beginning. Cooperative gameplay was a biggie. Or the way cards are handled after an epidemic in Pandemic was a great way of creating tension. But for gamer’s sake: don’t make a board game mechanic a gimmick. It has to be carefully integrated, balanced and tested. Otherwise it will feel tacked on.
My personal favorite board game mechanic is storytelling. Immersion is key. The more you get into the game, the better it is. Try to find a way for a game mechanic with a very strong storytelling component. And design it to be replayable without getting boring!
First of all not the more the better, more a case of quality artwork. Be prepared to pay the price for that. Nothing comes for free. There are certainly differences in pricing between Triple A Artists and newbies from art school. And if you aren’t a professional illustrator that makes a living from that, don’t even try to do it by yourself. Don’t depend solely on the artwork (all beauty without character is not an option) but you have to have it.
6. Build a fanbase
Your game can be the greatest one of all time – if nobody knows about it you will have a hard time. Engage with other gamers, do something for the community. Make a plan how and when you want to spread your content – otherwise you will get lost somewhere between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media hotspots. Start early with this process. And no, two weeks before your campaign starts is not enough time. Give yourself at least 3-6 months to generate the needed hype.
7. Hard work
Seems to be pretty self-evident but a lot of creators also make mistakes. Most of all try to avoid them at all cost. Polish your Kickstarter campaign. And if you’re finished, polish it again. Get a graphic designer. Most people judge the quality of the game by the quality of the campaign. Proofread your texts. And if you are not a native speaker, for heaven’s sake get one.
Finally be prepared for whatever can happen during a campaign and have always a backup plan. Communicate with your backers – they can opt out until the last minute. Let others proofread your texts. Keep a balance between texts and images. Just give the best you have. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
Do you agree?
That were my two cents on the subject. But as always I am open to discussing this topic further with you. Let me know your opinion.