In 2019, I successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign for the PC video game, The Cinema Rosa. You can take a look at the final campaign here.
Our game is now available on Steam here.
The campaign to fund The Cinema Rosa was not easy. We failed twice before launching a successful third campaign (third time’s lucky, as they say). I wanted to write this post to share some of the tips, tricks and lessons learned from all three of our kickstarter campaigns, including why I think we eventually succeeded.
To begin with, lets look at our first campaign.
- Attempts One and Two:
In our first campaign, we started with very limited online following, based off of our existing social media profiles. We had a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence, but these were not directly converting into real engagement. It became difficult to get followers to act on any call to action – in part because we did not have a big enough marketing team to post frequently enough.
The first kickstarter campaign failed in part due to lack of awareness and in a large part, due to a lack of experience in marketing.
The second kickstarter campaign was a great improvement – we managed to build out a greater support network (in part, by posting on different sites, such as Reddit and other gaming sites), and in part by gaining press coverage. The Cinema Rosa was featured in Rock, Paper, Shotgun – a premiere gaming news site. This alone lead to 20 backers coming on board. Yet despite the increased attention, we again failed to meet our target.
Luckily, we could learn from these mistakes and build a better kickstarter campaign in the future!
- Attempt Three:
On our third and successful kickstarter campaign, we focused on community building. Reaching out to communities on Reddit, we built a substantial following on our Discord channel. This allowed us to communicate directly to people interested in the game, and follow up with them at a later date. We continued to get press coverage, along with coverage from various YouTubers, who helped boost the profile of the game and make the kickstarter campaign a success. We also changed the kickstarter banner image to make it suit the tone of the game (dark and moody) rather than the previous image (which was bright and colourful). Tone is very important I believe in getting people to understand what your game is all about.
In the end, we managed to reach our kickstarter target on time, and even surpassed it, which was a pleasant surprise!
To create a successful kickstarter campaign for a video game, I think that the following elements are crucial.
1. Community building:
Build a community to follow the kickstarter campaign on Discord, Reddit and other gaming community websites. The larger the community, the more likely your kickstarter will be a success. Communicate directly with your community and don’t use ‘press speak’: basically talk authentically like a real person.
I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is. It made the biggest difference between our failed and successful campaigns.
Contact the press about your game early in your kickstarter launch, preferably, before the first day. Send the press a demo copy, keys and a trailer of your video game for maximum effect.
Note: almost all media that exists on a game is there because the journalist was contacted. It is rare for journalists to do their own stories these days. Be aware of this.
If a gaming journalist does give your kickstarter coverage, contact them again at a later date with new information, a new trailer or an updated demo. Often they’re happy to cover the game again on their site!!
Contact as many YouTubers as you can who are interested in the game and who may back the kickstarter. Be careful to only contact YouTubers who enjoy games like yours.
Don’t be afraid to ask for coverage directly.
We did a call out on Twitter for gaming journalists and YouTubers to cover our game, and this was highly successful. Use the tags #prrequest and #journos to reach people directly, and always look up new hashtags that have come about in more recent times.
Try and find the tags that YouTubers and game journalists follow the most – and post with those tags. (This is part of the strategy of bringing your game to them, rather than them coming to you.)
Once someone has posted a Let’s Play of your game on YouTube – you can spread it around on your social media channels to get other people interested in the game. Let’s Plays are also a great substitute for game demos. If someone asks for a demo – send them a Let’s Play video!
4. Don’t be scared to try again:
Once you’ve tried a Kickstarter campaign and built a following of people interested in your game, don’t be afraid of trying it again a few months later! Try and build your audience even further in this time and relaunch by sending an update to your previous kickstarter page – saying that you’ve relaunched the project. This way, people who were interested in your project can re-back it the second time. This was a very important component of The Cinema Rosa’s success!
Kickstarter is really a promotional opportunity in itself. Even if your game fails to get funded, you should use the campaign as an opportunity to connect to as many interested people as possible. Try and get them to join either your social media networks or Discord channel to keep in touch with future updates.
The Cinema Rosa:
Feel free to try the game we successfully funded on Kickstarter, The Cinema Rosa!
You can find it on steam here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1049140/The_Cinema_Rosa/