Crowd Funding 101 – What to look for
As discussed last time, it is important to identify a good Kickstarter from a bad or risky one. In this installment I will debate Kickstarter's for board games, but this advice can be useful for most crowd funding projects. There will be three aspects I believe you should investigate before committing to a Kickstarter project: the number of projects created (and backed), the cost (including postage) and the interactivity and transparency of the creator.
How many have they created?
In every facet of life there is a first time for everything, but are you willing to give a stranger your money to create what could be an underproduced, undeveloped mess? That may seem extreme but it is a fair question, this is what we can be dealing with on a crowdfunding website. If you have encountered many Kickstarter's it can be clear to see just through a quick scroll whether or not a Kickstarter is worth backing. However, a quick and easy trick to a newcomer is to look at the two numbers underneath the Back This Project button near the top of every project page. The first is the amount of projects the creator has created, along with a link to view their other Kickstarter's.
I would definitely recommend looking at these if possible, peruse the campaigns but most importantly read a few of the comments and updates to see if the backers of those projects received their pledges or even if the project funded. This can provide some insight as to wether or not the company or selfpublisher can be completely trusted with your hard earned cash. In addition to this it is good to know whether or not they actually back projects themselves, to identify if they are engaged in the community that they are wanting help from. It is amazing to look at these two numbers and learn so much about the creator of a project and whether or not you should trust them.
How much does the pledge-level cost?
This may seem like a simple statement that most people would think of, but it goes deeper than that. Before I even begin reading the campaign of a project I'll often check the prices of the different pledge-levels and most importantly click on a level to find the postage cost (or even if they will post to my country). Too many times have I read through a project page, getting more and more excited, to find out that the $25 game has become $75 due to postage. What makes that number worse is to be reminded that I'm dealing with U.S. dollars and following the conversion, I will have to sell a few organs before I can even think about dropping my savings account down a few notches. If I find the price to be reasonable I will then read through the page to investigate. I will ask myself: are they selling the game below the retail price? Are there any bonuses included? How big is the company producing the game? These are all important questions as they will affirm that I am either receiving value for my money and peace of mind that I am receiving something that may become impossible to find elsewhere (especially Australia).
How engaged is the creator?
Updates, comments, videos, rules, UPDATES. These four (five) topics are key for a happy, stress-free ride down pledge reward lane. Daily to several updates a week are very important, to not only be aware of the status of the game along with reassurance that the creator of the game is still excited and eager to get you their game. If I get to the end of a 30 day Kickstarter and have not received 8 to 10 updates about the game I may lose my excitement and eventually regret my decision to back the project. I would also like to see the creator engaged in the comment section, answering questions from fellow backers and generally keeping the hype alive long into the life of the Kickstarter. As great as detailed descriptions of the game are, it is really great to see photos and videos of the game and a sample play-through may make me instantly back. Videos not only reassure me that the game functions but it also gives me a taste of what I will potentially receive in 6 to 12 months time, it also means that rules actually exist. I will most likely not back a game if the rules are not completed. I expect a game to be almost ready to be made, all that is required is the funds. By providing rules I can be slightly more confident about my purchase but if the creator allows potential backers to download print-and-play files and try out the game, consider me a backer (provided I'm interested in the game). The final area that needs to be covered is transparency and consistent updates from the creator. Once the funding period is over the last thing I want is radio silence. Generally I would like to see a weekly to monthly update explaining where the project is and where it is expected to be by the following month. I would also like to know when the project is not going as planned, that delays are occurring and that the game will not be delivered on time (you would be surprised how few creators do not follow through with this even when promised).
I hope this detailing of what to look for has assisted you whilst you look at different Kickstarter projects. Here are several companies that generally follow these parameters I have outlined above. I would recommend you look at: Jamey Stegmaier, Shem Phillips, Gamelyn Games, Modiphius, Cool Mini or Not and Tim Fowers.