In preparation for our Captain’s Gambit’s Kickstarter (subscribe to our newsletter if you want to know when it goes live), I’ve spent a lot of my time researching how Kickstarter works and how to run a successful campaign. I’ve read through all of Stonemaier’s fantastic blog, I joined several groups on Kickstarter best practices (this one and this one are very good), and I’ve been listening through Richard Bliss’ podcast Funding the Dream. But one thing I’ve been doing a lot lately is actually backing projects on Kickstarter. At this moment I’ve personally backed about 40 projects, over half of which have successfully funded. I’ve been doing this not only to support creators and get some awesome games, but to see some of the good and not so good things other projects have done so that when we launch our campaign it can be as successful as possible. I’ve learned quite a lot from backing these projects, and in this series I will be highlighting some of those lessons.
What is Kickstarter?
Since I can’t assume everyone knows what it is, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website. It allows creators to create campaigns around their projects and for backers to pledge money towards those projects. Usually backing a project will give backers rewards based on how much they pledge. If the campaign raises enough money, then the creator uses those funds to make their project a reality. If they don’t raise enough money whatever money was raised is refunded to the backers. As a backer, this means you’ll only actually spend money on successful campaigns. For creators, this means that you’re never be forced to complete a project you won’t have the funds to deliver on. Since Kickstarter launched it has raised over 3.9 billion dollars and successfully funded over 150,000 projects. Projects cover a vast range of interests from Games to Music to Design and Technology, and pretty much anyone should be able to find something on Kickstarter that interests them.
Back in March I backed a project called Guardian’s Gambit. Originally I backed it because it had a similar name to Captain’s Gambit, but I also backed it because it looked interesting and I liked the minimalist art style. Guardian’s Gambit is a 2-player card combat game with some light strategy elements created by Knights of Norwood. Players take turns using the cards in their hand to attack the cards in their opponent’s hand, while using special abilities to protect their cards and bypass their opponent’s defenses. It’s a fun, quick, easy game that’s great if you have some time to kill while traveling or taking a short break. But I don’t really want to focus on the game itself today. What I want to highlight about Guardian’s Gambit is this:
This is the Backer Exclusive Collector’s Card, and I love it. The card came included with the game when it arrived at my house, and I got a genuine sense of joy and surprise when I opened it. The card itself has no mechanical purpose in the game, but it was a nice way for Knights of Norwood to show their appreciation to their backers. On a business side, adding a single card to the game is cheap, and having it serve no in-game function means no additional development or playtesting time aside from creating the art. But for me it made me feel special for backing the project in a way that I never would have felt if I bought the game later in a store. It made me feel a personal connection to Guardian’s Gambit and showed me that Knights of Norwood were grateful for my support.
Why does this matter?
If you’re planning to launch a campaign at some point, I highly encourage you to add something like the Backer Exclusive Collector’s Card to your project. As a creator it’s not a huge expense that can give a massive return in terms of goodwill towards you and your project. It makes your backers feel special and is a great way to thank them for making your dream a reality. As one extra tip, I suggest you keep the card a secret from your backers. Technically the Backer Exclusive Collector’s Card is mentioned on the campaign page, but I had missed it when I backed the project (or more accurately I had completely forgotten about it by the time the game arrived). So when I opened the box I felt like receiving an unexpected present. So consider keeping the card a surprise to make your backers feel even more special.