The advent of Kickstarter has been one of the biggest stories of 2012. A number of gaming related initiatives raised over $1 mil and that resulted in a flood of game developers turning to the service to raise funding for their games. Some developers are taking it once step further and cutting out the middle man, in this case Kickstarter. Case in point: Introversion Software has raised over $1 million via crowdsourcing on their own website.
This approach to “pre-ordering” demonstrates how powerful it is to create a program that engages the community. Compared with the existing model most publishers use, which is to offer a pre-order that comes with a bonus piece of content which often times is different from one retailer to the next, this new approach provides a number of key benefits:
- It opens up conversation between the gamer and the game maker, which helps build more engaged users even before a game launches. Due to the nature of asking for money directly from gamers, game makers are encouraged to being more transparent with how game development is progressing.
- This increased community engagement encourages early adopters to become stronger evangelists for the game, who help spread word of mouth. Early adopters by nature love being the trendsetter, and thus sharing their discoveries with others to get them on board.
- It allows gamers to pre-order the game at a price point they are most comfortable with. Most crowdfunding initiatives provide multiple tiers of pricing based on what bonus items come with it. Unlike retail pre-orders, crowdfunding initiatives give gamers more and more as they spend more and more. Take Prison Architect as an example. If you buy into the $250 price point, you get: Game file for PC, Mac, Linux, access to early versions of the game, PDF artbook, game soundtrack, bonus free games, a game character created to look like you, ability to create your character, t-shirt, special DVD, poster, exclusive in-game content, frame polaroid, and a real artbook.
- Funds raised go directly to the game developer, who can then use the funds to improve the game while in development.
- It provides smaller developers a way to directly engage the end user, bypassing publishers and retailers. Ultimately it’s the gamer that is the arbiter of taste and determines whether a game should be created or not.
The power of crowdfunding lies in how game makers create an engaging program that builds a community around a game even before it launches, and then encourage this community to help make the game better and spread the word. All signs point towards even more crowdfunding success stories in 2013.