For my first post in this section I’d like to touch on the first Kickstarter campaign I ever backed, and one that is still probably the best run campaign overall that I’ve seen. Tiny Epic Kingdoms by Gamelyn Games ran this successful Kickstarter back in February 2014, raising nearly $300,000 of an initial funding goal of $20,000. Impressed? Me too. What’s even more amazing is that this game wasn’t a massive-box miniatures game that cost $100 a pop. No, this game cost $16 for the base version, and a moderate $24 for the deluxe edition(which is, naturally, the one I backed. I mean…how could I not get some custom dice and exclusive factions!?)
Everything about this campaign impressed me, from the great price and value, to the graphics and overall polish of the game even though it was in development. In analyzing the campaign for my own research into running a Kickstarter campaign for COG’s future efforts, 3 things in particular really stood out at me though: communication, stretch goals, and adaptation.
In terms of communication with its backers and the community, this campaign remains second-to-none. In addition to regular status updates for the game Michael Coe ran a “Backing the Backers” segment almost every day where he answered questions that members of the community had sent him. Not only that, but he personally responded to backer messages on Kickstarter. I’ve sent multiple messages to Kickstarter campaigns before and heard nothing back, but my simple note to Michael letting him know how much I appreciated his campaign was returned with a warm Thank You within 24 hours.
Secondly, this campaign’s stretch goals are also easily in my top 5 Kickstarters of all time since I started watching Kickstarter projects, and it’s certainly in my top 2 for campaigns since I actually started backing games. The amount of stretch goals for this campaign was astounding, and ranged from legitimate component upgrades like substituting wooden cubes out for shaped pieces, to adding a plethora of new factions to expand the game and its replayability. Not only were the stretch goals legitimate ones that actually added to the game(which some campaigns fail to do, opting to add elements that don’t really impact anything), but they were included for everyone after being unlocked. I understand the necessity of making some things add-ons…after all, some things simply cost too much to add in for free. However, I see way too many campaigns include add-ons that should have been included in the actual game, and it really irks me when those add-ons overwhelmingly replace included stretch goals. To me that’s like saying “Hey everyone, thanks for backing the game, now please spend more money to get your extra reward.” It’s an uncool thing to do when taken to extremes.
Finally, the project really showed a willingness to adapt. They incorporated new factions throughout the campaign, added completely new stretch goals as it became apparent that the campaign was a bigger success than they had ever anticipated, and even changed the main aspects of the game based on backer feedback as the campaign progressed. The layout of certain tiles changed, as did the layouts of each faction’s sheet after backers raised concerns. What is even more amazing is that these adaptations came not just willingly, but quickly. Gamelyn often had mock-ups of the changes available by the next day after addressing backer concerns in one of their aforementioned Backing the Backers segments.
All-in-all, Gamelyn Games and Michael Coe ran one of the most stellar Kickstarter campaigns I’ve seen, and I can’t wait to receive my Deluxe edition of TEK. The reason I’m posting this though is not to just draw attention to a great game(one which, I hope, you might consider looking at once it’s released if you missed the KS campaign). Rather, in planning future Kickstarter campaigns I think this is a great campaign to emulate. It’s certainly one I’ve included in my notes, and I hope my pointing out these elements of the campaign will help other aspiring crowd-sourcers who read this to start thinking about organizing their own campaigns and analyzing for themselves what will make their project successful.
Did you back TEK? What did you think of their campaign? How would you regard the elements I mentioned for your own future projects, or as determinate factors when you’re thinking of backing a campaign?