As our first series of Destined Legends is now available for pre-order, I thought I'd take some time to reflect back on our journey in creating Destined Legends. Last week we covered the principle development of Destined Legends. Tonight, we're talking about our journey with Kickstarter and getting the game funded for production.
A Kickstarter Generation
in 2011, some filmmaker buddies of mine raised the money that they needed for their film project through a crowd-funding site. This was my first real taste for crowd-funding. It was then that I started to consider it as a serious source of capital for making the game. As we explored this blossoming world of crowd-funding, the more we became confident in our ability to succeed in it. It's interesting now looking back. The thought that we could fail to hit our goal was never in our minds during development. It was our motivation. The better the game looked and played, the better that chance of Kickstarter success.
So we initiated a plan to accelerate our development and get it ready for the masses. Kickstarter kept us going. We had a goal to reach. It was like someone took all the meeting out of meeting with investors. Except this was way better than investors. People could actually have a hand in making this project a reality. People could now get excited on a completely new level because they would be involved in its inception.
We finally got to a comfortable point in development. We were confident enough in the project to present it to the world. But we faced a conundrum. We needed art to look impressive enough to raise money, but we needed the money to get the impressive art.
"...if you don't hit your goal on Kickstarter, you don't get anything."
Up until that point, our artists Scott Ferguson and Cari Corene had agreed to be a part of the project, but I was only able to afford one piece of art from each of them. Luckily, my brother came in on some extra grant money from school and we were able to commission Scott to do the six main characters.
We decided to go for a modest goal of $10,000. Which is relatively low for a project of our caliber. The catch with Kickstarter is that it is product-based, not project-based. When working on a project, anything will help progress you forward. When you're working on a product, manufacturing that specific product costs a very specific amount. So, if you don't hit your goal, you "obviously" can't make that product, hence, if you don't hit your goal on Kickstarter, you don't get anything.
"We hit our goal within the first 12 days!"
We thought briefly about indie go-go for this very reason, but ultimately decided to go with Kickstarter for a higher chance of exposure. Simply put, more people know about Kickstarter than any other crowd-funding website, and that increased the chances for discoverability. It turns out, we were right.
We got 41% of our final funding by people randomly discovering us on Kickstarter! This is pretty incredible. It tells us two things: First, that Kickstarter is a very attractive place to discover awesome new projects and ideas. They make is easy and fun to pledge, and their screening process ensures that only projects that have a strong chance of getting funded make it through. Secondly, it shows that we put together a pretty amazing presentation of Destined Legends. Which is incredible considering how relatively little amount of artwork we has to show. We had our main 6 characters and a breathtaking Dragon. We managed to make it seem like we had more than we actually did. That with a little bit of movie magic helped make Destined Legends look as legitimate as it ended up being.
Setup For Success
Looking back, my favorite part leading up to campaign, was the live countdown clock to the launch. We literally counted down the seconds until project went live. We also posted this teaser video online to make it a little viral.
We got some pretty awesome reactions to everything. Mind you, we had not revealed any of the artwork, up until this point. We took those couple of weeks to slowly reveal all of the sketch work we had, and it definitely helped build the hype. We posted them on Facebook and Instagram everyday, and used it to help build a following across those platforms.
With kickstarter, it is setup so the more a backer pledges, the better the reward gets. We had rare cards and art prints at our disposal. It was great, but it wasn't enough. We decided to setup a really cool reward where you could have your likeness in our game. It was the highest tiered reward, going for $1000.
Finally, With all the pieces finally in place, on October 19, 9PM PST, Destined Legends went open for funding on Kickstarter for 30 days.
We hit our goal within the first 12 days! It was pretty incredible. The first few days were a flurry of tweets, updates, and blogs allover the internet by myself, Denis, Shawn, Scott, and Cari. We really let people know that we were here, and that this was as real as it gets. Also, it helped that our $1000 backer pledged during that period.
Luckily, it was claimed before we hit our initial goal. And now, before it appears anywhere else, here is the final card for Corey S., our very special $1000 backer.
"Its not always about cramming tag-lines down people's throats."
We took out some ads to help people find us, and even teamed up with InkOutbreak.com to have our project hosted on his front page. 59% of our final funding came from these efforts and it shows. This showed us that advertising works. It's not always about cramming tag-lines down people's throats. Sometime's its as simple as wanting people to know that you exist.
The Stretch Goals
We didn't know how to make the absolute most of our opportunity back then. (It's weird calling last November "back then" but so much has happened in the past 9 months that it feels weird thinking back to it and realizing how little time has actually passed.) Our day jobs didn't help. If we had more free time, I'm sure we would have devised the ultimate plan to help our post-goal time more eventful. As you can see below, the funding slowed down after we hit our initial goal of $10,000.
It wasn't until day 27 that it picked up again. That's 15 days of slow growth. My guess is that at first, the collective want to see your project succeed, so they will make sure it gets there. After that, all is assured and there is no sense of urgency any longer. Then at the end, people come back and realize that they can still get in. That reintroduced the sense of urgency; to get it while it lasts.
One thing I regret is never hitting the staff picks page. We should have looked into it more and maybe even reached out to them to inquire about it, but we were so beside ourselves already, that we just kept to counting our lucky starts and riding it out. We kept up with the posts and tweets, but its tough to convey a constant sense of urgency over a span of 30 days. Luckily we had something that kept it from completely flatlining, stretch goals.
We didn't reveal any of the stretch goals until we hit our initial goal. We would have done it to help it cross the threshold, but we didn't need to. I woke up on day 12 to find us at $10,510. Luckily I had the stretch goals geared up and posted them on the page.
Here are the goals we hit:
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By the end of day 21, we hit our first stretch goal. By the end of day 29 we hit our second. We figure that was it, great show, lets celebrate our accomplishments. We could never anticipate what took place on day 30, Sunday!
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!
Sunday was a magical day. We shot from $17,389 to our final resting place of $23,300. That is almost $6,000! Realize that we went from accepting the fact that the Rare cards and the Digital Comic were going to be our only extra items to having everything else including the Sideboards, Playmat and extra rare card, and the Playboard. We even made a new reward tier to include the sideboards, and also had to expand the beta test reward tier due to its popularity! We were so high on the rush of backers that we even decided to move forward with a second $1000 reward: A one-of-a-kind Personalized Wooden Box. To our amazement, that one went too. The lucky backer is the awesome people at North Texas RPG Con! We will be revealing more information on the box in the coming weeks.
We simply could not believe it. I don't think I was able to move away from my desk all day. I had to deal with everything from comments, questions, posting new stretch goal graphics, and tweeting. I also set my computer to chime every time we got a new backer, so we grew to love that sound pretty fast.
Kickstarted Into High Gear
Finally, that night at 9PM, the campaign drew to a close. We had done it. We raised the money we needed to make our vision come to life. The final roadblock had been lifted. Now we had no excuse. And with our sights set on San Diego Comic-Con International 2013 for our world premiere, we had our work cut out for us.
In This Series
Funded with Kickstarter Part I: Too Much Free Time 6/2 - The conception of Destined Legends, beginning over 10 years ago.
Funded with Kickstarter Part II: Anything You Can Do 6/9 - The process of officially developing Destined Legends.
Funded with Kickstarter Part III: The Campaign 6/16 - The most exhilarating and stressful 30 days of our lives.
Funded with Kickstarter Part IV: I Heart Logistics 10/8 - The processes of manufacturing, importing, and fulfillment.