Kickstarter Post-Mortem: Guts and Glory


As most of you reading this probably already know, the Kickstarter for Guts and Glory successfully ended on October 16th!  1,125 amazing people pledged a grand total of $34,053 to make this game more epic, bringing the total funding to 112% of the target goal.  After pledges that didn't clear, and the Kickstarter and processor fees, that should put it right around the the target goal of $30k.  Now I can afford to work on the project full-time until Early Access release (crazy?  maybe... but sometimes you gotta take big risks if you want big rewards right?), and will soon have some more resources to make the game bigger, better and faster!  

A screenshot from the demo track shown at TwitchCon, prior to the Kickstarter

So, for those of you interested, here is a brief Guts and Glory Kickstarter Post-Mortem:

  1. Momentum and hype are critical.  In retrospect, I wish I would have done this Kickstarter smack dab in the middle of the Steam Greenlight campaign, when new internet traffic was at it's peak and people were trying the open pre-alpha builds for the first time.  Running the Kickstarter when the hype was at its peak would have been much more efficient and effective, as the 2 campaigns would feed off each other.
  2. Kickstarter is less appealing for indie games than it used to be.  Thanks to so many projects that have burnt their backers, or made pie-in-the-sky promises, people are less trusting of backing projects than a few years ago.  There are also many more active projects competing for those dollars at any given time.  Despite the fact that G&G had incredible Greenlight stats, #1 rank on IndieDB for several weeks, a well-known indie publisher, and very strong YouTube support, it didn't just "take off" as quickly or easily as I was hoping it would.  Many people wrote me simply stating that they loved the project and were stoked to buy it, but simply didn't want to hassle with the Kickstarter process.
  3. Digital-only Rewards are a great option, as long as you give them enough value.  Most campaigns seem to have a lot of physical goods involved.  This quickly eats up a ton of the funds raised for production, shipping, VAT, etc.  I wanted to ensure that as much of the funds raised as possible went directly towards making a better game, rather than making T-shirts, so I opted for digital-only rewards.  (Thanks, TinyBuild, for steering me in the right direction on this one!)  Much to my surprise, the top tier ($1k level) rewards actually sold out!  So in the end, it paid off, and now I can focus purely on the game immediately, rather than producing and shipping a bunch of physical stuff.
  4. Different communities, different cultures.  The Kickstarter community and culture seems much different that what you generally find on Steam.  I believe more mainstream/family-friendly titles, in general, would do better on Kickstarter than "edgier" games like G&G.  The vast majority of pledges came from first-time backers.
  5. Make the $25 reward a "no-brainer" in value.  Pack as much as you can in there to make it very appealing.  This is the average Kickstarter pledge amount, so this should be your primary target reward.
  6. Cross-promotions can help a ton!  Over halfway through the campaign, I was able to offer a sweet cross-promo deal with the folks at Dynamic Pixels, thanks to my publisher, TinyBuild.  Those that backed at the $25 level or higher would receive early access to the alpha build for Hello Neighbor, another highly anticipated indie game.  It worked wonders and gave that extra push needed to cross the finish line and help ensure success.
  7. Success breeds succcess.  As soon as the Kickstarter funding goal was hit, there was a huge spike in traffic and pledges after that.  People want to be part of something that is a guaranteed success, so the lower you can set your goal and the faster you can hit, the more funds you're likely to generate.

There's a lot of work involved in running a Kickstarter campaign.  It takes up more time than I expected, but it was a huge learning experience and ending up paying off.  Hopefully these key takeaways will help others looking to start their own Kickstarter in the future.

Since the Kickstarter has ended, I've already fulfilled the first couple rewards.  The first was the package of "Glorious Goodies": exclusive wallpapers, a printable poster, and a fun papercraft.  HumbleBundle has an awesome rewards fulfilment system, so that made the entire process a breeze.

The second one was much more fun: the Yang Family Demo!  This is basically a big physics sandbox map for players to try out the Yang Family and their car for the first time, explore the map, and wreck in creative ways.  This car has been one of the most anticipated characters, so using them as a backer incentive has worked out well, and has also been a good source of feedback.  It also taught me that I will need to make optimization a priority going forward if I want to add the gobs of physics-based content I'm planning for the full game.

Prototype AI cars in the Yang Family Demo

Now that I have the immediate rewards fulfilled, I can wrap up some misc. work this week and then go into next week focusing fully on developing the game further and preparing for the Beta Access release.  That's where things should start getting really interesting....

Bringing a whole new meaning to the term "blended families" in the Yang Family Demo