How not to run a Kickstarter to fund your RPG

Kickstarter.com logo Kickstarter and similar services like IndieGoGo provide a great way of raising funds for creative projects. In the last year I’ve backed a couple of projects and all of them turned out great. Especially the Technoir Kickstarter was a fun ride.

But there are probably far more projects that never get funded or that turn into a train wreck after funding. I wouldn’t necessarily call me an expert on all things Kickstarter, but I have some ideas what you can do to prevent failure.

The most common problem is that even though you have a great idea, nobody seems to want to back your project. And usually you can see why this happens with one glance. Especially when I put some money on the table to fund a roleplaying game I want at least a PDF copy of the game. But I’ve seen Kickstarter projects where you had to back $20 or more for getting anything besides a “thank you”. Sorry, usually $20 is about my maximum I pay for PDF products that are already released. I don’t give you $20 for the hopes of getting something even when it looks interesting.

I think I’ve seen one project where you got a t-shirt as a reward for backing a small amount of money, but you didn’t get the actual product until you put more money on the table. Again, this is just not the way to do it. And from what I’ve seen I am not the only person who sees it that way. My advice: the lowest pledge level should be around $10 and you should get a PDF of the final game as a reward. Don’t make the entry hurdle too high for the little guy.

Another thing you never should do is change your rewards/goals after you reached your goal. I was recently made aware of a Kickstarter project that had a $40 pledge level that promised a hardcover version of the game. But then the people behind the project announced that they can’t pay for hardcover and went for softcover with black & white interiors instead. This is not just bad style.

The lesson here is that you should make sure that you’re able to fulfill what you promised when you started the project. When the news gets out that you don’t fulfill your promises, people will just refrain from backing your projects in the future.

In my opinion Kickstarter is a great new way for small press publishers to fund their projects but you have to remember that your customers have to trust you if you want them to fund your project. If you lose the trust of the community you may lose more than just the next Kickstarter project.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

2 thoughts on “How not to run a Kickstarter to fund your RPG”

  1. Yeah, there’s a reason why the Indie Go Go site doesn’t let you change what you’ve posted as your rewards once someone has bought them. The fact that anyone would change that is mind blowing.

  2. Great tips! I’m considering running a Kickstart Project so any more advice you have would be appreciated.

    I saw one project reward level turn you into a villain in the world. Cool idea.

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