Eric asks how he should set up Kickstarter rewards to encourage early investment in his solo MMO project. I want to point out three examples with a few key points that seem to draw backers (and I like):
All of these Kickstarts received more than 1000% funding, and I would like to highlight a few things.
- You need to be selling something worth getting; crap with generous rewards means large quantities of crap.
- A low initial target. This ensure that you will get the money. It convinces people to buy in because they are not committing to a “maybe.” It lets you get that huge percentage that looks like you’re winning all over the place, then quickly start on stretch goals, which makes it look like you’re building momentum and getting wins all the time. People like to go where the action is and to be on the winning team.
- Several stretch goals, with the first ones easy to reach then in increasingly large dollar increments. Collect those early wins.
- A concrete reward for all backers of level $X with each stretch goal. If you want to encourage people to go sell your game for you, let them get more stuff when they bring you more backers. It does not need to be a big boost for everyone, but every time you add a new reward to the $X level, it looks like a better deal and it reaches someone else’s marginal price point. In Eric’s case, he is giving away digital rewards, so his marginal cost approaches zero.
- Include add-ons. Let people give you more money. This gives you more money; increases the average pledge, which primes future backers; helps you reach more of those stretch goals and early wins, all the earlier points; and lets existing backers give you more money, since they are already invested. In Eric’s case, this will let him try out the game’s cash shop before launch and see what people will pay for (sight unseen).
And, in Eric’s particular case, I would be selling naming rights (subject to review) of most NPCs, towns, epic artifacts, whatever. That costs the designer almost nothing, is a casual reward that does not affect balance, and is a permanent reward for a customer who will probably be willing to pay for a long while. Eric also seems to like quirky things, so cosmetic or minor abilities make great stretch goal rewards: you can summon a critter on a 15-minute cooldown; you can turn into a cow (or back) on a 24-hour cooldown!
Any new content with a stretch goal is an addition to the game and therefore a cumulative benefit for everyone. Combine that with the cosmetics and quirks, say each stretch goal is a piece of game content and a small bonus for each backer at the $X level or higher. You could also tie the bonuses to the content. $Y is the “funded” amount; $Y*1.2 puts this crafting skill in the game, and every $X backer gets a starter kit of crafting materials for it; $Y*1.5 puts this extra monster in the game, and every $X backer gets a cosmetic costume to look like that monster; $Y*2 puts this new city in the game, and every $X backer gets a skill to teleport there on a 20-hour cooldown; $Y*3.5 puts this new dungeon in the game, and every $X backer gets a title related to it.
But that’s just me, and I’ve never run a successful Kickstarter campaign.
I paid for the miniatures. I guess I need to learn how to paint those things now.