Kickstarter is a wonderful tool that has supported a lot of the development in board games recently. I am not a Superbacker, but I do use Kickstarter frequently to support Indie game developers, or games I don’t think will be readily available at retail near me. When backing a game though, I do have some expectations from the creator to gain my full support as a backer. Most often I look for campaigns that have good communication, personality/ passion, a goal to draw new people in and campaigns that are prepared ahead of time for the campaign.
The importance of communication during and after the Kickstarter cannot be emphasized enough. When a creator frequently sends updates, it tells me first what is happening the game and second that this is something the creator is passionate about. Personally, I do not mind if a game is running late, or some small changes need to be made, but if a creator is not upfront and honest about these things I will be frustrated. Some projects that did a really wonderful job keeping their backers updated were Scythe and Endangered Orphans of Condyle Cove. I still frequently support Certifiable Studios because of the consistency of their updates and their honesty about the difficulties they faced. I still support Stonemaier in anyway I can after the Scythe campaign, but they do not use Kickstarter anymore. Going months without hearing about a game is can be a major concern for me.
The creator of the game has to show passion for the project they are creating. I love backing games from smaller designers who are creating their passion project. Even larger publishers who use Kickstarter, I expect to have passion about what they are creating. This shows through in a variety of ways, but most of them go back to communication. I look for creators who frequently release updates throughout the Kickstarter, and who spend the time to answer questions in the comment section. Another bonus is for those who are active on other social medias and share about their game openly.
I love campaigns that focus on building community. Designers that want to get their project out to a lot of people stand out to me. This include projects with social stretch goals and projects that don’t keep putting endless add ons to push their total higher. One thing I really do not like about Kickstarter is when creators keep telling people that they must up their pledge or never be able to get something. They focus on getting as much money as possible from their current backers rather than bringing new backers in. I have noticed doing this is the a recent campaign I have been wayching. I was really excited about it, and joined their Facebook group for their Kickstarter, but it has been a very toxic environment. The moderator and other members are shaming people for not putting more money in, and it has kept me from backing the project at all despite loving the dice that are being announced. While I understand the want for stretch goals and to have a successful project, the way in which the creator chooses to do that can have a major impact on my willingness to support them.
However the most important aspect to me, is that a creator is prepared. While I am not a content creator, being a reviewer I get a look into the process of the process of preparing for a kickstarter campaign. I absolutely adore supporting Indie publishers and designers and love that I get the chance to work with them. I do get to know the industry through this as well. One major red flag to me, is if a designer reaches out to me the day before or a couple days before their Kickstarter is live begging me for a review before they go live. This demonstrates to me that they did not plan well, and were not prepared on a community aspect to release for Kickstarter. Not to mention that it is disrespectful to me as a reviewer to drop it on my lap and get mad when I do not do their review. While I love board games and interacting with the community, I do not have an obligation to help someone last minute. I have not accepted money for reviews, so the time I spend is just because I love games and love the community. The vast majority of the time I will always agree to look over and review a game, but to demand my time that day does not show good business practice. On a bigger scale it makes me question if their timeline for building community was this disorganized, will they really be able to provide the organization it takes to create the game in a timely fashion? Now, I don’t say this if someone is just looking for one or two additional reviews and already has many completed…but if you go to their project and they have all their reviews as coming soon..it shows lack of organization. I generally find that those projects that approach me the day before will not fund anyways, because they did not take the time to build community and get their project out there. While reviews are not the only way to build community, having some reviews is important. Players want to know how the game plays, and if any major flaws stand out. Reviews also mean that there is information out there about the game, and that people are talking about it. If no one knows what your project is, then they will not know to back it when it comes onto Kickstarter.
Now these are my guidelines for a Kickstarter. There are always exceptions to these rules, however some of the major red flags will keep me from backing a project. There are so many projects being released each month, that I really look into each project I back. I find that these rules help me consistently back projects that provide great content upon delivery.