"Getting the word out" in Kickstarter terms basically means general marketing. "Not getting the word out" is a general failure at marketing. With Dark Web we barely got the word out at all, and our campaign failed horribly.
The reason this mistake is listed as #1 is no coincidence. Marketing is hands down the biggest factor in the success or failure of almost every Kickstarter project. As game creators we are excited to share our creations with the world, so it makes perfect sense that we focus our time and energy on gameplay and tend to neglect the marketing aspect of a Kickstarter campaign. Ironically enough, gameplay itself is pretty far down the hierarchy of importance when it comes to Kickstarter--or at least for a single Kickstarter project (more on quality of gameplay below).
How people come to back a Kickstarter Project
- They find out about the game, somehow. They could simply be browsing Kickstarter, or they could hear about it through some other means (blog, game demo, newsletter, review, etc). This is where you really need to "get the word out", so people know your games exists and the project is live.
- Once they find out about the game, the first thing they notice is the art. If the art does not appeal to them it doesn't matter how good the gameplay is, they won't be interested in your game. While this may seem superficial, I firmly believe that good art and production quality is essential to a positive gaming experience. So I say we embrace it.
- They look through your page. This generally means figuring what the theme and gameplay are like, as well as the price point.
- If they are sufficiently hooked by the theme and gameplay and the price doesn't turn them off, they will either back the game or click the "remind me" button. Sometimes they will look for third party reviews, but this isn't always a requirement.
You may notice that gameplay is the third item in this list. This means that backers have to get past #1 and #2 before they even consider gameplay, which means #1 and #2 are the most essential gatekeepers you need to get people past before they will even consider backing your project. So you can see how important marketing is with Kickstarter--the more eyeballs on your project, the more potential backers you'll get through gates 1 and 2.
Does gameplay even matter?
The short answer is yes, but oddly enough it doesn't have all that much to do with the success of your current project unless you run a lot of demos. It's important to deliver a polished game with great mechanics, on an ethical level if nothing else, but great gameplay will only encourage your backers to back more of your games in the future, it doesn't help you now. What matters now is marketing and presentation. Just be sure you deliver a solid game afterward.
In my next post I will describe how we also failed at #2.