TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Your Game’s Kickstarter Page
- Tips to Consider Before Starting
- Your Page’s To-Do List
- (1) Project Image
- (2) Introduction of your Project
- (3) Project Description Video
- (4) What’s inside your Game Box
- (5) Gameplay Video Overview
- (6) Your Dream Team
- (7) Funding Goal & Why
- (8) Why Pledge Now
- (9) Your Reward Levels
- (10) Stretch Goals
- (11) Making the Game
- (12) Retailers & Group Rewards
- (13) Testimonials
- (14) Media Pack
- (15) Shipping & Taxes
- Coming Soon: Timeline & Risks
- References & Resources
When it comes to Kickstarter, board games (known as Tabletop Games on Kickstarter) are a popular category. In fact, some of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns have been for board games. But with so many different types of games out there, which ones are best suited for crowdfunding?
One important factor to consider is the gameplay. Games that are easy to learn and quick to play tend to do well on Kickstarter. This is because potential backers can quickly get a sense of how the game works and whether or not they would enjoy it.
Another important factor is the theme. Games with a unique or interesting theme are more likely to capture people’s attention and generate excitement. Finally, it’s important to have a well-designed campaign page that clearly explains the game and why people should support it. By taking these factors into account, you can increase your chances of success when crowdfunding your board game on Kickstarter.
Your Game’s Kickstarter Page
The first step to crowdfunding your game is to create a Kickstarter page. A good Kickstarter page can be the difference between funding and failing, and all too often, people rush through the process and quickly put something together just before they launch their project.
It is interesting to see a creator spend the last untold time working on a game only to gloss over a critical part right at the end. Your Kickstarter page is your presentation to the customer. For most people, it will be their introduction to your game, and you should do everything you can to make your game look fantastic.
Tips to Consider Before Starting
- Expect to spend a significant amount of time preparing your project. Your Kickstarter campaign for your game isn’t usually something you can crank out one Saturday afternoon. At least, not if you want a quality project page to showcase your game. If anything, the comprehensiveness of this “How-to” article should indicate that you’re going to have to do some work to get a desirable outcome. Understanding this, you want to budget the needed time and energy to put your best foot forward.
- Expect to do lots and lots of design. If you’re not a graphic designer, Canva is going to be your new best friend. The TableTop category of Kickstarter is competitive, and if you review the most funded games, you’ll see that they all have something in common. Every inch that can be designed is designed. You need to plan on weaving design through every section of your page.
- Similar to the last tip, avoid too much text. Stone Maier Games gives the following advice: “[Problems with text] usually falls into two categories: One, the balance between text and images is off. For every section of text, there should be an accompanying image to balance it out. Two, the text is in big chunks, which is very difficult to read online. Most people encounter a big chunk of text and either skip it or skim it. No paragraph should be longer than 3 lines, and each item of a bulleted list should be no longer than 2 lines.”
- Having a clear project title, subtitle, and section headlines are essential. It may seem frivolous to discuss titles and headlines, but it’s important for your Kickstarter page to have clarity. This clarity is achieved when you have an easy to understand project title and section headlines that guide users throughout your page. Both the project title and the subtitle found under the project title will appear on your live project and pre-launch pages. Potential backers will also see them if your project appears on category pages, search results, or in emails that Kickstarters send to its community. So be mindful of them and not just gloss over their importance.
Your Page’s To-Do List
There are many ways to arrange a Kickstarter page, but the below approach is a great standard to follow. It is based on a community-first approach of informing visitors about the product and letting them decide whether it is something they want. Not only will it help sell games and reduce questions, but it will help build a positive community.
- Project Image: Your Primary Game Image
- Introduction of your Project
- Project Description Video
- What’s inside your Game Box
- Gameplay Video Overview
- Your Dream Team
- Funding Goal & Why
- Why Pledge Now
- Your Reward Levels
- Stretch Goals
- Making the Game
- Retailers & Group Rewards
- Media Pack
- Shipping & Taxes
(1) Project Image: Your Primary Game Image
Your project image is the cover image that is at the top of your Kickstarter page. It’s key to give attention to this image to entice people skimming to stop and learn more about your Here are a few tips on how to make a great project image for your game:
- Let your game’s personality shine. Use your main project image to brand your game and make it stand out. Be sure to give it life and make it representative of you and the game you’re creating.
- Show your backers the game they’re getting. People browse Kickstarter, looking for unique and innovative games to play. Showing people the type of game they’ll be helping you create is inspiring and motivating! Your project image is what others will see when your Kickstarter page is shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Give ’em something to talk about.
- Keep it simple. While adding banners, badges, or extra text to your project image might be tempting, I recommend avoiding it. Having white space allows the user to focus on what’s most important, your game. A simple project image of your game is more attractive to the eye than a busy image trying to share everything it can.
Use high-resolution images. On the more technical side, high-resolution project images will ensure that your game is presented in the best possible light for backers, no matter what device or settings they’re browsing with. This is especially important as devices and monitors are continuously using higher resolutions.
Important project image tips: Kickstarter recommends using a project image that is 1024×576 pixels (16:9 ratio) in size. They’ll accept most major image formats, but for best results, upload one of the file types: JPEG, PNG, GIF, or BMP. The maximum image size Kickstarter will let you upload is 200 MB.
Here’s a beautiful Project Image of the Moku Tower: The Endless Column game
(2) The Introduction of your Project
Once the user is drawn into your project, the next thing they’ll see is your introduction. Here is where you pique their interest. You want to showcase your best art and have a section design that fits your game’s theme. Spend time on this section, this is where you can build interest and show a user the gamification of your project.
Here are the five things you need to have:
- The player count, age rating, and length of play.
- An introduction is made up of a few sentences that clearly describe the game (your elevator pitch).
- A photo of the game setup from a top-down perspective.
- Several paragraphs sharing the theme of the game with gameplay mechanisms built in where possible.
- One really good photo or piece of game art.
All of the text in this section needs to be incredibly well thought out. It needs to be descriptive, inviting, and not too long. Your main objective is to sell your game!
Example of a great introduction from the Frosthaven game.
(3) Project Description Video
Kickstarter states that your Project Video is optional, but I’ve found more success leveraging this video to further tell the story behind my games.
You want to tell a story about your project, what you’re raising funds for, how you plan to make your game a reality, who you are, why you care about this project (your why!), and why other people should care. Ultimately, you want to use your project video to build trust with viewers so they believe that you can deliver what you’re promising.
You don’t necessarily need to invest in expensive, high-tech equipment to make your project video. Here’s a checklist of items you’ll need:
- A smartphone or webcam: Obviously, an expensive camcorder is a safe bet if you’d like a professional production feeling, but your smartphone will do.
- Someone to hold the camera: Rope in a friend with video skills or someone with steady hands.
- A film-ready space: Present your game (and yourself) in the best possible light, literally and figuratively. An ideal film space should be clutter-free, visually appealing, and have plenty of natural light.
- Your game: This is what your whole project is about. Make sure it’s ready to go. If you created it yet, you can edit your video to visually represent your game.
- A script: This is your chance to sell your game and promote its appeal to backers. A script will help you consolidate your talking points. Write it out, edit it, and memorize it (seriously, I meant it).
- You: It’s nice to see the human behind the project! Be genuine and boost your emotional connection with your backers.
Once you’ve created your project video, you can upload it to Kickstarter. Once uploaded, Kickstarter has a decent editor that allows you to add captions and subtitles, so your project is more accessible to everyone.
Go to Made Up Movies project to see their Project Description Video. They did a great job showing both their game and the story of the people behind the game
(4) What’s Inside your Game Box
This section is absolutely essential and should be visually stunning. This is where you show off what backers are actually getting for their money. You must show off all the components and goodies you get in the box when someone pledges.
Here you want to visually show off your game box and components. A great tool to create a box rendering and mockup of all of the game components is BoxShot, but real-world photography of your game is good as well.
Your task is to make sure people who look at this section see:
- How beautiful your game looks.
- The value they are getting for their money, don’t make your game look too small!
Be sure to include the reward price in your imagery and list out everything that you get with a pledge. Some creators included these lists within the graphic itself, but you can also write it out in the Kickstarter editor, so it is easy to read on mobile and to help your SEO.
Here’s an example of this section from Gothic Horrors expansion.
(5) Gameplay Video Overview
With board games, it is essential to explain what the game is about, how it plays, and what mechanics make it interesting. This section should be a video. It’s much easier for a potential backer to see your game in action.
An important rule that Kickstarter has that directly impacts board games:
Prototype demonstration should reflect a product’s current state and should not include any CGI or special effects to demonstrate functionality that does not yet exist. If a project requires software and hardware integration, creators are required to show that functionality and any dependency clearly, or disclose that it has not yet been developed.
Obviously, many board games begin in CGI, but should not be used in any of your Kickstarter videos.
Gameplay Video Tips:
- Before filming, play with people unfamiliar with your game. This will help you see where people get confused and help you address it in the video.
- Share the basics of the gameplay, so people know what to expect, but be careful not to dive too deep into the specifics.
- Don’t use any sales jargon. Your video should be entirely focused on informing the reader.
- Show a typical turn in your game and what players will be doing.
- Your video should take no longer than 2 minutes to give the viewer a good idea of how to play the game.
For video tips, check out the Project Description Video section above.
(6) Your Dream Team
People like to know who they are supporting, and creating a team section is a great way to help them learn. It is essential to build credibility with potential backers that you or your team can actually do what you’re promising. In the team section, you want to show you have a dream team, even if it’s just you.
You need to show your face and share your background. Why are you uniquely qualified to create this game? Even if you’re just an enthusiast, that’s okay — highlight your passion. Geeks love to be with geeks.
If you don’t have all the needed expertise, share how you’ll get them or who you’re partnering with, such as your chosen manufacturers and fulfillment centers. This can further help people have confidence that you’ve already done your research and chosen partners to work with.
Be transparent, honest, and open. Authenticity towards your project and the Kickstarter community is one of the best attributes your team can display. Adding a personal touch can help put people at ease that your game isn’t a scam and that you know what you’re doing.
The team behind the NANOLITH game
(7) Funding Goals & Why
This section is probably the most dangerous landmine game creators can step on. There are so many stories, like Pebbles and the Coolest Cooler, to just name a few, that failed because they didn’t consider all the costs. You want to be sure to research all the costs it will take to complete your game before launching your project.
It helps to make a list of all the materials, resources, and expenses (such as shipping costs) you’ll need to complete your project and the estimated costs for each. Research how much things will cost, and consider how your expenses could change if you had to switch suppliers or fulfillment partners (it never hurts to have a backup plan).
When a project is successfully funded, Kickstarter takes a 5% cut from the funds the project collected. At the time of this writing, Stripe, Kickstarter’s payment processor, also collects a processing fee of 3% + $0.20 per pledge. Pledges that are under $10 are considered micro-pledges and have a discounted fee of 5% + $0.05 per pledge. These are U.S. fees and may be different in other countries.
Of course, no fees are collected if you don’t reach your funding goal.
Including your Kickstarter fees, your funding goal section should take into consideration the amount you need to complete your project. You want to show your rationale for the goal you set by breaking down all your costs to create your game. You also want to share the additional expenses you take on with a Kickstarter campaign, like the rewards you offer and shipping those rewards.
Remember that you cannot change your funding goal and deadline once you launch your project. It’s not uncommon for a project to learn, while their campaign is live, that they miscalculated their expenses and have to cancel the current campaign. So be very careful.
The Dungeon Roll Kickstarter (image below) is transparent and open about its costs. They share exactly what manufacturing components they have and explain their funding requests fully.
(8) Why Pledge Now
Potential backers want to understand why they have to pledge to your project and why they have to do it now.
You want to tell them why your project is one-of-a-kind and give reasons why your game stands out from the crowd. Brainstorm 10 to 20 reasons your project is distinctive, and keep 3-6 to put on the page.
Next, you don’t want backers to think that they should wait until after the campaign is finished to get your game. It’s crucial that you create a strong incentive and urgency for people to back now. List the reasons that make your backers’ support absolutely essential for the project to see the light of day. Reward your backers with special features that only they will benefit from.
Here are a few of the common incentives for backers to actually back:
- Availability: supporters will get your game before anyone else. It may be days, weeks, or months (preferably one month).
- Better price: give better pricing to those who support you on Kickstarter.
- Special options: either unique characters or attractive game add-ons that will not be available when you start retailing your game.
- Additional content: similar to the previous incentive, you can give inside tips or artwork that won’t come with the regular game. it’s another way of showing that your amazing game will be even more amazing to early backers.
This section is also great for listing trust points, like “Money-Back Guarantee” or “Kickstarter Backers Come First.” You are showing that you are committed to your project and the backers supporting your game.
It’s also important to know that the earlier people back you, the better chance you have that Kickstarter’s algorithm will showcase your game more. So, put some thought into what would push people to act now.
The game Euphoria shows a great example of encouraging people to back the game now.
(9) Your Reward Levels
The best way for you to figure out your reward levels is to study similar (and successful) projects on Kickstarter and know your costs through and through. Create a spreadsheet so you can easily compare reward level prices and the number of backers. Know that reward tiers on Kickstarter are designed to incentivize your backers and to help provide you with money to fund your game. Be unapologetic about covering the cost of your game and rewards, and factor in packaging and shipping costs.
By looking at Kickstarter’s most successful tabletop game campaigns, you’ll find the common denominator is well-executed reward tiers. Creators who are new to Kickstarter often believe they’ll see better results by offering as many reward tiers as possible. If there’s an option that exactly suits every potential backer, you’ll maximize the number of backers you get, right?
The smart people at Harvard have done studies showing that too many choices paralyze buyers and make them less likely to purchase. Another study done on Kickstarter’s tabletop game category showed that limiting your rewards to five relevant, low-maintenance options is usually best. It doesn’t hurt to have more or less rewards, but staying close to five rewards will help you simplify your campaign.
So knowing the five reward rule, here are five reward ideas you can do for your game:
Reward #1: Digital gratitude. Some friends will want to just throw a few dollars at your campaign. It’s helpful to have an inexpensive reward that shows your appreciation without too much work on your end, whether it’s an email, a thank-you list on your website, or a digital copy of your game that can be printed out.
Reward #2: Your Game. Most backers who fund your project will do so because they’re interested in your game. Make it your main reward at an affordable price that covers your production and shipping costs. Some popular games offer exclusive Kickstarter editions, which urges backers to act fast.
Reward #3: Exclusive Access. Kickstarter backers tend to be early adopters who like to support artists and creators, and offering them exclusive access can be a great incentive. A behind-the-scenes blog, exclusive live stream, or private events welcomes backers into your creative process and personalizes your game, making them more likely to remember you and back future projects.
Reward #4: Original Art. Your original art can be powerful, incorporating your backers into your process and producing a unique memento. Exclusive sketches and drawings are a low-cost option, but be sure to estimate how much time it will take. Creating a character based on a backer is a popular top-tier reward in board games. If you’re the artist, you pay for your material and time. If you’re not the artist, factor in paying your artist a fair price for their additional work.
Reward #5: Carefully Considered Merchandise. Creators often go straight to merchandise, but it’s the most difficult type of reward to get right. Friends and family might buy and wear your t-shirts as a sign of support, but garnering the same kind of support from a wider audience may be tricky. On top of that, designing, printing, and shipping costs tend to be high, especially if you have to order a smaller quantity. Include merchandise only if you’re confident that it’s well-designed, won’t break the bank, and is something your backers will want.
With all that said, it doesn’t hurt to experiment with an expensive level. You never know if someone will pay the amount, but it’s worth it when they do. A colleague created a $3,000 reward for a slightly custom solution, not thinking anyone would actually pledge at that amount. Image his surprise when a backer did. He was definitely glad he offered the reward.
Remember that you don’t want to overwhelm your backers. Depending on your game and skillset, you might swap out the limited edition for custom artwork or behind-the-scenes access, but limiting your overall list to just a few items is best. Remember, if you’re gaining serious tracking or a lot of special requests, you can always add more rewards as the campaign progresses.
(10) Stretch Goals
Stretch goals are a great way of keeping a Kickstarter campaign exciting after it hits its funding goal. A few years back, The Kickstarter project Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture ran a great campaign, to say the least. Its funding goal was $20,000, and in the first 24-hours it had raised $140,000.
What I found fascinating was looking at the final day of the campaign.
Due to timely placed stretch goals, that game earned an additional $51,000. I found it interesting to see how much a final stretch goal created a sense of urgency to buy. As the Tuscany game proved, stretch goals can be helpful, but you want to focus on using them to improve your game. They are great in providing upgraded components, alternate parts, or other non-game essential items.
However, knowing which stretch goals to choose is a challenging task. Choose wisely and please your backers by making a better board game. Choose unwisely, and you have big, unexpected bills and delay fulfillment.
Picking stretch goals is a delicate balancing act. There are three objectives that you have to meet when you pick them:
- You have to satisfy your backers by making the game a genuinely better product.
- Additional manufacturing and shipping costs need to be kept to a manageable level.
- You have to still fulfill the campaign on time.
To choose the right stretch goals, you want to find game improvements you can make that your backers want, that won’t cost too much, and won’t complicate manufacturing.
Here are five stretch goals you can add to your campaign that will make your game more appealing without significantly increasing the cost of your game:
- Additional cards
- UV spot finish on your box top
- Custom meeples
- Upgraded card-quality
- Wooden components
Even if you’re not adding a lot of cost to your production, you’ll want to make it feel like your game is being made more premium through your stretch goals.
What we’re talking about here is perceived value. This is where people feel like they are getting more and are receiving a good value.
The above upgrades often won’t cost you that much, but they can make your game feel more premium.
The famous Exploding Kittens game knocked it out of the park with their stretch goals
(11) Making the Game
People love watching behind the scenes with their favorite movies or shows. Giving people a peek into how you went about creating your game makes everything that much more real. It provides an authentic experience that you can’t get at a big box retail store.
Here you want impromptu images of you creating the game. You also want to dust off those ugly prototypes and showcase how far you’ve come. This is the only place on your page where you’re allowed to have amateur pictures. Yet, as seen in the example below, you can still take raw life and make it look nice.
You don’t just want to have images; you want to take the viewer on a hero’s journey with what you did to get you to this point. Share the frustrations you experienced along with the insightful aha moments. Here is a side of your story that isn’t always told. Don’t hold back, show your backers, that you are indeed human.
Made Up Movies shows their many game iterations, along with sharing their backstory.
(12) Retailers & Group Pledges
If you’ve never run a Kickstarter project, then you may not be familiar with group and retailer pledges, but if your game is successfully funded, they will likely come up.
A “group pledge” on Kickstarter is when a few people (usually living close to each other) pool their funds and have a single backer place a pledge for multiple copies of the game to be shipped to the same destination. The most common motivation for this is to save on shipping costs.
You should always include a statement on group pledges, either stating your group pledge offering or why you don’t offer it.
The idea here is to pre-empt frequently asked questions while showing potential backers that you fully understand how Kickstarter works and the types of things people want to know. While your page should look good, a big part of a successful Kickstarter project is proving you’ve done the research and laying the foundations for strangers to trust you with their money.
Working with retailers is a great way to sell more copies of your game, increase your reach, and make the industry aware of your product. However, having a retailer option is encouraged because the pledge is open to anyone to receive, not just retailers. It’s best to provide your contact information in this section for interested retailers.
NANOLITH goes the route of not accepting retail orders through Kickstarter
If you look through videos and the campaign pages of the most successful board game crowdfunding projects, you’ll see that there are a lot of testimonials (and I mean a lot). These testimonials can be short or long paragraphs. These testimonials come from everyday playtesters or, if you can, from well-respected game designers or reviewers.
These testimonials usually talk about how much fun person A had while playing the game, how this game is now person B’s most favorite game of all time, or how it absolutely changed person C’s life now that they know about it.
While you’re out there talking to people about your game, playtesting, and just doing overall promotion of your game, be sure to keep in mind that you would like to grab a testimonial from them.
An advanced tactic is to host a game night and film people playing your game. You can create short video cuts of people happily yelling, laughing, or exclaiming that they’re the winner.
The Witcher: Old World shares its many reviews (aka testimonials)
(14) Media Pack
The media likes covering Kickstarter games. One way to help them cover your game is to make it easy for them to use downloadable photos and art assets. The media pack provides the best artwork possible to represent your game.
If you can, your media pack can show other media outlets that have covered your game. No one likes to bet on a losing horse. Having media “testimonials” encourages other media networks to cover your game.
Your media pack is also a great tool to help your biggest fans, and loyal supporters spread and share your game. One advanced tip is to provide unique avatars that are not part of the game for the fans to use on their social platforms. Doing so is a great way to build a community while organically marketing your game.
You can create a public folder on Google Drive and point people to it in this section while sharing a preview of some of the images on the page so people can see what they are getting.
Avatar Legends showcases the different media outlets talking about its game
The Isle of Cats: Don’t forget the kittens! provides their media and special avatars for the biggest fans
Finally, you need to make sure you include a section that covers your shipping and taxes.
This should include the following:
- When will shipping be paid
- How much will be paid or estimated
- How taxes will be handled
- Which countries you are providing customs-friendly shipping for
It may seem strange to include this at the bottom of the page, but you should do it for several reasons:
- For many people, it’s the most off-putting part of your Kickstarter project. No one likes to pay for shipping or taxes! By putting it at the end, you can make sure everyone has all the information they need before they get into the less fun stuff.
- You can easily direct people to it by saying, “it’s at the bottom of the page,” which is much easier than saying it’s about 3/5 of the way down.
Avatar Legends visually showcases its shipping policy.
Having a one size fits all page is impossible, but the above steps will give you a great start to building a solid Kickstarter page. Make no mistake, creating the right page is a lot of work, but taking it one section at a time will help manage your efforts. If you get stuck, then browse the Kickstarter Tabletop category, and see how other game pages approach each section.
This doesn’t mean your page shouldn’t be creative and show your individuality. You do need to stand out, which, if you give each section the detail it deserves, you will.
If your game isn’t good, your backers won’t be happy, no matter how amazing your page is. However, if your game is good, having a Kickstarter page matching the quality of your game will bring you one step closer to a successfully funded project!
References & Resources
The below websites were exhaustively used and curated in the above article. I encourage you to peruse their content to gain a deeper understanding on how to create a great Kickstarter page for your game!
- Creating the perfect Kickstarter page: My wireframe
- The 11 must-have to build a perfect Kickstarter page
- How To Create The Ultimate Kickstarter and Indiegogo Campaign Page
- A Crash Course on Kickstarter for Board Games
- Kickstarter Help: Insights, Rewards, Fees, Funding Goal
- How to Create a Great Kickstarter Publishing Project Page
- Need some reward ideas? Here are 96 of them.
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Own Kickstarter* Campaign
- How to create a Kickstarter page? A crowdfunding guide for startups
- How to make a great project image
- Kickstarter Campaign Page Design Secrets
- 11 Tips to Assemble your Project Dream Team
- Kickstarter Reward Ideas
- Stonemaier Games: Kickstarter Page, Reward Levels, Group Pledges
- 9 Launch Hacks From The Most Successful Board Game Launches on Kickstarter
- How to Choose Realistic Stretch Goals for Your Board Game Kickstarter
- Kickstarter Stretch Goals — NEVER Underestimate a Boardgamer’s Addiction
- How to add 5 stretch goals to your board game without breaking the bank