What wonderful times we live in where board games are bigger and better than ever. They have evolved into their own culture—a lifestyle—a universe of limitless gateways to explore and challenge your mettle whilst battling sorcerers, the undead, taking over planets, or appeasing kitty cats. You could play for days—nay, years without sleep and never play the same one twice!
With such a library of endless choices, sub-genres, and generations of meeples to lead, humankind can certainly sit back and be proud of the empire we have created. With that said, those who aspire to create and join the ranks of board game developers have a daunting task of parting the seas to get their feet wet without becoming consumed and lost among the waves.
Here are some key points to consider to tread the high waters of launching a crowd fund campaign.
BEFORE THE CAMPAIGN
1. GAME THEME AND DESIGN
Ask yourself, “why would anyone buy my game?” Determine what makes your game stand out and focus on that strength. Whether it is a brilliant theme, reinvented game mechanics, intriguing art-work, or unique game pieces…identify the features that may give supporters a reason to investigate your game over others in your space.
2. TEST. TEST. THEN TEST SOME MORE.
Once you have a game developed and designed. You have to test it—a lot! Testing early and often through each stage of the game’s evolution will potentially save you precious time and money in the long run.
Flush out any potential loop-holes, stalemates, or any conflicts that may arise. Even if you simply hand make paper prototypes, extensive play testing is crucial in developing the best possible version of your game.
Sure, playing with your family and friends is a good start. But you will need to bring in players with a variety of experience levels and different perspectives who are willing to give honest feedback and criticism.
This is also an opportunity to examine how players make choices and follow the provided materials. Try presenting a game to fresh players without any assistance. See if they can conduct the game simply with the provided materials. Take lots of notes and be prepared to make revisions. Regardless of complexity, the game’s rules, pieces, and materials should be intuitive and provide uninhibited play experience.
3. UNIVERSAL DESIGN
How easily can your game be translated into another language? Designing game pieces with symbols and iconography instead of text, is a good way make your game universally understood.
Rule books are the most easily translated and cost-effective item to reproduce. Symbolic representation can be defined within the rulebook, then used throughout the game on its physical pieces. The fewer pieces that require separate manufacturing setup, the more cost you will save on production. With effective design, you allow yourself to invest more in upgrading other aspects and lowering the overall cost of the game.
4. DEFINE YOUR GOAL
Where do you realistically see your game in the next year? Do you want to produce 100 copies? 100,000? Define your achievable short-term goal and seek out manufacturers that can make it happen.
Make a detailed list of each component in your game. Research printers and game manufacturers that can produce the results you want and get production quotes.
You will also want to look into distributors that can manage the fulfillment needs you may have. Ensure you can deliver copies to every backer, accurately and timely. Partnering with a third-party logistics company could save you time and cost on large orders.
Once you have an idea of the cost, you can price your game and establish your total campaign goal.
Some goals can be dependent on the campaign itself. Make a designer’s wish list of meaningful items that may not be necessary to the games function but could improve the experience or value of the game. Try to avoid upgrades that complicate or completely restructure the production process.
These improvements can be listed in the campaign and implemented when funding levels exceed your goal. This provides both, an incentive for continued funding beyond your goal and covers the cost of applying the upgrades.
5. BUILD THE HYPE!
Long before the campaign launch you want to give yourself enough time to create an online presence and generate excitement for your project. Create events and posts on various online media platforms to promote your upcoming game. Submit your game on BoardGameGeek.com and introduce it to the gaming community. This could take days, even weeks to become public so start early.
Show off your artwork, give a sneak peak of the game design and concepts—even if they are still in the development or prototype stages. As long as you are honest and provide useful information, amateur videos and work-in-progress art is better than nothing at all. You can always update as you go.
Share your design process. If you are contemplating between logos, color choices, and designs, ask for input and get your supporters involved. Future players can provide you with great insight.
6. GET CAMPAIGN APPROVAL
Once you decide which platform to run your crowdfunding campaign, set your projected launch date and build your campaign page. Create as polished of a prototype as you can and get clear, quality photos. Having a video is extremely important as well. Show off your game and tell viewers why yours is worth playing.
Most platforms require a submission and approval process. Ensure you submit far in advance incase you are required to make any revisions to your campaign.
Once the approval is granted, continue to build the hype on other platforms. Simply posting to a crowdfund site and crossing your fingers won’t cut it. You have to promote your project and get others engaged. Remember, you are not only competing for attention of viewers among other board game campaigns, but among everything else online in general!
DURING THE CAMPAIGN
7. BE ENGAGED
Show your supporters you are dedicated to your project. Respond timely and give updates often. Remain professional and positive. Remember this is the internet. You may receive praises for your efforts as well as brutal criticism.
Continue to promote and share your campaign throughout its duration.
Be open to the suggestions of your supporters. The campaign is an opportunity for you to raise funds to bring your game to life but also a forum to enhance your game right from source—the future players themselves!
A game can really grow during a campaign but ultimately you must decide how it grows. You will never please everyone. Although improving aspects of your game is a big benefit to crowd funding, don’t loose sight of the foundation of your game’s vision. Retain the individualism of your design, make upgrades that work, and stay true to what inspired you in the first place.
AFTER THE CAMPAIGN
Once a successful campaign is complete, final testing, packaging, and inspecting of the resulting product takes place. Communicate with your manufacturer to begin test samples and move towards final production.
Keep your supporters informed and post updates often. Assure them the project is moving forward and keep them in the loop of any important dates, delays, and production progress.
It is exciting to see new games come out and watch new developers have success! We hope these points help you in some way as you contribute to the gaming world.
Good luck and happy playing.