Kickstarter tips

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Recently I’ve invested in a few Kickstarter projects and it got me thinking about the criteria I use to select them.

I know many people have mixed feelings about even using Kickstarter, but personally I’ve found it pretty exciting, searching for worthwhile projects I’m likely to enjoy or would simply like to support, and watching as they develop.

Kickstarter has been used to great effect by a number of game designers including, just looking at my shelf as I write this, Boss Monster and Roll for it!. Nobody would deny these games have been a deserved success and probably wouldn’t exist without Kickstarter.

Kickstarter does have its detractors. Some feel it’s often used simply as a pre-order system by large gaming companies. Some also criticise it for the number of poor gaming titles that appear (and disappear just as quickly without reaching their goals).

There’s a great summary of these issues at the Whose Turn is it Anyway blog, here.

I’m about to back the sequel to Boss Monster, Boss Monster: The Next Level, which as I write, has just about made it to £75,000 – three times the original goal. With 13 days left to back the game, I’m expecting quite a few stretch goals to be announced. Boss Monster is one of my favourite games and I love both the original card game and its digital version.

Currently I’ve backed games including I Hate Zombies, Collapse, Ninja Dice: Kage Masters, and PlayMe: Alice in Wonderdice.

It’s taught me quite a lot about what goes on behind the scenes in game production, and I’ve enjoyed following the process from the initial idea for a game through to printing and shipping (well, I will do once I receive a game but the ones I’ve backed aren’t quite at that stage yet.)

So what do I look for in a kickstarter tabletop project, and how do I even find ones worth looking at? I tend to rely on Twitter and YouTube, along with simply trawling my way through Kickstarter.

I follow a number of game designers and reviewers on Twitter and YouTube and this is a great starting point. Nick from Board Game Brawl (@BoardGameBrawl) does a weekly Kickstarter update which also appears in the Dice Tower Boardgame Breakfast video. If Nick’s talking about it, it’s worth taking a look.

Here are my top tips for deciding whether it’s worth backing a game.

  • Do the creators have a history of delivering successful Kickstarter campaigns?
  • Are the creators already known for other games? This may not be important, but if Scott Almes, designer of Tiny Epic Kingdoms, has another project on Kickstarter (he does, it’s here), chances are it’s going to be worth considering.
  • Is the project style over substance, or does it genuinely look to be a fun, thematic, well-conceived game?
  • Where is the game in the production process? Some games are already fully designed, tested and ready to go to the printers once the money is raised for printing, sometimes they’re much earlier in the process.
  • Watch the video! Many Kickstarter projects have a video front-and-centre on their page, which can give a great insight into the designers and the game.
  • Look for reviews, many of which may be linked from the Kickstarter page anyway. Quite often designers send early versions of the games to reviewers, so there may be reviews or play-throughs available even if the game isn’t published yet. This can tell you a lot about a game.
  • Cost. I’m in the UK, and more often than not it costs quite a bit to have a game shipped here, so this is an important factor for me. I like it when a game can be shipped from within Europe or even the UK to save some money.

I’d love to hear other tips for searching out decent Kickstarter projects, so drop me a line or post a comment if you’ve anything to share.

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