How not to crowdfund your game

Ten ideas for a successful funding project

There are projects that need funds and projects that deserve to be funded. Seeing Double Fine going past the 3 million mark doesn't mean crowdfunding is for everyone. With my mixed-bag experience as a backer of failing ventures I wanted to hear the story from the other side.

Chris Puttick from Two Ten took the time to share his first person experience with the audience at the Mobile Games Forum 2013 in London. In a session titled "Crowdfunding dos and don'ts - A 10-pointer on how (not) to raise money through crowdfunding" he quickly outlined the what every game developer — and entrepreneur — should consider to have any remote chance of being successful. Basically, you're not going to get the kind of money you expect if you don't work hard. This is what I learned from his talk.

1) Think through your idea With the amount of people jumping on the crowdfunding wagon, your business idea, product or game has to be robust and polished. Potential backers can go with the money somewhere else if they see any flaw you haven't addressed. Turn your idea into a practical and feasible project people will want to support.

2) Choose the right platform Spending the time to choose the most suitable crowdfunding website will be key to the success of your project. Are you willing to sacrifice potential funding going to a niche platform just for games? Or maybe you think there's a lot of noise on a site like Kickstarter? Are you willing to share equity at this stage? These are all concepts you need to consider as they will condition your project even before you launch it.

3) Make your idea stand out With all the multimedia options you have available you'll need to use everything available to you to make this idea stand out from the crowd. Make it pretty. Make it fun. Kickstarter is huge on videos. Spend some time with it, invest in proper shooting and editing.

4) Don't sit and wait for the money Once you launch your funding campaign there's still the hardest part of the job to do. Use all the means available to you to generate interest. Talk to people as much as you can. Identify what works and what doesn't so you can…

5) Correct errors Despite all the effort gone in explaining your idea and presenting it nicely, maybe it doesn't click with the audience. Perhaps you overlooked something or you found a better way to tell people about it. Go and and change it.

6) Answer questions Interact with the backers that take the time to write and comment. Even if they want clarification on something that you explain in detail on your description, take the time to address those concerns. And of course, when things turn ugly, don't jump on criticism. Don't feed the trolls.

7) Get family and friends involved If your mum isn't backing your project, who else is? Telling everyone you know about your kickstarter is one of the first things you should be doing. Imagine of all those strangers looking at the project page who realise that not even your friends support you on this venture. Not promising.

8) Repeat the previous step Once you get some backers, the numbers will tell others the idea has life. This is something that can genuinely get people — other than you — excited about it. In fact, you your also back your own project and contact everyone you now again.

9) Engage with backers During the funding stage and especially while you are doing the actual work, pay some attention to the people that pledged with their money. Backers will naturally talk to others and tell them why they believe your product is cool. Have you though about it? People that haven't seen or touched the product are helping you because your success is now their success too. This is the kind of buzz you want to nurture as a little PR bonus.

10) Deliver what you promised Unfortunately the delays of games like Star Command can make gamers uncomfortable with crowdfunding. Deliver what you promised and send the rewards on time. A delay can be forgiven, specially if it's accompanied by a polite and honest update.

The Mobile Games Forum in London is the leading event in Europe that brings together gaming industry players, anticipating the trends that will shape the market and making partnerships happen.