Latest posts by Seth Ryals-Fernandes (see all)
The Purpose of This Kickstarter Guide for Board Games
So I’m thinking I’ll post something a little bit different today. I’ve been receiving quite a few emails recently asking me to look at people’s Kickstarter pages. I’ve had people ask for feedback or just ask questions about where to get started. So I thought I would write up a fairly basic list and make a little Kickstarter guide for board games. Now just a disclaimer, I have never published or produced my own board games. That being said, as someone who spends a lot of time each week looking at Kickstarter pages for board games, I have a pretty good idea of what I think most people look for.
I think there are some minimums that you have to fill before you should consider trying to get your game backed on Kickstarter. I’m going to talk about those as well as some pitfalls that I see many Kickstarter pages fall into. I’m going to do my best to list them in chronological order. That is to say what order I think makes the most sense for these prerequisites to be accomplished. If you are reading this list, I assume that you have already built a prototype and designed the game. This is not a guide on how to design a game. But it is a good starting place and Kickstarter guide for board games.
1. Have a WORKING Prototype
The biggest problem that I see among new designers on Kickstarter is their prototype. If your prototype looks like you made it, then you probably don’t really have a working prototype. Before you go onto Kickstarter and try to get people to pay for something that hasn’t really even been made yet, you need to show people what they will be getting. At the most basic level it should be made of quality components. You should feel comfortable showing it to people that you personally know. If you aren’t proud of your prototype, then you should probably redesign it. Board Game Design Lab has some great resources for people who have never built prototypes before. They have tons of trustworthy articles, mostly from current working board game designers.
Now this doesn’t have to be your first prototype. The first prototype you build could be cut out pieces of paper. Something you can play with close friends who you trust who you know won’t mind playing something that isn’t professional quality. But before you setup your Kickstarter page you should have a store quality game. When you are ready to produce a few copies of your game you will probably have to shell out some money. I would recommend The Game Crafter when you get to that point.
2. Have a Rule Book
This one seems very obvious, but you would be surprised how often it happens. I see companies that have gotten games fully backed before that don’t have rule books. But especially if this is your first game, having a rule book assures people that the game is playable. Beyond being playable it also allows people to see what your game is really like. This is really important because people can actually tell if it is the kind of game they would enjoy.
This also means play-testing the game heavily. Take your prototype to board game stores, if you have them in your area. Let people try your game that don’t know you, that is the best way to get honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to make changes to the rules and even if you don’t have a nice looking rule book, have the rules written out. If you can’t teach people your game with your rules, you might have to spend more time fleshing them out and making them more clear. Getting feedback is the most important thing in these early stages.
3. Have Design/Art At Mostly Complete
I am the kind of person who will buy a game for the box art. Not everyone is that way, but there are people like us out there. Art is very important to a game. It also means that if your game isn’t very thematically driven, you should think of an artistic theme that matches your game well. Look at games that you enjoy. Find out who does art professionally, or reach out to artists that you know personally.
This process is a big part of building your final prototype. Hiring an artist to create the box art and any other art required, as well as a designer to put it all together, can be time consuming and expensive. This is the part of designing a game that is probably the most tedious as far as getting off the ground. It is much more removed from a game designer’s wheelhouse than most of the other tasks required to get a game off of the ground. That being said it is one of the most key requirements.
You may also have to have someone design some of the assets for your Kickstarter page, so keep in contact with these people even after you are done with the board game itself.
4. Send Your Game Out To Influencers
What Kickstarter Guide for board games would be complete without this? Getting in contact with Man Vs. Meeple, Rahdo Runs Through, and (if you can manage to swing it) Dice Tower, is one of the best things you can do for your game. This should be one of the last steps for your Kickstarter. At this point you have to have a great looking game with a working rule book. If you don’t, even if you can convince these people that you are worth their time, in their videos people will see your game. If your game doesn’t look at least mostly playable, you won’t convince people.
This part of the process can be tricky. Reaching out to these people and getting them to play your game might be hard. You might not get someone from Dice Tower to play your game. You have to be okay with getting who you can to look at your game. Getting people who aren’t as well known is much better than getting nobody at all.
5. Setup Your Kickstarter
There is a lot of work that goes into setting up a Kickstarter. You have to have different pledge levels, stretch goals, a video. There is a lot of work to be done. I won’t go through all of the details here. If you don’t know where to start I would recommend going to a well-known game that was successfully Kickstarted. Go to the top of the page and start with the video. Work your way down the page and look at what they have as far as assets, descriptions, stretch goals, and the like. Look how all of it is laid out.
If you have everything, or at least most of the things, that they have you’ll be a lot more likely to be successful.
6. Promote, Promote, Promote
Promotion is huge. Kickstarter is filled with all different kinds of products. Tons of games go up there every day, and honestly most of them fail. Make sure that people know about your game. Talk about your game on r/boardgames on Reddit. Create a Twitter account just for your company/game. Write blogs, like this one, and other websites asking them to write articles about your game or cover it. Have review copies to send out to big websites, just in case one of them is especially intrigued by your game and wants to write a bigger piece on it.
Be ready to spend time getting the word out about your game.
7. What Do I Do If It Doesn’t Work Out?
I’ve seen games that have had to try three or four times before they were successfully backed. Some games get almost no traction the first few tries, but on the third or fourth end up taking off. If your Kickstarter doesn’t work out don’t be discouraged. Go back and look at successful games and see what they have that you don’t. Remember that you’ve already done most of the leg work if you have the things in this guide.
While it might be discouraging, just remember how good it would feel to publish your own game. Set your expectations reasonably and try your best to keep your hopes high. Keep trying and with enough work and effort you will probably be successful. Go back to this, and other, Kickstarter guides for board games and read them. See what lots of people have to say and see what you did wrong.
Board games on Kickstarter are an amazing thing. They allow games to be released that never would be otherwise. Following the steps in this list is a good start to getting your game off of the ground. I would recommend going other places and reading other Kickstarter guide for board games too. Keep trying, and remember that it isn’t going to be easy. It might take you a long time to get all of these pieces put together, but it will all be worth it in the end. Even if you decide that your game won’t work out, the worst case scenario is that you end up with a fully designed, one of a kind game, that you made and a crazy experience to go along with it.
Thank you guys so much for reading my Kickstarter guide for board games. I hope that it has helped some of you. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions pertaining to the article. If you are a current designer and would like to advertise with us, you can do so at our Advertise With Us page. But if you think your game is a game I would like feel free to shoot me an email from our Contact Us page and I would love to write an article for you free of charge.