Kickstarting Video Games: Things to Consider

I enjoy a good video game Kickstarter. I don’t know if it’s because there’s a thrill of seeing numbers rising to reach a goal, to feel the excitement around a community of people who want to make something happen, or just because I know that I’m helping to make some creative team’s life-long dream come true. I think that last one is a catch for me — I imagine what it’s be like if thousands of people rallied to the call of one of my creative projects!

However, just like anything else, not all Kickstarters are equal. And I’m not talking about the value of the rewards… I’m talking about the integrity of the team to produce and the likelihood that the game will be made. I check into a lot of factors before I decide to back a Kickstarter game. This is because games take a long time to make, which means you may not see anything in return for years… if ever (there’s always that risk!).

Things to Consider

Before I drop money on a game, I look at a lot of factors. Even when I do decide to fund a game, I keep my funding fairly low — $10 – $15 for a copy of the game… or if they offer an alpha, I ¬†might be swayed to drop $20- $25 depending on how much I like it. If I know the team, I’m passionate about the game and I like the rewards, I might drop more than that, but it’s rare. This is mostly a safe-guard just in case the project doesn’t pan out… and the fact I don’t have a lot of disposable income to throw at indie game Kickstarters.

Here’s what I look at before funding a game:

  • Is this game something I really want to play? That should be a given, but don’t let snazzy concept art sell you. Watch the video or try out the demo if there is one.
  • How likely is it that this game is going to be funded? What’s the current funding to time left ratio? Does it seem like this game has a good fan and support base to get the job done?
  • How well written is the game description? Can the team communicate their needs and their vision clearly? Nothing turns me off from funding faster than a Kickstarter page full of typos or very poor English — this tells me the quality of text in their game may not be up to snuff.
  • What kind of stretch goals do they offer? Are these stretch goals things that I think should be included in the release of the game (such as crafting in an MMO)? If so, that’s not much of a bonus… it tells me the baseline funding isn’t enough to release a strong game with expected features.
  • Is there a release timeline? The team doesn’t have to nail down a release date, but if they say “Beta starts fall of 2014,” I’m good with that.
  • How complete is the game already? Is it nothing but skin and bones or has the team put months of time into the game already, offering a good video and possibly a short demo?
  • Is this the team’s first Kickstarter? I understand sometimes teams Kickstart for a certain feature or mechanic in a game, then come back to Kickstart again to finish something like art or music. This may or may not be a good thing — have to keep an eye on the reasons for having multiple Kickstarters for the same game. I don’t hold failed Kickstarters against a game, though.

What about you?

Do you ever fund Kickstarter video games? If so, what criteria do you look at before making that choice?