How Kickstarter and Crowdfunding Are Changing Gaming
Post by guest contributor Brooke Chaplan.
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have widespread applications across many industries, but few markets have been impacted quite as much as gaming. There are several reasons for this phenomenon, but greater access to specialized products for narrow fan bases is among the main driving factors. There are several things about crowdfunding that should prompt independent developers and emerging studios to pause and reflect on how they can leverage it in their efforts.
Increased Consumer Participation
One of the biggest changes that crowdfunding has brought to digital gaming is the level of fan participation. Early and large donors typically expect to have some amount of input on the game’s features or development. Alpha or early access options are often given out as rewards for certain levels of funding. Consumer involvement in the digital product is typically much higher than conventional game development.
Until recently, independently-developed games typically lacked good graphics, fast developer response times or dense features. Developers had to cut down on costs and usually worked with minimal resources or manpower. However, crowdfunding allows founders to hire a few extra people to speed up the development process and gain access to tools, equipment and services that lead to a more well-rounded finished product.
Emphasis on Early Marketing
Generating awareness and hype are some of the best practices for crowdfunding campaigns. This means that developers need to have at least some core concepts and principle features in mind so they can start marketing the ideas behind their game. Marketers need to be able to get fans excited very early on before there’s even a demo or alpha test version to display. This often involves grass-roots efforts and connecting with streamers, bloggers, and other influencers across the digital gaming community.
Exploring Niche Markets
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have also created a much greater opportunity for fans and developers in niche markets. In the past, established companies and developers were rarely willing to invest a large budget into any game that veered from the mainstream genres or themes. Direct access to funding from a dedicated and niche fan-base empowers developers who want to pursue off-beat products.
Pursue Your Own Projects
More than anything else, crowdfunding provides a way for even untried developers to create their own games, and this puts power directly in the hands of creators. Instead of struggling to find a distributor or company that will fund and aid your creative project, you can build your own audience and scale your project along with their support. This allows anyone with a hot idea and the willingness to work to be able to create the next big hit.
Crowdfunding is an exciting and powerful tool for aspiring developers, new studios, or emerging companies that don’t have the resources to fully commit to a new idea. This type of fan-financing can cultivate fan interest and propel new titles through the painful early stages of development.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan