When are you ready to crowdfund?

February 23, 2024 business crowdfunding

Without capital, your game is DOA. Publishing a game is risky when you know what you’re doing, let alone when you don’t. So what are you supposed to do? For most people the answer is obvious: crowdfund your game.

Crowdfunding transfers risk from the company to the consumer. It’s so good at this that the entire tabletop industry now relies on it. But it comes with a few caveats:

Those are three big pills to swallow. The trade-off, however, is huge: you get to make your game. So when do you know if you’re ready?

Game designers bake the pies. Publishers run the bakery.

The first question is whether you need to crowdfund at all. If you just want to design games and don’t want to build a business, you need to instead focus on building a reputation as someone reliable, easy to work with, who produces good work. The trade-off is final say over your game and its aesthetics.

Build a base

If you’re not sure if there is enough demand for your game, start by creating demand for you as a creator. Matt Colville had a huge YouTube following before he released Strongholds & Followers. You might not be a streamer, but maybe you’re a podcaster, or a reviewer, or a cartographer, or a writer. Whatever it is, start releasing something and stick to a schedule. Collect emails from your fans and gauge demand. When you’re ready, launch.

Giving the game away

After the initial development costs, the second biggest risk is knowing how much to print. You want to print as much as possible without having a lot left over. So how do you know how much people are willing to buy?

You give the game away for free.

We gave the Two Rooms and a Boom print and play away for free for years before running the kickstarter. That kickstarter made $100k. We’ve been in business for 10 years since then. We felt comfortable running the crowdfunding campaign because we knew the demand. People were printing out our game and playing it right now. The free version was so successful, veteran designer Richard Launis took Alan and I out for milkshakes to tell us how stupid we were being. We’ve kept the free model ever since then.

In RPGs it’s no different. Release a free pdf of the game and see if you can get peoples attention. If not, move on.

The bottom line

There’s no easy way to raise money to develop a premium product. But there is a way to know when the time is right to take the leap. Focus on the data you have and find a way to get the data you lack. When the risk to profit ratio feels right, it’s time.

Previous post

The Bottom Line

Here’s how you want to set your margins on your game to make sure it’s profitable. You’ll want to use a spreadsheet to keep track of some of this...

Next post

The Insufficiency of Language

Last week my church hosted a reading by the poet Kaveh Akbar at TCU. Kaveh’s debut novel Martyr! is a NYT bestseller and his poetry appears in the...

Would you like to know more?

Want to subscribe for monthly updates? Enter your e-mail below!

Copyright © 2018 Failure Tolerated