Doublefine's Kickstarter had more people opening their wallets in devotion than a Baptist Revival.
In a Q+A with IndieDB, Tim Schafer seemingly revealed the 5 rules of Pitch delivery that serves up viral Kickstarter success.
He missed two.
1. Marry Demand with Emotional Incentive
A great story and proven demand do a lot more than figures and pleading for good samaritans. It's even better when potential backers are made to realize that investment equals 'a win': As Schafer explained in his pitch video, publishers would laugh in his face if he asked for funding, so why not let the demanding fans help out.
Its one part story to one part demand and a little fan guilt thrown in for good measure.
2. Approach is Key
Schafer's pitch video
is a stealthy recruitment video, offering backers the opportunity to collaborate in a private (read : exclusive) forum, even allowing them to vote on design decisions "when the dev team can't decide." It reveals an approach relatively unseen for conventional video game design, and taps the stealthy belief in every gamer that they indeed need kick-ass designers.
3. Justify your expertise
Don’t be shy but instead parade your assets to drown out any consideration that someone else can do it better. When Schafer proudly revealed Mr. Ron 'Maniac Mansion' Gilbert as part of his team, it was a nuclear strike at the nostalgic heart of every viewer. Add the creative work of a team behind community hits Psychonauts and Brutal Legend and he effectively wiped out any would-be competition.
4. Don’t forget a Clock
Stick a Doomsday clock
in the pitch and justify the urgency of your project. Schafer argued the adventure genre was symbolically 'dying' and insinuated that his project would be its defibrillator. While everyone knows each Kickstarter has a time factor, consumers don’t often act on the imposed countdown, so you have to make them understand time sensitivity in a personal and meaningful way.
5 Sell the experience, not the product
Beyond the actual deliverable, sell a complete experience. Doublefine's Kickstarter offered a documentary of the design process, a veritable first in the industry. Add the community forum, and additional prizes ranging from concept art to hand drawn pictures of backers, it sold a 'movement' not a product.
While IndieDB argues it was these 5 forces that brought success for Schafer’s pitch, there were actually seven:
6. Humor beats Reason every time
Schafer's Kickstarter pitch video is a veritable Rick Roll
, especially when viewed with the 'outakes' video. He comes across as friendly and self effacing, happy to poke holes in himself and the video game industry. It's that rare combination of good nature and honesty that only invites people to watch, share and most importantly of all: Fund.
7. Fame Helps
Schafer took his long standing reputation and milked it for all it was worth, and rightly so: What’s the point of fame if it can't be leveraged. Problem is, Kickstarter is filled with video game projects that failed,
and many believe much of Doublefine's success came from the community trust that an established career builds. It's not a massive obstacle considering how connected the indie development scene is.
Expect 'I'm Notch and I endorse this Kickstarter project' video's to be all the rage.
Douglas Stewart is a staff writer at iQU. When he is not writing, he devours books, plays an excessive amount of games, and is working on his upcoming fiction novel that (naturally) involves intersections between technology, gaming and society. Follow Douglas @TheGearCog