Kickstarter & marketing stupidity

Kickstarter is a wonderful thing for reasons that I’ve already touched upon. It lets game developers finally do whatever they want as long as they can find the funding. It lets indies be indies and for some of them it eliminates the need for a publisher. Publishers cease to be the almighty gatekeepers of the industry. Kickstarter is a net positive for the games industry, no matter how you look at it.

But there’s a problem. A problem that I’ve seen in almost every single videogame kickstarter campaign. To put it simply: Developers are misusing backer exclusive updates, and in the process failing miserably at marketing.

Now don’t get me wrong, backer exclusive updates are actually good when used properly. That is to say, when used for developing a conversation with the people that are invested in your product. It’s an awesome tool for refining the final product, but of course it’s being used in a very misguided way. Basically, some developers have turned it into the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick.

What's inside the mystery box? Pay us and find out!
Ooohh, what updates could be hidden inside this box? They sure look mysterious … I must know! HAVE MY MONEY!

It’s stupid. It’s stupid in oh so many ways. My best try to condense the stupid in a single sentence is the following: You are wasting money/time developing a marketing strategy that is being exclusively directed at the people that have already bought your product. All in the hopes that a mysterious promise of exclusive updates will push someone out there from not-buy into yes-buy.

It’s incredible that a company like Double Fine would hold a documentary ransom when they could just as well release it. Look, Double Fine, you are not going to get more people to buy your game if you don’t tell people anything. It’s been radio silence since you released the first episode for free. That is possibly the worst type of marketing: no marketing at all!

If you, dear reader, haven’t payed money to Double Fine yet and you are waiting for them to release ANY information as to what is it going to be apart from an “adventure game” I’d go as far as saying that pirating the documentary is your best option.

Yeah, let that sink in for a moment.

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