Or more exactly: “Things I’ve learned after failing my Kickstarter campaign (twice)”
Do, Fail, Learn, and repeat ’til it works
My approach to… about everything in life, is that you’ll learn more in doing than reading.
And as some of you may know, King Cat failed twice on Kickstarter, which is a nice way to say that I failed twice in funding King Cat on Kickstarter. Which also means that I learned some valuable lessons (twice), so I thought I’ll share them and a bit of the story, and hopefully help a few fellas along the way!
First, a bit of context
When I left my day job, the only thing I knew is that throughout the years, I had lost myself and my passion, and I needed to get both back. After less than 2 months wandering around, my mission became all so clear and obvious: I had to make people have fun. And that’s how I went (back) to boardgames – and I gave myself 3 months to put together my first Kickstarter campaign, also known as Lesson number 1: Don’t give yourself a deadline, launch when the game is ready (and ready means a lot).
Now, the game
How came up the idea for King Cat is another story, but the idea was there. I fleshed it up to make it a game, created some artworks, found few successful KS campaign to get inspiration from, learned motion graphics and put a video together explaining the whys and whats. Done: I had successfully stick to my own plan and deadline, and was ready to launch. And just like that, on June 12, 2017, I brought King Cat to Kickstarter. Because it was ready… except, it wasn’t.
Reality is, the game itself wasn’t finished. I came up with what I thought was a fair price, based on other games. The prototype wasn’t in a sharable format and the rules were not finalized. I couldn’t send it to reviewers. So I didn’t, and nobody knew about King Cat. I drafted a small marketing campaign, spent too much cash on social media ads, put a couple of posts on BGG and other boardgame groups. I even spent one night putting posters on walls and lampposts, followed up by a King Cat invasion around the city! I was doubtful but felt confident that I had taken every steps to make my campaign a success. Here’s 2 key things tho:
I didn’t have a game.
I was asking people to back a concept, a general idea, not an actual, well-thought and tested game. This could have worked 5 years ago, but the boardgame and Kickstarter scenes have changed since then, and with it, people’s expectations.
I didn’t put gamers at the core of my communication.
They were the ones I should have targeted not only first, but principally. Plus as a gamer myself, I should have known that, I should have seen that, but somehow I missed it. No excuse: sorry guyz and girlzz (I love you). And there’ll be more on that in part 2.
How dumb, hey
It wasn’t arrogance tho: I just really thought I had enough. I lost myself working against a launch date that I had set myself instead of working on creating and developing and refining a very solid product. In reality, all I had was a lot more to learn. After a couple of weeks, I realized some of my mistakes and so I cancelled King Cat first campaign.
We live and we learn
Failure is tough, but part of the learning process. While I knew that, I still needed to take some distance from King Cat for few days, clear my mind, reflect.
The best and greatest thing failure teaches you is determination. It would have been okay for me to give up: maybe games weren’t my thing after all. Maybe I should look into another path and industry. But deep inside I knew that I was on the right way, that this is what I’m supposed to do: I just haven’t figured out exactly how to do it yet.
That’s probably why you clicked on the article in the first place, so here are the first batch of lessons learned. They all sound very basic and obvious, but when you’re in the process, with a ton of things to think about and problems to solve, it’s very easy and natural to lose track and perspective. Don’t blame yourself: just don’t do it again (and if you do, it’s ok – we all learn at different pace. Just try to not do it again the next time.).
Next, I’ll be sharing all the steps and actions taken in order to make the relaunch a success, as well as the reasons why it didn’t work. Exciting!