While there are plenty of opinions floating around when it comes to crowdfunding, one thing’s for certain: plenty of great games have seen the light of day thanks to it.
From retro inspired Shovel Knight and console RPG Divinity: Original Sin, to upcoming spiritual successors like Mighty No. 9 and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have certainly impacted the industry.
To no one’s surprise, we now have countless teams looking to convince gamers all over the world that their project is worth funding and creating. If you’re planning on running your own campaign soon, definitely check out our 5 Brief Tips To Successfully Leverage Kickstarter To Fund Your Video Game piece.
If you’ve already done your crowdfunding homework, however, and want more information on stretch goals, then you’ve come to the right place.
A term that probably didn’t exist before Kickstarter, a “stretch goal” is an extra goal creators offer as long as a certain amount of money is raised. Though uncommon at first, they skyrocketed into popularity to the point where almost every project now has one or more of these stretch goals.
While stretch goals can certainly be an effective tool for maintaining momentum during a crowdfunding campaign, and for getting more cash, it can also add some unexpected pressure to you as a developer. Here are a few stretch goal tips to help you reach your main goal and beyond…
1. Avoid Day 1 Stretch Goals
By announcing stretch goals as soon as you launch a campaign, you are setting yourself up for disaster, and there are several reasons why.
The first is that you can potentially discourage backers from tossing cash your way because they think your game won’t be any good unless a certain stretch goal is met. Since they made up in their mind that this specific stretch goal will not be reached, they don’t even bother trying to help you get to your main goal.
For example, you can offer an awesome RPG game idea for $150,000. The mistake comes when you add a $200,000 stretch goal from the get-go that adds a second playable character, new class, or other cool element. Now some people might consider the $150,000 version incomplete, and thus will only pledge when they see that the $200,000 goal is a possibility.
2. In Fact, Avoid Early Stretch Goals Altogether!
If there’s one thing every project creator realizes during their first campaign, it’s that it is very difficult to maintain interest and momentum. The first few days you’ll see a bunch of cash come in, mostly from friends and relatives usually, but then it will slow down after a week or so. By the midway point, you’re starting to scratch your head and wonder why no one is inviting their friends to also back your project.
If you announced a bunch of stretch goals the first few days of your campaign, you already wasted the perfect tool for reigniting interest. People have already seen the stretch goals, and thus won’t get excited hearing about them again. Instead, you could have waited a week or two before announcing an awesome stretch goal that would draw in a new crowd and get people talking again.
3. Never Offer Too Many Details
Another big no-no creators live to regret, either during their campaign and/or development, is making their stretch goals too specific. Once you say that you’ll add exactly 10 more weapons, or 2 new dungeons, backers will hold you to it. Anything less than 10 weapons or 2 dungeons will be seen as a failure on your part to deliver what you promised. It’s a good idea to be a bit more vague with stretch goals.
Also, don’t be surprised if you run into an adamant backer who insists on reminding you about your stretch goals. Feel free to say you’re not ready to discuss the details until your project is funded. Be sincere and courteous while urging them to follow up on your announcements instead of consistently leaving messages and comments.
4. Choose Your Stretch Goals Wisely
It can be quite devastating to discover late in development that a stretch goal you promised (and reached) is going to take more time and money to implement than you expected. Now you’re forced to either apologize to backers for delaying your game in order to add the extras, or apologize for the fact that they will not be included to meet your deadline and budget. Neither scenario is very fun for a developer.
Instead, add common stretch goals that are exciting, but won’t take too much effort: new bosses, weapons, costumes, etc. This, of course, depends on the type of game you’re making.
Things like porting to a new platform, adding co-op mode, or online multiplayer are often tougher and more expensive than they sound to add. Physical rewards are great too, but they can take more money than you’d expect out of your development budget.
5. Study Other Crowdfunded Games
This tip will be short and sweet but basically we recommend that you look at other campaigns that have succeeded. While doing so, study the types of stretch goals they offered and how many backers pledged at that level. Seeing as the indie game scene is full of people willing to share their experience and advice, don’t hesitate to shoot emails at fellow crowdfunding campaigners as well.