The Little Blue Kickstarter

Now that we know the game will be free, we can have a more focused discussion.

While ultimately the game being free is good for getting people on board with the future of BB, the game now has an image problem in the eye of backers because it's free and it needs their funding. When people think "free games" they automatically think of casual, trashy, shallow Flash games you'd play on Newgrounds, Facebook, or what makes up the majority of the iOS library.

Here are some points I insist on:

-iOS/Android must be stretch goals or not included at all. If it looks like you are asking money from people to fund a free phone/tablet app, everyone will turn their nose and give you nothing. The phone/tablet issue was one of the major factors behind BB's failure, and now that LB is free, shaking the phone/tablet perception is now more important than ever.

-Now that there is no digital game reward, there must be a physical version. This will be the main attraction for backers, myself included. I want to be able to have a copy of LB sitting on my shelf, I don't want to have to worry about not being able to play it in 20 years because I can't download it from any official servers anymore. Furthermore, unless you manage to make LB more than 10 hours long, you will not get away with asking any more than $60 for it. Since LB will be both free and a shorter game, the physical version must cost less than it would for a paid game. I would set a physical copy somewhere between $30 and $40. $50 would be really pushing it.

-Now that the game is free, the KS must focus on catering to the backers. Since the game is free, I no longer have to feel obligated to back the project because I can just hope other people will take my place since the game will be available to everyone.

-Since LB is free, there is no justification for it to be needed to connect to servers or have DRM.

-If LB is free, keep your word and keep it free. This means no microtransactions or DLC.

-Since LB is free, there is zero justification for a physical version featuring limited installs. A free game can not be pirated.

-A physical version of the game should be one of the lowest tier rewards, all physical extras should come after it.

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  • Some more points.

    -You have to tell people exactly where all the money will be going to, especially any extra money exceeding the goal. Some people might see backing LB as a way of raising money for BB, but as Draikin said that would likely violate the rules of KS. It must be made clear that money raised for LB will only go to LB. In a way funding LB will be a way of funding BB because it will allow you to develop resources that will also go into BB in the future, but people must be made aware of what their money will be going towards.

    -Since it is free, it will be very hard to shake the image that LB is a "demo" of BB. LB must be as fleshed out and as amazing as possible to shake this image.

    -The challenge is now convincing people to actually pledge for LB. The rewards must be compelling to attract people and make them feel like they are getting something meaningful for backing the game. Making the game free ensures it will get as large an audience as possible and it is a nice goodwill gesture, but not everyone may see it in those terms.

    For example, when I emulate retro games, I rarely end up playing any of them for more than 5 minutes. I just fire up the ROM to briefly mess around with the game to get a feeling for it to see if I will even like it at all to help me decide if I want to buy the physical game. So if I barely spend 5 minutes with a game, I don't expect the majority of people downloading LB to play it for more than a few minutes and expect most people will download it simply because it happens to be free instead of being legitimately interested in it. So potential backers might say "Why should I fund this game if it's going to be made free to everyone else, why do they deserve to play a game made with my money if they didn't give money to it themselves and probably aren't even interested in it in the first place?". My point above about emulating games is slightly different because I am a purist and like to play the games as they were originally intended, but it's the same sort of thing about checking out a game briefly to see if you will even like it.

    I do not object to your marketing approach with making it free, but now your challenge is winning over gamers to convince them to give you money. Sure, everyone wins if the game gets funded, but a potential backer will say "What's in it for me?".

    Giving the game a physical version will help solve this problem. That way backers will actually be buying a game, feel like they are getting something out of it, and the above points will be less bothersome. The mentality discussed above may be a bit hard to understand, but when money changes hands, people want something out of it. I guess a good way of putting it is something like this: when I go into a restaurant and order food, I am doing it to buy food for myself, not so that I can feed everyone else in the room, even if the price was exactly the same and they all got the same dish I was ordering. Why should I feed them if they have done nothing for me and why can't they be the ones to pay for me instead, why do they deserve to ride the freeloader train? If I am a LB backer, then strangers getting to play the game for free that I paid for, is completely different than me lending a game to a friend. This may be hard to understand, but gamers are a stubborn bunch. If you did not need funding to make LB, then making it free would not be a problem. But now your challenge is winning over the gamers. My preference was to make the game free with a paid unlock, because, in my view, it would be easier to fund that way. But, if LB successfully gets funded, then ultimately everyone wins and the game will get the audience that you want it to. While I think making the game free with a paid unlock would ensure that people who actually care about it will be the ones buying the game, others might scoff at it as a "paid demo" due to the length of the game. Ultimately I think making the game free is best for ensuring it gets the audience you want it to, but you now have to convince gamers and fans of why they should give you money. Getting the game funded ensures that people will get to even play it in the first place, but now you have to convince and attract people as to why they should be one of the ones to step up and give you money.

    -I'm sure you did your homework on this before BB's KS, but you should have a backup plan in the event of rejected and delayed payments at the end of the KS. You should also do the math to take into account the fee Kickstarter will take away at the end. If not enough payments clear, you might have to tell the backers that you will have to make a scaled back version of the game.

    -LB's funding target must be as low as possible. I think $50,000 or less would be good. People will also be extra skeptical of the price tag because they will think it's only a "demo".

    -As stated above, the Kickstarter must stress the point that if the game does not get funded, then nobody will get to play it.

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