A Kickstarter Analysis

As many of you will be aware at this point in time, GeneRally 2 failed to achieve its funding goal on Kickstarter.  Before we  go any further, we’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our backers and supporters, those who shared feverishly on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and those who referred friends and family to the campaign!  Even though we didn’t hit our target, we were still greatly encouraged :)

Over the course of this blog post, we’re going to be looking over what went wrong, why and how – and providing some insight into the campaign from our perspective.  We’ll be bringing together information provided to us by Kickstarter, our own observations, insights from our internal team, and results of the previously-conducted player and Kickstarter surveys.  All-in-all, we hope to give you guys as much information as possible about what happened and why!

 

A Human Factor

Before we get on to statistics and data, I’d like to first address the major “human” issue at the centre of our Kickstarter campaign.  We had numerous messages (some friendly, the vast majority not) from people over the course of the campaign telling us we should have more updates out and ready to go.  These people were, of course, very correct – but we mentioned that there were issues in play that had caused us no end of trouble at this most important of times.

A few weeks prior to the Kickstarter campaign, we sat down as a team and decided on dates, content plans, update schedules, videos, blog posts and more.  We had an entire schedule planned out, which included some significant updates, multiple tracks, first versions of the editors, and numerous blog posts and videos.  As the launch of the Kickstarter approached, the plans for these were on-schedule, and well under-way.

Kickstarter launched, and our plans were still on schedule – we had a small technical issue that delayed our first-week update, but other than that we were bang on-target (and the campaign was doing excellently, quickly passing 25% funded).  Unfortunately, we soon after ended up in a rather troubling situation (one which is still ongoing) – as of the 26th of June, we haven’t heard from Kimmo.  We have tried to contact him by every means possible – but have ultimately had no response of any kind.  This is a very strange situation, and one that has had us quite worried – for someone to be so involved in the process of development and to simply disappear overnight is most concerning for us, and we really hope and pray that Kimmo is okay.

At this point, we knew we had a significant problem, not only in the fact that we couldn’t get hold of our friend and fellow developer, but also that Kimmo has been responsible for key aspects of our development process: build optimisation, and production.  The first few days of attempting to get in contact with Kimmo, we didn’t think too much of it (yes it was inconvenient, but these things sometimes happen), and made no real steps towards attempting to fill the gaps left by Kimmo’s absence.  By the time we realised this was a significant problem (in terms of the length of time Kimmo had been out-of-contact), we had precious little time left to adequately reproduce his results in this area and, although we had several major features ready to launch (some of which Kimmo had contributed greatly to), we were unable to get the builds created to the same level, in time for Kickstarter.

Not having builds prevented us from adequately capturing video for our update videos; not having updates for you to play; and meant that our blog posts detailing the updates were less-than-useful.  Not having concrete progress to demonstrate over the course of Kickstarter campaign no doubt affected both press and player interest in the game.

Ultimately, whilst this is obviously something that has had a huge knock-on effect (and a side-effect of working on such a large project part-time), which we are obviously concerned about – we are far more concerned for the health and well-being of our colleague and friend… and we will keep you all updated as to when we hear anything from Kimmo himself.

 

Backer Statistics

With the problems of the campaign itself aside, we’d like to delve into the numbers behind the campaign – more specifically the backers, the funding tiers and the sources of the pledges.

Over the course of the 30 days, £6,360 was pledged by 303 backers – making the average pledge £20.96.  That’s an amazing average pledge, and we were massively encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the vast majority of our backers, in the many messages we received during the campaign.  Below are a few charts we’ve made of the data available to us via Kickstarter, with a little bit of analysis and comparison to our expectations!

The largest portion of money was sourced from outside of the GR community (45% from other sources).  With only a fraction of these coming from direct traffic, the rest are from third-party websites and forums, many of whom heard about the project through our press campaign.  Low representation from Community Forums is to be expected, as the majority of backers from the community will likely have come via the GR website, blog or social media accounts.

Similarly to above, we see that a large number of backers came to the project from sources outside of the GR community.  Furthermore, a surprisingly large number of backers came from Kickstarter’s own discovery/search pages directly (typically this is less than 5% for most Kickstarter projects… but nearly 20% of backers in our case) – this would tend to suggest that the game does have wider appeal than the existing community alone (a very encouraging sign).  Perhaps the most surprising aspect here, though, is how far short GR community pledges fell of the responses given in the GeneRally Player and Kickstarter surveys, carried out previously.

This is obviously a point of interest for us, and something that we’ll need to look further into.  With only 130 pledges coming in from the GR website, Social Media and the Community sources combined, we were a huge distance away from the over 500 people who said they’d fund GeneRally 2 on Kickstarter at the £8 level or higher during our Kickstarter survey back in February.  With 370 more pledges at the pledge average, we’d have more than doubled our achieved amount, for a projected total of around £14,000.  Of course, this is highly speculative, but certainly something worthwhile to note.

Of course, there are two sides to almost everything – and here we see the dedication and enthusiasm of the GeneRally community coming through – with the highest average pledge of any of the traffic sources.  Unsurprisingly, folks who were perhaps discovering GR for the first time through the Kickstarter campaign were pledging at only a few pounds above the minimum – but the average pledge amounts are, again, quite encouraging for the future.

Finally, we see the sheer popularity of the £8 tier (183 pledges, totalling 23% of the funding goal).  Obviously, this is largely down to it being the base tier for gaining access to the non-free version of GeneRally 2, but with nearly 200 pledges to this tier alone, we believe that the price point was set at a reasonable level, all things considered.

 

Where From Here?

Our first priority at the moment is in ensuring our development gets back on schedule – we have a number of significant updates ready for release (first version of the car editor, performance improvements, a second track, suspension updates, visual improvements, ground texture updates, and more), and we’ll be working to fill the gap currently vacated by Kimmo (though we hope he’s well and able to return to the team ASAP).  We’re going to take a little while to test these features out thoroughly with our internal testing team, get more improvements made, and still aim to hit Alpha by our intended date.

As we approach Alpha, we’ll have more information on what we’re planning to do with regards to funding the project, the price, and the expected base feature-set for whatever we choose to do.  Kickstarter itself was the primary of several options we have available to us with regards to ensuring GeneRally 2 sees the light of day as a complete, high-quality product – and whilst we’re sad that the campaign didn’t work out, we’re still highly motivated to see GeneRally 2 become a reality :)

– James & Markku