Interview

No kick on Kickstarter: Consumers don't know what TIGA is, argues Will Luton

No kick on Kickstarter: Consumers don't know what TIGA is, argues Will Luton
There's little doubt that the launch of a curated list of UK projects on Kickstarter by trade association TIGA has been founded with the best of intentions.

Not everyone is convinced, however, that it's such a good move.

Developers weren't slow in taking to social media to suggest that promoting select titles on the crowdfunding platform is somewhat out of step with the 'level playing field' Kickstarter presents itself as. We've also given our take.

For former Mobile Pie creative director turned consultant Will Luton, however, TIGA's move isn't so cut and dry. It's right, he suggests, for the body to involve itself in helping indies get funded, but slapping its name on a curated list is unlikely to make huge waves.

Brand awareness

"I can see some benefit if TIGA can wrangle better exposure through negotiations with Kickstarter directly, but I don't think the average backer knows, or cares, what TIGA is," argues Luton.

"So I doubt its 'gold standard' adds much to a projects chances of success."

Indeed, in an interview to be published later today, TIGA has revealed to us that projects pushed on the list will need to be of a certain quality – this isn't just a case of raising the flag for any developer that happens to have set up on British shores.

For Luton - now CEO of Doctor Monolith – it was inevitable that people will look to "leverage" Kickstarter in the way TIGA is, and if the body manages to put the spotlight on some UK projects - "and not just those of its members," he adds – then there could be a clear benefit.

State of independence

"I see it as the job of Kickstarter to maintain editorial independence however and promote big, fresh and fun projects, otherwise it will lose relevance and become a preorder scheme at the whim of corporates," states Luton.

"I'm sure there's lots of people whispering in Kickstarter's ear right now - it's on the platform to be seen as independent. I think Apple is the poster child of how to do this.

"Its approach to the App Store is great - it get behinds what it believes in and rarely, if not never, is seen as being swayed."

Luton argues that the wider question is how developers – UK-based or not – are approaching Kickstarter in the first place.

"What I think devs need is to stop and think about how they represent themselves," says Luton.

"The good ideas and products backed up with slick presentation and well considered campaigns are the ones exceeding their goals all over the place. Some are a little lacklustre - including some of the notable British offerings.

"What would be great is a trade body offering a discounted package of advice and production for creating the right campaign too."

Role of a trade body

The question of whether a powerful TIGA on Kickstarter could end up saving projects that, in all honesty, should fail is a "good one", adds Luton.

"Right now trade bodies have the hardest job in games - they're looking to still be relevant in a vastly changed world whilst still appeasing big corporate backers.

"Personally I was surprised TIGA took the step, but it may not be a bad one for the association."

Would he have made the same move, though?

Luton believes aiding access to funding for developers is "definitely the job of the trade body", but perhaps offering them advice as to how to take on Kickstarter is even more key.

"So many devs mess up marketing because they don't understand it or see its importance," he concludes.

"Kickstarter is like a presidential election: You need to be slick, trustworthy and sell promises and dreams to people whilst bringing them on board with you.

"Exposure is part of it, for sure, but what you say and do with that exposure is what counts. That's what is often overlooked."

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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Byron Atkinson-Jones
I was told at a TIGA event that this service was for TIGA members only, ironically it was my last month as a TIGA member.
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