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'Kickstarter is your story': Cindy Au on crowdfunding successes, failures, and the evolution of Kickstarter

It's all about you
'Kickstarter is your story': Cindy Au on crowdfunding successes, failures, and the evolution of Kickstarter
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What is Kickstarter, and what does it mean to game developers? Sure, it's a funding tool, but according to Kickstarter's VP of community, Cindy Au, it's so much more than that.

"It's important to remember what our mission is, and that's to help bring people together to make new things. We want to help people with their ideas," began Au, speaking at this year's Nordic Game in Malmö, Sweden.

"Kickstarter is about much more than money. Ultimately it's a place where developers can find a new audience, nurture their existing community, and build the game that they want to make.

"It is really important to be a person on Kickstarter. When you're running a Kickstarter project, it's about you. It's about your team. Kickstarter is your story."

Gaming domination

Despite being a crowdfunding platform that supports a huge array of projects, products, and art, Kickstarter has become synonymous with gaming.

Au revealed that out of all the categories on Kickstarter, Games, which has amassed $243 million in pledges since the site launched, is undoubtedly the biggest.

There's no one reason behind the rise of the games industry on Kickstarter, however, Au believes the platforms 'all or nothing' funding policy has proved extremely attractive to both first time, and experienced, developers.

Double Fine's Broken Age opened the crowdfunding floodgates
Double Fine's Broken Age opened the crowdfunding floodgates

"Why all or nothing funding?" asked Au, "[well] over the years we've seen it's a really, really great way of compelling people to act and invest. There's less risk for everyone."

"It's about ensuring accountability and minimising risk, but also giving people an opportunity to fail.

"I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to fail. Kickstarter is meant to be a sandbox. It's meant to be an experiment. It's a place where you can fail safely."

Communicate everything

Failure and success then, go hand in hand, but how can developers ensure that their project stands out from the crowd? The answer, Au suggested, lies in clear, consistent, and personable communication.

"Communication is key. Communication is everything. As developers, communication is sometimes the last thing you think about, but it really is crucial to prepare yourself," emphasised Au.

"Share your project early. Get feedback. Put it out there. Share a preview privately with friends and colleagues, because you want people who are going to give you honest feedback.

"Talk to the press in advance, but remember, when speaking to the press, pitch the game, don't pitch Kickstarter. What is your game? What is your story? You want to deliver to them a story they can write.

"Communicate before, during, and after your campaign, because communication becomes much more important after you've got your backers."