How one video game managed to collect more than $49 million (and growing) through crowdfunding and what you can learn from this.
Star Citizen is a space trading and combat simulator video game currently being developed by Cloud Imperium Games. Work started in 2011 and an early version is available for download on their website. The game was funded by Chris Roberts, a highly respected game producer with experience running back to the late 80's. The game is funded entirely through crowdfunding. So how do they do it?
How They Did It
In 2012, Cloud Imperium Games started a crowdfunding campaign on the game’s website combined with a campaign on Kickstarter. After the initial campaigns, funding has continued through their website.
Cloud Imperium Games runs one crowdfunding campaign at the time, rather than having several, concurrent campaigns. Each campaign promises new game features. When the campaign has reached its goal, a new campaign starts promising yet more, new features. This approach presents the players with a constant flow of new features, keeping them active and involved.
Visiting their website, your hardly see the word "crowdfunding" appear. They have created a website for the fictitious company Roberts Space Industries which seeks "more funds toward its Research & Development". This makes the contributors feel like they are already in the game, making the whole experience fun and exciting.
Another feature worth noticing is their move away from the classical "contribute" button. Rather than asking players to explicitly contribute to their crowdfunding campaigns, donors contribute by purchasing in-game merchandise, such as a new spaceship. This is a great move. In a classical crowdfunding campaign, the contributor will normally see the results of his or her donation a while after the campaign has ended. Selling in-game merchandise will give the contributor and immediate reward, while simultaneously keeping the user excited about the future new features the campaign will bring.
What You Can Learn
What can other crowdfunders learn? Cloud Imperium Games have organized their crowdfunding campaign in a manner that achieves one goal brilliantly:
Keep contributors excited about your crowdfunding project.
So practically, how can you do this? Here are some tips:
- Make your campaign look exciting, using pictures, videos and textual descriptions.
- Frequently add updates to your campaign to inform contributors on the progress of your project.
- Use rewards to give something back to your contributors.
- Allow for commitments to involve contributors directly in your project.