Debtzilla Kickstarter - What Went Wrong
Updated: May 7, 2019
We have one successful Kickstarter project under our belt, built an awesome community, doubled our marketing budget, lowered our shipping cost, tripled our art and graphic design budget and designed a beautiful looking board game with slick mechanics, along with fantastic reviews from game reviewers. What could go wrong?
Panic Attack! - 1 Week before Project Launch Date
3 months before project launch, we hired a professional videographer to create a beautifully animated Debtzilla video, something different from the home-brew video we made for Wongamania- Banana Economy. We hired a China based Singaporean videographer who is familiar with the gaming culture and Kickstarter. The red flags started to come in when she is slow to produce results on the deadlines set, often blaming it on the slow internet speed in China. The hard deadline for the completion of the video came and went and excuses were given on the delay. 3 days before the launch of the campaign, she claimed that she has completed the video and had problem uploading the final video to every single cloud services she have access to. Than she disappeared.
Repeated attempts at contacting her were met with a blank response. With 24 hours left to go with the campaign to launch, the team scrambled to put together a video and managed to squeeze out something decent just before launch time. Important marketing efforts to raise awareness of Debtzilla Kickstarter were dropped or overlooked as the video production took over as priority. As a result, the momentum of the Kickstarter project was lost and the project did not quite recover from that..
Rather than making the difficult decision to cut our losses early, we choose to hope and pray that the video will get delivered on time. We have learnt the lesson the hard way and we will ensure that all our external assets are well prepared in advance before the targeted launch date, or postpone the campaign.
Momentum: Essential ingredient to Kickstarter success.
For a Kickstarter campaign, momentum is extremely important. Why? Backers are more keen to support something if they feel it has a greater chance of succeeding. There is also the crowd effect on Kickstarter whereby backers believe that projects with a crowd will probably be a better product than one with a smaller crowd and the momentum will grow as the campaign garner more attention from press and media. Hence, the last one week before the launch of a Kickstarter is the most essential as it will determine the crowd of the first 3 days which will eventually determine the success of the project. Our distraction to cobble a video together, along with lots of mis-steps by the marketing team resulted in a weak marketing push during launch, resulting in poor momentum. We were hoping that the great reviews given by the independent reviewers can help us reverse the situation, but the situation didn't recover as it was too late by that point.
Another Weak Link: A Weak Pitch and Lack of Community Critique
There is so many things that is unique and fun about Debtzilla. One of the biggest mistakes which we made was that Debtzilla unique selling points were not properly represented on the campaign page. One of the key steps we missed was to send the campaign preview page to the friends and community for their critique. Again, we did not send out the preview for feedback as we were hoping to get a wholesome critique with the video in place, but that did not happen. and therefore, did not get essential feedback on the appeal of the page. The positioning of the game was not as appealing as we thought and the narration is messy. Overtime, we have improved on the campaign page, like adding in animated GIF and more information gameplay and shipping aspect, but that was too late as the crowd has moved on.
Timing: Crushed by Games
We feel that this is a small factor, but worth mentioning. We felt the weight of the quantity and quality of games being launched in the same period. We were literally buried at the bottom on a daily basis, by 200 over projects when we checked out the position of Debtzilla in relative to other projects. The Kickstarter search algorithm is a cruel master. It will rank you by your popularity and the descent to the bottom of the pit is rapid if you are unable to sustain your momentum and marketing efforts. The feel of the Kickstarter feels different since the last time we launch our Wongamania: Banana Economy Kickstarter in 2015. The crowd is bigger, but the competition have gotten better and stronger in numbers. We are humbled by the experience and is now in a better understanding of this new environment and what is required to push above the crowd.
Relaunch: Debtzilla Strikes Back!
Everyone we talked to (from reviewers to our pet doggies), believes that Debtzilla is a great game and it deserved to be made. We also believe strongly that this yellow monster deserves a spot within the board game community. We will consolidate our effort, improve the value proposition of the game, hone our marketing pitch, and probably take a loan from Debtzilla to clobber together another marketing budget. We will be back better and stronger and we hope that we will continue to have your support for the relaunch!
You can check out our cancelled Debtzilla page here.