[articles] Kickstarter VS Greenlight

edited in General
These are what I'd like to call antennae of attention, and these two articles came up interesting:

Kickstarter for the average Indie:
Talks about how 100 Rogues creators first failed miserably at their Kickstarter campaign - then revived it through trial and error - and this is their experience on how the average not-famous indie should present itself on Kickstarter.

I thought the most important was that a failed Kickstarter is a good Kickstarter, too. Great for visibility and learning.

Greenlight's first 10:
Talks about the first 10 greenlit games, and how there are actually no real surprises as Valve greenlit the top 10 rated entries on the platform. The Steam audience is much less "indie" than some might have thought, and that's not Valve's fault. It's business.

I thought it was interesting how:

1) a game-centric platform is less Indie-friendly than a broader-focus platform.
2) we in SA seem to have jumped onto Greenlight all happy (GO BROFORCE), while I haven't heard of a single SA-based Kickstarter.

Why is that? Is it due to the difference between what Kickstarter and Greenlight provides? (funding vs distribution? To me, they come to the same thing, people pledge to buy your game, boom, you're distributed. Plus exposure.)


  • edited
    You can't have a Kickstarter without a US bank account. So it's not an option for South Africans.

    Locals have tried IndieGoGo, but I'm not up to speed with how that went. Perhaps @Dipso can shed some light on that?

    I would rather ask any local dev if they're really, 100% sure they need either GreenLight or Kickstarter. Before both of those can be useful at all, you need to have either a game you can show people or a reputation and amazing presentation in order to convince people that you can execute on what you're promising.

    GreenLight is an EXTRA way to get onto Steam, the standard application process still works, AFAIK. I'm sure BroForce would survive that, given its quality and the experience of the people building it. It might just take a while, that's all... The best indie strategy is still "Build the best damn game you can make, then get as many people as possible to play it". It's not a science, nor is it wholly an art, it's almost a performance... I just worry that people who would never manage to finish a notable game in the first place, start fantasising about getting loads of money via Kickstarter or Steam or XBLA when that's extremely unlikely, even if they were to build an amazing game.
  • I'm pretty sure Broforce will get on eventually, and is pretty much indicative what you're saying about getting the quality before wondering about KS or GL or whatever.

    Thanks for that reminder :)
  • edited
    @Tuism, sorry, I feel like I'm derping on all your posts at the moment... My bad.

    I think that people aren't really understanding what GreenLight is, mostly because the people that have been caring about it for the longest time have been developers, but it's actually for customers. GreenLight is there to let people who want to buy things on Steam try to influence what appears on the platform for their own entertainment, that's all. It's not some indie savior or anything, which means that it isn't surprising that it's customer friendly instead.
  • Well I am new to this whole thing so do keep pouring your experience all over my derps :)

    Yeah it's more for their fans than for the game makers. Valve seem to be really good at doing things for their fan base, to keep them involved, which is a good lesson in itself.
  • @Dislekcia: I think the "old" Steam submission process is now closed in favour of Greenlight. I can't get to the Steam or Greenlight websites to confirm, but I recall it being in the FAQ. Can anyone confirm this for me?
  • edited
    They did say they intended to eventually move over to 100% Greenlight. But I assume that'll take a while and will only happen if the new information they're receiving tells them that Greenlight should replace standard submissions (and I expect big publishers or developers who have Steam experience will always have the option to bypass Greenlight anyway).

    That was my understanding. I haven't looked at the submission part of Steam to confirm whether there have been changes either.

    [Edit!] Ack back to the topic!

    We've received great exposure due to Greenlight. Like @Dislekcia said we started with a game. I assume something similar would have happened if we'd have gone Kickstarter, in terms of exposure anyway. It's probably also REALLY helped that people can play BROFORCE (and that a lot of people like it a lot).

    For our own development, right now, having gone Kickstarter wouldn't be ideal. We'd have to make a lot of promises, plans for the design of the game, which we don't have enough information to do yet.

    Hopefully we do get to, or could get to, sell pre-orders or paid beta or something of Broforce, but I don't want to do anything like that before we know what we're selling. If that makes sense (I'm just talking from Free Lives's position. It's super cool that you can sell a game idea on Kickstarter, but we don't want to, and with Greenlight I feel less beholden).

  • @Tuism - there was a Cape Town based duo which had a Kickstarter project. I remember the post on SAGD but can't remember the name of the game. They had a US bank account IIRC.
  • edited
    I read both articles, and I like the advice given in the Kickstarter post, it should form the basis of any idea looking for money/help/sexual favours of any kind for your game's development. The points basically give a good example of a decent media kit, and also:
    BlackShipsFillTheSky said:
    t's probably also REALLY helped that people can play BROFORCE (and that a lot of people like it a lot).
    Proof from our community that playable > non-playable in terms of getting exposure (same thing with Desktop Dungeons, etc.)

    Similarly, Im not entirely sure how QCF managed their sales but their project worked similarly to how kickstarter funding would work didn't? Perhaps one of their guys could explain how they got their funding?
  • @edg3 DD uses the Minecraft model, which is rather different to kickstarter.

    With Kickstarter you pledge an amount for the game to be made, and when it is done you can play it. Example FTL.

    The Minecraft model is having a closed beta, and that pre-order customers can play the game in beta after they have played.

    Greenlight is a way for Steam consumers to choose the content for Steam. It has nothing to do with funding, but as @BlackShipsFillT pointed out it can be good for exposure. Although from what I read the press picked it up from Reddit.
  • @karuji not really, Minecraft just have "cheaper while in alpha/beta" with DD there was a lot more to it, and importantly how did QCF get the money, rather than it being a used model.
  • edited
    @edg3 said:
    Similarly, Im not entirely sure how QCF managed their sales but their project worked similarly to how kickstarter funding would work didn't? Perhaps one of their guys could explain how they got their funding?
    It's not quite as simple as Karuji made out ;)

    We had a reasonable amount of cash to spend on DD when we started the project from normal contracts that QCF had been doing. To be clear - we had a bunch of money to invest in a game project, DD came along and had a great reception, so we invested in that. Eventually we burned through all our cash reserves and the game still wasn't done yet. We'd been looking for funding for about 6 months at that point, we ended up setting up a PayPal account (with a backup PayFast system just in case) and opened up pre-orders to the game, promising early access to the beta, which was a significant change from what we'd been planning to do.

    At this point we had over 300K downloads (just from our server, not counting mirrors) of the freeware DD, won an IGF award and had loads of press coverage, so the game was a known entity. We launched pre-orders alongside an update to the freeware, a limited playable demo of the new game on our site and showing the game at E3 as part of the IndieCade Showcase. Loads of sites picked up the story based off those three elements combined. A month after that, we launched the playable beta and got more attention again and crashed our mailsend stack.

    Basically, I want to point out that we didn't get funding to MAKE the game. We started selling something of value after players could already see that value. There's a big difference. Even then, we had to work incredibly hard (and still do!) to keep the game floating around in press spheres and talked about as much as we possibly can... People suggested Kickstarters and stuff before (heck, I get about 10 emails a week from people seriously keen to see DD on GreenLight that don't know we're already coming to Steam) and I know that we would have had success at that too, because of the freeware and the stuff we'd already done to make the game as good as we could get it.
  • edited
    @edg3 I forgot Minecraft did that >.< But in fairness I have heard from the QCF gentlemen that they got the idea from Notch.

    Well there are two options for DD in terms of payment. There is the $10 and $20. The $20 is a support the dev one. The payments are done through PayPal and PayFast, I know PayPal works with a FNB account, no idea about PayFast though.

    Alternatively you can slip @Dislekcia the right amount of cash in a secret hand shake, and you will magically have access to the beta.

    [Edit] @Dislekcia I left your story for you to tell, and damn you posting while I was typing. Now my post looks silly.
  • edited
    It's like @Dislekcia said about releasing info that is press worthy. Yes IndieGames.com found Broforce from our Reddit post. But that post was about us being on Greenlight, which was hot at the time.

    IndieGames.com didn't actually seem particularly keen on Broforce, if you read the article, but they needed something cool and relevant (and they came across our Reddit post about how cool and relevant we were and so they ran with that).

    Doing things like hitting Kickstarter or Greenlight or winning IGF awards fit into narratives that are easy for journalists to tell.
  • edited
    Doing things like hitting Kickstarter or Greenlight or winning IGF awards fit into narratives that are easy for journalists to tell.
    This a million times over. We got cloned, so we made noise about it to turn it into a story people could tell about QCF and DD. Always be thinking of how people are going to talk about your game once you're at the stage of marketing it.

    You never want to be "Whiny developer bitches about stuff", instead aim for "Indie from the other side of the world makes insightful argument/releases cool thing/makes amazing idea reality".
  • From the Steamworks FAQ, Valve has closed regular Steam submissions until further notice. So it looks like unless you have an existing relationship with Steam, Greenlight is your only way. Like others have said, I guess this shifts the responsibility to the developer to begin marketing earlier.

    Is anyone else fascinated by the types of games that are appearing on Kickstarter? I'm very interested to see how profitable they are.

    Its especially interesting to me, because in the past, it was a publisher dominated industry. Publishers exercised control from the top down, and decided which projects got funded and which didnt. The result, thanks largely to the concerns of running a business, was that the projects were all very broad in appeal and low risk in terms their creativity but high risk in terms of the investment required in them. By that I mean, something like Crysis cost a lot more to make than Planetary Annihilation will. The consequences of an expensive project like that failing are therefore much higher.

    So previously the publishing execs told everybody what they will play, but now, control is back in the hands of the players, who vote with their wallets on what games get made and who makes them. Its a very interesting trend, and I'm curious to see what will happen. Notice also how a lot of the projects have an emphasis on openness and inclusivity - the public is involved in decision making to some extent, DRM is not welcome, Planetary Annihilation supports modding, etc etc.
  • Ah, I didn't realise that submissions@Steam had closed. Interesting... Although TBH, that wasn't the system that a lot of indies used to get onto Steam before - you tracked down an actual Valve employee and bothered them incessantly ;)

    I'm wondering if Steam access might not become a possible "publishing" angle in future. Basically existing Steam relationships become more valuable if you see potential in a game that the GreenLight crowd doesn't, allowing you to step in and get the game on Steam for a cut. Similar in concept to how XBLA slots work these days.
  • allowing you to step in and get the game on Steam for a cut.
    Just bustin' out my noobness here, but what do you mean by "you" - you as someone who has a relationship with Valve? And getting a game on Steam for a cut - as in you're the middleman getting the game into a distro channel, asking for a cut?

    Doesn't the above already happen?

    How does Valve/steam profit sharing work anyway? I know Uncle Apple Sam takes 30%, how does Steam work? Is it on a case-by-case?
  • Well, writing from the perspective of an indie that made the GreenLight grade already, essentially opening up communications with Steam for future games of yours. Except maybe you just take games that aren't GreenLighting well and essentially publish them for other indies. Yes, that sort of thing is happening in some respects with Steam already, but not at the level that I'm talking about - it's always easier to just go direct to Steam if you have a good game.
    @Tuism said:
    How does Valve/steam profit sharing work anyway? I know Uncle Apple Sam takes 30%, how does Steam work? Is it on a case-by-case?
    I think that's covered by our NDA :( I know that it is a standard agreement, although case-by-case stuff can happen where it makes sense, like for in-app purchases before they had a standard system there, etc.
Sign In or Register to comment.