What’s Your Take on Kickstarter Updates?

Among the most important things when preparing a Kickstarter campaign is a decision about the structure of the updates and plans for their content, order, frequency, and theme. From a creator’s point of view, there’s always something new to try (and learn)!

And so it happens that our last two campaigns had a very different structure and focus of the updates. In Project L they were mostly about what’s behind the scenes and offered insights into all the aspects of the game, such as working with different materials, prototyping, and game development. They came out about every other day. With Space Race, we saw an opportunity to do something different by highlighting the thematic ties of the game and its historical background by publishing a story-driven update every day of the campaign. What was the result?

We’ve asked the community what they like and expect from Kickstarter updates, and it is incredible that 559 people joined the discussion! If all the responses were boiled down into just one word, it would be balance, but that’s way too simplified (and lacks charts and whatnot) so let’s take a look at the answers in more detail.

The majority of people who responded read updates regularly and also enjoy actively participating during the campaign. This means having the ability to influence Kickstarter campaigns by, for example, choosing between two stretch goals or voting on what happens next in an ongoing story that is episodically revealed in the project updates.

 

Considering the actual content, what is the most important to write about when a Kickstarter campaign is live? Well.. everything! Even though most of the backers want to know mainly about all the new unlocked stretch goals, gameplay, and get an insight into the technical aspects of the production, disregarding the underlying story or the lore of the game would leave a half the people missing something they like.

Still, the responses to “why do you like updates of a certain campaign” show that the specific content of the update (that’s the chart above) is only one part of what makes it stand out. While sorting out the answers to that question, four different categories emerged as reasons why backers are happy with updates (or not), and while the content was mentioned most frequently, the other categories don’t lag much behind. Let’s take a look at what falls into them.

The responses labeled as regular news mostly mentioned two things:

  • maintaining consistent communication schedule, ideally a monthly update once the campaign is over even if there is no groundbreaking news to share
  • transparency about the state of the project including potential delays or production problems

It’s crucial to keep backers informed about the overall progress the game is making (or the lack of it) and being honest about what’s going on. Projects that experienced delays but clearly communicated issues and kept backers in the loop were generally praised.

Under the engagement heading belongs:

  • whether the update is fun to read (less important but worth mentioning)
  • if the backers feel they are part of the team (the really important one)

What stands out is the appreciation backers feel if the creator involves them in the process by sharing what’s behind the scenes, personal stories, and generally makes them experience what it is like to tackle all the issues in the development along with the creator. This form of direct engagement and participation resonates with a lot of power.

Finally, style stands for the answers that described the way the information is presented as important. These are:

  • clarity of the information and relevance
  • quality of the presentation (both of pictures and text)
  • clear structure
  • bonus points whenever a campaign had video updates

Returning back to our two Kickstarter projects that started this discussion, it was thought provoking to see the different preferences among the answers of our backers. Compared to Project L, Space Race had a similar number of pledges, was launched seven months later, and had more frequent updates. Given the feedback presented here, it becomes apparent that while updates for Space Race offered an entertaining ride through space exploration stories, the overall structure and focus of the updates was perhaps more narrow than it could have been. On the other hand, the balanced update composition of Project L touched all the crucial categories of interest and made a lasting impression.

The bottom line is that as great as it is when Kickstarter updates stand out in one category, it is at least equally important to not overlook all the other things that backers could miss.

Do your expectations from Kickstarter updates match these? Creators, what type of update structure worked well for you? Let us know in the comments!

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MichalMichal is Boardcubator’s communications manager and game developer. For the past 6 years he has been an instructional designer for Norwich Institute for Language Education. He is also a university lecturer and teacher trainer, working towards a PhD in English literature.

We’re all mad here.