Off-Topic: Kickstarter Observations from an SEO Professional

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35 Responses

  1. S.Katze says:

    Brian, thank you for this post. I really hope that the people at Frontier Development and Most Wanted Entertainment (Nexus 2: The Gods Awaken) will invest the time to read this article and actually learn from it. Especially the Nexus 2 campaign was god-awful, and perhaps the devs wanted it to fail. I cannot imagine why else they made such blatant mistakes.

    As to Elite 4, well, David Braben said in a recent interview ( that Frontier Development is in the final stage of releasing the game Coaster Crazy. Also, from the comments section on the KS page: “All – apologies for the lack of engagement. In my ‘day job’ we’re launching a new game tonight on iPhone/iPad/iPod called “Coaster Crazy”. It goes live at midnight as midnight moves around the world…”

    However, I must say that his timing is worse than bad. If he is so involved that he can’t find the time to properly work his KS campaign, he should have postponed it. There is really no excuse to start the campaign with really nothing to show. I pledged the minimum amount necessary to get the game, but just like you (and several other backers, it seems) I am seriously considering to cancel my pledge.

    By the way, thank you for maintaining this site. I have it permanently open in my browser tab now. :-)

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Hey man, welcome to the blog. :) Yeah, part of why I wrote this is to help devs succeed. And honestly, if Frontier was finishing up another game, they should’ve waited, like you said. This sort of behavior is inexcusable, I think. Also, thank you for the kind words, and I’m glad you enjoy the site! :)

  2. Linh Ngo says:

    Excellent analysis, Brian. Your SEO perspective is interesting and informative. My reasons for not supporting Elite: Dangerous are obvious to those who know that Binary Helix are the developers of “Dangerous”. But the lack of transparency by Braben also seems to jive with what I consider a deficit in character for him knowingly using a name that is confusingly similar to our game. Regardless, we’re probably going to give Kickstarter a try in the near future, so this was very helpful as a sort of check list.

  3. lordkosc says:

    How the hell do I find you , so I can follow you on Kickstarer, lol…

  4. Bobbydylan says:

    Tottally agree with your article, Brian. I’ve help my minimum pledge for Elite at the moment in the hope that David will sharpen up. But the offhand and lackluster latest update grated me more than a little.

    Fronteer, (and the Nexus 2 devs, sadly) dont seem to realise that running a KS campaign is hard work, and needs constant attention. Chris England, the guy who did Xenonaughts likened it to caring for a small baby: You need to fuss over it constantly.

    Unless David wisens up sharpish, he’s going to ruin his good will with the fans. Perhaps perminantly.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Thanks man, and yeah, that sounds like great advice coming from Mr. England. That should be true of ANY marketing campaign. It’s certainly true of SEO and PPC (the paid side of search engine marketing). Campaigns need constant monitoring, tweaking and care. Kickstarter is no different.

  5. An excellent article and not off-topic at all. Your headline does it a disservice, sir!

    I’m going to write in defence of David Braben and his English-boffin ways. You are of course in your rights to withdraw funding for whatever reasons you like, and they are all valid – of course – but writing as an unrepentant Elite fanboy here; I’d back the game to the ends of Earth, even if the Kickstarter page was just a logo and a terse demand for money (which isn’t too far from the truth). That’s my right too, and I’m happy to leave my easily-squandered cash in the pot regardless of how things progress.

    I’m met David Braben a couple of times and he came across to me as very old school. He’s not really an advocate of this hyper-connected world with it’s embedded and insidious forms of social marketing. I wouldn’t say he was socially-awkward, but he’s tense and closed and seems to me highly protective and controlling of his ideas. When his thoughts are unleashed, they are often ripped apart, as in the case of his stance on DRM and second-hand game sales. Don’t forget (ZX) Elite was the first games to have recognisable DRM, and Braben has had fan remakes pulled in cases that would make LucasArts blush. It’s fair to say that he comes across – fairly or unfairly – as a bit of a dinosaur, and maybe his Kickstarter bid is indicative of that.

    But hey, that’s how he rolls. He’d trashed the X games and Eve, which is disingenuous to say the least, but Elite means more to me than how Braben chooses to communicate. A great deal of my adolescent years were invested in Elite (almost as many as adult years have been poured into Eve, et al), to the point that I’m content to leave Braben to his ways and devices. Elite is happening and that makes me very happy – and that’s all there is too it. I have no desire to impose my designs on how the game should be, no interest in reading daily updates about some meaningless stretch goal, I’d rather he just get on with things so I can play the damn game.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Well, it’s not strictly related to space gaming, hence the “Off-Topic” moniker. :) Thanks for your insight into Mr, Braben too man. I too am a huge fan of Elite, and while I’d be VERY happy to see the game succeed and be awesome, the mishandling of this campaign has left a bad enough taste in my mouth to overcome my love for the game, sadly. :/

  6. zeraan says:

    Thanks for your article! I’m planning on starting a KickStarter for Beyond Beyaan soon, but after reading your article, I realized that it will require more time and effort than I thought. So I’m going to postpone until after the new year because my work is requiring me to work overtime (we’re trying to finish up a new version by end of year). I will read your article again carefully when I do make the kickstarter effort for my game!

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Happy to help, but wait, why is BB going to Kickstarter? I thought it was open source?

      • zeraan says:

        Open Source != Free Game. I plan on obtaining more artwork, and getting sounds/music for my game, but they are not free, so I need funds for them. Think of it this way, if I’m building a car, you’ll get the engine for free, and you can modify and tinker with it as much as you want. However, the things that the engine needs to make the car go, such as tires, a frame, transmission, seats, gas tank, etc, are not free and need to be purchased. Does that make sense?

  7. Stormwaltz says:

    Tangential topic: Kickstarter needs a way to friend/follow people so we don’t need to manually push links to interesting projects through Facebook and forum posts.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Agree, that’s more of a thing for Kickstarter themselves to implement. That’d be awesome though.

  8. Stormwaltz says:

    “Kickstarter is a hype machine, a way to generate trust, faith and goodwill amongst fans and potential donors, and a way to give users a level of access they’ve not had before.”

    It is all that. I define Kickstarter succinctly as “the stock market of dreams.” People post their dream projects, and those whose dreams align invest in them.

  9. Tyler Yohe says:

    Brian, I’ve been following you for almost a year now, and after this article I can say I share your view on one more thing aside from space games… kickstarter!

    My team has been building our kickstarter for over a year (actually we started about a week before Double Fine). I planned to launch in July, but then I just didn’t think it’d do our team, nor any fans justice by launching half cocked. So are putting another 9 months of our time and personal money before asking others to give us theirs.

    However, over this time I’ve watched kickstarter closely for the big do’s and don’ts, and I think you pretty much hit it on the head. Great read, thanks!

    • Brian Rubin says:

      That is insanely encouraging to hear that you’re trying to take the time to learn Kickstarter and do a campaign right. I really hope it works out for you guys. Also, thanks for following me. :)

  10. MiniMax says:

    Great article. Well written and informative.
    But most of all, a sensible and sober approach at what the kickstarter thing is about.
    Will direct other folks here to read it.

    Kudos mate!

  11. Serge says:

    Well given that Elite’s campaign is longer than Star Citizen’s maybe they will starting gearing up soon

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Welcome to the blog Serge! And maybe, but for myself personally, it would take a TON OF updates, transparency and attempts at goodwill for them to get my money at this point.

      • Serge says:

        It could be they tried a different strategy to kind of tease in the beginning and not give up much info…..we shall see.

        • Brian Rubin says:

          Yeah, I’d love nothing more than to see the do a 180 and start running an actual competent campaign. :)

  12. serge says:

    do you think that using Dangerous in the title is a bit of a ripoff as someone else stated?

  13. Daan Kortenbach says:

    I had doubts when I pledged but waived them away because I had a great time playing Elite. Now I have also cancelled my pledge. Maybe it is because of how well the Star Citizen campaign went, I had so much fun with that one (still am), I’d rather save money to buy stuff like a Rift, Leap, etc., to get the maximum of immersion possible instead of maximum number of games to play. While I really like the idea of procedural programming, that doesn’t mean it will be a great experience. In the end the experience counts. I have more faith in a Chris Roberts, who already has other top notch programmers and artists on board, then David Braben who is, as it seams, currently working on something else. If I were David, I’d take my loss, regroup, analyze the SC Kickstarter campaign (much to be learned there), prepare for a new campaign and come back in a year. Just my 0.02.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Welcome to the blog Daan, and thanks for your comment! And yeah, that’s a good way to put it, the Elite Kickstarter feels like an afterthought, which insulting to us as fans I feel.

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