The Value Of Kickstarter: Connecting With Fans On-The-Fly
from the free market research dept
As we’ve discussed before, one benefit of crowd-funded programs like Kickstarter is the massive amount of market research you can gather from potential customers. Whether the project is unsuccessful, or whether you’re the ridiculously successful Double Fine, the feedback you get can assist with everything from wooing other investors to building new ideas into your product. Making the latter even more useful, Kickstarter-style projects can actually let you do this kind of thing on the fly, building in features based on backer feedback, resulting in an ultimately more appealing end-product for the largest number of customers.
Speaking of Double Fine, that’s exactly what happened recently with their newest Kickstarter Project, Massive Chalice, a tactical strategy game set in a fantasy realm in which players first fight the ever-present demons, then grow older and start families within the world, so those families can continue fighting the ever-present demons. It’s an interesting concept on its own, but feedback from potential Kickstarter backers raised an interesting question: y u no allow gay marriage? Double Fine’s response?
“One of the cool things is we have the opportunity to think about it and address it because we brought it to the community,” says [Double Fine’s Brad] Muir, suddenly grinning. “We brought it to a broader group of people, and then there were some people who brought it up and wanted to talk about it. There’s a raging thread on our forums.”
So hurrah, hugs and well-muscled sexytimes for all. This, Muir figures, is the optimal outcome. Everybody wins, and then they all get married.
The coupling of Kickstarter’s platform and Double Fine’s actions is the very blueprint of CwF+RtB. If you can manage to check any ideological feelings about gay marriage at the door, from either side of the debate, this is pure market feedback resulting in a product more potential customers desire. Muir notes that they didn’t preclude gay marriage in their game consciously. It simply never came up. Comments on their project alerted them to this, as well as providing a clear desire from many gamers that this kind of option be included, so they went back and put it in. More notable, Muir seems to think this all would have gone much differently under a more traditional, game-publisher route.
“If we had gone with a publisher on this, I really think [it wouldn’t have ended well]. Because you sign the deal, you go underground, you start working on the game, you don’t talk to the community or anybody, and you get so focused on all these other aspects of the game. Just making it work – and all the tactical combat and mechanical things. We might just overlook something like same-sex coupling all the way until we announce the game. And then people say, ‘Hey, what about gay marriage?’ And we’re like, ‘Fuck,’ because we’ve already worked on it for more than a year.”
In other words, this is a direct result of connecting with their fans. And, by being proactive about it, they avoid the kind of mess that other games have had when their stance on the subject is vague. So, regardless of your politics, we should all be applauding Double Fine’s ability to listen, engage, and react to the feedback they get from their customers. Is it any wonder they have been so massively successful?