Running a Kickstarter campaign can be a constant battle against negativity. When Asking for Trobils finally reached funding, I was elated, but that feeling didn’t last very long. It wasn’t more than twenty minutes after funding before I started getting messages from Backers asking me what the contingency was for failing to reach a Stretch Goal.

The Stretch Goal everyone was waiting for was adding plastic ships to the game. Twenty eight ships, seven different types; it was a tall order. The Stretch Goal was $10,000 and eight days away. Still, the campaign had been doing well and the Stretch Goal looked very plausible. I didn’t know why defeat was already an option in some Backer’s minds.


More and more the conversation went towards an accepted defeat. People began to talk about alternatives to plastic ships, “could I supply the 3D files so they could make them themselves”, etc. Personally, it was tearing me down. The project was coming to a standstill. No one was trying to spread the word or reach others to help achieve the Stretch Goal.

Finally, we had a particularly bad day of funding and the comments and messages were overwhelming. I had made a mistake.

I had let negativity sit and fester in the project, and I had to do something about it.

The first step I took was to provide no alternative. I let everyone know that the 3D files would not be made available and that the ships wouldn’t be a Stretch Goal in future expansions. I had to remove any hope of figuring out a way to circumvent the Stretch Goal. This made everyone focus on the Stretch Goal instead of an alternative. It was do or die.

Next, I messaged several of the backers directly. The Backers who I knew were really carrying the project with their involvement and outreach, and I described the problem to them. I asked them to help me spread a positive outlook and focus on the Stretch Goal.

I also personally made sure to contact anyone asking in public forums about failure through personal message. I explained that I didn’t want them to feel ignored, but that I wouldn’t publicly discuss failing to reach the Stretch Goal. I then answered any questions they had privately. This let them still feel engaged, without spreading a negative outlook of defeat in a public forum.

How Did It Work?

In less than a day I saw the conversations turn around. The leaders of the Backer community were getting everyone focused on the Stretch Goal. From days where we were making $250 – $300 a day, we spiked to $570, then $1000, then $5,000! Not only did we reached the Stretch Goal that so many had given up on without trying, but we succeeded in making the next Stretch Goal as well.

The moral of the story is clear. You can not let negativity exist in your campaign. You can’t be the only positive one. You have to ask your Backers to help. Make ambassadors out of those who are the most excited. If someone is commenting on your project everyday, chances are they’ll do what they can to help your project succeed. They’re invested, use that energy in a positive way.

We all know that a Kickstarter that looks like it’s failing, will fail. No one wants to get on a sinking ship or remain on one. Put a face of success on everything you do. Ooze a positive outlook. Be engaging and ask others to push forward with you. The best thing about Kickstarter is that you’re never alone. Backers aren’t just customers, they’re fans. Some of them are exuberant fans willing to help when needed. Some of them can even be new friends.

In this Series

Reflection #1: Backers First
Reflection #2: The Micro-Goal

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Christian Strain

Game Designer at Kraken Games

Christian is a co-founder of Kraken Games. After releasing their first game, Evil Intent, Christian is currently working with Kraken Games on three other projects including their upcoming title, Asking for Trobils.

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4 Readers Commented

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  1. Gamer Dave on October 19, 2014

    A great lesson to share. The more I read about KS I see that success is built on how you connect with people, beforehand and during.

    • John Coveyou on October 20, 2014

      Totally agree Christian and Dave. I learned the hard way during my first campaign to take stretch goals seriously from day 1. Maybe a small minority of the backers actually care beyond the core game, maybe only 1%, but it doesn’t matter. Those that care, care a LOT. And they’re vocal about this. But usually they are also very vocal when they are satisfied. Great article!

      • Christian Strain on October 26, 2014

        I find that Backers who are there to support a project versus just preordering a game care most about stretch goals. Or maybe they just pay more attention to them.

  2. John Coveyou on October 26, 2014

    Good point Christian. I think backers that are they’re to support the project are also the ones who use their voices in a way that benefits the campaign and understand when certain “mainstream demands” of other backers are unfeasible. I really appreciate those backers that are there to give their support in whatever way they can!

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