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From Kickstarter to STEAM

November, 26th –  with the first playable build we decide to check our luck at Kickstarter. :) Why Kickstarter? We think that it is really great project that allows people to realize their dreams by getting honest crowdfunding. There are so many young start ups in the world and very often, they simply don’t have money to accomplish something that might change the world in the result. Therefore, such projects are often sold to moneybags or their dream remains a dream. Thanks to Kickstarter, these projects still go live all in all. That’s what we were thinking about it. We prepared all the materials, made fun video, developed pledge system and started our journey.
To tell the truth, our experience wasn’t really exciting. The days were passing by, however, the funding wasn’t that active. Besides, we’ve found out that because of previous negative experience, people do not tend to believe newbies like us who appeared from nowhere and don’t have any name, as it may seem from the first glance. We’ve been rather surprised to discover this, because we thought Kickstarter is the place where start ups are born, but not the place, where people expect to see another one Cloud Imperium Games (developer of Star Citizen) or  inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment (developers of Wasteland 2). No, I am not saying that it’s Kickstarter’s fault that people didn’t believe us. :) It is absolutely understandandable that backers also saw enough cases when the project was funded but had never been released. Our MMORPG The SKIES sounds ambitious, because the project is really huge and it also has a lot of ambitious tasks: such as self-developing economics, non-linear storyline, open world, combination of FPS with the MMO, realistic production system consisting of several grades, etc. Besides, we are the young team, and don’t have the famous name yet. We do realize this, but we also know what we’re doing. That is why it doesn’t seem unrealistic to us as it may seem for others who have played many games, but haven’t seen such decisions previously. They could only dream about them though. :)
We still didn’t give up on Kickstarter community and tried to vary our journey with the fun video that we kept making for them about our project, the team and the process. :) You can watch the whole series here:
Please, do not judge us for our English. Some compatriots said that it was our huge mistake that we made Kickstarter video voicing it on our own instead of hiring the English-speaking person. Well, our goal wasn’t to impress. :) We just wanted to show our team and life as they are. It was the real challenge for the guys to learn words in English for all the videos. But they tried hard. Not because we didn’t want or couldn’t hire the dictor, but because it seemed to us more fair to spend our efforts and talk to people personally on their language and to talk to community personally.
Now, looking back we also think that it could make sense to create better pledge-system. I mean, in our case we had a lot of not physical items to present, such as game features which depend on the development time. It could make sense to prepare the gifts that you can touch and that would really stay dear to someone’s heart after the game is released and gains popularity. Well, who knows…
Another our mistake was adding the video of game play that couldn’t really impress… It was the very-very first playable and it was lagging. It would make more sense to wait a bit more and provide the version that would look better. But again, being young, bold and extremely fair, we decided to share what we had and then just keep updating with the further progress. What we’ve learnt is that there is no place in the world where you would succeed with the publicity without any marketing. Even at Kickstarter. We’re all visualists. We all want to see something that would impress us.
Crowd funding became an interesting experience for us. But since one of our major goals was not to get funding but to announce about ourselves, our project, its features and start involving people into this complicated game world already now, we think it worked pretty well too. Even though we didn’t succeed in crowdfunding, we still wish everyone to reach their aim in this. And in order to support all the crowdfunding projects, we’ve launched the challenge called Shake or Back :) The rules are similar to all the challenges (like Ice Challenge, etc.) You simply need to do the same as the person on the video:   back 3 projects, at least with 1$ or whatever you can afford and pass the challenge to other 3 friends by publishing it somewhere.
Three days after Kickstarter we also launched on Steam Greenlight. We love Steam. :) This was the first place where we could imagine The SKIES’ presence once the game is ready. And here is where we were not mistaking. The community of Steam showed really great interest in our game. I would even say it was impressive how positive they were. For example, it took us just 10 days to get to TOP 100 on Steam. The next day we already got to TOP 50. :) More than 90 per cent of comments were just positive. More than 70 per cent of votes were: “Yes, I want this game”. If you take a look even at success Greenlight stories, the numbers are typically lower. So, for us such a huge support was really encouraging and inspiring to provide early alpha access for journalists and most active community members already in January.
A lot of developers wonder what statistics they should have and how many votes to get in order to get to Steam. Well, I wouldn’t say anything new: there are really no exact numbers. But, of course, you can expect that if you get to tops and there is buzz around your game, you’re on the right way and can expect green light. The faster this accumulation happens – the more chances. Perhaps, our statistics will be helpful for you:
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As you can see there were ups and downs during this time. Our highest points were 1568 visits and 759 votes “Yes” on some days. What is great about Steam is that it is absolutely just up to community to judge the game… Yes, we were spreading out the news via our social pages, sending letters to journalists and receiving some publications what was also helping to make people aware of the project and visit the page. But it is still up to them to vote positevely or not. We’ve met a lot of support also from Russian-Ukrainian community who were inspired to see their compatriots on the market of gaming industry with such a great project. We’ve met a lot of support from other countries too and requests to add different languages: Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese and others what we’ll be glad to do. :)
Of course, not everything was so bright and positive. There were also some negative comments, some fears, some discredit, which we could understand. But what we’ve discovered, is that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak with these people too. Very often after friendly communication they can even accept your side, of course, if you have real convincing facts and is fair. Just accept the fact, that everyone has their own position, respect it, and everything will be fine. :)
What we’ve learnt? In brief: Steam community is very different from Kickstarter… Of course, it depends on your project and your goals what to choose, but for us Steam was the most right place, because it is absolutely our core audience. And if you need to start building community, it’s better to do this with Steam too.
From that moment, we’ve started to be transparent for our future community. We update them with the development progress, our upcoming milestones, answer all the questions and keep our blog. It’s a great feeling to know that there are people who’re waiting on your game, who support you and provide suggestions.
Never give up, even in the face of apocalypse ;) And good luck with your projects! and whatever you do!