At the time of this writing, 5 of the 8 review editions of Bill Shakespeare is Dead have been printed and are already out there in the world. With a month and a half to go (that doesn’t sound like a very long time) the majority of reviewers already have the game, and all of them should have it with a month lead time before the launch of my Kickstarter campaign. Getting that edition together and having it printed 8 times was a very intense, expensive process. But I have no doubt that it’s going to be worth it.
So why do I think a review is so worth it? And is it worth it for you? Not including shipping, I paid about $250 dollars to manufacture my review prototypes. That’s a lot of money. And I didn’t calculate it until just this moment, so it seems like even more money. But in any case, I am happy to spend that money because, based on all the Kickstarter projects I have studied this year, reviews are a HUGE part of whether or not an independent game makes it.
-Reviews are important because we tend to trust reviewers more than creators: Nobody is going to put their project on Kickstarter and then say “I’m proud of it, but I’d give it a 7.5/10”. And we shouldn’t expect them to. If you are not unfailingly supportive of your own project, you need to find a different project. But the fact is, every project has flaws. Nothing is perfect. And we look to reviewers to be objective and tell us both what is great about a game and what doesn’t work.
-Reviews are a great opportunity for feedback: Unless you are Queen games, the game that you put up on Kickstarter shouldn’t be 100% complete. You should still be open for improvement and refining. Of course you should have had plenty of feedback already from playtesters, but reviewers are a great resource for this as well. Reviewers look at games all the time, and a good one will know what works and what doesn’t. Heed those words well.
-Having reviews shows that you know what you’re doing and how to play the game: If you haven’t already, look through this geeklist on BoardGameGeek and look through all of the games there. And I do mean all of them. If you haven’t done that kind of market research, you haven’t done enough. Take a look at what has funded and what has not. There are exceptions to this, but most of the games that fund solidly have a lot of similar features to their pages, and reviews are a part of that.
The bottom line: you should do everything you possibly can to get the word out there about your game and draw people to your project. Finding at least one reviewer (preferably 3 or more, but the more the better) that has favorably reviewed games like yours, contacting them, and getting them a good-looking prototype should be part of your larger strategy for making a professional page and getting the word out about the game. Can you do a campaign without all that? Sure. You can also fail to fund. So that’s up to you.
In the next log: Print and Play