Crowdfunding Diaries: A Look Back at Runaway Success, Zombies, Run!

Our Crowdfunding Diaries series continues with London-based game developer, Six to Start, which successfully raised $72,627 (over its initial pledge of $12,500) for its innovative game app, Zombies, Run! izinkilat

Before Tim Schafer’s Double Fine record pledge, Zombies, Run! had been crowned as the biggest video game project on Kickstarter in 2011. Fast forward to present day, onespace the Zombies franchise continues to thrive, with over 300,000 players worldwide, another app, 5k Training, and Zombies, Run! 2, expected to launch this Spring.

Adrian Ho, Co-Founder/CEO of Six to Start, and one of the world’s leading online and alternate reality game designers, talks with us onon how Kickstarter legalitas literally “kick-started,” his company’s expansion from agency to successful game developer in its own right.

What’s the story behind Six to Start?

The company started in late 2007, funded in part by NESTA, virtualofficescbd sweat equity and client projects. We’re based in London and have associates in San Francisco and Toronto. We create games and transmedia experiences for clients in the UK and overseas. Previously, I was Director of Play at MindCandy, where I designed and produced Perplex City.

What made you decide to try crowdfunding?

Our business started as an agency, creating mobile games to help market and promote new products and shows for various clients. For example, alliedhealthexchange we consulted on storytelling for BBC and created transmedia experiences for shows like Misfits. We got to a stage where we wanted to make our own games – -and this requires a different set of skills. We needed to validate a product concept, and a channel like Kickstarter seemed a good fit. The funding we wanted for game development was too small for angels and we preferred not to give up equity. Plus, this was a casual game and no one had really made money in it yet, so even if we had gone to angels, it would have been a challenge to show comparables; herein lies the problem with funding innovation.

Why Kickstarter?

It was the most attractive. We felt Indiegogo didn’t have the mind share or level of traffic we were looking for. Gambitious wasn’t off the ground yet and the genre of gaming didn’t coincide with our product. If you’re going to raise money for a game, might as well go down the pre-order route. Why not Kickstarter every time? You’ll realise pretty quickly if people want to buy your game.

Walk Me Through Your Campaign Process

We had an idea for an ultra-immersive story, game and fitness app and created a video showcasing a bit of the prototype. We cut down internal expenses and set a budget of $12,500 that would meet our minimum product standards. We looked at other Kickstarter projects; we noticed it was a good idea to have a lot of rewards. Kickstarter says that the average reward of $20 is most popular. In retrospect, we could have charged more for the higher tiers, as we ended up with a waiting list. All-in, it took about two months from campaign launch to us getting money in the bank. For more info please visit:-

What would have happened if you hadn’t gotten the project funded?

We probably would have killed it; we viewed Kickstarter as a pretty good gauge for concept validation.

How did you market the campaign?

We leveraged our own networks and sent emails to various websites; we got some big hits. It was a novel concept and so it went a bit viral via Facebook and Twitter.

You exceeded your goal by quite a bit. You collected $72,627 from 3,464 backers within 30 days.

We purposely aimed for a low pledge. It worked out well. We used the “excess” money to create more content for the app, as well as for development on the Android. We won’t do crowdfunding again for future Zombies titles because the franchise has proven its success. This platform is about people buying into your dream.

You had promised a delivery date of February 2012, did you meet it?

Yes, 7-8 months after the campaign, we released Zombies, Run! It was tight towards the end, but we made it. We kept backers updated. We sent them messages and screenshots of development progress.

What advice do you have for game developers looking to run crowdfunding campaigns?

Crowdfunding is great for risky, niche ideas. But, not everyone is Tim Schafer. We noticed that people tended to ask for too much money, and in the end, didn’t get funded. The sweet spot is for indie game developers with 2-3 people. They can ask for $50,000. Beyond 10 employees, it doesn’t really work. Equity crowdfunding still has to prove itself; I’m not sure how convincing it is as an alternative. Why give up equity when you can raise funding via Kickstarter?

As Kickstarter UK hadn’t announced its official launch date at the time, Six to Start ran their campaign via Kickstarter US.



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