If you’ve been following Kickstarter for a while, you may remember a game project from last fall called graFighters. Its premise was simple: doodle a character, upload it to the game, and immediately engage in PvP battle against other users’ doodles. Unfortunately, even though graFighters had a fantastic pitch video (as you can see above), it just wasn’t able to pick up enough traction to reach its goal of $20,000.
But that’s not where the story ends. Through their Kickstarter project, Dave and Eric, graFighters’ two-man development team, managed to attract the attention of a private investment firm that saw potential in their game. Even though their Kickstarter project didn’t turn out quite the way they had hoped, they learned a lot from the experience, built a great game, and ended up raising a wee bit more than the initial $20,000 they’d hoped for. Below, Dave looks back on the Kickstarter experience and tells us where they are now:
How long have you and Eric been working on graFighters? Is this something you started developing while in school?
Eric and I have been working on graFighters for about two years. We came up with the idea at the end of our junior year. We graduated last year and just completed a year of grad school this year at Syracuse University. We have been friends since our freshmen year of college and have lived together since.
We actually came up with the idea while sitting in class (when we were supposed to be taking notes). We each looked at each other’s paper — I had this sweet dragon drawn, and Eric had a really cool ninja. We then proceeded to silently argue the rest of class about whose drawing would win in a fight. We decided there would really be only one way to settle this. That’s what spawned graFighters.
“Floppysaurus”: Watch out! This floppy herbivore is faster than a slinky down a staircase.
GraFighters is a fantastic concept for a game. Are you artists/illustrators yourselves?
Eric is a designer and I am a designer/programmer. We are both artistically minded but wouldn’t consider ourselves amazing illustrators; we’re more doodlers. We love drawing and creating anything and that’s really what graFighters is about. Whether you are 6- years-old or 80-years-old, whether you have drawing skills like Da Vinci or have never drawn in your life, graFighters will bring your creation to life.
“ImaSharkBoat”: Half Shark, half Dinosaur, half boat.
“Zenny”: Loves nature, longs walks on the beach, and the occasional fight where he knocks teeth out.
So you guys launched a project on Kickstarter last fall, but didn’t end up reaching your goal. Did you learn anything from the experience? If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?
1. Give great and tangible rewards. We gave cheesy and funny things like, “virtual high fives” which I assume aren’t that amazing compared to what $20 dollars could get you elsewhere. A lot of the great successes on Kickstarter have used it almost as a way to handle preorders, where they ship products to consumers once they are made.
2. Promote it yourselves. We kinda assumed that everyone would just magically come. We really didn’t give promoting our page the time it deserved.
3. Make your goal realistic. We went for $20,000 (go big or go home right?), but we ended up not even coming close. If we had to do it again we would do way less.
You recently announced some pretty exciting news about GraFighters. Can you tell us a bit about how that happened, and where this will allow you to take GraFighters in the future?
We received an email from a fund manager at X.Million Venture Capital on Christmas eve saying he saw our project on Kickstarter and watched our videos and would love to talk more. After a few months of talking and doing due diligence we finally arrived at a deal. X Million Invested $200,000 into graFighters allowing us to turn our barebones product into a full featured game!