Update 8: The Future of First Wonder
With only a week and change of time left to go, it will be impossible to reach the goal we initially set. First Wonder finds new supporters every day, new gamers like yourselves who like what you see and want to help it see the light. We just aren’t finding you fast enough. We’ll get into why that is in a moment.
First of all, we’re committed to continuing to work on First Wonder, finding a way to build it up over time to hit our aspirations for what we wanted to accomplish . This probably means getting it done in a different way than we intended: perhaps creating a small multiplayer version of the game first and delivering that as an Early Access game. Maybe sign with an interested publisher; or possibly even return to Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform with a different strategy. But the important thing is you haven’t heard the last of First Wonder, you can be sure of that!
In the interest of continued openness and honesty, let’s cover some of what we’ve learned in our first Kickstarter, and what we feel are some of the reasons this effort needed to be cut short. But let’s start on a positive note and cover what great things came of this journey.
Greenlit on Steam in just under 2 weeks
The combined effort of our fans got us Greenlit on Steam, with hundreds of supportive comments and shares. Not only does this add to our growing list of supporters, but it gives us access to a unified and reliable source of distribution, making a lot of new approaches possible!
We met a lot of great new people
Not only do we now have a lot of new friends of the project made through the campaign,we also met and got to know a ton of awesome people who are too numerous to list here, who have been very generous with their time and support. There are a number of really generous and entertaining Twitch streamers as well that gave us support. As a result, we learned about Twitch and how that community works.
Learned a LOT about a lot of new things
Not the least of which is running convention presences on a small budget, but also how to reach out to a community, and all the current technologies related to that effort. We learned about crowdfunding, which has a huge learning curve and a unique set of challenges to overcome. It’s not worth listing it all here, but we’ll be taking away a TON of valuable lessons.
On the “what went wrong” side...
It was way, way, way, way, way harder than we thought to build awareness
And it wasn’t for a lack of trying. We had gotten started quite a long time before the campaign launched. This included:
- Retaining a PR team for event and press relationships
- Hiring a community manager to manage social activity
- Partnering with Innervate to create a really nice community site, and being active in it
- Creating an up to date website
- Buying impressions through Facebook, Twitter, Google Ads, and other means.
- Working with Twitch streamers to engage their audiences
The most surprising for us was the press’ lack of interest in covering First Wonder’s Kickstarter. This wasn’t limited to us as it turns out; the press appears to have largely turned against Kickstarter stories, with many top tier outlets outright having an internal policy NOT to cover Kickstarter games at all. A lot of our supporters didn’t understand why they didn’t learn about the project on their favorite gaming sites. This isn’t a knock on the press, it just shows a change in the prevailing winds about what the press (and theoretically what their readers) want to hear about.
To be fair, we did end up getting a bit of great coverage before and after we launched, with some notable sites such as PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, and PCGamesN covering us after TwitchCon, which we are grateful for. They helped us produce some solid traffic and backers did come from those places, but despite these and some smaller outlets covering us, it just wasn’t enough.
On the other hand, by the metrics, once people get to the Kickstarter page, a very respectable percentage of visitors became backers. So, while certainly not every element of the campaign was perfect, it was nowhere near the biggest problem. We just couldn’t get anywhere nearly enough visitors.
Over focused on MDK, Giants, etc.
When it worked, it worked REALLY well. I would say the majority of you reading this probably fall in this category. In a couple of scenarios, focusing on this actually connected us with a few people who had access to very important influencers. But unfortunately, despite their best efforts, few of them were able to execute on it. We’re very grateful for their efforts, regardless.
But we relied a bit too much on an understanding of the old games as a shorthand crafted for the existing fanbase to understand the new one. One related problem that came up more than we expected was the comparisons to Evolve. Jetpacks vs Giant is something Nick investigated way back in 2001 with Giants, but of course, millions of people have become gamers and don’t know any of this, and we didn’t do a good job communicating how it’s not at all the same up front if they don’t know the previous games.
We asked for too much as our target
This error was simultaneously naive and not naive. We identified some model Kickstarters to assess, which included many asking for $500k. We analyzed their existing social followings. We looked at their success rates. We compared them to the message we were trying to convey. It looked like it was possible.
And then HBS launched their BattleTech campaign. I realized that while Jordan had given us a lot of good advice, that I still was very naive. I immediately saw at least 10 different things we had done wrong. The budget and development strategy first and foremost.
We rushed the launch
This is totally on us. We knew that early awareness was a problem, so after consulting with a variety of people we felt that it was important for us to launch the Kickstarter during a major gaming event. So we hung our hats on TwitchCon. We were up until the early hours of the morning finalizing the original Kickstarter video, but we simply ran out of time to get it into the place it should have been.
That leads us to:
TwitchCon was not the droid we were looking for.
The event itself was more or less fine, but foot traffic was pretty low for the game booths. Most people were in the 3-4 hour long merch line instead. Oops. So while we envisioned an exciting event with a crowd of people cheering, the reality was much more modest.
So what now?
Like I said, this ain’t over. We’re going to keep building on this little demo until it’s something we can start sharing. Being Greenlit on Steam allows us to share it in a controlled way to people until it’s ready for a broader release. And even in its early, rough form, people are having fun playing it. Our recent attempts to drum up awareness with Twitch streamers has generally resulted in some pretty fun streams. Thanks to each of them for getting involved! They’ve each been very supportive and expressed their excitement to see what happens with First Wonder.
To each of you who backed us on this Kickstarter, THANK YOU! Looking back, the amount we got in comparison to the average Kickstarter is not that bad. And that’s thanks to you guys and gals who believe in the game and in us. We would love for you each to keep in touch and stay involved in what comes next. We can’t get your contact info from an incomplete Kickstarter because they do a great job there of protecting your privacy, so please reach out to us through Kickstarter messages so we can make sure to involve you in whatever comes next.
We also would like you to be on the first wave of people who get access to test builds when we make them more widely available. We’ll be keeping the campaign live for another day or two to give you all a chance to reach us directly before we cancel the campaign.
Or, if you’d just rather stay in the know more simply, please sign up for our mailing list on www.First-Wonder.com, follow us on Twitter @Rogue_Rocket and Facebook.
Thanks again. While it’s an end of one chapter, it’s a beginning of a new one for First Wonder, and we’d love for each of you to come along!