When I first started using Kickstarter in 2012 to raise production funding for my games, I made a misstep on the all-important project video. The initial video for Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 Map Expansion was way too long. It was so long I can’t even remember how long exactly. Kickstarter’s insights showed that only a handful of people played it through (roughly 8-10% IIRC). I updated the video after launch and cut it down quite a bit, but, it really was still too long. What if the pitch or some really important point was ONLY provided at the end of that video? What if the main project page did not contain or reiterate that information? The result- missed backers or as a minimum, poor communication and lack of interest.
As my projects progressed, the videos became shorter and shorter, which is hard to do because you’re excited to finally present your project to the masses. My videos always had a story element or series of stock videos put to music to give a sense of setting. I’m now convinced that even that is too much. You just don’t have time. The first launch of Polyversal included a roughly 5-minute project video. Half of it was story information and the other half background from the designer with a fly-through of the game in our cityscape setting (Polyversal is a miniatures game). I received some good feedback after the project from Grant (@hyperboleGrant):
“the video is too long and you never pitched the game.” -Grant
He was right. Tip: Always ask for and trust blunt and honest feedback. That is what helps you the most as a designer / publisher / creator. Grant is good at providing that.
This is also discussed in the Stonemaier Games blog with a recommendation to “limit videos to about 2 minutes total.” Save detailed information like gameplay or product use, campaign details, etc., for supplemental videos embedded in the project page. That’s great advice and something I’ll be doing with the Polyversal re-launch. We had some embedded videos already, and those were well received, but, the project video was just too long for those still in ‘browsing mode’. Shorter videos appeal to our shorter attention spans as modern-day humans. And, it needs to pitch and pitch quickly by presenting the purpose of the project, why anyone should support you, what makes it unique, and when to pledge (now). It should also point them where to learn more, which should be written out in the project page.
You can watch the original Polyversal project video here on the cancelled project for reference (Don’t worry, I’m not pitching anything- the video lacks a pitch, really!, and the project is done).
Here are some changes I’m making to the Polyversal project video for re-launch:
- The story portion will be removed and remain in its own video.
- The pitch (what Polyversal is and why people should back it) will be given UP FRONT by Ken and I. This will present what the game is, why it’s unique, and why people should support it now.
- The designer’s commentary by Ken is still good and brief enough to be used. This also shows the game in action as Ken speaks and has interesting visuals.
- Everything else will be cut out. The buildings are now going to be their own project, so the end part with The Phalanx Consortium will not be necessary for this video.
- I will refer to other embedded videos for more detail on story, gameplay, and unit design.
I think with these changes, the new video will:
- Have a greater chance of full plays.
- Be brief and clear enough to grab people’s attention if they are the target audience.
- Force us to focus on the pitch and most important points to make about the project up front.
- Help us come across as more organized and focused on our message.
- Require less editing time. Editing 1 minute of video takes me approximately 2 hours in Premier Pro. If I only have to edit 2 minutes of final video, I should be able to wrap up that work in much less time.
- Cut project videos down to 2 minutes maximum. In those 2 minutes, be sure the project is actually pitched. If it’s longer than 2 minutes, you may think you need that extra time, but, you don’t. It’s not effective, so why include it? Make your main points and be done.
- Ask people to back the project NOW for one or two specific reasons.
- Don’t drag out the project video with information on rewards, stretch goals, shipping, gameplay, product use, or other details not related to a pitch or general overview. In other words, don’t present everything about the product in this single video.
- Point potential backers to supplemental videos embedded in the project page for additional information (Gameplay, Function, Reviews, and Storyline as appropriate).
- Remember, a very low percentage of people who actually click on the video will finish it if it’s more than a couple minutes. The longer it is, the lower the percentage of full plays. Pique backer’s interest in the first 15 seconds or you risk losing them.
Once the Polyversal re-launch is previewed, I’ll link to it here so you can see the updated video and how it differs from the original. Let me know if you agree with these points and as always, please comment with any feedback, and like, share, and follow the blog.