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Remaking the Game: KickStarter and the Morphing of Marketing

By Shari Spiro

It used to be that sometimes in order to get a game made someone had to die, and insurance money needed to be collected before a game designer’s 10 year project ever saw the light of day and actually got printed and packaged for retail sale in a true production run.  

Designers would labor on their games in basements and in a private world all their own until one day, the funds became available to actually bring their dream to life, only to sit in garages or attics after the lack of a marketing plan proved fatal to the whole drawn out, lifelong endeavor.

That is, until about 2010 when KickStarter started to catch on. With the advent of crowdfunding, the viral game began and with it a slap in the face (or was it a wake up call) to conventional retailers, distributors, designers, Fortune 500 companies and pretty much anyone who was in the conventional game market for the past several decades.

Somewhat reminiscent to me of the market share & IP loss that took place when the record and movie industries failed to see their fatal error when releasing digital materials, a similar lack of foresight left companies unable to see new marketing trends which were appearing everywhere at once. Struggling to understand “millennials” and other difficult to define entities, an entire industry seemed unable to grasp the simple viral nature of it all. People enjoy a game and then they tell their friends. Word of mouth – so much more effective than a commercial advertisement – demonstrated the simple, powerful and true nature of modern community marketing.  

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