Dearest backers and Harmonia Tactics enthusiasts,
We regret to announce that we have decided to cancel the Kickstarter campaign for Harmonia Tactics.
You may have noticed that our fundraising reached a plateau rather early on. When we launched our project, we were optimistic that our game was ready to stand on its own beside other indie games in need of funding, that our presentation would carry it, and that three years of solid dedication would inspire donations. Unfortunately, this campaign never picked up steam; despite our best efforts to reach out to press, we received virtually no mentions, no responses, and very little feedback in general.
This is, of course, all very disappointing to us. More than anything, we’re confused and left with many questions: Was our presentation not good enough? Is our visual style unappealing? Did we advertise poorly? Did we not advertise enough? Does our game just plain suck?
What may have gone wrong:
1. No third-party news. Indie gaming is a much more competitive and saturated field than it was when this project began three years ago. It’s more difficult than ever to get news space and it’s possible our presentation isn’t convincing enough to catch the attention of bloggers, journalists, and even Let’s Players. This comes as a surprise to us; our game feels ready to be seen and taken seriously with more than enough promising material to be newsworthy. Going forward, we clearly have a lot of work to do in analyzing and refining our approach to marketing and publicity.
2. Not a big enough fan base beforehand. This isn’t something we neglected, but something of which we didn’t fully appreciate the importance. Our modest number of Twitter followers and Facebook fans were simply too few and possibly the wrong demographic – mostly fellow game developers, not potential gamers / customers. For a game intended to build an online community, this should be our top priority.
3. Confusing messaging. We feel the proposal for our finished game to be straightforward, but most of the material for our presentation comes from a handful of mini-games that may not have represented the final product as well as they could have. These demos are fun and show off our game’s combat mechanics as well as modding features of the engine, but don’t quite capture the experience of the final game we’re proposing. In a sea of games competing for potential backers, whose time to view our material can be measured in seconds, no project has the luxury of nuance or explaining the details in fine print – our message simply wasn’t focused enough.
4. Video was functional rather than AWESOME. With so many other amazing projects to compete against, we needed an equally amazing film rather than something shot in my home office. In hindsight, we should have hired a professional to produce a video for us.
5. We don’t even know. The feedback we’ve received on the project has been almost completely positive, in regards to everything we’ve produced, but overall there has been very little of it. We ourselves have endless speculations as to what went wrong and what we can improve, but, as it stands, we have more questions than answers.
What’s our plan?
As of this post, our plan is to take a step back from the project, get some outside opinions and review, then proceed forward with fresh ideas after the dust has settled.
The one thing we’re sure of is that player opinion of our downloadable demo was not a factor in this campaign. Harmonia Tactics only had a handful of downloads since the Kickstarter launched, and the feedback we did receive regarding the gameplay was very positive – a sigh of relief to us because our engine and its game mechanics are major pillars of Harmonia Tactics. The lack of criticism doesn’t mean our game is perfect, but with no feedback suggesting we need to scrap anything, retool game mechanics, or start over from scratch, we’re confident we can push forward.
We’re also reasonably sure we had a failure in marketing; a failure to properly present Harmonia Tactics to the public in a way that was eye-catching to potential backers. Among the many skills necessary for game development, we admit this is likely our weakest area. We need to do better and, in the future, this will likely mean hiring outside help to give our project the visibility and panache it needs to attract players. Even a perfect product won’t sell if nobody sees it on the shelf.
Developing games is great fun – a lot of work to be sure, but very satisfying. If pursued seriously, however, game development is a business and that business needs to be managed well. If we’re not good at selling our products, there’s no reason to stop developing this or future games altogether – we just need to do better!
Thank you for playing!
We love our game, and not just because it’s our baby. It’s fun, and there’s a lot of potential we have yet to fully realize. We’re extremely grateful to you, our backers, for believing in our project. We’re going to incorporate what we’ve learned from this campaign into Harmonia Tactics and our future endeavors.
– Baroque Creations Team