Mika and the Witch’s Mountain
– PART I –
The Kickstarter campaign of Mika and the Witch’s Mountain and this post-mortem were made possible thanks to Abraham Cózar (CEO of Chibig and campaign designer), Irina Moreno (Communications Director), Carlos Corella (Product Marketing Manager) and Vic Franco (Campaign Designer).
When the Mika and the Witch’s Mountain campaign ended on March 4, 2023 at 7 p.m., the Chibig team couldn’t believe what they saw: we had raised€1,300,368 of the €40,000 we had originally asked for.
This 3,250% was a clear success for the studio: not only in terms of the campaign’s performance, but also as a consolidation of a new team at Chibig and for new hypotheses and design approaches that resulted in an unusual campaign for the studio.
Since campaigns are often launched before game development is complete, it is worth asking what it takes to create a minimum viable product (MVP) that delivers the project’s value proposition with as few elements as possible.
After a scoping exercise, we concluded that the project was about 80% of the development of their MVP and that we would need about €40,000 to complete it: porting, localization, and quality assurance (QA) processes.
However, while the initial target of 40K would be enough for a competent version of the game, the scoping exercise identified a number of additional features that would enhance the overall experience if they could be developed.
According to our initial estimations and the projection we believed the campaign would have, everything pointed to an ideal goal of €200,000, which would include a small portion of these additional features, such as:
- Change Mika’s appearance, including skins.
- Addition of side-quests, increasing gameplay.
- Addition of special quests as an alternative game mode.
Some features would still be left out and will only be possible if the campaign is overwhelmingly successful. We are talking about the inclusion of a companion for Mika or the dungeons, all of which have a huge impact on development.
The campaign video is the first thing a backer sees when entering the page to evaluate and decide, so it is one of the most important elements.
For Mika and the Witch’s Mountain we decided to produce a 1 minute 47 second trailer. To do so, we usually follow certain guidelines:
- The beginning has to be impressive and fast. We use 2D cinematic scenes (5 seconds) and quickly move to the gameplay section, leaving a very strong impression of the game.
- With the main character introduced, we move on to the gameplay scenes. We divide this sequence into two parts: the first to introduce the player’s actions and mechanics, and the second to show the game world and its variety.
- Finally, we lower the intensity and return to the cinematic scenes. Here we introduce a call to action message to support the campaign.
As for the body of the campaign, at Chibig we have launched several Kickstarter campaigns with a similar structure: we prioritize balanced information, interspersing text and images in a pragmatic way and without saturation. At the same time, we try not to be too vague or too heavy.
We also believe that a Kickstarter campaign should cover these two points as well as possible:
- Artistic and visual aspects. The project must be well represented and offer varied and attractive images.
- Generate trust. Show the final game content, prototypes (the case of the color figure), closeness (photos of the team) and solvency (references to previous projects).
You should also stay close to the community by responding to them, posting updates, and managing the feedback they provide.
One of the key elements in designing rewards is the average contribution per backer (or average ticket), which can indicate the scalability of the campaign.
In our previous campaigns, the average ticket were €22 and €23 (Deiland, 2017; and Deiland: Pocket Planet, 2020), €25 (Summer in Mara, 2018), and €42 (Ankora: The Lost Days, 2021); all thanks to great, but expensive to produce or ship rewards.
For this campaign, we wanted to get the highest average ticket we could without resorting to physical elements. We set it at €45.
With this in mind, we decided to conduct an analysis of campaigns similar to ours to see what elements make up their rewards and which are the most popular, in order to identify patterns or trends.
Our analysis covered about 20 campaigns and we found about 40 different items, both digital and physical.
- Most of the campaigns had the same kind of elements. So we could see patterns.
- The digital items were quite popular, enough to motivate the target audience after observing an average ticket of $50.
- The physical items with high production costs were mostly offered for rewards over $100.
Of all the elements we observed, we finally decided to adapt and include 21 elements, 15 digital and 6 physical. In the latter case, only one would have high production but low distribution costs (an original signed illustration).
An initial configuration of the reward scale, with a total of 11 different rewards, was designed using these elements.
During the course of the campaign they changed, but this will be discussed later on.
The strategy we had in mind to reach the €45 average ticket was mainly to attract backers with the early bird rewards (in brackets in the image).
In the first case, to get a lot of backers at the beginning with a discount on the market price of the game. This would help reach the goal as quickly as possible and serve as a validation and enticement for more backers. And in the second case, by offering several attractive digital items (such as early access or exclusive cosmetics) to “force” ticket growth. The latter would also help in the long run by facilitating scaling: a campaign that grows continuously and in large numbers is more attractive to potential backers.
Part of the strategy also took advantage of the rewards between the early birds (those of €25, €35 and €50): each one added to its content in scale, being very suggestive elements compared to the previous one, and all this to encourage the thought “for a little more I get something much better“, with very small jumps between them (of €10 and €15).
Finally, higher contribution rewards could provide a significant boost, and we set them up with very unique elements similar to those in most of the campaigns studied.
On January 10, the pre-launch page was published with the goal of reaching 2,000 followers. This would be achieved through organic actions from Chibig‘s and Abraham Cózar’s (Chibig‘s CEO) social media profiles (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Reddit), Chibig‘s Discord server and by sending a newsletter to the Chibig community.
The pre-launch landing page is important because its followers receive a notification when the campaign launches and are the first to convert at a rate of 20% to 30%.
Throughout the month of January, we reached out to a wide range of content creators we have worked with in the past, as well as a collection of new creators with an interest in indie, casual, and cozy games.
But it was the tweets launched from the accounts of Chibig and Abraham Cózar that provided a database of more than 1,300 content creators from Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
Creative Ad testing
To get followers for your campaign, it is necessary to attract your potential audience to the pre-launch page. So, in addition to organic actions, we allocated part of our marketing budget to setting up ad campaigns.
In the final week before the Kickstarter campaign launched, we began testing ads to validate content and performance, which increased the number of backers to a total of 3,090.
In order to carry out these marketing actions, we had to know who our target audience was. In the case of Chibig, and especially with Mika and the Witch Mountain, we segmented our ads to reach people with the following interests:
- Fans of video games and indie studios.
- Fans of Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli films.
- People who played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
In addition, we established a segmentation by country thanks to the demographics of the platforms: United States (main country in terms of number of users on Kickstarter), United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France and, finally, Spain.
Seventy-two ad sets were configured, each with five ads that rotated based on their performance, for a total of 360 active ads.
We tracked the pre-launch page daily and saw an increase of 2,000 followers with a cost of acquisition of $2.
With all this in mind, we were expecting a 20-30% conversion rate of followers to backers. Also, according to our calculations, and if our average ticket goal is $45, we could “count” on about $18,000 at launch.
In the end, the conversion rate was 38%, higher than the average of other campaigns.