Ashes of Creation has funded after a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The starting goal of $750,000 was absolutely crushed with an end total of $3,271,809 raised by 19,576 backers. This ranks Ashes of Creation as the top funded mmorpg in Kickstarter history and places it as #7 in the all time video game rankings list. This is a tremendous accomplishment and one that I am sure everyone at Intrepid Studios is proud of. For them, it’s on to game development and for me it’s time too look a little closer at what they did right.
A successful Kickstarter depends on several things. At the core is a unique and promising game that players want to see created. On top of that the introduction video should be very well produced, not overly long, and be easily understood also preferably showing gameplay. There is no easier way to turn away potential backers than leave them with an overwhelming feeling that they will not receive their reward or that it will be a very long period of time before they get it. As the Kickstarter is progressing there should be frequent updates and ideally with them, further gameplay. These should be regular and planned. Live streaming these updates on Twitch is also a huge plus. Maintaining regular contact with your audience through a medium like Discord is also important. From the start the creator should set attainable and interesting stretch goals. You might not need to add all of them right away, but at least give potential backers a reason to back now and get their friends to as well. There should also be a build up to the start of the Kickstarter campaign in order to promote its existence and start date.

Lastly, and crucially, there should be a wide variety of pledge tiers in terms of cost. Early bird specials are also very helpful in that when a backer sees they might lose out on something they want, they are more likely to select it. The most variety should be in the sub $500 range as this is where the vast majority of your backers will pledge. Within each tier there should also be meaningful and distinct differences in rewards. I like to see varying stages of alphas and betas. Cosmetic items and titles are also a plus. What typically do not result in much of an increase are multiples of game keys or already rewarded items and increasing amounts of VIP access or months of subscription. There is one exception to this which we will see later on.

So how was Ashes of Creation so successful? In short, Intrepid Studios checked off all of these boxes. They built up the start date of the Kickstarter, released a good introduction video, provided frequent updates both on Kickstarter and live on Twitch, remained in frequent touch with their audience through Discord and had attainable and meaningful stretch goals. Perhaps of more importance were their pledge tiers and rewards that were offered. ​

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As you can see a wide range of pledge tiers were used with 6 of them being below $500 which is where 97.9% of their backers pledged 82.5% of the funds. Allowing multiple tiers like this within a fairly narrow range of price encourages backers to spend a little more to get more rewards without feeling like you are breaking the bank.

There was a very good use of the early bird tier discounts. These were used so well in fact that there were multiples used on five different pledge tiers and the Braver of Worlds tier had 7 early bird sections that filled up. This does two things. First, as mentioned before, it closes the gap between pledge tiers encouraging backers to spend more. Second because they are limited backers are more inclined to select them in order to not miss out on the opportunity later. I should point out that on each pledge tier there was initially only one early bird however as they filled up new ones were added at slightly higher prices. I am not sure if this was planned or spur of the moment but it was a great strategy.

The last thing I want to point out are two different rewards that were presented: access to alpha/beta and months of game time. Backers always want access to the game early and as I mentioned before the best way to do this is break each into subcategories like alpha 1, 2, etc, which they did. This clearly paid off as can be seen from the data above. By adding an alpha 2 they were able to offer this at a lower price range of $125-150 and leave alpha 1 as a reward at the $400-500 range. They were able to get a spike of 19.2% of their backers pledging 15.8% of the total funds at the Founder level which offered alpha 2 access. They were also able to get a spike of 15.2% of their backers pledging 41.2% of the total funds at the Braver of Worlds tier. However I suspect the spike at this tier was not just due to alpha 1 access but also due to another brilliant reward: a lifetime subscription to the game.

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From my research I have found that normally adding a month or two of extra game time to each tier does not result in much of a boost in backer numbers. But what happens when you offer a lifetime subscription to a game that is subscription based? Suddenly you have 41.2% of your total funds raised in one tier and a tier that ranged from $400-500 at that. Why this is important and something that many people chose? Look at the data above. If we are to assume that Ashes of Creation releases and becomes a game that we will play steadily for years, all of the sudden the value of the lifetime subscription skyrockets and pays for the pledge itself. If you had played World of Warcraft from launch through the release of Legion you could have paid upwards of $2,000 dollars. In this instance if you only play 33 months of Ashes of Creation, you will have recouped your $400 and hopefully had a great time doing it.

There are many gears that make a successful Kickstarter turn but those above are some of the most likely reasons for Ashes of Creation to have done so well. To all at Intrepid Studios, this Kickstarter campaign was masterfully done. Congratulations and I look forward to testing and playing Ashes of Creation (yes, I was a backer).