Attractive Kickstarter Projects

Rise of Tribes

I haven’t backed anything on Kickstarter for a few weeks.  I’ve looked through plenty of projects, but nothing seemed to grab me.  I wondered if I was becoming jaded and disillusioned with Kickstarter in general.

However, that all changed on Monday when I was immediately taken with two different projects: Groves and Rise of Tribes.  I backed them both on the same day.

I’ve talked about why I back Kickstarter projects before, but today I’d like to look at why some projects seem to be far more attractive than others.  What did those two projects do that all the other ones I looked at didn’t do?


I back a lot of Kickstarter projects, but there are a lot to choose from these days!  If projects don’t do enough to attract me, I’m out.  I don’t hang about to see if there’s a nugget of gold hiding in there somewhere.  I just don’t have time.

Now realise that what I find attractive may not be the same as what you find attractive.  With that caveat in mind, these are things that create a standout project for me:

  • Great Artwork

Artwork is one of the first things anyone sees when they look at a project.  I look at the artwork before absolutely anything else: before the theme, before the cost, even before the title of the game.

I make an immediate decision at that point whether to look further or move on to the next project.  The artwork needs to be great to keep me interested.  Not just good, but great.  With so many great artists available around the world, there’s no excuse for mediocre artwork these days.

  • Original Theme

This one isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but some themes have been used so much that I immediately switch off.  You’ve designed a cooperative dungeon crawler?  Sorry, not interested.  I already have enough really good dungeon crawlers to keep me going for years.

Themes don’t have to be completely original for me to be interested, but when I do see an original theme, it really draws me in.

  • Original Mechanisms

I play a lot of games and some mechanisms get used over and over again.  Sometimes, this is with good reason – there are some great mechanisms available to the modern game designer.

However, if a game simply combines a set of mechanisms I’ve seen before, I struggle to get excited.  I don’t mind a few familiar mechanisms, but I’m really looking for something original.  Original mechanisms immediately grab me.

  • Third-Party Reviews

The difficulty with backing Kickstarter projects is that it can be hard to work out if the game is actually any good or not.  I rely on third-party reviews for this.  If a project doesn’t have any third-party reviews, it’s very unlikely that I will back it.

Having said that, third-party reviewers vary.  Some of them just seem to talk about the game without really giving an opinion.  I can understand this.  Reviewers who are always positive are more likely to get sent games for review (which publisher doesn’t want to guarantee a positive review?).

However, as a potential backer, I don’t find these reviews very helpful.  A game might look good, but is it actually fun/interesting to play?  I don’t even watch reviews by certain well-known reviewers now because I’ve never heard them criticise a game.

  • Good English

This might sound like a funny one, but I never cease to be astonished by poor English and spelling mistakes on project pages.  The reason it matters to me is because I find it to be a good indicator of their attention to detail.

Attention to detail comes into play in many ways when creating a boardgame.  If the creators can’t create an error-free project page, that doesn’t bode well for their ability to create a quality product.

You might argue that this is more difficult for non-English creators, but it shouldn’t be.  If they are creating an English (or any language) version of their game, they need to hire a native speaker to edit any language present in the game.

Many non-English publishing companies produce games with excellent English.  There’s no excuse.

  • Family Friendly

This one is a bit more specific to my situation.  I have a lot of gamer friends who buy all the latest heavy Euros and big Ameritrash games.  There isn’t much point me buying games like that when I can pretty much guarantee to play them all at our weekly gaming night.

Gamers aren’t as interested in family-weight games though, and I play quite a few games with non-gamers.  So family-weight games particularly interest me.  It’s unlikely that anyone I know will have them and they will get lots of play with my family and non-gamer friends.


Those are the things that particularly attract me to Kickstarter projects.  What attracts you?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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