The BoxFighter Indiegogo came to a close last weekend at just over $3,000 – only 38% of our $8,000 target.
In financial terms, it simply was not a success. However, we learned a lot from the exercise, developed several new skills and connections, and pushed BoxFighter to new heights in the process.
For reference: Compare our indiegogo video, released May 15:
To the BoxFighter Beta trailer, released June 22nd.
The visuals are cleaner, our video editing improved significantly, and we added (several iterations of) expressive eyes!
Our hope was that people would be astounded by the incredible potential BoxFighter possesses, see our goal as reasonable, and hop on the train.
However, between overreaching in our initial goals, encountering several personal calamities within days after launching,we were stretched quite thin throughout the 42-day campaign, and our fundraising efforts obviously suffered for it.
Despite these setbacks, we were compelled to continue working on BoxFighter. We still attended every event and met every commitment we made throughout the campaign, and wanted to present the highest-quality piece we could at every stop on our campaign trail. We made improvements to visuals, UI, and game balance at every opportunity, and grew ever more proud of our accomplishments.
What we learned
People love the game, they thanked us for presenting it, and said they wanted to play at home. A few even wanted to buy it on the spot.
However, very little of that enthusiasm turned into real contributions. Something about our pitch simply wasn’t actionable, and as the campaign progressed, we began to figure out the pieces that were missing from our efforts.
- BoxFighter isn’t ready for sale.
- Porting a beta to a new platform isn’t a very marketable concept.
- BoxFighter in its current iteration is an excellent installation piece, rather than something for home sale.
From a gameplay perspective, BoxFighter is solid: Players like the game, and want to bring it home. Arcade owners like the game, and are enthusiastic about installing cabinets. Publishing platforms are interested in promoting the game. Unfortunately, everything that surrounds our finely honed gameplay engine is currently ill-suited for production or distribution.
BoxFighter is a well-tuned engine in a halfway-finished chassis. We have spent four years tuning the in-game visuals, improving gameplay and character balance, but we have not honed the UI, created a single-player mode, nor addressed controller compatibility difficulties specific to our engine.
We rode a wave of enthusiasm into this campaign, and what we discovered was exactly as written above: People want to buy our game, but can’t. Upon making that discovery, the pitch to transport our game to a new format where they could play it was… murky. Some people picked it up right away, and most of those that did, contributed. Ultimately, though, our message wasn’t clear enough to reach the requisite number of people, and our campaign fell well short of its goals in the end.
While we don’t have a penny to show for it, the experience gained from this exercise was invaluable. One of the oldest lessons in entrepreneurship is that you must accept your failures, learn from them, and use that knowledge to better prepare for the next opportunity. Here are our takeaways from the process:
- However much time you think you need to prepare, do more.
- Feature creep is dangerous.
- Don’t rely on the quality of your product, nor its potential, to do your marketing for you.
Now that we’re on the other side of this experiment, we admit that these aren’t exactly revolutionary discoveries. However, nothing is more educational than first-hand experience. Most importantly, we know that we have the drive to accomplish something like this in the future, and are more excited than ever to keep working on our game.
Where we’re headed
Enthusiasm for the game has never been higher, and we truly believe that a BoxFighter community will have something unique to add to the gaming world. We want to bring this into being, and have learned that the road we will walk is the long, organic path, rather than something we can pull together with a quick fundraising campaign.
While dedicating our lives to the game and promotion of this campaign made for an exciting spring, the pace of our BoxFighter work is evening out to a calm and steady drive. We are working on compatibility, and have released our Linux-only beta into the wild, receiving some valuable input from its players.
One of the most powerful things about BoxFighter is the incredible flexibility of the character creation process. we are turning some of our newly freed-up resources focus back into character development, design and balance, meaning we have some exciting new boxes in the works, ready to play, fight, and win in their own special shades.
Last week, we debuted our work-in-progress, Orange, to a handful of eager BoxFighter players at our final campaign event at Quarterworld Arcade in Portland. In our next post, we will unveil this character to the world and talk in detail about the process of designing a BoxFighter character.
Throughout this all, we want to thank you for your continued support and interest in our art. We’re looking forward to what’s to come.