Developing a new app or game is a risky business. Even if you create something good there’s no guarantee that you’ll make a profit, or even recoup what you spent on development. One way to mitigate that risk is to launch a crowdfunding campaign. You might appeal for cash to fund development, to add a new feature or localize an existing app, or in return for future profits.
There are a lot of different crowdfunding platforms out there that might be worth considering. We’ll take a closer look in a moment, but whatever platform you choose it’s vital to have a fully-formed idea of what your app or game is and how you’re going to make it. You must be able to excite people and make it easy for them to envisage your aim, ideally you’ll have video to show off. You’re also going to have to work out what enticements you’re prepared to offer to get that cash injection.
Crowdfunding can potentially help you to garner feedback on your idea, guide the direction of development, and build a supportive community that will evangelize for your app. But it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as free money. You’re making a commitment to people and they will have expectations. Most campaigns fail. You’ll have a much better chance of success if you have a track record and a community or fan base you can appeal to, but a great idea presented well always has a shot.
The best known crowdfunding platform is probably Kickstarter, but it’s not necessarily the best suited to your project. It covers a very wide variety of different types of projects, not just apps and games. You’ll have to choose a funding goal and it’s all-or-nothing. If your project fails to meet the target by the deadline then you get nothing. To entice people to back you, a great story is essential, and you’ll have to pitch the rewards you offer just right. The good news is that the Creator Handbook is full of useful advice.
Fees: 5% and an additional 3-5% for credit card processing
With a similarly eclectic mix of projects as Kickstarter, Indiegogo is another major crowdfunding platform with a high profile. You’ll have to come up with attractive perks to get people to lay down their cash and create an interesting and engaging project page. In addition to setting a fixed goal, where fees will be refunded to backers if the target isn’t met within the deadline, Indiegogo also offers a flexible funding model where you get to keep the funds even if the goal isn’t met, but it will charge you an extra 5% of what you raise as a fee. This may seem tempting, but flexible funding is understandably less desirable for potential backers.
Fees: 5% (10% for flexible funding) and an additional 3-5% for credit card processing
You’ll find an interesting alternative model at AppsFunder. You can set a target and show off your project idea in the usual way, offering funders a reward of some kind, or you can try and entice them with a revenue share, offering them a slice of whatever you actually make when the app or game starts selling in the app store. With this platform, if your campaign is successful, your funds are carefully controlled, with AppsFunder releasing them based on milestones where you prove development is advancing. You have to give up a lot of control, and potentially revenue, with this platform.
Fees: $69 to list, 8% of collected funds, and 5% of revenue for 1 year after release
With AppBackr you set a goal and it’s an all-or-nothing deal, but the motivation for people to back your app is profit, rather than an alternative reward. They pay an upfront wholesale price, to give you the funds to develop, localize, promote, or add some new feature, and when the app sells they get a return on that investment. You are agreeing to pay them a profit out of your sales. The platform also takes a slice. To give an example, let’s say your live app will cost 99 cents, then your wholesale price is 45 cents, AppBacker takes 10 cents and you get 35 cents.
Fees: Around 20% for platform, backers get 26% profit
This service only deals with apps. In addition to crowdfunding, it offers the chance to sell your app or idea, and to recruit developers, writers, designers, and other specialists to help you make it a reality. If you’re looking for crowdfunding, you can opt for an all-or-nothing campaign or an open campaign where you receive funds as soon as people pledge them. Sadly, it doesn’t look like many of the app projects listed here are attracting any money.
Fees: 5% (10% for open campaign) and an additional 3-5% for credit card processing
These are some of the main crowdfunding platforms out there that are suitable for apps, but there are others. You may also consider the App Village, LaunchSky, RocketHub, Patreon, or others. Make sure you do your homework and properly assess the platform and terms before you make a decision.