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Edmund McMillen is Killing It On Social Media via Kickstarter Stretch Goals for The Binding Of Isaac Card Game

Funding a Kickstarter is already a big accomplishment (and a big undertaking). It’s easy for creators to get lost in the sauce of Kickstarter. Many take on more than they can handle and receive negative press by having insultingly high stretch goals or stretch goals they end up being incapable of executing. It’s premature to say Edmund McMillen’s fully funded Kickstarter for The Binding of Isaac card game will go off without a hitch, but it’s clear that he has set himself up for success, on a multitude of levels. His secret? Community involvement.

Yesterday, Edmund McMillen launched his Kickstarter, The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, with a goal of $50,000; he reached that in two hours. Usually Kickstarter stretch goals are dependent on more money or more backers (ex. “at $100,000 we’ll release a physical version of the game”). The brilliance of McMillen’s stretch goals is that he is involving all fans of The Binding of Isaac, not just those backing him. Best of all, it’s not contained to activity solely on Kickstarter. McMillen has taken to social media and given the entire world various “To Do Lists.” Once they’re completed, they unlock additional cards for The Binding Of Isaac: Four Souls. He started this campaign last evening on Twitter:

Notice that only one of the items on this “To Do List” is tied to Kickstarter specifically. Yet, all of these goals help grown his brand, from social media engagement to an updated wiki page. It’s possible for fans to unlock these stretch goals without giving McMillen any money at all. But most importantly, a lot of these tasks are just plain fun. And the mystery behind each stretch goal makes it even more entertaining. For instance, all fans knew for the first stretch goal was that they’d “unlock ‘someone hairy’ and descend to the caves.” Only after the goal is reached are the extra cards revealed. Additionally, completing one stretch goal reveals the next, as if it’s a level in The Binding Of Isaac itself. This gamifies the Kickstarter experience, adding the the fun. Below are the two cards added after completing the first stretch goal, which was entitled “The Basement.”

Adding just two cards to a deck is a pretty small undertaking compared to the creation of the card game, making me confident that McMillen can actually deliver on these stretch goals. But still, two extra cards isn’t that exciting. So why do fans even care? The answer lies in the process. The success of these stretch goals comes from McMillen getting people invested in achieving the goal, not solely in getting the reward itself.

So suddenly it doesn’t feel like we’re just giving McMillen more money or buying something. In fact, you can “participate” in this Kickstarter without spending a penny. And since adding two cards isn’t that much extra work for McMillen (compared to all the work he is already doing) he can afford to make the stretch goal about the fun and not the profits. Which, ironically enough, results in massive profits.

McMillen has several stretch goals following this “To Do List” format and it has fans doing everything from cosplaying as Isaac in their basements (G-rated nudity only, thank you):

to “thumping” heads with bibles:

Even though some of these actions don’t directly give McMillen money, they’re indirectly making him wealthy. This increased Twitter and Facebook engagement means more people are positively talking about him, which is good for his brand. This means more followers, which can mean more backers, which means more money. And this continues to “pay” dividends long after the Kickstarter is over. Products come and go, but, if done right, a community can last forever.

But this idea would be nothing without proper execution. Edmund McMillen shows genuine interest in his community and, as a result, his community shows him support which in turn grows his community. It’s a brilliant cycle.

McMillen’s Twitter is full of retweets and replies to fans. And this is something McMillen has always been good at, even before this Kickstarter he’d regularly share fan tattoos and art on his timeline. He cares and he makes that clear to fans every step of the way:

If you’re a fan of The Binding of Isaac at all, or just want a window into what good community engagement looks like, I highly recommend you look at McMillen’s Twitter and keep an eye on his Kickstarter. I just might back it myself after this wonderful display.