A Look at Funding Trends on Kickstarter For Game Projects

By Polar_Bear
In Crowdfunding
Aug 2nd, 2017
11 Comments
1114 Views

I remember, back when I started my tenure on TGN, having a conversation with my then-boss about, “what are we going to do with all these Kickstarter-things?” My, how times have changed. We all can tell that things are getting bigger all the time on the platform, but there’s been relatively little imperial evidence of that. Not such here. ICO Partners has posted up an analysis of funding trends on Kickstarter over the past several years, with a particular look at gaming projects.

From the report:

Looking first at the number of projects, it is obvious that this subcategory of projects is bonkers:

There is a strong and steady growth of the number of projects that are funded.
There was no “potato salad” speculation effect in the second half of 2014 (at least, not as visibly as in other parts of the Kickstarter platform).
The number of projects failing is stable, meaning the success ratio is steadily increasing (62% of the projects got funded in the first half of 2017)

Source

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  • odinsgrandson

    Percentage of failing projects is steadily decreasing. That’s interesting.

    We can tell that the audience is growing (bigger projects tend to have quite a few first time backers).

    Although, business practices on kickstarter are also becoming more stable- creators know what their audience expects quite a bit more than they used to (even new creators).

    • BDub

      I think some of that is owed to the KS support service industry that has grown up around KS. I still agree with Davos, regarding Established companies that use it as a pre-order/marketing tool, but I simple refrain from supporting many of those who do (through the KS vehicle, that is to say). I think there is much more value for me, in supporting start-ups that need capital support, and over seas endevors that might not be able to get into my market easily (Shem Philips, North Sea Saga, for example)

      • odinsgrandson

        I like to look at the number of new backers that every kickstarter has. Big projects attract a lot of attention, and bring people to KS for the first time. Especially ones with crossover audiences (Dark Souls had tons of first time backers).

        I don’t think the small projects would be as successful without the large ones.

        That doesn’t mean that they need your personal support. Really, if you want to give support where it is needed most, definitely go with the smaller projects.

        But overall, I think they do something positive for the whole community.

        • BDub

          Very good points.
          I do like supporting the smaller start-up projects. I feel ultimately that grows the industry and encourages a next generation of designers that we might otherwise never see anything from.

          • odinsgrandson

            You’re absolutely right, the industry is definitely growing from the small startups that go on Kickstarter

            Right now, there are more different styles of terrific minis than there have ever been, and WAY more high quality board games. I honestly think the trend has been informing the larger companies as well, because their average quality has gone up.

          • BDub

            Agreed on all points.

  • Davos Seaworth

    KS tabletop games are a weird hodgepodge of different angles:

    * weirdos who pop out of the woodwork to push disposable pop-culture card games featuring Trump (typically fail)
    * people who spend about 10 minutes “inventing” the next Cards Against Humanity (typically fail)
    * naive folks who are clearly in over their head, although they seem sincere (typically fail)
    * established publishers like Queen Games who use KS as their own personal pre-order system (typically succeed)
    * minis juggernauts (like CMON) who use KS as both pre-order service and hype machine (typically succeed)
    * non-US-based designers who use KS because it gives them access to a US gaming market that they otherwise couldn’t reach (some succeed, some fail)

    Kickstarter really is kind of a one-stop-shop for several different approaches. My main gripe continues to be: If publishers are using KS as a pre-order system (and let’s all admit that they are) then stop with the whole “Kickstarter is not a store!” mumbo jumbo and put some real consumer protections in place. But I’m sure KS founders are too busy counting their % of the $$$ to bother with that.

    • odinsgrandson

      But if it isn’t broken, why fix it?

      KS seems to be working fine with legal responsibilities in the hands of the project creators and backers (KS even states that backers can take legal action against creators).

      This way, KS doesn’t have to gatekeep everything (which was kind of the point once). Especially outside of gaming and tech, where most projects look less like point of sales.

      Personally, I don’t have any issue with the juggernaut game projects. To me, those serve to legitimize the medium (most new backers start out with one of the big dogs, and later look to kickstarter for little projects). If you don’t look at it as a zero sum game, then it seems like Zombicide and Dark Souls are potentially increasing funding to smaller projects.

      • Davos Seaworth

        My gripe is the “lie agreed upon” that “KS is not a store.” Every notable KS has a menu of options telling you exactly what you can get for exactly the $$$ necessary. If that’s not a store then I don’t know what is. And that’s fine for KS to become a store, but I wish it would just be honest and say “Hi! This is a big boardgame store now! Enjoy this store!”

        But KS wants it both ways: They want all of the eyeballs and all of the $$$ from rabid boardgamers willing to plunk down $300-a-pop for minis games, but if publishers start missing ship dates, or delivering product that doesn’t resemble what they showed during the campaign, or otherwise don’t fulfill to a backer’s desire, then suddenly it’s “Too bad, so sad… KS is not a store!”

        Here’s a good step 1:
        Publisher must submit a delivery date. If that delivery date is missed, and product hasn’t already been shipped, then the backer has the option to be refunded 100%. This would cut back on the embarrassing prevalence of publishers blowing their own delivery dates. (and would also cut down on the… shall we say “optimistic” dates that some publishers use as an additional lure to separate you from your cash.)

        • odinsgrandson

          Kickstarter’s official stance is “They didn’t deliver what was promised? Then take legal action.”

          That’s pretty different from “KS is not a store.”

          Requiring all projects to deliver ‘on time’ might also end kickstarter overnight.

          I mean- by the time you’ll be handing out refunds, the money should be spent (or at least budgeted).

          And can we expect all future KS to do something that only about 15% can manage right now?

          Lateness probabilities are directly proportional to overfunding, so that’s a lot more than 85% of Kickstarter’s income that they’d be putting at risk.

          And they’d be doing that to fix a business model that is demonstrably working just fine as is.

        • TGM

          Publishers would merely give themselves a very generous delivery date to all but guarantee they would not have to issue refunds.