2014 saw money pledged to videogame Kickstarters slashed

More campaigns but fewer successes as cash input more than halved


Kickstarter has been in touch to point out that, as it delineated a few categories within video gaming last year, such as mobile games and gaming hardware, the total number of successful projects within the category as a whole actually rose from 438 in 2013 to 465 last year, although the total in donations did still fall.

"The amount pledged to video game projects was in fact down last year, but we view the increase in the number of successful projects as a very healthy sign," said spokesman David Gallagher. "There were fewer blockbusters, but a healthy mix of really diverse smaller projects. Our mission is to bring creative projects to life - big or small."

New research from ICO Partners has shown that 2014 saw a huge drop in the money being pledged to gaming Kickstarters, with the total cash submitted dropping massively from nearly $58 million in 2013 to just over $25 million in 2014.

Some of that disparity can be accounted for by the absence of as many high-profile campaigns, which were attracting large sums in 2013. For example, ICO Partners' Thomas Bidaux's findings indicate that almost $30 million was pledged to campaigns seeking an excess of $500,000 in 2013, but only around $4 million went to projects of that size last year.


Furthermore, that drop occurred despite an increase in the number of gaming campaigns, from 1866 to 2050. Of those 2050 campaigns, however, even fewer were successfully funded than in 2013, with just 391 making the cut compared to 2013's 446. That means the vast majority, 1659 of the 2050 titles, failed to hit their targets.

Mapping out at which price points the successful projects were targeted, ICO Partners found that it was mid-tier projects looking for $10,000-$50,000 which showed the biggest decrease in success, as well as those top-tier 'super projects' asking for over half a million dollars. In other funding tiers, numbers for success remained largely static.

Projects seeking funding in dollars, (not necessarily directly equatable to US-based projects, as many countries without direct access to Kickstarter fund in USD) were the most populous and the took the most cash - easily outstripping UK Sterling as the second most popular currency, with 1269 projects taking $18.4 million in dollars compared to 377 taking $4.3 million in pounds.

So does this mean that Kickstarter is saturated? Are we in a gap between promise and product which is damaging the trust of Kickstarter backers? Expanding availability to new territories has had little impact, certainly as far as videogames are concerned, and successful funding numbers overall are remaining fairly flat, despite the rush in applications. Still, donations across all categories combined are up, albeit by a much smaller increment than seen previously, so there still seems to be room for growth, but it doesn't appear to be gaming which is attracting it.

But it's not just videogames which are finding a bigger gap between submissions and success. Across the entire service the number of unfunded projects jumped enormously in 2014, leaving nearly 25,000 teams pondering their failure. In fact, 2014 saw a 46 per cent increase in submissions of all Kickstarter projects, but only a five per cent increase in successes.

For the full report from ICO Partners, see Thomas' analysis here. Note that slides which list the category as "Games" are inclusive of tabletop games as well as videogames, a sector which has seen considerable success.

All images are courtesy of ICO Partners and Thomas Bidaux

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Latest comments (3)

Ron Dippold Software/Firmware Engineer 5 years ago
Backers have had time now to get burned out and burned a couple times and actually realize that this is not a store. There's a good chance you won't get your reward, or if you do it's almost always late. The promised regular updates start strong, then fade out to nothing. And then after the game is out, a month later it's on sale for cheaper than the base reward tier.

I've already talked to a bunch of once-prolific backers about this - we used to back anything that looked cool, now it's only things we really care about and want to spend extra money on to make sure it gets done (like Thimbleweed Park). Which is how it was 'supposed' to be, but that takes some time to internalize. I actually had a pretty good backing success rate (good risk estimation), but now that you've seen the sausage made it's not so tasty.

So it's still a viable funding method, but the bloom is off the rose and you had really better learn from all the failures before you just throw up a new Kickstarter. Your 'customers' are a bit more savvy now.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ron Dippold on 29th January 2015 6:57pm

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Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix5 years ago
I think there's a bit of a flight towards more tangible products. Games are unpredictable in terms of development, and early in the dev cycle it can be unclear what you'll end up with. As you say, it's been long enough that most backers have probably experienced mismatched expectations with something they backed.

Board games, on the other hand, feel a lot safer - you can see exactly what you get from it, the design is mostly all done and the money is essentially for production. I'd expect crowdfunding to move towards safer products for a little while until the system works out the kinks. But yes, the opportunities are definitely still there for the right pitches.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
If you look at the high profile projects and take stock, DFA run out of money despite hitting several times it's goal, Godus is apparently not much fun, I heard negativity about Shadowrun, there's been a few cancelations, a lot of delays, and the only high profile success I've seen is Wasteland 2, and even that was released significantly later than the initial estimate. Star Citizen is massive, but there are fears that it offers paid advantage, and a lot of backers haven't got the hardware to meet minimum specs.

The game projects also have a long gestation anyway, so excitment has waned. This is a shame in so far as I really was interested in "The Black Glove," but very understandable.

I think backers have also wised up to the fact you can't fund a team to make a game on $10k, if someone is asking for that little, and they aren't making it themselves in spare time, with just some need for assets or equipment, they clearly have no clue what they'll need to complete.
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