While success on the platform is subjective, $1 billion has produced a lot of games.
Since 2009, crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has helped video game creators realize their visions through a publishing model that doesn’t rely on the traditional publisher-developer format. By taking game concepts directly to consumers, developers can accept monetary pledges to fund their projects, thus bypassing the need for publisher funds completely. This method seems to have worked wonders, too, as Kickstarter has announced that more than $1 billion has been pledged to game projects through the platform.
“Backers like you have funded nearly 17,000 Games projects, bringing to life the beautiful, bold, and unexpected visions of creators from across the globe,” a spokesperson said in the blog post. “We’ve seen projects that made us laugh, cry, shoot lasers at bad guys, and think about games in totally new ways.”
Though enthusiasm for Kickstarter Games seems to be at an all-time high for the company, there are a couple of caveats that come with the announcement. First is that the “games” category includes not only video games, but board games as well. Some of the most-funded projects on the site include Kingdom Death: Monster which earned just over $2 million in pledges, and Exploding Kittenswhich brought in a whopping $8.7 million from backers. Compare that to the most funded video game project on the site to date, Shenmue 3, which earned around $6.3 million. That’s not to diminish either medium, but the contrast is certainly interesting.
Also of note is that the wide majority of video game projects on Kickstarter miss their release window. In a GameDaily report from last month, we found that only three video games of the 50 most-backed projects in the category hit their release window: Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey, and Myst 25th Anniversary Collection. This phenomena can be attributed to a number of factors, including the chaotic nature of the development cycle.
Still, $1 billion is nothing to balk at. It’s $1 billion that has helped artists and creators see their visions come to life, $1 billion for games that may not have been made otherwise. For backers, Kickstarter is a chance to gain a personal stake in a project’s success and gain a sense of ownership over a game.
Kickstarter also made news last month with the announcement of Kickstarter United, the tech industry’s first major attempt at unionization. “Kickstarter United is proud to start the process of unionizing to safeguard and enrich Kickstarter’s charter commitments to creativity, equity, and a positive impact on society,” a Kickstarter United rep said in a statement to The Verge. “We trust in the democratic process and are confident that the leadership of Kickstarter stands with us in that effort. Kickstarter has always been a trailblazer, and this is a pivotal moment for tech.”
For the last decade, Kickstarter has occupied a curious space in the games industry, allowing indie developers to bypass the need for publisher funds and take their projects directly to consumers. With the rise in digital game sales and in-game spending at an all-time high, it will be interesting to see how the crowdfunding sector adapts. There’s always a place for platforms like Kickstarter, but in an industry dominated by games-as-a-service one must wonder what that place will look like a year from now.
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