Crowdfunding and Tabletop Games: 2019 Mid-Year Update

Following up from yesterday’s blog post, you can find here the status for tabletop games on Kickstarter for the first half of 2019.

As a reminder, I use the word “semester” for half years.

Tabletop games on Kickstarter in 2019 so far

The first half of 2019 saw a slight drop in the total amount of money raised for tabletop project compared to the previous six months.

The total amount of money raised is still staggering and the second highest semester to date.

Alongside a drop in the total amount of money raised, there was a drop in the number of projects launched on Kickstarter. That seems in line with previous years though, where more projects are launch in the second half of a year consistently.

Interestingly, the total number of funded projects is still increasing. With an average of 7 tabletop games per day getting funded on Kickstarter. The success ratio of tabletop projects is 69%, the highest it has ever been.

As mentioned in the video game blogpost, the potato salad effect seems over.

Despite raising less money in total than during the previous semester, tabletop game campaign have raised more money in all tiers, except the $500,000+ tier.

This is a very strong sign of healthiness for the category, as more projects overall are raising more money, with the exception of the larger ones, the most likely to be outliers of the trends.

There were more projects in the $500,000 tier than ever before. None of them went supernova though.

And there were more projects across all tiers than ever before, with the exception of the $10k to $50k tier.

Contrary to video games, the tabletop game campaigns are overwhelmingly dominated by projects set-up in USD.

I suspect existing tabletop gaming companies have already established subsidiaries in the US for the purpose of their crowdfunding campaigns, and don’t see a point in getting back to their home country currency.

Conclusion

The tabletop projects are still going strong. I don’t think 2019 will be the year where we see the growth of that subcategory slow down. With key events like Gencon and Spiel in the second half of the year, I would expect the second semester to be at least as good as the second half of 2018.

 

Post Scriptum

I have actually an extra bit of news related to board games. Today, Nerial, the studio behind the Reigns games, has announced the new game of the series, Reigns: The Council. And it is a board game. And we are working with them on the project as it will come to Kickstarter some time later this year. I am quite excited about that very first tabletop project for me! Head out to the website to learn more about it: http://reignsgame.com

Crowdfunding and Video Games: 2019 Mid-Year Update

As is now the ritual, I have done a deep dive into the Kickstarter data we gather and put together some notes for you to look at how well video games are doing for the first half of 2019.

As a reminder, I use the word “semester” for half years.

Video Games on Kickstarter in 2019 so far

The first half of 2019 was the best semester for crowdfunded games on Kickstarter since 2015.

And while the numbers stayed within the same range, this is again a testimony to the place that Kickstarter has found within the industry.

The total number of projects submitted to the platform has gone down, the lowest since the first half of 2013.

The number of funded projects however has gone up.

It is the highest semester for number of funded video games projects since 2016.

The ratio of successfully funded project is 28%, the highest it has ever been since the launch of the Double Fine Adventure campaign and the first surge of video games campaigns on the platform.

Fewer studios try to get crowdfunded, but a higher number of projects succeed, showing the maturity of the platform after 10 years, and the tail end of the potato salad effect.

Looking at projects per tier of money amount raised:

  • Half the money raised in H1 was by $500,000+ projects.
  • A high number of projects (22) raised between $50,000 and $100,000 so far this year.
  • Half the projects have raised less than $10,000.

Looking at the share of the total amount raised each year depending on the currency of the project shows a very interesting trend for 2019 so far: for the first time, the projects in USD represent less than half of the total amount raised.

Notable video game projects

Looking at the top 4 projects of 2019 so far is quite interesting.

Subverse – $2,192,000 (GBP campaign)

  • Largest campaign in 2019 so far, it has an adult theme that drew 58,000+ backers. It is making the 13th most backed video game on kickstarter.
  • 53% of the backers are first time backers.
  • Almost 8% of the backers are from… China. This is the only project I have seen on Kickstarter that any significant backers from China.

Firmament – $1,433,000 (USD campaign)

  • The second campaign for Cyan Worlds, their first campaign had raised $2.8m.
  • With an initial very high goal of $1,250,000, it managed to reach it just two days before the end.
  • Considering how successful the Myst campaign had been, it is surprising to see 14% of the backers were first backers. I would have expected a lower ratio.
  • The total number of backers for firmament (18.4k) is close to the number of backers for Myst (19.3k)

R-Type Final 2 – $913,000 (JPY campaign)

  • The campaign only lasted eight days, making its performance even more notable. Shorter campaigns is a current trend for tabletop games, this is the first significant video game campaign trying this. I do not think this is actually a good strategy though, I will see if I can explain this further in a follow up blog post.
  • 60% of the backers are from Japan. Again, I have never seen a campaign do this before.
  • 59% are first time backers. The campaign manager had an excellent access to the hardcore, niche audience looking for this type of game.
  • It is the largest campaign in JPY on Kickstarter to date, across all categories.

Monster Prom 2 – $604,000 (EUR campaign)

  • The fourth campaign of the studio, this is the sequel to one of them, Monster Prom.
  • This campaign raised $570,000 more than the original. Clearly building on the community first established.
  • 30% of the backers are first time backers. Again, a higher percentage than often seen, showing the importance to bring your audience to your campaign.

Conclusion

2019 seems to be in line with the past years, possibly on a growing trend. What is quite striking, looking at the overall numbers as well as the main projects so far this year, is the fact that Kickstarter has grown out of being that very US-centric platform, with impressive numbers of backers coming from Asia these first six months

 

Post Scriptum

I spoke at GDC this year about crowdfunding and video games and the talk is free on GDC Vault:
https://www.gdcvault.com/play/1025708/Game-Discoverability-Day-Crowdfunding-Your

Kickstarter and Tabletop Games: 2018 Mid-Year Update

As an addition to the traditional mid-year crowdfunding check, for video games, I have decided to give tabletop games their own blog post this year. There is a dedicated interest for these numbers, and they are quite fascinating to follow.

As a quick catch-up, you might want to have a look at the post on the year 2017 performance for games on Kickstarter.

The Kings of Kickstarter

Let’s get started with the question I always get when talking about the ongoing performance of the tabletop category on Kickstarter: is the bubble bursting yet?

Well. Nope.

And it’s hard to say if it is indeed a bubble at all, considering how steady the growth has been.

Tabletop games have almost raised $80m in just 6 months this year.

Tabletop Games have raised more money than any other category on the platform during the period, and represent 30% of all the money raised on Kickstarter.

As a reminder, Tabletop Games were representing 23% of all the money raised on Kickstarter in the year 2017, and if there is a trend in seasonality we can see, it is that the second half of a year is usually bigger for projects of that subcategory.

I normally don’t use gifs in blog posts, I feel this warrants an exception.

Looking into the total number of campaigns launched on the platform, we can see a drop from the previous period.

However, this is in line with previous years, which see fewer campaigns during the first half of a year.

Looking at projects that got funded, we can also observe a drop where there has been a constant growth for the past five years. This is the first sign of either some fatigue, or maybe we have reached the critical mass of unique, quality tabletop projects that can be submitted in a given period. There has to be a ceiling on how many of these projects can exist.

What is important to note as well, though, is that the number of projects that failed has dropped by a higher ratio than the number of funded projects. Like for the video games projects, this shows a decrease in the number of projects going to the platform unprepared, or the drop of purely opportunistic projects. (Remember the potato salad effect? This might be the tail end of it.)

 

Despite a drop in the total number of projects that got funded, we end up with the highest “success ratio” for tabletop games ever.

Almost two thirds of the tabletop campaigns manage to reach their goal.

Looking at which tiers see a drop in the number of funded projects, we see a similar pattern to the video games update, with lower tiers suffering a drop in numbers:

  • There are more projects raising more than $50,000 than ever before.
  • 32 projects raised more than $500,000 in the first six months of 2018. That’s 13 more projects than the previous best semester.

 

Looking into the amount of money raised per tiers, we can observe a few more things:

  • Unsurprisingly, with more funded projects in higher tiers, they have raised record amounts for all tiers above $50,000.
  • Also notable is that all the projects in those $50,000+ tiers have raised more on average than any semesters before.
  • Projects that raised more than $500,000 amount to a total of $40m raised this past semester. That’s half of all the money raised by tabletop projects, and 15% of all the money raised on Kickstarter during this period.

Other Platforms

I have had a very cursory look at other crowdfunding platforms, especially Ulule, Game On Tabletop, and Indiegogo, that all have tabletop games projects submitted to them on a regular basis. I have not been able to include them in this analysis though – the amount of time it would require to parse their projects, as they are not using the same categories as Kickstarter, was too significant in comparison to their relative size to Kickstarter. It would also require to filter projects that are reported in these platforms when they were in fact funded on Kickstarter and the platforms are used for Slacker/Late Backers campaigns or for pledge management.

Kickstarter is where most of the funding happens, and the overall trends can be taken from its numbers.

Concluding Words

The bubble is not bursting. If anything, there are signs of reaching a stable critical mass for tabletop projects. What is a more important take away to me is that games are now the cornerstone of Kickstarter, despite having very few features in place specifically to support them.

The Games category, taken as a whole, represents more than a third of all the money pledged to Kickstarter so far in 2018. It might be strategic for the platform to consider looking into building on that strength, or it will be leaving open this opportunity to one of the competing platforms.

gamescom 2017 – Media coverage analysis

This is the week after gamescom, and as is tradition, I have some numbers to share about the event. I will reference data from previous years (some slightly adjusted), as this exercise has been done now for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

gamescom 2017

New dates

As for the last 3 years in a row, the dates have changed, with gamescom roughly a week later than the previous year. Moreover, it now starts on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, and ends on the Saturday rather than the Sunday. For professionals (at least the ones coming from Europe), it has the advantage of covering the work week, you can easily be back home on Friday.

Press Conferences

Microsoft kind-of had a press event? It was more similar to the Nintendo Direct format, with no onsite event, just a live video event being streamed. For reference, the last time Sony had a press event at gamescom was in 2014; while Microsoft skipped last year.

The Microsoft event seemed very weak to me. They only announced one new game for Xbox, Jurassic World Evolution, and it is not a very strong fit for a console genre-wise. They actually held their best game announcement for the following day, revealing a new Age of Empires is coming. The limited Scorpio edition also got decent coverage, but it seems to me it is more a sign of how light the event was in content.

Numbers

I went and pulled the attendance numbers from the previous years, to see how gamescom is doing in that regard. You can find the 2017 numbers here.

gamescom is not growing much. It seems to have reach its critical mass a few years ago now. I was wondering if the change of dates, especially not having the Sunday anymore, would impact the attendance numbers negatively, but it seemingly had no effect, or it might have even helped that slight growth in attendance.

Trade visitors is also very stable, even if lower than the peak seen in 2015. 30,000 professionals attending is quite impressive, it has to be said.

The number of exhibitors though is ever increasing. The multiplication of smaller companies (indie studios; micro publishers; other vendors) is probably at play here.

There are also the odd exhibitors, whose presence is always a bit confusing:

https://twitter.com/icotom/status/899550107779178497

gamescom in the media

This year’s edition of gamescom was relatively underwhelming when it comes to strong media beats (new games; high profile announcements; trailers on high expectation games) – and the media coverage would reflect this.

gamescom 2017 has seen the worse performance where media coverage is concerned since I started tracking it in 2014. Arguably, the numbers stay in the same range as the ones of 2014 and 2016, but it seems like on one hand Microsoft didn’t put any real show with its media event; while on the other hand no one picked up on the opportunity that gamescom represents.

Looking at the volume of media coverage per languages, it is interesting to see the past trend of increased visibility of the event with English media continues. The drop of German coverage (both in volume of articles and number of media) is intriguing and might be the results of a shift in the German media landscape.

The Platforms

With Xbox having an extra dedicated event, it should not be surprising that it secured more coverage during the week of gamescom, regardless of how weak the announcements there were. Xbox One X is getting a lot of attention as the newest hardware to be available, and the games supporting it got their fair bit of coverage.

Despite 2017 being weak overall, it is the best gamescom for Xbox since I started tracking media exposure. I find it very interesting that at the Cologne Messe, in the public area, the Xbox booth was actually quite small again. Microsoft seems to be careful with their spending there, at least for the second year in a row. Both Nintendo and Sony had vastly larger spaces, but even major publishers, or game studios had more space. It seemed to me that the Farming Simulator’s booth was only a third of Xbox’. And the Wargaming booth, also in the same hall, was probably twice as big.

Despite this being a good year, I can’t help and wonder how much it could have been for Microsoft with a stronger line-up of reveals considering their performance with their half-hearted presence.

Rather than compare the media performance of the Switch to the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, I found it much more interesting to present it compared to the Wii and Wii U coverage of previous years. Like at E3, Nintendo is really ramping compared to during the Wii era. This weeks Showcase was also very interesting on the indie front, and should contribute to Nintendo media coverage growth.

The Games

Games in orange were the ones first announced during this gamescom (arguably, Biomutant leaked a few days earlier).

Like last year, these were the top 30 games based on their media coverage. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Final Fantasy XV had multiple announcements that week, taking it to the lead in coverage. Interestingly, it was also a top game last year.
  • Overwatch is still very strong in the media. Blizzard is quite careful about always having announcements to make during gamescom, and it is paying off.
  • Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds took a while to build its media presence. The Xbox One port is certainly helping, but the general strong interest in the title is putting it firmly on the list of media darlings, in a similar way to Rocket League.
  • Biomutant’s strong media presence is proving that gamescom is an excellent opportunity for publishers with less muscle than the publishing powerhouses using E3 as their main media event of the year.
  • Jurassic World Evolution and Age of Empires IV, the two new titles announced by Microsoft, secured a significant amount of coverage, but nothing actually crazy. Most of Microsoft media coverage was around the titles supporting the new Xbox One X, rather new games.

Closing Words

Next year, gamescom’s dates are for once not changing. They keep the Tuesday to Saturday formula, at the end of August. It will be interesting to see if more companies decide to use it as a springboard to announce new titles, following the steps of THQ Nordic’s Biomutant.

 

Post-Scriptum – If you have been following us for a while, you might have recognized Martin Rabl, an ICO alumni, on the coverage of Angela Merkel’s visit of gamescom: