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Kickstarter and Video Games in the UK

The recent release of the UKIEpedia initiative in the UK made me realise that I haven’t shared data specific to the country in quite some time. This a very good opportunity to do so, using the same dataset that we collected for the yearly state of the game for Kickstarter.

Money pledged and money raised

With close to $3m raised by successful campaigns in 2019, last year was a strong year for Kickstarter in the UK.

Video games projects

Like on the overall number seen in the 2019 blog post, the number of projects launched on Kickstarter for video games are in constant decline while the number of projects that managed to get funded is relatively stable.

This leads to the ratio of UK campaigns getting funded to rise to 26% in 2019.

Campaigns profile

When looking at the UK campaigns by tiers, it becomes very apparent that most of the money raised in 2019 was through the very successful Subverse campaign, with no other campaign raising more than $100,000 last year. And while it skews the results, the low volume of UK projects means that it was also true in the previous years where a single project was more than half of the money raised.

 

Kickstarter and Games in 2019

A year has passed and it is time again to look at how the Kickstarter landscape for games has evolved over the past 12 months.

The Games category keeps growing

Whether you look at the total number of projects submitted, the number of projects, or the total amount of money raised, there is no question that the Games category has kept growing in 2019.

The number of funded projects is growing faster than the number of projects submitted to the platform, meaning the percentage of projects that get funded is also going up. With the quality of the campaigns improving, this is quite an impressive trend.

Tabletop Games are leading the charge

Most of the growth is again through Tabletop Games projects:

  • +$11m year-on-year raised by successful projects
  • 2,712 projects funded, up from 2,336, a +16% increase
  • 67% of all the tabletop projects managed to reach their goal

Looking at the projects per tier of funding is probably the best health indicator of the ecosystem. In 2019, there was the same number of projects raising $500,000+ (68), raising a similar amount (about $83m across these projects).

Most of the growth for the total amount of money raised was done by projects raising between $100,000 and $500,000, as well as projects raising between $10,000 and $50,000.

The vast majority of the money was raised by projects in USD, representing 73% of the tabletop category, followed by projects in GBP and projects in EUR. All the other currencies combined represent about 6% of the money raised in 2019.

Stable year for Video Games

 

 

A few more projects got funded (+28), more money was raised (+$425,000), but overall, the year was quite similar to 2018 where video games on Kickstarter are concerned.

Where it comes to project by tiers, there were about the same number of $500,000+ projects as in 2018 (6 projects in 2019 for 5 in 2018), but there was a decline in the total numbers of projects raising between $100,000 and $5000,000 (from 25 in 2018 to 19 in 2019). The (small) growth seen in the video games category was all through projects raising $100,000 and less.

A trend specific to the video games category, when compared to tabletop games, is the weight the different currencies for the successful projects.

PG Connects

I will have more insights to share Monday next week on the topic, as I will be speaking at the Big Screen session of PG Connects in London!

 

 

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

Games and Crowdfunding in 2018

Welcome to my yearly blog post on crowdfunding and games, looking at how well games have performed on Kickstarter (and Fig) for the past year.

As usual, I have shared a lot of graphs here to go through, alongside my own comments in regards to the trends that can be observed.

Kickstarter overall

Kickstarter is still raising more than half a billion dollars a year, but it is to be noted that in 2018, it raised the lowest amount of money since 2014. This is only a -6% change year-on-year, and not a lot lower than in 2015, the best year for Kickstarter, but still a drop.

Much more significant is the total number of projects launched on Kickstarter, a -17% change from 2017, and more than -40% from 2015, the best year. The novelty of Kickstarter has worn off, and the dream chasers are probably less naive about their chances with crowdfunding. Not necessarily a bad thing, as the next graph shows:

While the total number of projects has dropped by 17%, the number of funded projects only saw a -3% change. This could show the projects of a certain quality are not necessarily struggling more than before when trying their hand at crowdfunding.

If we see such a drop in the number of submitted projects, but a certain stability in the total number of projects funded, this would certainly indicate the platform is reaching a certain maturity, finding its place for projects suitable for crowdfunding.

Looking into the money raised per tier, the drop is about even across all of them, with the exception of the projects below $10k, which raised the same amount as in 2017; and with projects in the  $100k to $500k range which saw a -10% change, compared to the -6% observed in the other ranges.

Not shown here is the fact that there were more projects funded in the $500k+ range overall, but also that there were significantly fewer projects raising more than the $2m than in 2017 (14 projects raised $2m+  in 2017 against 8 projects in 2018).

Categories at a glance – Biggest drop in the Technology category

At a glance, the technology category saw the most significant drop in its numbers, and by itself carries most of the year-on-year drop in the money raised on the platform. The technology category is not the purpose of this blog post – but a quick look shows fewer funded projects (-26%), and less money raised across all the projects tiers of funding.

While there was a drop across all technology subcategories, the Wearable projects alone saw a -$16m drop year-on-year on Kickstarter.

Looking at the year-on-year variation by currency shows a few interesting trends. Ignoring the over-performance of the Yen that was only available by the end of 2017, the drop in both the amount of money raised and number of funded projects for campaigns ran in USD is interesting, especially as Kickstarter is seen as a very US-centric platform.

The growth for projects in EUR, GBP and CAD is also a strong sign that the notion that you need to run your campaign in USD to succeed is probably misguided.

Games on Kickstarter – Now a third of the money raised on the platform

With $192m raised by successful projects on Kickstarter in 2018, the Games category is going very strong. It now represents more than a third of the money raised that year on the platform, with a steady financial growth.

Alongside the trend observed across the whole of Kickstarter though, there were fewer projects launching.

The number of projects finding their funding is seeing a +10% change from 2017. While the number of projects failing is actually going down. This is a platform-wide trend. In the Games category, we are almost reaching the point where the projects have a 50% success ratio, up from 30% in 2015.

Games Subcategory Overview

Following the trends from the last few years, most of the Games category numbers are driven by the Tabletop Games projects, with Video Games representing about 1/10th of the money raised by them.

Playing Cards are still very popular, with more than 400 projects funded.

Mobile Games are the smallest subcategory for games in money raised and total number of funded projects, behind Puzzles. There were half as many Mobile Games projects funded last year than in 2017 (37 Mobile Games projects funded in 2017 against 14 in 2018).

Tabletop Games on Kickstarter: 20% growth Y-o-Y

The very steady and significant growth of the funding gathered by Tabletop Games is not showing any signs of slowing down.

+20% money raised in 2018 is nothing to scoff at, with a total of $165m raised. The tabletop games industry seems to have found its pace with crowdfunding.

The number of projects funded however shows the same scale of growth – with the number of projects failing to get funded staying stable. The ratio of projects getting financed is going up.

It is interesting to notice this goes against the trends for other types of project on Kickstarter, where the number of projects submitted is going down.

In 2018, there were exactly twice the number of projects raising $500k+ on Kickstarter in the Tabletop Games subcategory, from 34 in 2017 (a large number to start with) to 68.

What is also interesting is that the number of funded projects grew in all the different tiers of funding. There are more Tabletop Games projects of all scales succeeding on Kickstarter.

Video Games on Kickstarter – Little variation from previous years

With $15m successfully raised for Video Games on Kickstarter in 2018, this is the lowest the subcategory raised since its explosion in 2012. This is, however, not a massive drop in funding. In the past 3 years, the amount of money raised in this subcategory has stayed in the +/-10% range. Considering how it can be hit driven, with massive projects weighing heavily on the total amount raised during a year, this doesn’t seem to be the sign of a downward trend.

What is a proven trend, is the drop in the total number of projects submitted here again: -15% year-on-year, the third year in a row with a double digit percentage drop.

The total number of projects funded is stable still though, reinforcing the platform-wide trend of fewer low quality projects trying their hands at crowdfunding there.

The tier of funding that saw the most significant drop in 2018 is the “$100k to $500k raised” tier, with the lowest number of project in that range since 2012.
The drop in number of projects in this tier makes for most of the difference in the total amount raised compared to the previous year.

Video Games on Fig – An Underperforming Year

After 2 years with very large projects bringing visibility and success to the platform, 2018 was a slow year for Fig, from a total amount of money raised point of view. Less than $500k was raised across all the projects on the platform, and about half that amount is thanks to the Soundfall campaign, at the end of the year.

With Fig curating the projects launched on the platform, seeing the success ratio in 2018 drop under 50% shows signs that Fig still has to prove it can consistently pick projects that are fit for crowdfunding.

This last graph also shows how Fig is dependent on its revenue-share scheme to raise significant amount of money. The total amount of money raised through the “For Reward” scheme is just under $120,000 for the year 2018.

Kickstarter and Fig numbers side-by-side

In 2016 and 2017, Fig managed to show significant numbers and position itself as a potential contender when it comes to crowdfunding video games. However, with a lack of strong titles to lead the way (and to be fair, there were not a lot of this type of project on Kickstarter in 2018 either), Fig’s model seems to struggle in finding a way to scale and perform consistently.

 

2018 Data main take away

Looking at the data gathered on the past year, here are my main observations on the current trends for crowdfunding:

  • No growth for Kickstarter this year, but signs of the platform maturing with a drop in the number of projects submitted on the platform while the number of projects getting funded stays relatively stable.
  • The Games category is 34% of all the money raised on Kickstarter in 2018, and is the only main category growing.
  • A majority of that growth comes from the Tabletop Games subcategory, still going very strongly. Hard to say if the ecosystem can sustain this growth another year though. I would expect it to stabilize.
  • Video Games numbers are unimpressive, but they stay stable. 350+ games a year getting extra support through crowdfunding is a significant number. The drop in the number of projects launching on the platforms also suggests maturity and a better quality of the projects trying their hand at it.

 

Discussing Crowdfunding in the coming months

In the weeks to come, I will be attending a number of events where I will talk about crowdfunding and video games:

Come say hi and share your crowdfunding experiences with me!

 

A note on methodology

We automatically gather projects data from Kickstarter, across all categories. This year, we have brought that tool internally after years of support on that front from Potion of Wit. It doesn’t change anything for us. We might even dedicate some resources to collect some data point that we were ignoring in the past.

A bigger change is on the way we use the data. I am no longer relying on a yearly average for currency exchange rates. If you notice some variation in the amount of money reported year-on-year in our blog posts, this is the reason why.

The Followers data on Kickstarter were collected manually (I am still gathering those – send me your numbers).

For the sake of the time invested, we haven’t created a master document with each categories key graphs like previous years. If you are looking for a specific data point, contact us.

The Fig data is collected manually.

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.

Crowdfunding and Video Games: 2018 Mid-Year Update

It has already been six months since my last check on the crowdfunding trends for video games. With everyone taking it slow because the summer is coming (I am joking, everyone is rabidly preparing for gamescom), here is the latest data and what I make of it. This is part one, as I will do another blog post on Tabletop Games.

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

Video Games on Kickstarter

Looking at the total amount of money successfully raised through Kickstarter for video games, the first half of 2018 is at a level with the first half of 2017, sitting at +$400,000 from last year. It puts that semester as the best half year, in total amount raised, since the second half of 2015.

The total amount of money pledged so far in 2018 is the highest it has been for the past 3 years.

But the money pledged only tells part of the story, as we know now.

Looking at the total number of video games campaigns seeking funding on Kickstarter, there is an obvious, regular decline. The numbers are going down overall: a -13% drop from the previous semester, compared to a -5% drop from the previous periods.

The total amount of video games campaigns launched is at the lowest since the first half of 2012.

Interestingly, that drop in number of projects is not ostensibly affecting the overall number of projects being successfully funded. The number of funded projects compared to the previous semester is about the same, going from 168 funded projects to 166 funded projects.

The drop in the total number of projects is mostly centered on projects that fail to reach their funding goal.

Looking at the corresponding “Success ratio”, this is at its highest for video games projects since 2013.

I do not believe that this means that it’s become easier to get funded. It probably derives from creators with the inability to put together a good campaign moving away from crowdfunding, as it is now understood how much work is required to manage a successful Kickstarter.

It is an interesting data point though, as there seems to be a perception from some studios I am talking to that crowdfunding a video game has become near impossible.

Looking at the number of campaign per tier of funding secured:

  • the past semester saw a higher number of projects raising between $50k and $100k than the previous two semesters
  • the number of projects raising between $10k and $50k and the number of projects raising less than $10k are at the lowest since 2013
  • this was the highest number of projects raising more than $500k in a 6 months period since 2015 (equal to the second semester of 2016)

It is hard to tell if the low number of projects raising under $50k highlight a trend of projects with smaller goals, and potentially lower production values, are receiving less funding, OR, if successful projects overall are managing to raise more money (bringing more projects to the higher tiers).

The decline over the years in the number of funded projects doesn’t affect the number of projects raising more than $50,000

Looking at the amount of money per tier of funding secured:

  • With two projects raising more than $1 million in the past semester, it should not be too surprising to see that a significant part of the money came from the larger projects.
  • The total amount of money raised by projects in the $100k to $500k range is at its lowest since 2012. Projects in that tier raised the lowest amount on average since 2011 (prior to video games reaching scale on Kickstarter).
  • Projects in the $50k to $100k tier have raised $1.5m+ in the first six months of 2018. It was also the highest average amount raised during a six months period since early 2012.

Projects in JPY (Japanese Yen) are only second to projects in USD in the most recent semester, in terms of total amount of money raised. It would be easy to think this is entirely thanks to The Good Life, and its $720,ooo raised. However, I wanted to point out there were 4 other projects in JPY last semester that got successfully funded, including “十三月のふたり姫 ” that raised about $65,000.

I think this is important to keep in mind as there is still a notion that you have to run your projects in USD in order to be successful. Your project’s quality and your capacity to build and engage with your community matter more than the currency you choose to run your campaign in.

(Disclaimer: I am working on The Good Life campaign.)

Video Games and Other Crowdfunding Platforms

In January, I wrote an article for PC Games Insider on crowdfunding and video games, in which I drew a picture of the state of crowdfunding for video games, not just only on Kickstarter, but across four different platforms: Kickstarter, Fig, Ulule, and Indiegogo.

I have since then refined my methodology, and found that I had overestimated the Indiegogo and Ulule numbers, especially in the case of Indiegogo. Both platforms are only anecdotally relevant to crowdfunding for video games, except for a rare outlier running on the platforms once in a while (Noob, the video game on Ulule in 2017, for instance).

It does leave Fig as a second platform to keep track of, which is relatively easy as they curate their campaigns and the volume is small enough to handle manually. Here are few high-level data points on Fig’s performance over the past few years – just keep in mind the fact that Fig is a curated platform when comparing its numbers with Kickstarter’s.

Fig is a much smaller platform than Kickstarter, with fewer projects. It has done very well whenever a high-profile project was released on its platform, but it is interesting to see its level of funding outside of these large projects is modest, raising on average $40,000 for its successfully funded projects.

There is a higher ratio of projects funded on Fig than on Kickstarter, probably thanks to the curation process. However, the percentage of projects getting funded is significantly lower than previously, in this past semester. The low number of projects means this not necessarily statistically relevant.

Beyond the curation, another important differentiating factor for Fig is fact that the campaigns allow users to back for a reward (like on Kickstarter), or as an investment in the project.

The graph above highlights Fig’s strengths when it goes to lower-profile projects, where it displays an ability to raise Project Equity funds.  In the first semester of 2018, 75% of all the money raised on Fig was through this scheme, up from 66% the previous semester which had a similar profile (roughly same size of projects and same number of projects). As before though, this might not be statistically relevant considering the low volume of projects.

Kickstarter and Fig Numbers Side-by-Side

Adding Fig numbers doesn’t tell a very different story when considering the total number of projects funded during the past 6 months. There is a slight drop in number over the past few years, but projects haven’t fled to another platform.

As for the total amount of money raised, this is likely the same story too. Large projects have chosen Fig over Kickstarter in the past couple of years, but none in the past 12 months (with the exception of The Good Life, that tried to get funded on Fig in September last year, but didn’t manage to reach its goal then).

It is interesting to note that the five projects that were successful on Fig this past semester raised a total of $57,000 through the reward scheme of the platform, putting the emphasis on the equity side of their model to get successfully funded, setting the platform apart from Kickstarter which solely relies on the rewards system.

Considering the total amount of money raised in the past year on Fig, and the amount of money it requires to function, it might be interesting for its team to consider either widening its reach and loosening the curation criteria, or, to focus solely on high-profile projects that are making a significant impact on the amounts the platform raises.

In a couple of months, I might do a deeper dive into the Fig campaigns as there is much to learn in looking at each of them.

 

 

 

Kickstarter in 2017 – In depth look at the Games category

As is the tradition, this is the follow-up from the overall Kickstarter annual review from last week, with a focus on the Games category. Again, I will talk about Kickstarter, but I shared some insight on crowdfunding across different platforms for video games in a piece on PC Games Insider.

Games category now leading on Kickstarter

We talked about it last week, but that’s a notable change from 2016. Games represented 26% of all the money pledged in 2017, and 15% of all the funded projects.

There are two very important things to notice here.

First, the overall money raised by Games projects saw a significant bump in 2017. Secondly, the total number of Games projects that tried their luck on the platform has stayed roughly the same, at just under 7,000 campaigns total, but more of them achieved their funding targets in 2017, compared to the previous year.

We can consider that the platform has reached a better maturity point, where the projects trying to get funded having a better sense of what is required to meet their funding goal. There were 15% more Games projects funded in 2017, compared to 2016.

More money was raised all projects tiers. The top-tier, $500k+ projects represent a lot of the total money raised, of course – there was $70m raised by these projects alone. But the number of projects successfully raising between $100k and $500K is also up on previous years, representing about a third of all the money raised in 2017.

The number of projects in the top tier didn’t move from its 2016 figure – 38 Games projects raised more than $500k in 2017, the same number as the year before. A few very large projects represented a lot of the money raised. Notably, the record breaking Kingdom Death Monster 1.5, that became the #1 project in the Games category, raising $12.4m, and The 7th Continent, that raised $7m on its own. Together, these two campaigns represent more than 12% of all the money raised in the Games category, in 2017. And it is no surprise that they are both tabletop games project, and both of them are sequels/reprints of already successful Kickstarter projects.

Looking at the subcategories, the number of funded projects for video games has dropped a bit from 2016. There are a few more Playing Cards projects and generic Games projects funded. But more significantly, the number of Tabletop Games projects has grown significantly, up 18% from 2016.

And of course, almost all of the growth in the total amount of money raised by Games projects is fed by the Tabletop Games subcategory.

A look at the minor subcategories

  • Games. This catch-all subcategory, meant to cover any project that the existing labels don’t properly represent, doubled in size in 2017, both in total number of funded projects and total amount of money raised. It is still a relatively small total, as it only covers those odd projects with an identity that’s hard to define, but it ought to be mentioned. To understand what this kind of projects these are, I give you the top two projects of 2017, both “golf” related: Chip-Down: Golf for the Non-Golfer and Beer Pong Golf : Golf Spieth Can’t Master
  • Gaming Hardware. We saw more hardware projects getting funded in 2017, but none of them was a mega hit. It is still worth noting than more projects passed the $100k bar than last year (five in 2017, compared to only one in 2016). And if you are curious, the largest project of the category was The Dreamcade Replay retro console.
  • Live Games. A niche subcategory, it has declined a bit in 2017, for the first time since its addition. One project passed the $100k mark for the first time for the subcategory. However, it’s a little bit at odds with the kind of projects you usually find there, and would probably be more at home beside the two previously mentioned golf titles in the Games subcategory. Take a look at CHIPPO: The New Golf Game for Beach, Backyard & Tailgate.
  • Mobile Games. A regular piece of advice I give to people is to not crowdfund mobile games, so I am quite biased when it comes to analysing this category. In 2017, it passed the $500,000 in total funding raised. That’s probably the equivalent of one day of Supercell’s marketing budget for Clash of Clans. There are still about 37 projects that got funded, about 10% of all the projects submitted, way below the average for games’ projects. One project raised more than $100k, Epic Digital Card Game, but it happens to be a port of a very successful tabletop game.
  • Playing Cards. The third-largest subcategory, it saw some growth in 2017 both in terms of the total amount of money raised (+21%) and the number of projects that were successfully funded (+19%). Very noteworthy as well, is the fact this is the first year we’ve seen a Playing Cards category project raising more than $500k – The Name of the Wind Art Deck raised $630,000.
  • Puzzles. The smallest of all the Games subcategories, it had 17 projects funded in 2016, and 18 projects funded in 2017. The total amount of money raised was less than half the amount from 2016, but with so few projects, big variances are to be expected.

And now, looking at the two big subcategories.

A stable year for Video Games

With slight growth in the total amount of money raised, and a slight decline in the total number of projects funded, 2017 doesn’t appear to be exceptional one way or another for video games on Kickstarter.

There are a few things worth noting, though:

  • The total number of video games projects submitted to Kickstarter is rising faster than the number of funded projects is declining. It means the ratio of funded projects is going up.
  • This is the first time we see a decline in the number of funded projects in the Less than $10,000 raised tier. The other tier that sees a decline is the $50k to $100k tier. So, notable changes in 2017 seemed to occur within more the very small, hobbyist projects, as well as the projects raising between $50,000 and $100,000. For all the other tiers, there were a similar number of funded projects across 2016 and 2017.

My theory for the decline of the smallest tier is that fewer creators are trying to crowdfund their projects, and it directly affects that range more than the others. Kickstarter doesn’t have the visibility it had in the media, and it doesn’t come up as often as it used to as a viable platform for small projects.

2017 was mostly a better year for video games projects launched in USD and CAD. A higher proportion of projects in those currencies got funded than those in EUR and GBP.

I found it interesting to see that 12 video games projects launched from Mexico got funded, even if that represents a small total amount in the end. Also notable is the absence of projects launched through the Japanese version of the portal, especially considering how some of the biggest crowdfunded video games of all time originate from there. Kickstarter’s September 2017 launch in Japan looks like a flop so far, and the video game category seems to be the best illustration of that.

Tabletop Games: The Kings of Kickstarter

These two graphs tells the most significant story of 2017’s figures.

Tabletop Games have constantly grown over the past few years, both in terms of the total amount of money raised, and the number of projects funded. After a record year in 2016, the subcategory grew again, by +36% in 2017. The number of funded projects grew by +20%.

The growth invites questions, though. Will the subcategory stabilize? Will it crash? Can it keep growing?

There is no indication that its upward momentum will slow down anytime soon, even if record-breaking campaigns make it that much harder to keep up with the total amounts raised over a given year.

All the indicators for the subcategory are really healthy at the moment.

There has been growth across all tiers. This is, for me, a very important factor in determining how healthy the environment is, within this subcategory. If it were only good for the large, massive campaigns, it would not be a good sign; but having projects across all tiers growing shows that the ecosystem is not built upon a couple of metaphorical black swans, painting an inaccurate interpretation of the picture.

Projects across currencies are also finding success. Even if projects in USD represent the vast majority of the money raised and of the number of funded projects, projects in EUR and GBP are also healthy, representing more than 25% of the total funded projects.

This is especially interesting when you see campaigns that know that they will perform very well deciding to launch in USD, regardless of where they are based geographically. For example, 7th Continent, from a Paris-based company, launched their project in USD rather than in EUR.

 

Concluding thoughts

Last week, at the PC Connects in London, I delivered a presentation about the state of crowdfunding in video games. One point I made was the fact that Early Access is a much bigger competitor to Kickstarter than any other platform. One reason for this is the fact that, over the last year, the optimal window to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a video game has moved closer and closer to its ultimate launch. This is how I illustrated this (you need to click the image to see the gif in action):

What is very interesting is that, for tabletop games, that window has moved as well. Projects need to be more and more polished to get funded, but physical production means that the optimal window cannot move any further to the right.

The other important difference between video games and tabletop games is the fact that, for the latter, Kickstarter is the end solution for distribution for most projects. Whereas for video games, the end solution is Steam – Kickstarter helps a bit, but you still need to go to Steam.

So if your game in Alpha or Beta has a lot of appeal and replayability already, the chances are that when it is good enough to be showed on Kickstarter, it is also good enough to launch in Early Access. It is a lot less hassle, as you only have to concern yourself with the end game distribution platform. Early Access, however, doesn’t provide a lot of the perks that crowdfunding does – building the community, the opportunity to test your publishing skills, and building awareness – but I suspect to many studios, this is secondary, or underestimated.

What is also true, and a strong trend, is that many video games projects on Kickstarter are games that, by their nature, don’t have a lot of replayability (like, say, Point-and-Click adventure games) or immediate accessibility and audience appeal, making Early Access a path they cannot take.

 

All the Slides

A note on the methodology

Like for all previous blog posts on the topic, we have been using the data on the Kickstarter pages themselves (with the help of Potion of Wit) and the collection method is not without its own issues. Please consider all of the numbers presented here as estimates.

 

 

Kickstarter in 2017 – Year in review

Before January is out, here is the annual look at Kickstarter for the year 2017. Where is Kickstarter going?

Overall funding bounces back


After its very first year of decline in funding of projects in 2016, Kickstarter sees a bounce back in the overall money actually raised.

That bounce is very timid though, even if it is enough to make 2017 the best year ever for the platform, this is a 0.03% increase from 2015, the previous record holder.


The number of funded projects doesn’t break the record though (from 2014), but it sees an increase from 2016 still.

What is remarkable though, is the number of projects submitted to the platform is still stumbling down, almost 6,000 fewer projects than the previous year, a -15% drop.

More funded projects, fewer projects overall, obviously the “success ratio” is looking better in 2017 than it has in a while.

Alongside the success ratio, we observed a drop in the ratio of project that raise $0 (also called the junk ratio). We are probably seeing the tail-end of the Potato Salad Effect.

 

Record breaking number of projects raising more than $100,000

If you are not familiar with the format I usually use, the following graphs are showing the breakdown of projects based on the amount they have raised (in USD).


Looking at the size of projects per tiers, there were more projects in all the funding tiers except the top ones. Even with fewer $500k+ projects than in 2016, there was more money raised on Kickstarter.

This comes from a record number of projects raising between $100k and $500k, and a sign of positive growth for the platform.

For the first time, in 2017, there were more than 1,000 projects raising more than $100,000.

 

Growth is almost coming all from the Games category


Looking at the categories in more detail, we can see that the growth observed in the amount of money raised is almost entirely coming from the Games category.

All other categories saw some declined in the amount of money raised, with the exception of Art, Photography and Publishing, respectively 2.5%, 1% and 3.8% of all the money pledged, where Games are now 26% of that amount.

Of course, the top three categories are still Design, Games and Technology, representing together 74% of all the money pledged in 2017. But this is the first time that the Games category takes the top spot.

 

Growth driven by non-US projects

There was more money raised across all currencies in the past year, except for the USD and CAD. Most of the of the money is raised in USD still, but since Kickstarter was launched in Europe, the total amount of money raised in EUR has grown every year, making it the 2nd ranking currency on the platform and representing almost 10% of all the money pledged.

 

A look at the categories

Kickstarter asks creators to put their projects in different categories. This allows us to look at the different trends of each of those categories. While you can find a lot more details in the documents on Slideshare, I have summarized some key takeaways for each of them below.

As usual, a dedicated blog post on the Games category will come soon.

Art

A record breaking year for Art. It passes the bar of $14m raised for the first time, including $2m raised by projects in GBP.

A significant growth in the number of projects that got funded as well, +24% compared to 2016.

Crafts

A relatively small category, the money raised by it dropped below $2,5m in total, while the number of funded projects grew a little bit. 25% of the money raised was done by projects in GBP.

Comics

The total amount of money raised in the category stayed about the same, but the number of funded project grew, and it has seen a constant growth for the past 6 years. There were more Comics projects funded than ever before in 2017.

Dance

Another small category, the amount of money raised and the number of  funded projects are at their lowest since 2011.

Design

After constant growth in the past few years, in 2017, the category saw its first dip, albeit a small one (-2.5%).

On the other hand, the number of funded projects is still growing, and across all tiers of funding, except the $500k+ tier which had the same number of funded projects it had in 2016 (55 projects).

Also noteworthy, projects in EUR represented 14% of the money pledged in the category, up from 8.5% in 2016.

More funded projects but less money raised overall, the Design category illustrates very well the 2017 trend.

Fashion

The Fashion category saw a small decline in the amount of money raised, and a significant growth in the number of funded projects (best year to date).

Projects in EUR represented 16% of the money pledged last year, another category where projects in EUR grew in their shares of the category.

Film & Video

Once the poster child of Kickstarter, the category has been in decline for the past 4 years, with 2017 at record low levels.

The amount of money pledged has almost halved in two years and the number of funded projects is the lowest since 2011.

Two notable subcategories saw an increase in the amount of money raised, though: Documentaries and Animation.

Food

The Food category saw a small drop in the number of funded projects and the total amount of money raised, but it remained at a stable level from the previous year.

Games

Like last year, I will do a deeper dive into this category soon.

To note though, the vast majority of the growth observed in the category is coming from the Tabletop Games subcategory (more than 2,000 projects funded in 2017).

Music

The other former crown jewel of the platform, along with Film & Video, that is seeing a constant decline over the past 5 years. The decline is both significant on the financial side and the amount of money raised. The total number of projects that achieved funding was at 2,200 in 2017, down from more than 5,000 funded projects in 2012.

Photography

The category has been stable in terms of total amount of money raised, as the total number of funded projects here saw a decline for a second year. It is interesting to note though that the amount of money raised by projects in EUR has doubled year-on-year.

Journalism

This is still a small category. It saw a decline in both the total amount raised and the total number of funded projects for the second year in a row. However, the amount raised by projects in EUR and GBP has increased significantly, both representing almost 14% of the total of money raised.

Publishing

This was a year of growth for this category, on all fronts, money raised as well as number of funded projects. The growth was across projects in USD, GBP and EUR. Children’s Books is again the top subcategory.

Technology

Another year with a small decline of the money raised and number of funded projects for the category, even for projects in EUR.

Theatre

A fairly small category that continued its decline. It dropped to its lowest amount of money raised and number of funded projects since 2010 (when Kickstarter was just a year old).

 

Concluding words

2017 was not the best year for Kickstarter, but it still maintained a good level of funding. The good news is evident when you look at the number of projects that are funded on the platform. These are quite stable, and even growing in some categories, but the number of projects submitted to the platform are also going down. I believe that Kickstarter has suffered from the fact that many low-quality projects have been creating noise, presenting an image of a platform where “bad” projects are welcome. The fact that the number of junk projects is going down can only help the platform.

I have concerns though on how the communication of the platform hasn’t adapted to its new paradigm. It wants to be this platform for cultural projects, but films and music projects are becoming rarer, and it is not addressing the fact that games, especially tabletop games, along with design and technology projects, are what the platform is now about.

I am not suggesting to ignore its cultural roots, but very little has been done to improve the way the platform supports the current top categories. And the same could be said about the lack of features developed to support the expansion of the platform in non-English territories.

All the slides

A note on the methodology

Like for all previous blog posts on the topic, we have been using the data on the Kickstarter pages themselves (with the help of Potion of Wit) and the collection method is not without its own issues. Please consider all of the numbers presented here as estimates.

 

Kickstarter and Games – 2017 mid-year status update

Like last year, I did a mini-research on games on Kickstarter at the mid-year point. It allows me to keep an eye on any trends, and to check hard data properly a little more often. On top looking at the Games category and the video games and tabletop games sub-categories, I am also throwing in a few numbers on Kickstarter overall.

As a side note, it was interesting to see that our Campaign Review service has been very popular this year, and I updated the page about it.

A few disclaimers on this article and the data:

  • A significant change I have made in my methodology is to use different exchange rates. I used to have a fixed exchanged rate applied to all projects. I now use the average of a given year. It will have an impact on the numbers you saw in the past.
  • I use the term Semester for a half year, from the Latin semestris, “of six months”.
  • Data is, as usual, collected with the help of our friends at Potion-of-Wit.

Kickstarter Overall – a steady course

Before we get into the numbers, I wanted to highlight a few things that have happened in the first half of the year:

  • As a Public Benefit Corporation, Kickstarter has released its first annual Benefit Statement. It is a very interesting read.
  • Kickstarter launched the Hardware Studio initiative. It comes on the heels of increasing reports of Kickstarter projects being copied and beaten to market.
  • Guest Pledging was introduced, allowing to back a project without having to create a user account.
  • And lastly, but more anecdotally, Yancey Strickler, the current CEO of Kickstarter, is looking for a replacement.

The last one I wanted to highlight as I sometimes find my research in media discussing Kickstarter, and they came up quite significantly in relations to that last announcement. But to the numbers, that’s what is of interest here.

As I have mentioned in the past, the Potato Salad campaign had a huge influence on the number of projects submitted on Kickstarter. If you are wondering about that sudden spike in the second half of 2014, that’s why.

Overall, we see a decline in the total number of projects launched on the platform, on quite a steep curve. However, the number of projects that get funded is seeing a very small decline in comparison. It’s also important to note that there are indications that the second half of a year usually performs better than the first half. And that’s usually true across all the categories.

You can see this effect a bit in the total amount of money raised by successful projects:

Despite the slight decline in projects, the first half of 2017 has been the best first half for the platform historically. It is very hard to predict how the second half will go, but it is likely that it will outperform the second half of 2015, making 2017 a record breaking year, improving from 2016.

 

Quick look at the Games category

I will share these numbers and chart as is. The analysis of the two main subcategories are much more telling of the current trend.

Video Games – at a stable pace

You have observed the growth of the Games category? Well, video games are actually not growing.

Video Games are keeping the same rhythm as the previous year, with roughly 30 projects per month getting funded. The second half of the year should probably see a few more projects funded than have been so far in 2017, if it follows the pattern of previous years.

As seen in the past data analysis, the Video Games subcategory is very dependent on hits when looking at the total amount of money raised. In that sense, the first half of 2017 has been the best semester since 2015. And yet, this is a far cry from the best semesters in that subcategory.

A stable number of funded projects, a growth in the total amount raised, despite Kickstarter having lost its novelty years ago now, it is still a platform that is consistent as a source of funding for games, the same conclusion drawn on the blog post from the beginning of the year.

An interesting evolution of the numbers when looking at projects tiered by amount raised, there is a growth of the number of projects raising between $100k and $500k recently. It seems this is a range of funding that is more accessible than it used to be, and could be where Kickstarter could grow its Video games subcategory.

 

The crazy growth of Tabletop Games

If we can’t see how the Games category can be performing so well from looking at Video Games, it probably means that Tabletop Games are doing incredibly well. That is quite the understatement:

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)

Following the steady growth of funded projects, it is not surprising to see a record breaking half-year, and if current trends continue there is no way that 2017 is not going to be the best year ever for the subcategory too.

Let me share the number that I find the most mind-boggling in the mid-year update:

24% of the money raised by successful projects on Kickstarter were Tabletop games projects

Of course, the huge success of Kingdom Death Monster 1.5, that raised $12.3m, plays a role in that impressive performance. But the growth is seen across all the strata of funding:

Across all tiers (except the lowest one) this was a record breaking semester in the total amount of money raised.

 

Conclusion

With board games growing so fast, and the rest of Kickstarter being still quite stable, it is clear there is a shift not visible at a first glance on the platform. There is a slight decline, or at best stability, across all categories, with the exception of one that keeps growing steadily.
By the time Kickstarter has found its new CEO, I can easily imagine games representing a third of the money raised through the platform.

And Games projects might be blurring the line between tabletop games and video games further, like the currently live campaign of Beasts of Balance: