Kickstarter: Something exciting is happening to computer games

I posted awhile ago about the Double Fine kickstarter – a crowdfunded project to support a new point and click style adventure game with some big industry names behind it. As it happens, that particular project broke all Kickstarter records by raising $3mil. (That’s million.) That makes it the largest project in Kickstarter history.

There are currently over 87000 backers for that project alone. Eighty seven thousand.

So does that mean that all the available money for minority interest computer games was funnelled into that one project, starving out lots of other interesting ideas by less well known developers? Actually, no it doesn’t. Kickstarter write about this in a blog post. It turns out that once interested punters have lobbed some spare cash at an interesting looking gaming project, they’re more likely to fling a bit more at other interesting projects on the site (acting quite like actual venture capitalists in that respect, since if you throw cash at a few projects, chances are at least one will be a winner.)

I suspect that being able to get a full copy of the final product for a fairly reasonable outlay is behind the huge popularity, even though plenty of enthusiastic backers are happy to pay more. If they had set the Double Fine rewards at $50 to get the full game, there wouldn’t have been nearly as many takers.

In the month before Double Fine, the Video Games category averaged 629 pledges per week. After Double Fine’s launch, the Video Games category averaged 9,755 pledges per week, excluding pledges to Double Fine itself. The jump is similar in terms of dollars:

  • $1,776,372 was pledged to the Video Games category in Kickstarter’s first two years. In the six weeks after Double Fine, $2,890,704 was pledged ($6,227,075 counting Double Fine).
  • Before Double Fine, one video game project had exceeded $100,000. Now, nine have.
  • Wasteland 2, a million-dollar game project that launched after Double Fine, has received nearly $400,000 in pledges from Double Fine’s first-time backers.

(Wasteland 2, incidentally, currently has attracted about $1.8mil in backing as of the time of this blog post.)

Kickstarter support this by having a social media type setup on their site too, so you can check which projects your Facebook friends have supported (for example.)

And not only does the rising tide of video game support help lots of new game projects, lots of projects in other areas such as comics, film, art, music, etc got a boost from all those new users on the Kickstarter site.

Crowdfunding isn’t the only, or even the best source of funding for all indie games. But it’s interesting to see how willing people are to put money behind blue sky projects. Melmoth compares funding Kickstarter projects to having one night stands (note: this is more of a male perspective Smile ).

6 thoughts on “Kickstarter: Something exciting is happening to computer games

  1. I’ve looked at the Terms and Conditions on Kickstarter but there’s one thing that doesn’t seem to be covered, or I couldn’t see it at least. What happens if the goal is reached but the project is never completed? There could be many completely reasonable and valid reasons why something might never get made, from the person having bitten off more than they could chew to illness or death.

    • That’s between the backer and the project creator. They’re not required by Kickstarter to pay the money back, so there has to be some trust involved and some acceptance of risk.

      I’m sure all these computer game type projects will also be for sale afterwards so if you don’t fancy taking the risk you can always buy in later after the thing is on sale and you can check reviews.

  2. I know of writers who are using Kickstarter, and even webcomic artists such as Order of the Stick’s Rich Burlew used Kickstarter to help fund a reprint for his OOTS collections.

    The concept is really great, because it allows people to put their money where their mouths are.

  3. I have no clue how good or bad, honest or dishonest this kickstarter situation might be. But I’m alwyas sceptical when it comes to donations.

    In the US you see many ads on TV about helping abused animals or hungry kids. All asking for money. The problem is that when they are investigated maybe 5 cents out of each dollar go to the actual cause.

    Con men have been around forever and they have no problem getting people to give them money for things that the individuals thought was a good idea. Most of the time the only ones that amde out were the ones that ran those scams.

    I’m not saying that this situation is the same. I’m just asking if anyone really checked them out.

    • That’s the thing with Kickstarter – there’s no guarantee except your knowledge of the people involved.

      In the case of the Double Fine and Wasteland projects, most backers have known the names and games associated with the project leads for decades. There’s no real uncertainty about whether Tim Schafer or Brian Fargo knows how to deliver a game given funding, or whether they’ll take the money and deliver nothing. Both have lifelong reputations to uphold, and both are clearly the people they claim to be.

      In other cases, caveat emptor.

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