Video games have a bad year on Kickstarter

Polygon has an interesting piece up this week covering trends in crowdfunding projects… and the news isn’t that great for video games.

According to the article, the total income from Kickstarter projects declined 5.8% in 2016 from the year previous, while funds raised by successful video game Kickstarters were down a whopping 60% compared to 2015. The data they pulled showed that successful video game projects pulled in a collective $41.5M in 2015 — but only $17.6M in 2016.

Part of the reason behind this is the competition with other crowdfunding sites, such as Fig and IndieGoGo, which has pulled some of the attention and projects away from Kickstarter. The article also speculates that gamers might are becoming fatigued with such campaigns and disillusioned with the end results.

Source: Polygon
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32 Comments on "Video games have a bad year on Kickstarter"

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Duane Does not check email

Everything runs its course- even mmo’s themselves and eventually the industry

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Droniac

Kickstarter fatigue may play a part, but I don’t think that’s the major reason why Kickstarter’s numbers are down for video games. The core reason is likely simply a lack of high-profile video game projects on Kickstarter.

I can only recall two high-profile Kickstarter projects in 2016 and both were relatively low-key:

  • System Shock remake (awesome, but only raised 1.35 million)
  • Chronicles of Elyria (doomed, but still managed 1.35 million)

That’s it, for the entire year! [afaik]

Meanwhile, here are just a few of the more high-profile kickstarters in 2015:

  • Shenmue 3 (6.3 million)
  • Bloodstained (wut? 5.5 million)
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam with 2 million)
  • Crowfall (1.7 million)
  • BattleTech (BEST OF 2015, but ‘only’ 2.8 million)
  • Yooka-Laylee (how did this get 2 million?)
  • The Bard’s Tale 4 (1.5 million)
  • numerous other million+ video game projects

Yet the two high-profile crowdfunding projects in 2016 both still did very well:

  • Wasteland 3 (naturally hit 3.1 million)
  • Psychonauts 2 (easily hit 3.8 million)

on Fig.

Kickstarter funded 388 games for 17.6 million in 2016.
Fig, a new platform, funded 6 games for 7.8 million in 2016.

So it looks like people are still perfectly willing to invest big in video game projects. As long as they’re high-profile. Which isn’t any different from 2015, or 2014, or 2013, or 2012. Without those high-profile projects, however, there are fewer eyeballs on the site, which also means less funding for the smaller projects. Hence Kickstarter’s 2015 slump.

Fig’s current big crowdfunding project, Pillars of Eternity 2, also seems to be contradicting the “kickstarter fatigue” notion. It’s sitting at almost 2.3 million after nearly 10 days of funding. Project Eternity in 2012 was the most-funded project of its time. It only just hit 2 million after its 10th day (see Kicktraq). So yeah, the 2017 sequel-project is currently outperforming its 2012 predecessor.

I think the perception people have of crowdfunding is largely dependent on their experiences with it. My experiences have been largely positive. Every project I’ve backed has either delivered or is in production and only 3 or 4 have delivered bad or incomplete products. The rest have all been success stories, like: FTL, The Banner Saga, Wasteland 2, Valdis Story, Shadowrun Returns, Republique, Grim Dawn, Legends of Eisenwald, Defense Grid 2, Planetary Annihilation, Pillars of Eternity, Strike Suit Zero, Elite: Dangerous, Divinity: Original Sin…

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MesaSage

I think it has everything to do with fatigue. People are tired of funding the whimsy of the unscrupulous and untalented.

Zander
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Zander

I agree. Star Citizen is to blame. When CIG left Kickstarter and opened up their own pledge site, things began to go down hill from there. Other companies who were raking in cash donations began opening up their own sites as well and Kickstarter was left out with no cut of the development funding. It’s dark times we live in when companies stop allowing pledge sites to take a percentage and use that money toward the game’s development.

Now Star Citizen is $142,000,000.00
in donations for a game that’s actually succeeding where as many other Kickstarter projects have or are beginning to run out of funding and are failing.

The pledgers, developers and Kickstarter have no fault in this. It’s not because they didn’t plan, employ or develop well enough. It’s that Star Citizen has been so successful independently, it leaves no room for others to succeed.

So please, more Chris Roberts gif, meme and jpg’s. Because that all CIG has been doing. Selling jpg ships to people and $142 million in donations, an industry record mind you, are the real villains in this whole Kickstarter failure. /s

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Droniac

Wow. You even included the usual “Star Citizen was Kickstarter first” nonsense! That’s detailed /s man!

You must have put in some painstaking research on SC-trolls in their natural habitat. Hope you didn’t have to follow Derek Smart.

Zander
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Zander

A thumbs up for you sir! You know what I’ve been through!

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Rottenrotny

You know what they say about fools and their money.

Zander
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Zander

Aand many of us will continue to give him money lol.

Reader
Schlag Sweetleaf

Zander
Reader
Zander

Drink it? We’re already playing it!

Reader
luxundae

From the MMO side, I think we still don’t have any fully finished results from a crowdfunded title, which makes it a little hard to get too excited about new ones recently. We’ve also seen a large number of teams fold in the attempt to get to a finished product, or sort of trundle along with no clear plan (TUG).

From the non-MMO side, I think we’ve seen a number of huge successes. I’m thinking things like Banner Saga, Pillars of Eternity, Tides of Numenera, Divinity Original Sin, Planetary Annihilation, Obduction, Grim Dawn, Armello, some of the Shadowrun games, some of the Double Fine games, etc. But I think we’ve also scratched a number of itches on that front and don’t necessarily want to spend tons of money to get new games along those lines again this year.

I mean, a lot of us have wanted spiritual sequels to things like Myst, Total Annihilation, Planescape Torment, etc. for years (or, *gulp*, decades). We finally had those opportunities, and we jumped at them! But…we have those things now. We aren’t as hungry. I know that I, personally, am now more interested in spending smaller amounts of money to back research and development of smaller, more experimental games. Here I’m thinking things like AI War II, The Black Glove, Project Gorgon, Raindrop, The Realm Game, Anthymn, Origins of Malu, Elegy for a Dead World, Storium, Unwritten: That Which Happened, etc. The common theme among those is that very few of them held successful crowdfunding rounds. The vast majority failed (sometimes multiple times), or succeeded only with drastically reduced scope and budget. So I think that that is still the cool part of crowdfunding…that these sorts of experimental projects do sometimes get funded…but I also thinks it means that much less money will be coming in.

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Francis Baud

Well this golden age of crowdfunding lasted just long enough to make some awesome indie projects possible (CF, CU, SC, DU…).

Reader
agemyth 😩

We don’t know if those are awesome because they are horribly unfinished.

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Francis Baud

I agree that they’re unfinished projects, I think that’s the beauty of open-development though.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I have no real interest in MMO kickstarters anymore. That’s not to say that I don’t have any interest in what some of them are trying to accomplish. I just have far too many other gaming hobbies (board gaming, miniature gaming) that I can send that money toward and get a far more expedient “having fun” return.

Equally so for single player games. Harebrained Schemes has knocked it out of the park with all 3 Shadowrun games and I am “anticipating” the Battletech game they have coming. I’ve backed all 4 of those and will continue to back SP video games coming from them.

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Scrungle

Makes me miss the good ole days of EA pumping out garbage.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Zander
Reader
Zander

We can all laugh but what happens when he actually finishes the game?

We’ll pretend it wasn’t us, melt in with the player base and enjoy Star Citizens success? Oh, okay!

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Drainage

Zander, he will “finish” the game in some fashion. Doesn’t mean it will be good.

Zander
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Zander

Because you already know how “good” it will be. Gotcha

Reader
Drainage

Nope, didn’t say that at all.

Zander
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Zander

Are you saying you have doubts? If so why?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i like how you picked a pic where he looks super coked out and drunk. lol. >>

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

reminds me mandate released the video this morning that looks worse than gameplay of the same thing from 2 or 3 years ago.

don’t call me kickstarter devs, i’ll call you.

Liandreth
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Liandreth

First thing that comes to mind is YOU DON’T SAY?!?!?!
I’m done with MMO kickstarters.

Reader
rafael12104

Snake oil salesmen are finally being seen for who they really are. Sadly it impacts the entirety of the crowd funded efforts which are not all bad or badly managed.

Reader
Kayweg

Fatigued ?
Or wising up perhaps ?
On the other hand, we don’t know the accumulated total including fundraising sites outside of kickstarter.

Reader
Space Captain Zor

I’m fatigued and disillusioned with the results of normal publisher-backed game releases recently as well. The current gaming industry climate is NOT consumer friendly.

Reader
Ashfyn Ninegold

I’m right there with you. I cast a jaundiced eye at every game announcement. The only games I’m buying without reading release reviews are SP games on distribution platforms that allow me to return for a full refund. I’m burned out on EA as well and don’t buy DLC unless they are on sale for 75% off.

MMOs get a particular going over before I spend much time or money on them. I’d rather play ESO, GW2 or even WoW, games where I’ve invested a lot of time, the developers have established a track record and the solvency of the game is not an issue.

I own close to 250 games on various platforms, so I’m not hurting for fun things to do.

Reader
Loopy

“fatigued with such campaigns and disillusioned with the end results.”
This is the real culprit. And i believe this is a theme across all crowdfunding platforms.

Reader
BalsBigBrother

Not surprised, I am firmly in the fatigued and disillusioned category.

As I have droned on about before it is early access games that pushed me over the edge rather than kickstarter itself. However, I tend to put them all in the same melting pot of wanting money in advance for based on a promise with no guarantees so yeah I’m out.

Reader
Denice J. Cook

I couldn’t agree more.

Even though I’ll give crowdfunding the benefit of the doubt that game developers began using it to get away from greedy, burdensome, overbearing publishers, it has become an endlessly-spewing sewer for half-baked games. They never get finished, and people usually tire of them with all their bugs and unfulfilled promises long before the early beta phases are complete.

I don’t donate to Kickstarters for the same reason I don’t cut General Motors a check so that they can design a car I may or may not be interested in buying four years down the road. Bring me a finished product to assess, and I will decide if I’m going to buy it or not then. Otherwise, a finished product never seems to wind up appearing at all.

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