Video games on Kickstarter continue to struggle thanks to fading consumer confidence
Earlier this week, we got SuperData’s mid-year report on the booming video game industry, the enormous multinational congloms rolling around in piles of cash-shop money. But that’s just one side of the story. ICO Partners released its mid-year report on Kickstarter video games, and whether it’s good news depends on your view of Kickstarter on the whole.
Essentially, the biannual metrics show that Kickstarter’s total amount pledged peak — at least for successful video game projects — was back in early 2013. The market plummeted in 2014, resurged in 2015 (but not back to peak), and collapsed again in 2016. The pattern isn’t repeating, however. While the first half of 2017 was ever so slightly higher than the datapoints from last year, it’s still far lower than any half-year period prior to 2016.
“The Video Games subcategory is very dependent on hits when looking at the total amount of money raised,” ICO says. “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.”
Where’s all the money going? Tabletop games. In fact, in 2017 so far, people have poured more than 7 times as much money into successful tabletop game Kickstarters as successful video game Kickstarters. That doesn’t surprise me, as every project I’ve backed in that category has come to fruition and shipped as promised. I can’t say that about all the video games I’ve backed.
Indeed, for video game crowdfunding, “the overall trend is one of decline,” GI.biz’s Rob Fahey argues, and the reason is failing consumer confidence, specifically in Kickstarted video games — he maintains that the bubble has burst and that video games are singularly unsuited for crowdfunding anyway.
“As developers big and small flocked to crowdfunding platforms in the early 2010s, lots of notes of concern were sounded. Many of the projects being funded were clearly over-ambitious; even some developers with great track records were pulling in cash for projects that looked disconcertingly open-ended, while some games were being funded despite the teams behind them showing little evidence of being able to execute on their plans. Yet at that point, the crowdfunding market just kept growing and growing; no matter how much hand-wringing there was about the likelihood of failed projects, the money and the hopeful wannabe fundees kept coming.”
“You reach a point where, burned by a couple of failed projects and still waiting to see if many of the others will deliver, there’s a serious case of Kickstarter fatigue that hits you,” Fahey says.
It’s worth noting that Massively OP tracks crowdfunded MMOs every week in our Saturday Make My MMO column, and contrary to popular belief, there are several Kickstarted MMOs that have launched or are publicly playable right now. But I think we’d all like to see more before opening our wallets yet again.