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.

Source: ICO via GI.biz
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primal

outstanding kickstarters i have is

Prey for the gods
Dual universe
decent underground
toejam and earl
and war of rights

cant wait for that toejam and earl loved that game back in the day

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Sur Couf

I am not an expert of crowdfunding in any way. In the past few years I have pledged to 3 games, each time to something equal to what could be an early-access price, like 30 to 40$ max.

– Star Citizen
– War of Rights
– Kingdom Come: Deliverance

The first because I am fully confident in the guy behind the project. Cost me 35$ 3 years ago for what they call a starter pack (Aurora) and I see that since beginning of 2017 there are very positive signs. Still we have to confirm gameplay will be fun when patch will be released, the first big one coming in a couple months or so, but definitively not a scam.

The second because I like everything related to Independance War. A much smaller team but such project tend to bring a lot of volounteer to help provide feedback and assets

The third becasue which child never dreamed about attacking a castle?!

So I can not really talk about Kickstarter struggling but I did not pledged for more project because simply, I am not interested by many and I carefully select each one.

Nick Martin
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Nick Martin

I’ve had decent luck backing projects on Kickstarter… however, it was some well-covered things here that ultimately got me to give up ever backing anything. I know all the white knights will come swarming in at the statement, but Star Citizen is a scam. Even if the “greatest game ever” comes out, it won’t have the features I backed it for (since they continue to ignore it in every update).

Maybe Camelot Unchained will show up, but it’s years late and my desire to play it is long gone at this point. The third game is lesser known project, by one of the lead guys for Civ V, and at this point he basically just ran off with the money and stopped talking to anyone.

Even if these games come out, I’ve moved on and won’t be playing them. A shame, maybe, but I think the bigger shame is that they soured me to Kickstarter more or less forever.

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Malcolm Swoboda

The games I Kickstarted back in the day (2013-2014 latest; I stopped after that):

Torment: Tides of Numinera – Released, but lackluster. Patching though, and I’ll check in… next year? to see what shape its in and whether I want to reward that with buying other stuff from them.
ROAM – Never happened, legal stuff. Waste.
Unwritten: That Which Happened – Never happened. Waste.
ASYLUM – Still getting meaningless updates without a demo.
Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey – Released, and okay. But a very long and slow process for something that in the end wasn’t so fantastic (and in fact was badly performing and clearly had what would have been very useful sections cut out). I’m going to check out its ‘final cut’ version this year for another, perhaps final (unless seeking Steam achievements) playthrough, but I give it 7/10 tops.. which again, is okay. Its about what I gave the last game anyway :P (The Secret World is still the best I’ve experienced from Ragnar T)
Embers of Caerus – Never happened. Waste. An early lesson that Kickstarter MMOs probably don’t work out.
PROJECT AWAKENED – Didn’t reach goal.

Not the best record, yes? However, the ‘prices’ for Torment and Dreamfall Chapters were lower than they otherwise would have been, so that’s nice. I just don’t see the point in doing this thing again unless its a super duper compelling proposal, or I have thousands of dollars lying around.

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Anthony Clark

It’s not a game, but I never got what I paid for from Znaps:

“https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1041610927/znaps-the-9-magnetic-adapter-for-your-mobile-devic”

I got nothing.

That was the Kickstarter that broke my willingness to try any more Kickstarters.

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Schmidt.Capela

The game that did it for me was Elite Dangerous, thanks to it scrapping offline mode a mere month before launch and the company trying to squirm away from providing refunds.

Well, that and the exchange rate issues my country started facing, which coupled with Steam and GOG settling for lower prices here made backing games on KS far more expensive than just purchasing them from Steam. Thus, the money I would usually spend backing indie games on KS I now spend purchasing indie games from Steam and GOG, which is part of the reason I’m well above a thousand games on those two services together.

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Daniel Miller

Chronicles of Elyria MMO
Camalot Unchained MMO
LEGRAND LEGACY – Tale of the Fatebounds
Astoria
Sunless Skies 
Banner Saga 3, 2, 1
A Clockwork Ley-Line – A Visual Novel Trilogy
Valthirian Arc: Red Covenant – Academy for Heroes
A Grand Entrance for Visual Novel Grisaia: Phantom Trigger
Crystalline
Fatal Twelve 
Mages of Mystralia
Sacred Fire: Psychological RPG about revenge and loyalty
Chuusotsu – 1st Graduation – A Visual Novel with Philosophy
AIdol: Artificial Intelligence Idol – A Visual Novel
Minotaur: a point and click visual novel
On Earth As It Is In Heaven – A Kinetic Novel
Eternal Hour
Hoshizora No Memoria
Ramen no Oujisama / The Ramen Prince 
Medieval Shopkeeper
Grisaia: Phantom Trigger Vol.3
Episicava Vol. 1 – A Visual Novel Action/Adventure Epic
ARCANA HEART 3 LOVE MAX SIX STARS!
A Wonderful Welcome for Visual Novel Wonderful Everyday
The Masquerade Killer – Otome Game / Visual Novel
Zold:out – Innovative Anime Style TRPG

Backed all of these. Only one looks like it may not come about.

That would be Project Phoenix

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Rumm

I don’t think it has anything to do with fading consumer confidence. What games are on Kickstarter that are worth backing right now? I can’t actually name a game with any sort of word of mouth.

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Sray

Part of me wonders if one of Crowdfunding’s greatest appeals is actually detrimental to it in the long run: access and open communication from the players to the development team.

-We’ve seen over the last couple years that excessive hype generally tends to be harmful to a game: No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect Andromeda, Mighty No 9, and Yooka-Laylee are all recent examples of games that took it on the chin a hell of a lot harder than they might otherwise have had there not been an excessive amount of hype attached. I’m not trying to tell you that none of the criticism was deserved in any of these cases, but rather that the backlash was probably harsher that it should have been had there been more realistic expectations. Not all of those games were crowdfunded, but the backlash via over-hype is what this example is about.

-Continuous updates and communication from crowdfunded developers (often divulging too much of the process, creating an illusion of faster development than what is actually happening) tend to create hype by increasingly ratcheting up emotional investment; which much easier to do when a person has already also invested financially.

-The more information about the process a crowdfunded developer shares with the investors, the greater the emotional investment, the greater the expectations, the greater the eventual hype, and the greater the backlash if the project fails to live up to what often become unrealistic expectations.

So it’s possible that this information overload from crowdfunded games (compared to information revealed during traditionally funded development) is inadvertently creating the situation where these games cannot possibly hope to live up to the expectations they create as a by-product of their open development. In turn, these continuous disappointments have lead to a degree of distrust and burnout on crowdfunding for video games.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

My wallet closed a while ago for kickstarter’s in general but that was really the result of one of the games I backed wanting to suck up more and more of my money. Oh and not deliver on anything either :)

If what I thought was a worth while kickstarter, like massively, came past I would probably back it. Guess I have got much more cautious and discriminating about kickstarters for video games.