Kickstarter balloons break out? Where does community project funding go?.
Even today, community hammering has a huge role to play in realizing projects that publishers would not dare to fund, but if we look at the numbers closely, successes have become more restrained. That’s what we looked for.
The founders of Kickstarter celebrated the launch of their tens of thousands of gaming campaigns in March, meaning that the start-up capital for so many games has been thrown together by the community visiting the site since the site was launched. Yet beyond the round number, there’s not much to celebrate when looking at video player projects. Kickstarter used to have a bad year in this field like last year. 456 gaming campaigns have been launched (the second most since the site’s existence), but these have brought in only $ 17.8 million, which is very few – a negative record since Kickstarter’s memorable 2012 explosion. But what happened last year, why did the video player leave below the crowdfunding fever? This was followed by SamaGame and what followed the article.
First of all, let’s keep in mind that board games and card games are also included in the main category of “games” on Kickstarter, and the chariot of board games is running a lot now: money for such projects is growing year by year, already exceeding $ 100 million in 2016, this year and a record is already expected (Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 alone brought in 12.4 million, not to mention Dark Souls). So there is no question that community project funding in general or even Kickstarter would die. There is a lot to the side of board games: there is a product from which a prototype can be made at a low cost, and a crowdfunding campaign can be used to assess the demand for it. Video games, on the other hand, are much more complex and expensive to produce, and there have been major market changes over the past few years that have affected the community hammering model. All of these reasons have contributed to the fact that Kickstarter is no longer as attractive to video game developers today as it was five years ago.
The charm of novelty is gone
In 2012, Kickstarter was still a new thing. Well, not entirely new, because the first successful video game campaign took place as early as August 2009: a developer named Steve Jenkins received funding to create a 12-bit adventure game, High Strangeness, thanks to 36 supporters. But it already took a much better-known developer for community project funding to really explode in the public consciousness three years later: Tim Schafer asked for $ 400,000 for a new adventure game – and he got $ 3.3 million. Then came the other development legends: Brian Fargo with his new Wasteland game, Chris Roberts with Star Citizen, Obsidian’s new role-playing game, and more. But these big gamer projects are pretty much off the side by now – in part because Kickstarter has turned out to be not a stone for the wise, just a tool, and the charm of novelty is gone. After 2013-14, the press also wrote less and less about Kickstarter projects, and initial enthusiasm waned.
More cautious supporters
Related to the previous factor is that supporters have not donated as easily since some games have bathed ugly. Some successfully sponsored projects ended up not being completed, such as the open-world game Yogsventures, which raised more than half a million dollars, or Neal Stephenson’s realistic swordsman game, Clang, which turned out to have insurmountable technical hurdles. And sometimes the products that were implemented were disappointing: Broken Age infuriated supporters with financial and time lags, and the Ouya console annoyed the poor end result. No wonder Kickstarter users no longer give heavy bills to announce a John Romero-level name until there’s a demo of the game in progress.
One of the results of Kickstarter’s success was the emergence of competition. The best example of this is Chris Roberts’ controversial gig, Star Citizen, which started as a Kickstrarter project, raised a good two million dollars there, but at the same time the collection went on the game’s own side and later only continued there (now at 151 million) . Or there’s Fig, the crowdfunding hit of recent years, launched in 2015: sponsors can also be investors, and if the sponsored product becomes very successful, they can even get their money back. Some of the big names have moved to Figre: the second tranche of Psychonauts has raised $ 3.8 million, Wasteland 3 $ 3.1 million, Pillars of Eternity II $ 4.4 million – although the investor model is riskier for developers, hopeful players find it easier they donate. And Patreon, launched in 2013, can help smaller indie studios, and sponsors can spend less monthly money instead of a one-time amount (I’m experiencing something of a breakthrough on my own Patreon front in my own skin: my video player podcast, Checkpoint’s campaign has been a startling success). These new platforms all caught a bit of the slice from Kickstarter’s sail.
Like Steam’s early access system, which was launched in 2013. Participants in community funding increasingly want concrete promises, say a playable demo. Developers who get this far, on the other hand, can already opt for Steam Early Access, where they can sell virtually semi-finished games. We’ve seen nice examples of this from DayZ to Ruston to Ark. Of course, an early access and a Kickstarter campaign could work side by side for the same game (we’ve seen this in Richard Garriott’s role-playing game, Shroud of the Avatar, for example), but that’s not the typical lineup.
Small track publishers
When Kickstarter was launched five years ago, players were hungry for certain genres – ones that big publishers didn’t deal with, such as point and click adventures or old-fashioned role-playing games. Several successful campaigns have been born in such genres, but the situation is different today. A lot of small publishers were formed (or a couple of older ones changed profiles) who drove them to flaunt indie successes. This process has also diminished the importance of Kickstarter, as if a team finds a publisher for themselves, it may become unreasonable to turn to the community.
And then how to proceed?
Kickstarter doesn’t need to be buried, not even the video player section. On the one hand, there are still regular game projects on it – recently Banner Saga 3 ($ 416,000 for $ 200,000) or the sequel to Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies (£ 377 for $ 100,000) – only rarely seven-digit amounts. On the other hand, the role of Kickstarter is also changing: it is increasingly being used by publishers along with developers to probe how successful a game would be. See Shenmue III’s 2015 campaign, the main purpose of which was to survey interest (more than three times the amount came in for two million, so there was interest). Although it is no longer as important a site as it was four or five years ago, Kickstarter still has a place in the video game market today, and it looks like there will still be a long time to find their calculation there, at most on a smaller scale.
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