Video Game Kickstarter Contributions Plummet in 2014 - Update

Video Game Kickstarter Contributions Plummet in 2014 - Update

Gaming-related Kickstarters for the first six months of 2014 have raised only a small fraction of what they did in 2013.

Update: A Kickstarter representative has respond to our queries with the following statement:

"The number of successfully funded video game projects is actually up this year vs. the same period last year. And more importantly, there are so many super-imaginative projects on Kickstarter right now. The robots-vs.-monsters trailer for Human Resources has blown away everyone who's seen it. Black the Fall, a post-communist sidescroller, is going to be epically spooky. Elegy for a Dead World is a game about... writing fiction! And it looks beautiful. The Black Glove (just launched) is a surrealistic game from a team of developers who helped make BioShock and BioShock Infinite. And there are more than 200 other live video and mobile game projects on the site. It's a great time for games, and our incredibly strong backer community knows that. The system really works - just ask backers of Wasteland 2 - but this whole approach to bringing games to life is still in its infancy. The best is yet to come."

Original Story:

Editor's Note: In our original story, we stated that that Kickstarters in 2013 raised $58 million in six months. In truth, that figure was for the whole year. We regret this error and have corrected it.

Remember a few years back when every game maker and their uncle took to launching epic Kickstarter campaigns and raised millions of dollars? Well if 2014 is any indicator, that era might already be over. While gamers still gave millions of dollars to help fund fledgling game projects, the first half of this year saw a marked decline in overall contributions to game-related Kickstarters.

According to a recent report from the firm ICO Partners, for instance, donations pledged to game projects between the first of January and the last day of June only totaled $13.5 million, funding 175 projects. And while that's obviously not chump change, it represents a decline from 2013 which, overall, comparatively saw game related campaigns raise more than $58 million with 446 projects reaching their goals.

According to ICO's Thomas Bidaux, the causes of this decline could range from a lack of high profile projects attached to famous industry personalities to a simple lack of interest from gamers who may have initially found themselves caught up in the excitement of crowdfunding's early days. The report also cites the growing power of things like Steam Early Access as another potential force behind the decline.

No matter what the cause, it's likely that Kickstarter itself can't be too pleased by this downturn. Game related projects such as Torment: Tides of Numenara, for instance, were a sizable portion of the site's bread and butter in 2013. We've reached out to Kicktarter to see if we can snag their take on the change in the crowdfunding tides.

Source: ICO Partners

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Hopefully this will force Kickstarter to respond by tightening the standards for video game projects going up on Kickstarter. The string of high profile failures has scared the general public off, and to coax them back Kickstarter will need to introduce measures to ensure that a company is solvent enough to actually produce the content promised in the backer rewards before even thinking about allowing them to begin a campaign.

I think the lack of media coverage is one other issues

most crowdfunding drives I backed had some sort of coverage on a gaming site

also, I think gamers were excited to revive dormant genres. and now there are enough games in those genres to fill the need.

There is also a sense that there are just too many games coming out in general

That reminds me, I should go get my money back for my MN9 pledge.

Hey Úber, about that 1.4 Mil you need for Human Resources? Probably not going to happen buddy.

That said, as someone who frequents Kickstarter's pages to see what's up, there hasn't really been a lot to grab people's interests this year. I swear just about everything I backed in on either ended up cancelling or simply not funding.

Many of these kickstarters happened to be scams in disguise, or if they weren't, then the backers aren't really getting what they paid for, except of the barest of bones "product". Take Tim Schafer (sp) and Anita Sarkeesian for example. What the hell did these people do with the excess money? From what I and others have seen, the backers didn't get a whole lot for their money, and I doubt much went into their respective works to begin with.

And how will I know if the money I do donate isn't going into the pockets of some nutcase with an agenda?

edit: Forgot about Mighty No. 9. As long as that nepotist bitch of a community manager stays in power and controls the forum with an iron fist, I would stay as far away from that game and its developers as possible. I'm really hoping that more backers will demand refunds.

Tradjus:
Hopefully this will force Kickstarter to respond by tightening the standards for video game projects going up on Kickstarter. The string of high profile failures has scared the general public off, and to coax them back Kickstarter will need to introduce measures to ensure that a company is solvent enough to actually produce the content promised in the backer rewards before even thinking about allowing them to begin a campaign.

Doubling down on the TOS as it applies to creators and enforcement of same would make a lot of difference there. Creating a means by which backers can get a look at how many backers have actually had their rewards filled and at which levels, as well as creating a means by which backers could contact other backers en mass if something goes wrong would both be useful steps in that direction.

In a fantasy world they also wouldn't enforce their policies selectively based on the political and PR fallouts from a project, but that's asking for too much I think.

StewShearer:
According to a recent report from the firm ICO Partners, for instance, donations pledged to game projects between the first of January and the last day of June only totaled $13.5 million, funding 175 projects. And while that's obviously not chump change, it represents a stark decline from the same period in 2013 which comparatively saw game related campaigns raise more than $58 million with 446 projects reaching their goals.

"We went from 446 funded projects in 2013 to 175 funded project for 2014's first half. Projecting for a similar number of projects in the second half, it would mean that there were only 20% fewer funded projects in 2014."

The OP is comparing the total numbers of projects from the whole year of 2013 with the first half of 2014 there.

The source doesn't seem to mention if there has been a decline in kickstarters in general, though. Though, yeah, "honeymoon is over" would be one of the obvious explanations.

For the money total has there hasn't really been any major kickstarters this year has here? At least in comparison to previous years when you had games like Star Citizen, Wastland II, Tides of Numeria, etc.

Kickstarter is still a useful tool, you just have to keep things in perspective. For me it was more an increased perception that these games should be coming out regardless, so no rush if they turn out well I can buy them then. Even then the only game I ended up kickstarting when I probably didn't need to is the Carmageddon game. When you back is if it's a game/developer you actually want to give your full support, or if you have confidence in the product being delivered and want a bargain.

Anyone here back Divinity III or Wasteland 2? Congrats you got these great games for $15, and now everyone else has to be $40 if they want to play it now. Unfortunately I didn't back them, so I'm left wanting. I did back the other two big RPG's though.

It would help if so many of the games people are trying to kickstart weren't the same few concepts over and over again. It's hard to get excited over the eight hundredth DayZ clone, y'know?

P.S. Thanks

RaikuFA:
That reminds me, I should go get my money back for my MN9 pledge.

good luck, the community manager that caused a lot of people to get pissed about the game and started banning people for asking a refund because they disagreed with her is still having a hey-day with the mighty number banhammer.

Kalezian:

RaikuFA:
That reminds me, I should go get my money back for my MN9 pledge.

good luck, the community manager that caused a lot of people to get pissed about the game and started banning people for asking a refund because they disagreed with her is still having a hey-day with the mighty number banhammer.

That's exactly why. I don't want my politics/gender/sexuality affecting wether I get news related to something I gave money to.

Kevlar Eater:
Many of these kickstarters happened to be scams in disguise, or if they weren't, then the backers aren't really getting what they paid for, except of the barest of bones "product". Take Tim Schafer (sp) and Anita Sarkeesian for example.

Tim Schafer's project grew so large that it wound up costing more then what the Kickstarter earned and was split into two parts to hopefully generate more money, but at least they gave something out of the deal.

Kevlar Eater:
Many of these kickstarters happened to be scams in disguise, or if they weren't, then the backers aren't really getting what they paid for, except of the barest of bones "product". Take Tim Schafer (sp) and Anita Sarkeesian for example. What the hell did these people do with the excess money? From what I and others have seen, the backers didn't get a whole lot for their money, and I doubt much went into their respective works to begin with.

And how will I know if the money I do donate isn't going into the pockets of some nutcase with an agenda?

edit: Forgot about Mighty No. 9. As long as that nepotist bitch of a community manager stays in power and controls the forum with an iron fist, I would stay as far away from that game and its developers as possible. I'm really hoping that more backers will demand refunds.

Tim was pretty bad. That hurt a lot people faith in the site. He helped raise the site to prominence, but he promptly damaged its reputation.

As for Anita, she's actually pretty clever. By releasing her videos over a long period, she keeps herself and her causes relevant. If she released a video a week then it would be over saturated, and everyone would forget her. Instead her video releases are a sort of event.

Fox12:

As for Anita, she's actually pretty clever. By releasing her videos over a long period, she keeps herself and her causes relevant. If she released a video a week then it would be over saturated, and everyone would forget her. Instead her video releases are a sort of event.

And in the meantime more donation money keeps rolling in despite getting 25 times more money then she initially asked for... yeaaah... sweet sweet donation money for little to no work.

Anyways... Kickstarter simply had to much bad press. From backers not getting their promised rewards to projects sinking to the bottom of the ocean to devs making for mexico with the money we had it all.

And each time kickstarter just shrugged its shoulders and pointed to their extremely backer unfriendly policies.

I think now that the initial goldrush is over kickstarter will slowly go back to obscurity.... just like steam greenlight... or early access.

Kevlar Eater:
Many of these kickstarters happened to be scams in disguise, or if they weren't, then the backers aren't really getting what they paid for, except of the barest of bones "product". Take Tim Schafer (sp) and Anita Sarkeesian for example. What the hell did these people do with the excess money? From what I and others have seen, the backers didn't get a whole lot for their money, and I doubt much went into their respective works to begin with.

And how will I know if the money I do donate isn't going into the pockets of some nutcase with an agenda?

edit: Forgot about Mighty No. 9. As long as that nepotist bitch of a community manager stays in power and controls the forum with an iron fist, I would stay as far away from that game and its developers as possible. I'm really hoping that more backers will demand refunds.

What Kickstarter needs is an automatic means of refunding when projects are overfunded and/or there's no product produced in a particular timeframe, as well as some means to ensure the money spent is controlled so that it's ONLY spent on what's supposed to be produced.

In other words, Kickstarter needs some policing.

Personally, I'm just waiting until the things I've already Kickstarted are released. In fairness, some of them already have and have been really good (Divinity: Original Sin anyone?) but I'm still waiting on:

- Distance (currently beta)
- Torment: Tides of Numenara
- Massive Chalice
- The rest of Broken Age ¬_¬

So I'm just a bit crowdfunded out at the moment. Also, between the things I've backed and the things others have backed that I've become interested in later, there aren't a whole lot of niches that I care about that have been neglected. When I was backing everything under the sun in 2012, the main thing I wanted was a good space sim. Now Elite: Dangerous is almost here, Starpoint Gemini just came out, Enemy Starfighter and No Man's Sky are on the horizon. By the time I'm bored of all those Star Citizen might be in sight. How many more do I need?

I don't think the downturn in pledges is a huge problem; it's like the downturn in a game's sales after launch week. Now the gold rush at the start is over, it will settle down into its place as one of many viable funding options for some games. Just the way it should be.

RaikuFA:

Kalezian:

good luck, the community manager that caused a lot of people to get pissed about the game and started banning people for asking a refund because they disagreed with her is still having a hey-day with the mighty number banhammer.

That's exactly why. I don't want my politics/gender/sexuality affecting wether I get news related to something I gave money to.

Which is depressing because this game was gonna be one of my "maybe this kickstarter thing isn't so bad after all" moments.

Sucks for Inafune. Is he ever gonna release a new Megaman game without petty stuff like this stopping him?

I hate to sound pessimistic, but I kinda called it when this was growing. The "novelty" was gonna wear off sooner or later. All the stupid things and scams that managed to get through didn't help.

Well, we'll always have Shovel Knight, Wasteland and Potato Salad.

Scams aside, a large part of it probably has something to do with the fact that alot of the games that were bankrolled hadn't really come out yet.

I backed 10 projects and Wasteland 2 is the only game that was officially released, some of the playable alphas I have access to are better than others, but I just don't feel that I've seen the fruits of enough KS projects at the moment to feel I've gotten my money's worth.

That and early access, although I've regretted more early access games than KS projects so far, I predict an imminent failure there as well.

Karadalis:

Fox12:

As for Anita, she's actually pretty clever. By releasing her videos over a long period, she keeps herself and her causes relevant. If she released a video a week then it would be over saturated, and everyone would forget her. Instead her video releases are a sort of event.

And in the meantime more donation money keeps rolling in despite getting 25 times more money then she initially asked for... yeaaah... sweet sweet donation money for little to no work.

To be fair, I'm not sure what else she's supposed to have done with the extra money. She's likely already created several videos, and has simply chosen to stagger their releases. In any case her backers seem happy, and in a way she's delivered more than she promised. You can't say she hasn't been an active voice in the video game community. The kickstarter was about spreading her message, and she's certainly delivered on that front, whether you personally agree with her message or not. I haven't heard a single one of her backers complaining about her kickstarter campaign. It's always the critics.

I agree that Kickstarter needs to improve itself though. I don't think it will disappear anytime soon, since legitimately great stuff has come from it, and it's good for both artists and consumers, but it will like change form.

...well despite the blatantly false article, we at least got some info on some interesting kickstarter projects.

I hope you guys learnt your lesson.

The number of articles that need these sort of "updates" is becoming embarrassing you guys; not to mention all the articles that present factual information without context leading to complete misinterpretation about what they actually mean.

Anyway, call me cynical but I never thought Kickstarter was a good idea, or would lead to anything but abuse and disappointment. The only project I ever backed was the potato salad one, and that was because I really didn't care if actually received anything or not. Trusting a bunch of people I don't know with my money based purely on an idea and a promise of something, eventually, some day, just requires a degree of faith in humanity that I just can't find anymore.

Kind of hard to follow up Star Citizen's success, ain't it?

Not surprised.

With failures like Broken Age and some games being developed, the trend has died down. It may kick up again one we see more success stories.

I backed wasteland 2, broken age and awesomenauts: starstorm. It's been a mixed bag.

I tell you this though, Tim Schaeffer will never see another dollar from me for early access or kickstarter.

Well, the economy might be an issue to. I just don't have a huge amount of money and I have several projects up in the air "Grimoire: Heralds Of The Winged Exemplar" is still being developed even if I haven't heard much from the guy doing it for a while. "Tides Of Numenerra" is just starting development. "Dark Dungeons" and "Starcrawlers" are a long way off and of course then there is a Zombie RPG (the name eludes me) still in development. With all of this money invested and only "Wasteland 2" having paid off so far I'm reluctant to start throwing more money around.

That said while I didn't donate to Tim I think his antics along with those of Richard Garriot have done a lot to sour things as well. Richard's "Shroud Of The Avatar" developed in a sort of virtual real estate scheme where you pay him real money to get a land deed for land to place a house you also pay real money for and then real money to buy tools to work that land, and then of course in-game currency to pay rent through constant grinding or you lose your content and need to pay again for more land (though apparently your house and tools remain, you just can't do a lot with them). That's apparently still going okay though... but I've seen increasing numbers of people upset with it, although there are apparently people handing out tons of money in pre-emptive property and tool purchases.

I'll also say that I think one of the problems is the way Kickstarter charges money, basically if you find a product you want and it has like tons of days level, increasingly people don't want to donate, not because they want a sure thing/deal but because they don't want to be charged weeks later on a credit card or whatever after they forgot they committed that money. Increasingly I've noticed people (me included) wanting to donate at the end to get the charge through quickly, and of course if you show up at the end and it's not close to being funded it's easy to figure "why bother?" or to just forget about it in the meanwhile.

Kickstarter is a good idea, but it has it's problems, as people in this thread have mentioned, as time goes on people want to see the concept evolve to address a lot of those problems. Basically it was easy to tolerate it being messy when it first started, but now that it's out of it's infancy people are expecting more from it.

I'm too busy backing real projects, like potato salad.

i backed a few projects i believed in. im waiting til i see where they go before i invest anymore money in it.

Yeah, I think one of the big problems has been the constant delays. While I don't blame the game makers for needing more time it has made me SUPER hesitant to pledge to any new games when the ones I already backed are taking forever to come out. I mean come on...

I've backed Hyper Light Drifter (June 2014), it's still not out. I backed Pillars of Eternity (April 2014), it's still not out and I backed Torment: Tides of Numenera (December 2014) and while that date hasn't hit yet considering they JUST put out Wasteland 2 I'm not too optimistic about them making that date. So far the only game I've actually seen that I've kickstarted has been Divinity: Original Sin and THAT was also behind schedule.

So far that's still 2 pending games behind schedule and 1 that's likely to be... so when I see these games then I'll considering kicking in for some new ones... but that's likely to be awhile from what I gather.

Kevlar Eater:
Many of these kickstarters happened to be scams in disguise, or if they weren't, then the backers aren't really getting what they paid for, except of the barest of bones "product". Take Tim Schafer (sp) and Anita Sarkeesian for example. What the hell did these people do with the excess money? From what I and others have seen, the backers didn't get a whole lot for their money, and I doubt much went into their respective works to begin with.

Don't know about Tim Schafer, but surely Anita Sarkeesian is doing exactly what she promised she'd do? There just was an unexpectedly large amount of people who ended up supporting her.

Sanunes:

Kevlar Eater:
Many of these kickstarters happened to be scams in disguise, or if they weren't, then the backers aren't really getting what they paid for, except of the barest of bones "product". Take Tim Schafer (sp) and Anita Sarkeesian for example.

Tim Schafer's project grew so large that it wound up costing more then what the Kickstarter earned and was split into two parts to hopefully generate more money, but at least they gave something out of the deal.

Yeah, no. The project didn't grew too large, it grew too extravagant.
I played the first part of Broken Age and while the content that is there is pretty good, there really isn't that much content to be had. The reason the project cost that much money is because tim is horrible with money. Every secondary or tertiary character is voiced by some famous dude even while the character only says about 10 sentences. The amount of stupidity in this production is insane.

I find this entirely unsurprising. There has never been a trend for video games getting lots of money in Kickstarter, there have just been a few big projects - games people have been wanting for years made by well respected people who generated that want in the first place. Star Citizen - creator of one of the biggest space sim franchises making a new game in the genre that has been essentially dead for years. Torment - sequel to one of the best RPGs ever made by some of the people known for making the best RPGs ever. Pillars of Eternity - new Infinity Engine-style RPG made by most of the rest of the people known for making the best RPGs ever. Broken Age - another essentially dead genre being revived by one of the people known for making some of the best games in that genre. Wasteland 2 - creators of the Fallout series going back to the original roots of that series and genre.

But the things is, those games have now been funded and are mostly still being made. There aren't a lot of other big name developers left who aren't already making things, and there aren't a lot of other genres not being catered for. So of course there's not much crowdfunding money being spent now. The people interested in those sort of games or projects by those people are currently waiting for the results, while most other people are already being catered for without needing record breaking Kickstarter projects. There's still plenty of space for lots of smaller and experimental projects, but virtually all of the combinations of well known developers and neglected genres have already been taken.

The problem isn't that the backers have massively lost faith but that there were no high profile pojects this year. The amount of projects didn't go down that much. If we had more projects like Wasteland 2 or Pillars of Eternity we would see better yields.

I haven't lost faith in Kickstarter. I'm just very selective with what I back. I backed Tides of Numenera, Dreamfall Chapters, Star Citizen and Divinity Original Sin because I believed in those projects. This year there weren't a lot of interesting titles. In 2014 I backed only the HD remake of Outcast, but that didn't reach its target.

 

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