The golden era of crowdfunding is over
In 2009 Kickstarter launched, it wasn’t the first crowdfunding platform but it did a lot of things right and has grown into something incredible. For board gaming at least, Kickstarter has perhaps had more of an impact than anything else over the past 10 years.
It’s allowed thousands of creators to launch board games and has been directly responsible for the birth of many of our favourite publishers. Would they have existed without it, I don’t know, but I certainly wouldn’t be here without Kickstarter.
The only choice
Kickstarter became so powerful in the board game space that it was the only option for anyone wanting to crowdfund a board game. The golden era of crowdfunding began and each year we saw countless projects raising millions of dollars and many more raising enough to fund their games.
Life was perfect, except…
There was no real competition and Kickstarter failed to evolve, they rarely introduced new features and as of today, they lack fundamental features that many creators desperately need.
This didn’t go unnoticed and last year gamefound took advantage, switching from a pledge manager to a full blown crowdfunding platform.
We saw some huge creators using the platform including Chip Theory Games, Lucky Duck Games, and Awaken Realms. To date gamefound has raised over €230,000,000 by filling holes in the functionality of Kickstarter and most recently by competing directly against it.
Gamefound has focussed on the tabletop market and are slowly eating away at that slice of Kickstarters pie by offering board game specific features that other markets may not be interested in. At this point in time, there are 50 live or upcoming projects on gamefound and many others that have already finished. It certainly isn’t as many as there are on Kickstarter, but it’s a noticable amount that keeps on growing.
Alongside this, BackerKit have just launched their own crowdfunding platform, also making the move from pledge manager to fully blown crowdfunder. BackerKit has been around for longer than gamefound and has raised over $470,000,000 through pledge managers for over 12,000 creators since its creation. With such a big userbase they are well placed to enter the crowdfunding market and are doing so with a bang.
BackerKit have announced many big names including Leder Games, Cephalofair, and Restoration Games as publishers moving to the platform with their next projects. Based on the track record of the 30+ companies that are signed up, they’ll no doubt be raising $10,000,000’s by the end of the year.
The end of an era
This all sounds great!
Competition is fantastic and we will no doubt start to see huge amounts of change in the crowdfunding space over the next 12 months. We’ll see functionality added to all 3 platforms, and for publishers, Kickstarter will no longer be the default choice.
For consumers this can only be a good thing, publishers will be able to provide better experiences and we’re likely to move away from the multi-website process (Kickstarter then pledge manager).
Yet, I worry for publishers that the golden era of crowdfunding is over and we’ll no longer be seeing a rise in the million dollar campaigns. The number of people discovering our projects will start decreasing, and our chances to succeed will be reduced.
As gamefound and BackerKit build up their audiences, we’ll see less people visiting Kickstarter as crowdfunders become spread across multiple platforms. There may be the same amount of people willing to back projects, and likely even more, but never again will they all be in one place browsing the same content. Which will have a considerable impact given I’ve estimated Kickstarter currently brings 50% of my backers to my campaigns.
For the larger publishers and most hyped projects I don’t expect this will have much effect, their top line may be slightly lower but they will still do well. For everyone else, a new challenge has been created and I advise you to proceed with caution.
In the months to come a battle will begin and all 3 platforms are likely to make offers to tempt you onto their platform. You may see reduced fees, perhaps free promotion, or other benefits being offered and it’s going to be difficult to navigate.
When choosing a platform, don’t let the offerings be the deciding factor. Look at the projects on the platform, look for games similar to your own, for creators similar to you. To succeed moving forward you’ll need to research each platform close to when you launch and find the one that best suits your needs.
I look forward to seeing how the crowdfunding world changes over the next 12 months as a new era for board games begins.
Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!
29th June 2022 at 1:49 pm
do you think there could be a way of using the three platform at the same time for a campaign(s)?
30th June 2022 at 4:55 pm
I don’t think it would be viable to run campaigns on more than one platform at the same time, and while I haven’t read through all the T&C’s of the three platforms in detail – I would imagine they may not want you doing it either.
The only workable option would be to run the campaign on one platform and use another as the pledge manager, as this still gives you access to 2 of the 3 platforms audiences.
8th July 2022 at 7:53 pm
Perhaps a solution to the problem of backers spreading out, would be an engine like the ones I see for computer games: These engines list offers from multiple game sites, without having any relation to them (as far as I know), so, when you want to find the best price for something, you enter the name, and they list all available offers.
Something similar could be done for board games. Not with names of course, but with criteria. Sort of like the criteria Kickstarter’s search engine has right now. At least this way, all creators would be sure that their work has a chance of being found out.
Of course, such an engine should be made by a third party, and not any of the platforms (for obvious reasons). This is the tricky part. Will there be someone who will be interested in doing something like that?
Just a thought…
an Isle of Cats fanatic
11th July 2022 at 11:34 am
I think something like this will need to happen in the future if these upcoming platforms succeed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was already working on it.
It still wouldn’t solve the whole problem, as the general hobbyist who doesn’t dig too deep into crowdfunding is unlikely to ever find it, but it’s certainly a benefit for frequent backers.