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Kickstarter is funding fewer huge games, more small ones, as pledges decline

by Eric Frederiksen | July 7, 2016July 7, 2016 7:00 pm PDT


After a sharp uptick in crowdfunding for games in the last few years, we’ve seen a series of high-profile crowdfunding failures, including examples like the Yogscast game failing due to inexperience and a massive underestimation of how much game development costs, or the troubled development of Mighty No. 9, which started with a huge amount of hype and ended with a mediocre final product. That seems to have had an effect on the way people perceive crowd-funded games from both the creation and funding sides.

Consultancy firm ICO Partners (no, not that Ico) took a look at the games behind funded and came away with some interesting results.

People seem to be spending less money on video game-related Kickstarter campaigns. The platform saw less than $10 million in video game funding in the first half of 2016, versus about $20 million in each half of 2015.

That sharp drop-off isn’t as straight forward as it seems, though. Smaller projects seem to be growing. A similar number of projects were submitted, but more of those were funded, jumping from 31% funded to 35% in the first half of 2016 compared to similar chunks of the last couple years. In fact, more money was raised on sub-$500,000 projects, according to ICO Partners.

What that seems to suggest is that people are becoming wary of the pitfalls of the platform, on both sides. Developers have, more than a few times, wildly underestimated the actual costs of game development, coupled with taxes, backer rewards, and other costs. As mentioned with Mighty No. 9 above, some successful projects have seen hype reach such a fever pitch that the game can’t possibly meet the expectations of backers, no matter the budget. These dual disappointments seem to be having a chilling effect, making creators more conservative about what they ask and fans about how excited they get.

We’ve also seen some crowd funding move to resources like Fig, so that may be a contributing factor as well.

We’ll need to wait a bit longer to see if this is the start of a trend or more of an anomaly, but it seems to suggest that the popularity of crowd funding is dropping off, and fast.

Ico Partners

Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...