Will the game section of Kickstarter dies?

Competitors and several unsuccessful projects influenced the popularity of Kickstarter.

In the last couple of years the video game section Kickstarter has passed the position: the fees are decreasing, there are not many high-profile projects, the players and the press perceive the news without enthusiasm. Robert P?rchis, author of Eurogamer, talked to the developers and wondered what was the reason for the decline in the popularity of the site. We chose the most interesting of the material.

kickstarter main

Instead of intro

In late March, Kickstarter celebrated an important event – 10 000 games have been funded on the platform. If you translate into cash, then comes out about $ 170 million. Unequivocal success, considering that everything began with the financing of the 12-bit game High Strangeness, which collected 1559 dollars by 36 people.

However, if we compare the indicators of recent years, there will be a noticeable decrease in the public’s interest in crowdfunding: in 2016, the games at Kickstarter raised $ 18 million, the worst figure in the last five years. In 2015, the total amount of fees was more than 43 million (data from the author of the article were shared by representatives of the platform).

Does this mean that the best days of the project are over? Perychis appealed to the developers for comments.

The game Wasteland 2 became the largest project of Kickstarter in 2012. Its creator, Brian Fargo, believes that the matter was that users were given the opportunity to support games that all major publishers refused.

It’s about the mood. In 2012 and 2013 everything was new and exciting. Many titles were not promoted by what they could offer, but rather because they were abandoned. Be it a point-and-click adventure game or an isometric RPG: publishers did not accept them. These games did not receive funding and support: there was almost no chance that their release would take place.
Bryan Fargo, game designer, creator of Wasteland, Baldur’s Gate, Fallout

Wasteland 2

Short history of Kickstarter games

The first truly big game on Kickstarter was Broken Age (originally known as Double Fine Adventure) in February 2012. In less than a day, it raised a million dollars (total fees amounted to 3.3 million). Due to Tim Shafer’s project, about 60,000 users came to the site. Over the next month, they spent more money on games than the whole previous year.

Then followed a series of super-successful campaigns: Wasteland 2 (2.9 million), Pillars of Eternity (3.9 million), Star Citizen (2.1 million), Oculus Rift (2.4 million), Torment: Tides of Numenera (4 , 1 million). These projects, according to the author of the article, convinced other developers that almost everyone can succeed on Kickstarter, after which the number of games open for funding began to grow: 300 in 2011, 1,400 in 2012, and 1,800 in 2013.

Brian Fargo is convinced that the market has changed: people are just tired of hearing news about projects with Kickstarter, and the press is tired of writing about them.

In 2013, we could release a small update [of the campaign], show a couple of screenshots and some piece of the soundtrack, and you guys would write about it! We received support from the press all the time. If you look at the current situation, then from the press’s point of view, the news about Kickstarter is annoying, like scratching a chalkboard with nails.
Bryan Fargo, game designer, creator of Wasteland, Baldur’s Gate, Fallout

Another reason, according to the author, is projects that did not meet expectations. For example, a canceled game about the battle of swords by Clang or the console Ouya, which succeeded in financing, but in the end turned out to be not a very good device.

kickstarter clang


kickstarter ouya


Fig launched to the market

Years later, great success in crowdfunding still exist, just no longer on Kickstarter. The Fig platform was launched in August 2015 by Brian Fargo, Tim Schaefer and Obsidian leader Fergus Urquhart. In 2016, it funded six games, which in the aggregate collected about eight million dollars. This is about half of what was received in the same year projects with Kickstarter (there were, for comparison, about 300).

As part of this success, Fig owes its founders – they pushed their games to the site: Wasteland 3 (collected 3.1 million dollars in January 2016), Psychonauts 2 (3.8 million – 2016), Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire ( 4.4 million in February 2017).

I do not think that the success of games with Fig and the platform itself is one and the same. Fig has such indicators, because behind her are Shafer, Fargo and Fergus. Honestly, if they had opened a stand for selling lemonade, then even there could have collected a couple of millions.
Luke Crane, head of the game department of Kickstarter

Another reason for the popularity of Fig, according to P?rtsis, is the investment system. The user does not just give money to the game to get a copy and small bonuses (this possibility also exists), he can buy a stake in the project to get some deductions after the release.

kickstarter fig

Fig platform

The heyday of Kickstarter passed, and I noticed how the mood changed. So I switched to Fig. The model in which you allow people to profit from your games, will never become obsolete.
Bryan Fargo, game designer, creator of Wasteland, Baldur’s Gate, Fallout

But where is the Kickstarter now?

But even despite the success of this method, Kickstarter does not hurry to adopt the ideas of Fig. According to the representative of the company, this approach “does not agree with the views and mission of the site”.

Fig creators themselves understand that, in terms of benefits to developers, Kickstarter is still the best choice, because there the studio receives money and should not pay anything to anyone. “In the end, everyone just gets their copy of the game, the name in the credits and so on. And when a user buys a share, the developer actually takes a loan, which then must be returned with interest, says Fargo. – It’s not free money anymore. If you take these two options, then of course everyone will choose the first. The only question is whether you can raise so much money. “

According to Sven Winke, the head of the Larian studio, developers and players still believe in Kickstarter. Both parts of Divinity: Original Sin have been successful in many ways thanks to the community of the site.

kickstarter divinity

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Fargo, in turn, is sure that despite the fact that some players still tend to be a Kickstarter, the situation will change with the release of the first project in the Fig.

Everything will change as soon as the release of the game with Fig takes place, and users will be able to say: “Hey, I just returned 40 percent of my money.” Immediately there will be people who will say: “I do not care what is there for the game. I just know that I get money from her. “
Bryan Fargo, game designer, creator of Wasteland, Baldur’s Gate, Fallout

Opinion of the platform

According to the head of the game department of Kickstarter, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit, but the essence of the platform is not in this, but in helping good projects. Large games, though they make the site an advertisement, are not the basis of everything. Even without them, the system works. The author of the article remembers Banner Saga and Sunless Sea, who, although they did not collect millions of dollars, turned out to be very good games. For their creators, Kickstarter is not just a place to collect money, but an important element of the community, where you can get feedback and where you can find new players.

kickstarter banner saga

Banner Saga

kickstarter sunless sea

Sunless Sea

“Glitter and novelty have disappeared, but we have an enthusiastic community, fans who want good games to come out,” says Luke Crane. – That’s who stayed at Kickstarter. You may not get the same numbers as in 2012 and 2013, but you can still make amazing games here. “

Kickstarter is changing

Another reason, according to Crane, influenced the performance of Kickstarter – Steam Early Access. There began to appear projects, against the background of charges of which the indicators of games with Kickstarter looked simply not serious. As a provisional example, Rust is given: according to SteamSpy, the game has five million owners. The game costs 15 pounds per copy, which, with a very rough calculation, gives 75 million pounds of fees.

If before the goal of the campaigns on Kickstarter was to raise money to release something playable. Now the players need to test the project from the very beginning, and to go to the site with a couple of concept art is a bad option. The journalist remembers how John Romero was forced to suspend the campaign to raise funds for Blackroom to make a demo version.

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Blackroom concept-art

In addition, in the case of Kickstarter, a tangible part of the funds is spent on related costs, rather than on development. The costs of transactions, taxes, production and delivery of various accessories. Many in this situation it is more convenient to use Early Access – money comes immediately and in full.

How publishers get profit from crowdfunding?

A separate conversation was about publishers. Recalled Adult Swim and Devolver, who are now major publishers and are engaged in indie games, some of which are funded through Kickstarter. Often, developers agree with the publisher to take care of matters not related to development, such as localization, distribution and all kinds of paper work.

According to P?rches, the cooperation of publishers and crowd-hosting platforms has a great potential. In the example led the game Indivisible, which achieved success on Indiegogo. Developers from Lab Zero wanted from 505 Games more investment and concluded an agreement: if they collect two million dollars by crowdfinding, the publisher invests another 2.5 million. The publisher thus gained confidence in the success of investments.

Luke Crane recalls that a similar decline on Kickstarter was already in 2014. Then the platform collected 21 million dollars against 49 million in 2013. “Everything is cyclical, – he says. – I believe that one day everything will return to normal. “

However, developers do not share this enthusiasm, and we are convinced that the time of major hits on the site was gone.

So, what’s next?

The author is convinced that, even given everything said, Kickstarter is not dead, just changing. Looking at the big picture, crowdfunding is a young direction, to which both players and developers are just getting used to. Users are not always ready to assume the role of publisher, it is much easier when the project is announced on E3, then they carry out a marketing campaign and release. At Kickstarter, there is always a certain risk.

“At the beginning of development it is impossible to know that some elements of the game will have to be cut out,” says Andy Robinson, one of the creators of Yooka-Laylee. – This is a development. A good moment here is that we can learn from mistakes. All good things come out of this. “

kickstarter yooka laylee


According to the journalist, Kickstarter has already fulfilled its main task – it has changed the market. Early Acess, Fig, modern publishers – they all owe their current position to Kickstarter. And even if the platform’s performance continues to fall, it will not be the end for everyone.

Our mission is to help good games to see the light, to become a tool for creative people. We would be glad if our gaming section prospered, but if the developers suddenly find another way to make games, well, that also suits us.
David Gallagher, Director of Communications at Kickstarter

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