Kickstarter’s Game Campaign Pledges are on the Decline
Online backers and pledges for the crowdfunded video game campaigns on Kickstarter have been on a steep decline throughout 2014 for a variety of reasons.
Eurogamer reports that the amount of capital being pledged into backing video game projects on Kickstarter are expected to be less than half of what it was in 2013. A recent financial analysis by ICO Partners, a consultancy firm, shows the huge difference in comparing the pledges and capital raised on Kickstarter between 2013 and 2014. For those who don't know, game developers without a proper publisher or financial backing pitch their projects on Kickstarter in the hopes that the masses will donate money to help with the costs of development. The actual amount of money isn't taken from the backers' accounts until the campaign meets its campaign goal during a specific window of time. Most of these Kickstarter campaigns have various types of rewards for those who pledge money to project. For video games, backers usually get beta access, soundtracks, finished versions of the game, their name in the credits and other types of bonuses.
ICO reports that almost $58 million was pledged to various video game projects on Kickstarter throughout 2013. Throughout the first half of 2014, only $13.5 million was pledged. Based on this rate, ICO expects to see around $28 million pledged total by the end of 2014, which isn't even half of what was pledged in 2013. So why is there such a steep decline?
There are a few reasons for the drastic drop in Kickstarter video game pledges. High profile Kickstarter projects, such as Clang and Yogventures, flopped despite having tremendously successful campaigns. Yogventures raised more than double its campaign goal, and the game's development was cancelled due to the developer going bankrupt. Backers were only given a lackluster substitute game in its place since the game was cancelled. Many of these failed projects were not even able to offer refunds to its backers, and Kickstarter constantly reminds its users that it is not responsible for providing refunds. Yogventures had 10 people pledging over $5,000 each, and still couldn't offer refunds to anyone because the company developing the game went bankrupt. Kickstarter has had a reported 20 percent drop in successful gaming projects, going from 446 successfully funded games in 2013 to an expected 350 by the end of 2014.
Many games, such as Mighty No. 9, have had successful campaigns, but have yet to deliver a finished product. Mighty No. 9 raised almost $ 3.9 million with an initial campaign goal of $900,000. Comcept even opened a second crowdfunding campaign asking for even more money for bonus content, which many people interpreted as a simple cash grab by this point since the campaign more than quadrupled its original goal.
Another huge reason for the decline in Kickstarter pledges comes from an over-saturated market place. Steam Early Access provides huge competition as more and more would-be games are posting their projects on both Kickstarter and Early Access.
"The vast majority of the Kickstarter video game projects are PC-based and when you consider the amount of work required to get a project funded on Kickstarter, compare it to the relative ease to go to Early Access in comparison, and add to that the fact that on Early Access the funding doesn't stop after one month, I suspect a lot of Early Access successes skipped the crowd funding phase to go directly to alpha funding," said ICO analyst Thomas Bidaux.
"I personally chalk that up to people abusing the kickstarter system and the kickstarters being over saturated with extremely mediocre and bad ideas for games."
Ever since Double Fine's surprise success in 2012, many developers have followed in its footsteps to bring their would-be games to life. Unfortunately, we're still in the middle of a wait and see period for most of these games to be released -- there are dozens of major, finished game campaigns on Kickstarter that have yet to release its pitched product.
Nevertheless, there are some very talented and deserving indie developers out there who legitimately have bad luck with publishers and are hoping that the fans will help them get their games out.