Everybody is probably somewhat familiar with Kickstarter and similar platforms designed to raise money for new projects and products. It is a unique source of funding that has a large number of benefits. Somewhat hidden in plain sight, toys and especially games have utilized crowdfunding platforms in an increasingly successful way. And it shouldn’t be ignored.
Crowdfunding is based on the proven concept that a large number of people, each contributing a little, can create an outsized impact. Kickstarter is currently the leading portal for crowdfunding.
The mission of Kickstarter is to help creative people — artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and the like — fund their own creative projects. But arts grants like these are very difficult to secure and are rarely available for smaller sums of money. Kickstarter is revolutionary because it turns average Internet users into patrons of the arts – for a very little financial commitment (source: How things work- David Roos)
Similarly, Kickstarter uses crowdfunding to pay for creative projects by soliciting small donations from the “crowd,” the anonymous patrons that visit the site. One vertical market segment that has benefitted from this platform is “board games”.
To see how this works live, one game publisher we really like, Forbidden Games, is launching a campaign on May 11th for Mosaic: A Story of Civilization. It is a beautifully rendered strategy game, designed with depth but with a play pattern that allows for completion in about two hours. We think that Forbidden Games campaign could raise well over $1 million with over 9000 “notify me” early backers. If you’d like to track the progress or participate,here’s the link to their campaign
The product creators offer backers rewards for different levels of commitment. If you haven’t paid much attention to the board game industry, you probably have missed the success stories of the most funded board games in the history of crowdfunding. Here are a few:
Kingdom Death Monster is a massive cooperative board game where survivors fight for their lives in a nightmare-horror world. The campaign had a target of $100,000 but eventually raised $12,393,139 from 19,264 backers.
Exploding Kittens is a highly strategic game where players draw cards from a deck until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The campaign had a target of $10,000 but eventually raised $8,782,571 from 219,382 backers.
Dark Souls™ – The Board Game is a highly strategic combat game created with a 1-4 players set design in the Dark Souls™ universe. The campaign had a target of £50,000 but eventually raised £3,771,474 from 31,178. (source: arikovani blog)
Date: October 2020
While these are all “home runs,” there are hundreds of solidly successful games launched via Kickstarter. CMON Ltd. is a publisher that grew rapidly by, in their own words, “actively leverage crowdfunding to bring new and innovative titles to the tabletop games market and have a proven asset-light business model. They are now part of the Asmodee family. Here are the results from a few of their campaigns:
Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game by CMON — Kickstarter
Date: December 2019
Zombicide: Invader by CMON — Kickstarter
Date: May 2018
Date: March 2021
It takes more than posting a few pictures and descriptions to make a successful campaign. There is a science to it in terms of promotion, social media outreach, and the use of key influencers. A compelling video can make or break a campaign. The more work you do up front before launch, the better your chances of success. So the moral of this story is if you are a game publisher or developer, Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general, is a medium that should not be ignored!