Only a Third of Video Game Kickstarters Fully Deliver

By | 3 years ago 

On a superficial level, crowd-funding might be seen as part of a new revolution in the way that video games are funded and produced. By appealing directly to fans, independent studios are able to offer the kind of games that gamers want without having to answer to the demands of publishers or higher-ups.

Kickstarter itself might be described as a gamification of funding: backers can pledge any amount that they choose, but bigger donations are rewarded with more valuable perks – up to and including getting involved with the making of the game. Crowd-funded projects can also produce some truly great results, as seen with recently released titles Broken Age: Act 1 and The Banner Saga.

These are just two shining examples on a much broader spectrum, however, and while it’s a fascinating new form of funding, Kickstarter comes with its own share of pitfalls. Indie title Dark Matter kicked up some controversy when the $15 game ended abruptly after just four hours of gameplay. When questioned about the ending, the developers explained that the failed Kickstarter had prevented them from finishing the game – though not from releasing it.

The Banner Saga Screenshot 2

Even when video games are successfully funded on Kickstarter, there’s no guarantee that the backers will end up with a finished product on time – or a product at all, and some may end up waiting for their game indefinitely. Evil as a Hobby has broken down the success rate of 366 successfully funded video game projects on Kickstarter and found that only one third of the games funded between 2009 and October 2012 had been fully delivered to their backers by the start of 2014.

In total, 37% of successfully funded projects have fully delivered a finished product to backers. A further 8% have delivered a partial product (i.e. part 1 of a promised full game, or a mobile tie-in app). 3% of successful projects have been formally cancelled, while a further 2% have been formally placed in hiatus. A total value of $21,641,800 has so far been sunk into successful Kickstarter projects that have failed to deliver, while the total value of projects that have delivered is less than $17,000,000.

Why all the delays and failures? Well, the simplest explanation is that developers who crowd-fund through Kickstarter do not formally owe their financiers anything, as they would if using a more traditional funding model. There is usually no publisher breathing down their necks as an incentive to get the games released in time, and on the whole Kickstarter backers rely on the consistent positive energy – not to mention luck and other variables – of the studios that they pledge money to. It’s a relationship built on good faith, and that can be easy to break.

Broken Age Review

The message that should be taken away from this is by no means a wholly negative one; as mentioned before, Kickstarter campaigns have successfully funded some great games and left thousands of backers thrilled with their decision to make a pledge. However, we recommend careful forethought before dropping cash into a Kickstarter campaign and suggest that Game Rant readers think over the following questions before doing so.

How much do you trust the studio to deliver on what they promise? Does the funding and development plan look realistic? Has a sufficient amount of groundwork already been carried out? How long are you prepared to wait for the finished product? Are you willing to risk the possibility that you might never see anything at all in exchange for your pledge?

With all Kickstarter projects, be very wary of anyone offering an “internship” or other working role on the project in exchange for a pledge. Aside from being indicative of a company with very poor ethics, giving positions on the team away to the highest bidder rather than the most highly-skilled applicant doesn’t bode well for the quality of the finished product.

Finally, remember to read the Kickstarter FAQ before going ahead with a pledge. Happy crowd-funding, everyone.


Source: Evil as a Hobby