It’s hard to deny that Kickstarter has changed the way that video games are created. The biggest name in crowd funding, the company has allowed would-be developers to take on the titles they want with the backing of gamers everywhere. Every step of the creation process – from funding, to development, to publishing and release – has evolved as crowd funding as a concept has grown. There have been some huge success stories, such as Double Fine Kickstarter ending with over $3 million in backing, and Kickstarter trendsetter High Strangeness is now ready to release after its initial funding target was reached in 2009.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been questions raised along the way, however. Earlier this year we learned that only a third of video game Kickstarters fully deliver a finished product to backers. Meanwhile, courts in the United States have become involved in crowd funding after a consumer-protection lawsuit was raised by Washington state on behalf of backers who lost money on the trading card game Asylum. Now, it seems that there is more bad news for the crowd funding site.
According to a report from Gamasutra, video game Kickstarters may have reached their peak. After a bumper year in 2013, where $58 million was pledged towards video games on Kickstarter, there has been a dramatic decline in 2014. In the first half of the year, only $13.5 million had been pledged by backers. If that is extrapolated over the rest of the year, it paints an estimate of $27 million – less than half of the year before.
That’s not all, though. In the same report cites that the number of projects with pledges reaching over $500,000 has dramatically declined. In 2013, there were 21 games with over $500,000 in backing. However, 2014 paints an entirely different story. In the first half of 2014, only 3 titles have reached that $500k mark. There has also been a slight decline in the number of successfully funded projects. 2014 saw 446 projects reaching their funding targets, whereas the first half of 2014 had only 175.
So, what is responsible for this decline? There are a number of theories. Firstly, there is the issue of the novelty factor of crowd funding. Whilst the last couple of years have seen Kickstarter and its contemporaries bring a fresh and innovative way to develop games, that honeymoon factor may have now worn off. There have been some well-publicized failures, which has perhaps taken away some of Kickstarter’s luster. Meanwhile, Steam now has Early Access, giving gamers the same chance to help a work-in-progress title develop, as well as being able to see the game evolve with their own eyes.
As it stands, it’s an interesting crossroads for Kickstarter. As of yet, this decline could be seen as just a blip, or a natural decline after an initial boom due to the buzz around Kickstarter and the novelty factor involved. We’ll have wait and see just what the future has in store for the site – and for crowd sourcing as an idea.