Kickstarter is a platform for crowdfunding various products, but we focus on video games.Kickstarter’s Top 50:  How Good Are They?

by Marcus Estrada

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]espite being around for many years, it wasn’t until a few massive projects landed on the site that most video game players earnestly began to back projects. It’s fitting that the project that started this wave, Double Fine Adventure, remains the most funded of all video games thus far. What does it really mean to be one of the most funded games on Kickstarter? Does this ensure a successful final product? Nope, but it does show the impressive power of a strong marketing machine.

In an attempt to make a little sense of funding and its possible relation to eventual game quality we’ve gathered some information. First, we grabbed the names of the top 50 funded video game projects on Kickstarter that have been released to date (excluding a handful of mobile or web-exclusive games for sake of score consistency), games that represent $27.54 million in Kickstarter crowdfunding. Next, we took to Steam to see how gamers themselves felt about the projects. On Steam, every game with a few reviews gets a percentage stating how many of user reviews are positive. This is possible thanks to every reviewer being required to assign a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” with their post. This rating “positivity” is what we are using to gauge how much players enjoy each title.

Why didn’t we use Metacritic when that is often the go-to metric for valuing games? It’s quite simple: Most Kickstarter games do not have a Metacritic rating. In order to receive one, a listed game requires a minimum of four submitted critic reviews. Being listed as a critic is no walk in the park either as it requires sites to pump out a minimum amount of reviews a month. With all that said, it appears not enough big name sites are currently reviewing a majority of crowdfunded releases, so we simply can’t use Metacritic as our score source.

Here are the Steam user positivity breakdown as of November 13, 2014:

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As you can see, a single game has been so well-received that all Steam reviews grant it a hearty thumbs up. The title in question is Awesomenauts: Starstorm which is an expansion to Awesomenauts. By looking at the numbers you can also see that many titles are clustered within the upper echelon of high scores (99% down to 80%). Of course, every game isn’t included in their company. As the percentage of positivity decreases there are still games backing up nearly each spot. Thankfully nothing is in the positively broken category of 1-19%!

Just looking at a chart of numbers isn’t the most effective way for everyone to understand data. To help with visualization needs, here’s a scatter chart that shows all 50 top funded games and where their positivity falls from 0% to 100%:

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With this chart you can really see just how varied player reaction is for these momentous Kickstarter games. For the most part, they stick within a pretty positive space, but a few outliers are deemed stinkers by the majority of gamers. This bodes well for Kickstarter because it helps to debunk the notion that “every” Kickstarter release is flawed or broken which some folks believe to be the case. However, the data also proves that not every hyped and super funded project will turn out amazingly. Hype does not make a game good – it simply inflates expectations – perhaps unfairly so.

Social media hype is a powerful driver of Kickstarter success. In fact, it may be the most important asset for a campaign to have. When word got out about Double Fine Adventure, the press went wild, but so too did gamers themselves. They knew for a fact that Double Fine and Tim Schafer are both awesome! As such, the project flew past its goal before even really offering heavy details about the game which would eventually become Broken Age. Many games on this top 50 funded list are on it thanks to well known developers or teams – but not all of them.

If pie charts are more your thing, here’s another look at the data:

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This is a bit more subjective in that this chart attaches value judgments (great, good, average, bad) to percentages. With that said, they were designed in a way that hopefully aligns with most gamer perceptions of what they enjoy or don’t enjoy playing. If all you ever want to play is subjectively “great” and “good” titles, then Kickstarter works well. By this chart, of the 50 titles, 88% (or 43 games) might be worth you time! This is pretty impressive, although it probably stretches the notion of “good” to many gamers out there. If we remove the 60-69% then it’s just a bit lower at 41 titles.

None of this avoids the fact that some games just do not turn out how they were planned. Backers of those projects have every right to be disappointed with the final product. It stinks to purchase a bleh game! If you’re reading this, then you probably want all the details. Which of the 50 most funded titles performed the best and which are the absolute worst according to players? We certainly don’t intend to leave you in the dark.

Here is a complete list of the 50 games as listed from most funded (top) to least (bottom) so you can see for yourself:

KSchart4

As shown, the top performers as far as gamers are concerned are (aside from Awesomenauts) are: Shovel Knight, FTL, Tex Murphy Tesla Effect, The Long Dark, and Guns of Icarus. The very lowest performers are: Starlight Inception, Takedown: Red Sabre, Godus, Jagged Alliance Flashback, and Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. Surprised by some of these? We sure are!

Part of the equation makes sense. Of course projects with massive fan followings would be heavily funded (see: Tex Murphy, Jagged Alliance Flashback). However, it’s shocking just how poorly some games from established, well known developers and franchises are received. Why is this? Well, that’s a whole other topic. This is just the start of posts exploring crowdfunding data here on Cliqist. Be on the look out for more soon and let us know in the comments if there’s a specific topic or question that you’d love to see covered!

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For the second part of this piece we present you with a slightly more visual breakdown of each game, how much it raised on Kickstarter, and its user rating on Steam.  You’ll also find some links to buy some of the games if you like, as well as links to our coverage of said titles.

brokenagesteamBroken Age – $3,336,371 – 93% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

wasteland2steamWasteland 2$2,933,371 – 86% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

planetaryannihilationsteamPlanetary Annihilation$2,229,344 – 74% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

shadowrunreturnssteamShadowrun Returns$1,836,447 – 90% Positive

Available on:  SteamGOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

dreamfallchapterssteamDreamfall Chapters$1,538,425 – 87% Positive

Available on: SteamGOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

massivechalicesteamMassive Chalice$1,229,015 – 81% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

godssteamGodus – £526,563 – 40% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

divinitysteamDivinity Original Sin$944,282 – 93% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

brokensword5steamBroken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse$771,560 – 89% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

thebannersagasteamThe Banner Saga$723,886 – 91% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

castlestorysteamCastle Story$702,516 – 50% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

leisuresuitlarrysteamLeisure Suit Larry Reloaded$655,182 – 76% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

texmurphyteslaeffectsteamTex Murphy Tesla Effect$598,104 – 95% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

grimdawnsteamGrim Dawn$537,515 – 93% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

7daystodiesteam7 Days To Die$507,612 – 84% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

carmageddonsteamCarmageddon Reincarnation$625,143 – 93% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

moebiussteamMobeius: Empire Rising$435,316 – 76% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

solforgesteamSolforge$429,715 – 80% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

smallworld2steamSmallworld 2$394,019 – 81% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

jaggedalliancesteamJagged Alliance Flashback$368,614 – 41% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

awesomenautssteamAwesomenauts Starstorm$345,835 – 100% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

deadstatesteamDead State$332,635 – 81% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

shovelknightsteamShovel Knight$311,502 – 98% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

tugsteamTUG$293,184 – 71% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

defensegrid2steamDefense Grid 2$271,726 – 84% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

battleworldskronossteamBattle Worlds Kronos$260,235 – 78% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

amongthesleepsteamAmong The Sleep$248,358 – 84% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

thelongdarksteamThe Long Dark$256,217 – 95% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

piersolarsteamPier Solar and the Great Architects – $237,370 – 79% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

maiasteamMaia £140,481 – 53% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

takedownsteamTakedown: Red Sabre$221,833 – 38% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

akaneirosteamAkaneiro: Demon Hunters$204,680 – 48% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

ftlsteamFTL$200,542 – 97% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

gunsoficarussteamGuns of Icarus$198,741 – 95% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

gianasisterssteamGiana Sisters: Twisted Dreams$186,158 – 83% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

strikesuitzeologoStrike Suit Zero$174,804 – 82% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

roadredemptionsteamRoad Redemption$173,803 – 89% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

sunlessseasteamSunless Sea – £100,803 – 88% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

nekrosteamNekro$158,733 – 84% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

starlightinceptionsteamStarlight Inception$158,152 – 22% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

thedeadlingersteamThe Dead Linger$154,968 – 67% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

xenonautssteamXenonauts$154,715 – 92% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

sonofnorsteamSon of Nor$151,175 – 76% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

siryouarebeinghuntedsteamSir, You Are Being Hunted – £92,551 – 88% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

planetexplorerssteamPlanet Explorers$137,765 – 82% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

shadowgatesteamShadowgate$137,232 – 95% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

mercenarykingssteamMercenary Kings$116,064 – 82% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

thestompinglandsteamThe Stomping Land$114,060 – 64% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

neverendingnightmaressteamNeverending Nightmares$106,722 – 79% Positive

Available on: Steam / GOG

Previous coverage on Cliqist

arksteamAR-K$101,564 – 71% Positive

Available on: Steam

Previous coverage on Cliqist

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*The GOG links above are affiliate links, meaning Cliqist gets a small portion of each sale.  If you’d like to check any of them out on GOGs website but prefer to not support Cliqist you can get to GOG at this link, affiliate free.

[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ] Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]

Marcus Estrada
Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come.
Marcus Estrada

@BackerMarcus

Writer for @Cliqist - This is my new ''PROFESSIONAL'' account. Yay, crowdfunded video games!
Glad to see the BL visual novel Sentimental Trickster was funded. How about those #Kickstarter stretch goals? https://t.co/AEU8LaeD6M - 1 year ago
Marcus Estrada