[dropcap size=big]E[/dropcap]very month Kickstarter is full of wild successes, and depressing failures. While some are always going to have that massive fan push behind them to see hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding others barely make it to the finish line. Due to the nature of Kickstarter, there’s simply not enough money to go around to fund every worthwhile campaign. The purpose of this post is to shine a light on those campaigns that had the chops for success, but for one reason or another failed to make their goal this time. Given campaign restructuring, additional social media pushes, and more they might make it in the future! Of course, anyone who has browsed through Kickstarter pages recognizes that many projects simply don’t have any effort put into them.
Curious about successful and failed Kickstarter campaigns and their data from previous months? Check this tag to see all our posts for 2015 so far. First, let’s shine a light on some of the cool campaigns of May that unfortunately failed to attain their funding goals.
Note: All non-US $ amounts have been converted to dollars based on exchange rates as of this writing.
Raised: $2,642 of $10,000 goal
Okay, so I admit to being a bit of a sucker for adventure games. I also completely recognize my adoration of most any game which manages to provide gorgeous visuals to enjoy while playing. DreamCage 28 hit both these points easily, and also seemed like quite the unique title as well. This surreal point and click adventure takes place within a cage where you must solve a variety of puzzles and interact with locals. Heck, unlike many Kickstarter folks, they already had a previous game completed (with a similar theme) which was freely available for prospective backers to try out. However, interest simply failed to swarm about DreamCage 28, leading to the campaign’s cancellation.
Raised: $8,363 of $68,200 goal
Yes, I know, here’s another point and click adventure with a serious sense of style. But that’s not all that Ira brought to the table. It featured three storylines which occurred at different points in time, but were all related. The concept of following Ira from young, inspired youth to making their dream come true – complete with horrible ramifications – seemed incredibly interesting. Unfortunately, this is another campaign which was somehow glossed over by the mainstream. Although they ended up accumulating nearly 500 backers by the end, only a small chunk of the total funding goal was raised, so developer Ore Creative made the move to cancel it. Ira will return to Kickstarter as an episodic series, receiving funding for only one episode at a time, in the near future.
Raised: $6,093 of $10,000 goal
To me, channeling XCOM in a Kickstarter pitch (and following through on that instead of simply paying lip service) it seems hard to fail. Yet, the American Revolutionary War-inspired tactics title Outland 17 failed to achieve its totally acceptable funding goal. This is one of those instances that leads many to go “how did this happen?”, myself included! The most likely issue was a lack of knowledge that this project was even out there on Kickstarter. No matter how awesome your game may be, it’s highly unlikely to get funded if people don’t actually discover it. In any case, Outland 17’s team are not giving up. They’re promised to re-launch at some point in the future.
Outward was a big campaign asking for a hefty sum of funds, but it made sense why. This open world co-op survival game was set to be quite an immense experience, after all. Sometimes grand ambition works in your favor on Kickstarter, but other times it just bites you in the behind. It seems Nine Dots Canada were unceremoniously subjected to the latter. Without the proper push on social media or press outlets (or ultimately, both!) getting a $100k+ campaign to succeed is an immense challenge. The team have committed to looking into other funding avenues and interested parties can follow the continued developments on their forum.
There’s a whole wealth of visual novels out there and many feature totally distinct, intriguing storylines and characters. With that said, a large portion often focus on the basic framing of “high school students doing something” which, while totally fine, opens up room for different sorts of stories for fans to consume. Over The Hills And Far Away was looking to be one such unique offering. It was based around The War of 1812, of all things, which I’m almost certain has never been used as a background for a visual novel before. The story was one of just a few characters, and appeared subdued. In my opinion, this Kickstarter simply didn’t get noticed by enough people, as right now almost every crowdfunded visual novel is seeing heavy funding. WarGirlGames have since opened up a Patreon for folks to support their development costs.
Now that we’ve gone over a few select losses for May, let’s actually look at comprehensive failed campaign data. Get ready, as there’s a lot to go over!
How many video game campaigns failed this month on Kickstarter? 108! This is higher than April’s exact 100 and March’s 105, which makes May the month with the most failures thus far. That doesn’t mean so much on its own, just that there is a continued increase of attention on Kickstarter by everyone, not just folks with projects ready to be showcased. In fact, things are less grim than last month despite the increase in failed campaigns. If we take the proportion of successful campaigns from all of them in April, we wind up with a 17% success rate. However, for the month of May we get 26%. 1/4th of campaigns making their goal may not sound awesome, but compared to the iffy year Kickstarter had been having prior this news is deserving of a thumbs up. Let’s just hope the rate will at least remain static. Obviously it’d be fantastic to see this percent increase even more, but I’m not quite ready to make that jump!
Now, it’s imperative to look over various features of these failed campaigns. As crowdfunding fans are well aware, not every project on Kickstarter is worth backing. After all, sometimes folks just throw a paragraph of typo-laden text alongside a scribble and call it a day. 23 campaigns in May fell into what I call the “low information” status, which means they’re offering only a few paragraphs of text at most, feature no video whatsoever, and don’t even have a screenshot to tempt folks with. This is a decline from the 36 of April, which is a positive. With that said, even if a campaign hasn’t been counted as “low information” officially, I’d personally suggest that at least 10 more edged precariously close to the unfortunate distinction.
It appears many more project creators are becoming savvy about funding, enough so to know when they’re almost certain to fail. This is evidenced by the rise in campaign cancellations by a developer’s own hand. Last month there were only eight campaigns canceled. This trend is also evident from the fact that so many of the campaigns I featured earlier in the article were canceled rather than simply allowed to timeout on their own. Holding firm to the belief of last minute multi-thousand dollar funding seems to be waning. To be fair, that is a pretty rare occurrence unless a campaign is already outrageously well known (but not yet funded) for some reason. Folks are also continuing to re-launch campaigns, although obviously not always with a successful conclusion. 10 campaigns were repeats that failed in both small and massive form to reach their goals.
One aspect which offers reveals insight into the potential problems of crowdfunding is looking at how much money was asked of backers versus how much was actually raised. In the month of May every failed campaigns’ funding goal added up to a little over $5 million. My goodness. For reference, May’s total funding for successful campaigns was $899,409 (with a goal total of $576,093). As always, it appears that one of the most massive stumbling blocks for unsuccessful campaigns is pricing campaigns in a crowdfunding-unfriendly manner. Note that I’m not saying these campaigns do not necessarily deserve or cost their asking price, just that the crowdfunding world has a very skewed perception of what games cost. With all that said, the $1.6 million asked for Rabbit Run is the biggest chunk of this month’s total because some campaign has to be the one asking for over a million. But hey, it’s no $5 million like Realistic Zombie game from April!
$301,770 is how much was actually raised between all 108 failed campaigns this month. Yep, a far cry indeed from the multi-million expected. With that said, this is quite the increase from April which was closer to $100k and puts things back on track with March. Average funding between all these results in a super small $2,794. Not a single one of these Kickstarters raised over $50k themselves, meaning there’s not much adjusting to be done for statistical anomalies. With that said, there were definitely a few campaigns which raised nothing at all. Which campaigns raised the most in funds before not receiving any of the money? Outward, Epic Everything, and Tower Unite all made over $35k which is pretty impressive for a batch of unsuccessful projects.
In total, there were a maximum of 7046 backers involved in unsuccessful Kickstarters this month, not accounting for folks backing multiple in a month. If you break it down to see average amount of funders per campaign the result it about 65. That’s not stupendous, of course, but some campaigns have succeed with as many or fewer backers. With that said, our few quite strong performers did take 1000 backers or more themselves, so let’s remove them from the equation. The new average backer per campaign value drops to approximately 45. Coincidentally, that’s the exact same average number as in April. Although it can’t be proved just yet, I completely expect next month’s campaigns will have a much higher backer count overall (both in funded and unfunded territory).
26 of all failed Kickstarters in May were by people who have used the crowdfunding service before in the past with other campaigns. For many, it seems that the concept of actually putting serious effort into a project has not yet entered their thought process yet. Even when some notorious continuous campaign runners finally drop out of the running, new folks just replace them. 47 campaigns that failed also happened to use a non $ U.S. currency. Does this mean anything? I’m increasingly beginning to believe not, as it is not the existence of other currencies that worry backers. It seems the larger issue is that Kickstarter is a newer quantity in other regions, so those folks have not caught onto what it takes to be successful to the same degree as U.S. teams. Well, sometimes U.S. folks have no idea what they’re doing either!
May was a nice boost up from the doldrums of April. With that said, I feel comfortable attributing a good deal of this upswing to the arrival of both Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night in early and mid-May respectively for it. We will need to wait for data to come in for June and onward to know for sure, but that’s my personal take on the matter.
Check out our forums if you’d like to see every single failed campaign in May (or heck, all of 2015!). Were there any that you wanted to see get funded? That’s it for the failed Kickstarter video game campaigns of May 2015. Be sure to check out our other month-end Kickstarter data recaps.