[dropcap size=big]S[/dropcap]o far this year, Kickstarter has shown that getting successfully funded has been getting tougher. In April, only 17 campaigns found success while 100 failed. If nothing changed it seemed that this was the new normal for crowdfunding, and quite an unfortunate turn for folks both seeking funding and looking to fund the game development dreams of others. But something happened in January which changed the conversation completely. Yooka-Laylee launched on May 1. After being fully funded in just 40 minutes, the campaign has since gone on to accumulate far greater sums than it ever asked on the premise of being a beautiful spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.
This is incredibly significant. To me, it feels much like a repeat of the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter of 2012. Sound like a preposterous statement? I’ll admit it almost seems unbelievable. After all, I was a participant in the Double Fine fervor. No, I didn’t back the campaign myself, but most of my friends did, and I excitedly watched the numbers tick up all the same. And although it had not been my first introduction to Kickstarter (that was thanks to Octodad 2), it was that pivotal moment where people suddenly discovered crowdfunding. Had such a momentous campaign not appeared on the service we would have probably needed to wait even longer to see the crowdfunding field really open up.
But, ever since then, I’ve perceived a greater acceptance of crowdfunding but also a lack of media attention. Sure, some campaigns still get articles on all the big sites – but they’re usually just the big projects themselves! As a member of the gaming press I see my inbox filled daily with Kickstarter and Indiegogo related posts and announcements. From my perspective, it just seems that there is way too much “clutter” for writers to go through, so they basically ignore all but the most notable projects anymore. It was just a brief period of time where they were happy to post about all the cool new games appearing.
Although I don’t believe many people still didn’t know about Kickstarter, Yooka-Laylee has certainly ushered in a new era of crowdfunding fan. Prior to it, many of these individuals probably knew of crowdfunding but chose to ignore it for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they feared drama or failure, such as a few high-profile campaigns have had. After all, as of late I think the majority of news articles big sites post about Kickstarter circle around drama. Or, folks may have believed that funding projects just wasn’t for them — there was no campaign they’d be interested in. That was before Yooka-Laylee, of course. Then, a bit later came Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night to provide the perfect double whammy. Even if someone wasn’t into platformers, the classic Metroidvania audience is similarly massive.
So far, the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter has accumulated over 56,000 backers and there’s still room for more before it comes to a close. That is a higher backer concentration than any other campaign launched this year. It is also more backers than participated in every successful campaign in April and May combined. This is simply outrageous! Obviously, many of these backers are not brand new, but if you just take a look at the backer listings for Yooka-Laylee you’ll see that many are. It’s a mix of serious backers who added this to their 30+ backer history. Others appear to have completely forgotten about Kickstarter after Double Fine Adventure and only now returned. Many others joined this May, which fit my perspective.
Pair this campaign with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and you’ve got the mix for an amazing crowdfunding revival all around. Also, for added fun, if you combine Bloodstained’s current 36,000 backers with Yooka-Laylee’s count, you exceed the total number of backers of successful campaigns for February and March too. Just TWO campaigns have completely dominated Kickstarter!
What is the result of a massive wave of brand new Kickstarter users (and folks recently reminded of the site’s existence)? Well, you’ll need to look at my May Kickstarter analysis to get a deeper look at the data, but the basic trend is that campaigns are beginning to succeed at a healthy rate again. No longer are Kickstarters fighting just to raise 100% on the dot. Now many are succeeding early instead of languishing to the last minute. Campaigns that in the past seemed very unlikely to be funded are now making it without a sweat! It’s a very confusing time for someone like me, but also immensely exciting. Nothing is “certain” on Kickstarter. Not that it ever is, but the upswing is one that was immensely needed in 2015.
All crowdfunding fans, whether or not they personally care about Yooka-Laylee, should be thankful for this platforming revival coming when it did. As is evidenced by the rest of my 2015 analysis posts, the trend of the year was incredibly dour. Many cool looking campaigns failed to get anywhere near their goals, and many more got upsettingly close before failure. It felt like Kickstarter was dragging itself along as a relic of previous years. The issue? No other shiny new website was receiving press. Kickstarter still remains king, but was close to losing its “court” so to speak.
Of course, it’s not just enough to celebrate Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as saviors of crowdfunding. Nothing is ever that simple. We will continue to provide analysis posts monthly to see what effect, if any, there is on monthly trends. May certainly looks brighter – but might this be the flash in the pan before we return back the way things were pre-May? I certainly hope not, but the thought will remain in mind until the data proves otherwise is true. As an optimist and crowdfunding fan I’m just of the mindset that things will definitely pick up in much the same regard (if a bit lesser) than they did in post-Double Fine Adventure.
Those are my opinions on the subject matter, so now let’s hear yours! Do you agree that the massive success and attention of Yooka-Laylee has ushered in a huge new group of crowdfunders? Or is this just a “one time” thing where folks have backed a few choice campaigns and then will retreat back into the woodwork in a month or so?