The world of video game crowdfunding is still a barren wasteland waiting to be explored, but also one that is slowly getting ready to accommodate its future inhabitants. And with 2015 nearing its end, ICO Partners’ Thomas Bidaux has unveiled some rather interesting numbers on how crowdfunded games have been holding up for the past year, focusing mostly on Kickstarter in relation to the emergence of new platforms and practices.

Ico_Report_2015_1

In short, numbers gathered by ICO show that 2015 has been a much more successful year in relation to 2014, at least purely from a monetary perspective. This is showcased by over $40 million accumulated by successful Kickstarter projects this year alone, with a staggering $21,722,629 increase in funding delivered to projects that required over $20,000 in relation to last year. However, there are some key nuances that become apparent after reading further into Bidaux’s report.

Perhaps the most interesting detail shines when looking more closely at what types of projects were exactly funded on Kickstarter during the year. In specific, there is a significant decrease in smaller projects that managed to reach their goals, with this coming at the cost of a nice increase in successful campaigns that ended up raising more than $500,000 (those going up from 4 to 16 in the time-span of one year). Undoubtedly, campaigns like Shenmue 3, BattleTech and Divinity: Original Sin 2 played a huge role in achieving such numbers, but it does seem that it’s harder and harder for smaller ideas to come to fruition.

Ico_Report_2015_2

In a way, all of this is just a visual representation of the realities of crowdfunding today, as people have never been more skeptical with regards to what is worth their money. Simply put, investing in games made by bigger and more well-known companies carries less risks – a fact that is most certainly not a revelation, but nonetheless appears to be very significant to the current state of crowdfunding in games. And apart from the obvious abundance of scammers, perhaps the reason for this skepticism is the fact that many game creators still decide to opt for a crowdfunding approach while simply refusing to communicate with backers or offer timely updates, as if acquiring a certain amount of funding is the only important step of their campaigns.

More important, there still seems to be a distinct lack of transparency with many projects, an aspect that Thomas Bidaux himself mentioned to be essential when we interviewed him last year. Back then, he also believed that equity-based crowdfunding is tricky in the sense that it turns a “love-based” relationship into a discussion of risk-versus-rewards, but with Psychonauts 2’s success on Fig.co such worries are beginning to dissipate in favour of optimism for such funding systems (this being another key point addressed in the analysis for 2015).

As the report mentions a bunch of other significant crowdfunding events that happened this year – stuff like Shenmue 3’s staggering success, Star Citizen surpassing $100 million in funding and Indivisible’s console demo and publisher involvement over at Indiegogo – one starts to think that crowdfunding is changing faster than we can perceive. In the end, maybe a stagnant 2014 was all it took for new ways of funding to become viable, both financially and commercially. Solely judging by the shift in numbers during the past few years though, it seems that crowdfunding is naturally evolving into a less-accepting but more secure environment – one where only the best projects survive to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’d still suggest you read Bidaux’s full analysis over at GamesIndustry.biz, as there’s lots of food for thought in there.


The graphs shown above are property of ICO Partners.

Georgi Trenev

Georgi Trenev

Staff Writer
Georgi was only a wee child when he discovered the wonders of blowing up bad guys in Unreal Tournament. Since then, he’s grown into a game maker, a connoisseur of weird indie offerings and a madman writing about said things on the internet. As it turns out, he’s also pretty good at making homemade pizza.
Georgi Trenev

@dealey

Game designer. @AbertayUni grad. Huge eSports fan. UE4 Dweller. Makes interactive shenanigans for @Imperia_Online
Today's highlight: making a blueprint that populates a spot with random environment props with different textures. Yay for fast stuff! 😀 - 1 day ago
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  • I don’t see this trend of smaller studios having a hard time and backers being more cautions of being a bad thing, all this means is that there will hopefully be less scam artists, and more devs/publishers taking crowdfunding more seriously. It seems like many project creator have a very naive approach to crowdfunding, and are therefore rightfully punished by the market with a failed campaign.

  • Someone132

    Good article. I didn’t know 2014 was that stagnant, but I guess it makes sense, since people were probably still a bit cautious after the initial excitement of 2012-2013 dissipated and not that many games when made. Over the course of the year, though, the big stars like The Banner Saga, Divinity:OS, and Wasteland 2 came out, and Shadowrun Dragonfall greatly improved on the first, etc. Altogether, these had shown Kickstarter can produce a large, highly critically and commercially successful project, and these also encouraged more veteran devs with old IPs to use Kickstarter in order to finally realise their dreams, especially since Pillars of Eternity had shown Divinity’s success was not a fluke that year.

    This year, I think we might see a bit of a slump again, since a lot of the underrated old projects with devoted fanbases like Shenmue, Psychonauts and Aquanox have already been funded, and last year also had some high-profile disappointments like Massive Chalice (don’t see anyone talking about that game today), the misguided Skyshine Bedlam, or, most damningly, Armikrog. Still, I think it’s definitely a good thing on the whole that crowdfunding continues to gravitate to the more established teams and ideas/IPs. Yes, it’s not going to be the dazzling revolution of new gameplay styles and such that some expected back then, but that’s because few things are.

    Instead, it’s now becoming more of a venerable part of the entire game industry system, a way for experienced creators to follow the visions they never could before, or get another chance at ones that had their merits, but ended too soon for one reason or another. If a creator’s game failed on Kickstarter, it’s often unlikely to have had succeeded over in the real marketplace as well. In both cases, I would say it’s better to get some experience to one’s name first, to become known for creating quality, worthwhile things, even if these are mods (i.e. thechineseroom, or Project Reality/ SQUAD developers) or free Flash/RPGMaker games. That way, you’ll get the lasting fans and goodwill to carry you into the future. That’s the path I’m currently pursuing, at least.