When it comes to adventure games I try to back as many as I possibly can on Kickstarter. Of course, there have been way too many over the past four years and change that I only managed to get on board about 134 of them, which includes “relaunches”. That’s almost half of my total projects to date. You can say I’m obsessed with this genre, and you’d probably be right. In this article I want to take a look at some statistics behind the trends that I’ve been seeing with these types of games and how they fare on getting crowdfunded.
First off, as I was taking stock of my backed list and comparing those that received funding and those that didn’t, I noticed that the ratio was pretty evenly split down the middle. Of them, 72 got funded and 62 failed to make even the base goal. That ended up making my success rate to be at about 53.5%, and those are just the ones that I backed. There have been a lot more that I either passed on for some reason or another, or because they didn’t even catch my attention. Shocking, I know.
Here’s the thing. Despite there being so many adventure game projects, they’re still a small part of crowdfunding games as a whole. It’s also an incredibly niche genre compared to shooters and RPGs. Which means that unless you’re asking for a fraction of what you really need chances are good that you’ll end up not making it. Outside of titles like Broken Age, Dreamfall Chapters and Obduction, none have breached seven digits.
In fact, outside of some of the earlier projects to grace Kickstarter it’s been incredibly hard to earn five digits. Those that managed to get six were very early on and done by known names in the industry. After 2013 the well had dried up considerably in regards to adventures. I honestly was surprised by the even split, but I also noticed that most of the successes were during the first couple years that Kickstarter was still fresh. The success rate dropped off considerably over the past couple years which caused things to even out over time.
As I sat down to write this analysis article, I started to think about why this change has been happening. There are some theories but I have no concrete proof as to how adventure games are becoming less and less successful via crowdfunding. First off, there’s not as big of a market as a platformer or shooter or RPG that tend to be more mainstream. That’s not to say that there isn’t an audience as evidenced by the hardcore fans that have become known as the Adventure Game Revival Movement, though.
I’ve noticed pretty much across the board that over the years a phenomenon dubbed “Kickstarter fatigue” has set in. Wallets are finite, while more and more projects launch on a daily basis. This extends to gaming as a whole, not just adventures. To compound this, with a number of projects either failing to deliver what they promised or are still in development years after getting funded (such as SpaceVenture and Reincarnation: The Root of All Evil) people are getting more picky with what they back.
Whatever the reason behind why an adventure game gets funding or not, the truth of the matter is there’s still a market for them. That market is dwindling though, as people stop backing projects. I know that I’ve ended up overextending myself at times, especially early on, just to see passion projects that I end up becoming passionate about myself make it. Even then, lately a good number have been “fire and forget” types. I just don’t have as much time to go “cheerleading” as I did back in 2012 and 2013.
Despite the increasing number of adventure game campaigns becoming unfortunately unsuccessful, a fair number still manage to squeeze by. If I were to take a more recent poll, say, just for those that ran this year, we can get a more accurate look at the current atmosphere towards this genre. In the past six months I’ve backed a total of 11 of what I consider true adventure games (no visual novels or action adventures). Of these, six got funded and five did not. Again, this brings a good 50/50 cross-section that I’ve noticed over my entire crowdfunding career.
With all this said, though, most of the more recent campaigns were asking for a mere pittance compared to the “gold rush” of yesteryear. Of the successfully funded titles that I’ve backed, about 32 got released. Some have been great plays and have gotten pretty positive reviews while others have been less than impressive. Which also brings us to the above theory of not wanting to take a risk on having something that you backed flop or not.
There is a lot to say about adventure games as a whole, particularly about those seeking funding from fans. A good number of which are die-hard and some even fanatical about the genre. I’ve noticed that while I still see a familiar face here and there, things have really died down on the grassroots support that we’ve experienced in the early days. Even I’m finding less and less time to go around and spreading the word for every one that comes across my screen.
Which also means that exposure has died down considerably as a lot of the “usual suspects” as I like to call them, have either just stopped backing or at least haven’t been able to find the time to go lurking in forums and such.
Whatever the future holds for adventure gaming on Kickstarter, I do know this. The genre has never died and it will continue to carry on one way or another, with or without the support that it once had back in 2012. I also know that without having something to show off a game of this type will also struggle to get the money it needs to continue. Which is a shame, as I’m always looking for a new adventure game to play.