[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’ll make no bones about it, April was a frightening month for crowdfunding. When you’ve got 117 video game projects and only 17 of them succeed you know that something is wrong. If it’s not the quality of the campaigns themselves, then there’s some issue in regards to getting that backer attention and interest. There really was a lot at play at the month which led to such a low number of funded projects, but overall it seemed to cement the unfortunate truth that Kickstarter in 2015 is far different than previous years – and not in a good way. Luckily, fortunes were reversed in May. My take on the situation is that we have Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night to thank for that. But, let’s not get into this month’s analysis just yet. First let’s highlight a handful of campaigns from May.
Raised: 24,225 of $20,000 goal
Days to Success: 30
Those who consider themselves fans of narrative-focused video games would probably find something to like about Apartment. It tells the story of not just one person, but the interconnected lives of multiple people living in an apartment building. Although we have the framing of one character who has just been heartbroken, everyone else in the building has their own stories to explore. The means by which storylines are expressed isn’t through dialogue trees or blase narration, either. Playing the demo revealed artistic representations of character memories and events as well as somber visual spaces for players to explore. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but there’s definitely one unique brand of storytelling on display here.
Raised: $32,217 of $12,000 goal
Days to Success: 4
There are not enough video games out there based in any way off of Shakespearean subject matter. I don’t know why this is the case, considering Shakespeare is such a prime candidate for adaptation in basically every other artistic medium. Elsinore is a Hamlet-inspired world where you play as, well, Elsinore. What’s her task? She must live through the same days over and over again – which end in the death of everyone around her. Of course, the goal is to somehow find a way to influence everyone around you in such a way that things don’t end in such a macabre fashion. But can you manage this task or will it prove insurmountable? You’ll be able to find out once this inspired point and click adventure title is out.
Raised: $19,217 of $16,363 goal
Days to Success: 33
So, maybe you can tell I have a thing for point and click adventure games. Well, it’s honestly a good thing when an awesome campaign such as Herald launches. This game is described as an “interactive period drama about colonialism” which sounds exciting considering the closest we tend to get to that is stuff like Assassin’s Creed. There’s no doubt in my mind that Herald appears far more nuanced than that example, and quite beautiful as well. The branching narrative is filled with themes of class, race, religion, and the intersection of these that must be considered for the protagonist to “discover” themselves. Fans of 19th century aesthetics will definitely want to check this one out.
Starlight Vega (Previous Coverage)
Raised: $22,264 of $3,550 goal
Days to Success: 4
If you’ve followed my writing on Cliqist for any period of time then you know visual novels are 100% my thing. But sometimes, visual novels pique my interest beyond the average and look extra excellent. This is the case with Starlight Vega! It offers a simple, cute storyline as a base. A young woman is simply exploring her grandfather’s house when she discovers some mystical stone and frees a demon! Come on, you know that just sets the stage for a whole lot of fun. The fact that this is also a lesbian-focused visual novel gets points in my book as well. We need more stories of this type which don’t necessarily descend into 18+ territory (of course, more of those in English wouldn’t be horrible either).
Raised: $4,418 of $4,000 goal
Days to Success: 23
Trigger is another visual novel, but one with a completely different style from most. Instead of telling a cutesy, happy story about teenagers or magic or anything like that it is grounded in a much more serious reality. The lead characters are a married couple in the midst of a struggle. Although she doesn’t know it yet, one partner is actually living with PTSD, which wreaks havoc on so many aspects of both their lives. In another turn from the typical visual novel formula, character art also isn’t of the wide-eyed anime variety. Instead it feels a bit more like a sketch, and ultimately matches the dark tone with worn-down characters.
It’s time to take a look over the data for successful campaigns in May! The total funded across all these campaigns (29 in total) is nearly $900,000. This is a strong bounce back from April’s $400,000 value. With that said, it is still tracking lower than March and February which both saw over two million in funding. With that said, the absolutely astonishing campaigns for Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night aren’t over yet so simply cannot be counted for May. They’re definitely aiming to set a new record for total funding in 2015. In any case, let’s return to May specifically and see which of this month’s campaigns were the most popular.
Weirdly enough, the most funded campaign of the month is Little Devil Inside with $236,306, which honestly didn’t say much of anything about the actual gameplay it hoped to provide. It also didn’t get an obscene amount of coverage online, so it’s a slight mystery just how this one raised so much. Second place went to Formula Fusion with $122,411, a Wipeout-styled revival, which suffered its own campaign oddities. Mainly, it didn’t very clearly state what exactly the base funding was for (an alpha? a complete product?) – but Wipeout fans showcased they’re hungry as heck for a new game of the sort.
Now that we know how much campaigns made, another important piece of information is how much these successful campaigns were asking for in the first place. After all, one fatal mistake we see time and time again is nice-looking campaigns which ask for far too much funding (when presented against comparable titles). By averaging out each goal we end up with $19,865 as the average funding goal. With that said, Little Devil Inside really harms this average as it is the sole campaign which asked for over $100k. So, removing that bit of an anomaly we end up with the average $13,691. It’s not a massive decrease, but is again right around that range that I continually advocate for. The best chance of success comes when you remain under $20,000, though there are of course instances where folks simply need to ask for more.
So, what of average funding across these campaigns? The average lands at $31,014, but again that’s influenced by the statistical anomaly of just three campaigns raising over $100k. After we remove those the value decreases to $23,682 or nearly $10k less than the value was prior. There’s totally a ton of variation within though, as two campaigns actually made under a hundred each! In all, though, this is a better representation of how well the 29 campaigns fared. If you’d like to review each and every successful Kickstarter for May just scroll to the bottom of the post. There’s a table there for your viewing pleasure!
As part of my continued pet project I’ve been tracking just how long it takes campaigns to get funded. This was because in the past it felt like so many campaigns were making it early or during the middle of campaigns. In 2014 and onward though it really feels like we’ve seen so much more of that “we’ve got 48 hours left – please back!” desperation. But “feelings” aren’t quantifiable, so I’ve been working to gather data to support this point! The trend may finally be turning, however, as this month half of all campaigns were funded before the halfway point. With that said, some folks utilizing non-standard campaign periods (over a month long) sometimes seem to have a harder time being funded, as is evidenced by the three campaigns which were only funded late in the game. For reference, those were Herald, Little Devil Inside, and Winterflame: The Other Side.
Here’s a question that came into mind when reviewing these non-standard campaign dates. Why exactly did having a Kickstarter longer than a month result in these three succeeding so darn late? It brought Parkinson’s law to mind. For those unfamiliar, this adage states that “work expands to fill the time available.” How does this potentially apply to crowdfunding? Aside from other trends present, it seems that people may feel less rushed to fund a campaign if they see it’s going for 45 days or so. The urgency is removed, so they navigate away and consider backing later. At least at the end of the day these campaigns did manage to succeed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sydney Hunter and The Caverns of Death was funded in just 4 days with its massive 60 day campaign period.
Backers are the lifeblood of any crowdfunding website. Without them, nothing would get funded! So let’s take a look at backer values for the month of May. There were 22,292 maximum backers for the month (though of course the true value is less if you factor in folks who back multiple campaigns). What’s the breakdown like on a per-campaign basis? The average is 769. Despite the hugely different mood from April, the backer per campaign average is actually stunningly close to April’s 974. Of course, these are both without adjustments for statistical anomalies. Seriously, just look at that chart above and tell me if you don’t see one campaign that totally stands out. So, removing Little Devil Inside we end up with 613. It’s a bit of a shave, and still doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s getting closer to a true average.
Of course, support is great, but those backers need to provide some degree of funding to truly make a difference. As such, I’ve once again taken an average of all the campaigns’ average backer amounts and come up with ultimate average backer value of $36.88. It’s a bit high, considering so many campaigns offer a game around reward tiers of $10-$30. So, looking at the backer averages per campaign a bit more we see a few that stand out as outrageously high. For example, Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death had an average backer total of $96.68 – nearly $100 on average! This makes sense when you review the campaign, as it offered a host of limited tiers at $100 and over promising access to super rare physical versions of their game. Considering collectors adore anything in limited amount, it explains the high backing.
As interesting as May proved to be, I can’t wait to review June’s data. That’s when we will really see the effect of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and Yooka-Laylee really unfold.
There is always more information to generate from Kickstarter video game campaign data, but these are just the most notable tidbits to us. If you’d like to know something else (more specific to one campaign, or other stats) then please let us know in the comments or even our forums. We look forward to continue sharing monthly wrap ups throughout the year! You can review analysis and wrap-up articles from previous months using this link. Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming 6 month mega post as well.
Here’s a look at each successful campaign in a handy table to get a glimpse at (some of) the information we gathered to make this post possible: