‘The honeymoon is over’ as Kickstarter video game pledges are on track to halve in 2014

Has the crowd-funding bubble burst?

Obviously the $54m raised by Star Citizen may seem to suggest not, but the story is different across the wider sector.

Thomas Bidaux of consultancy firm ICO Partners told an audience at the Ludicious Festival in Zurich recently that Kickstarter funded video game success is currently down 20 per cent year-on-year.

446 projects were funded across the whole of 2013 while in the first half of this year just 175 have reached their goal.

The actual money raised, however, has seen a far bigger decline. In January pledges fell from $4.77m in 2013 to $687k while April declined from $9.476m to $1.957m and June from $6.592m to $1.628m. In total $58m was pledged in 2013. For H1 2014 that figure stands at $13.5m.

At current rates, a decline of over 50 per cent in money pledged seems likely.

Furthermore, 21 projects successfully raised over $500k in 2013. So far this year just three have managed the same.

The honeymoon is over,” Bidaux said. In 2012, when Double Fine Adventure hit Kickstarter and took the game industry by surprise, there was a fresh enthusiasm for the model. It was new, it was giving the power back to the creative people and keeping you away from the ‘evil publishers’. Each big success was carrying its own particle of magic, and as time went by, the not-so-magic-in-the-end (Ouya) were outshined by the success stories (Oculus).

In 2013, there were more caution right and left, we started to see the first game coming out, and the freshness of it all was wearing out. It wasn’t so apparent, mostly because of those existing brand going to Kickstarter were pushing its limits, but I think it was there already.

Comes 2014, and people are no longer impressed by the model. It has its share of failures (Clang, Yogscast) that sceptics like to throw around (rightfully so sometimes), but I also think it has reached a maturity point.”

Bidaux also highlighted the competition from competing models such as Steam Early Access, which offers a far more accessible entry point for developers – and the fact that funding on the platform doesn’t suddenly dry up after a month.

I see a lot of added value for a crowd funding campaign still – it is a catalyst, it gives drive to your fans to talk about your project a lot in a limited time frame, it forces you to think about your project differently and learn how to communicate on it – but it is not a solution that is good for every project,” he added.

Overall, as I said earlier, it looks like crowd funding for games has declined. I take it as step towards maturity – it will possibly steadily grow from there and be a bit more sane than it has been in the past two years.”

Despite all of this, Kickstarter remains by far the largest games funding platform, having raised $125m vs Indiegogo’s $4m.

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