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Ico Partners: Is crowdfunding your game in 2019 a good idea?

Thomas Bidaux is a consultant in the video games industry and CEO of Ico Partners. Prior to starting Ico Partners, he was involved in publishing multiple MMORPGs, and he is now also considered an expert in crowdfunding.

Seven years ago, Tim Schaffer went to Kickstarter to crowdfund a project codenamed ‘Doublefine Adventure’.

Before this campaign, the record for a video game campaign on Kickstarter was $90,000 (£72,000), and it was questionable whether or not it was a viable platform to raise money to make a video game.

Doublefine Adventure (now known as Broken Age) went on to raise $3.3m (£2.6m), and it put Kickstarter on the map for a lot of indie game studios as a source of funding.

Seven years later, Double Fine productions has been acquired by Microsoft, so what is the state of crowdfunding for video games?

Through our research at Ico Partners, scraping data daily on the Kickstarter website, we are able to draw a pretty accurate picture of the state of the platform, and how well video games perform on it. All the numbers presented here for 2019 are for the first six months of the year.

In the first half of 2019, video games projects successfully raised more than ten million dollars.

To put this in context, this is the most money raised for video games on Kickstarter, for a six-month period, since 2015. More interestingly, this amount was raised by 193 separate projects, making those first six months of the year the fourth most active for video games projects since the launch of the Kickstarter platform ten years ago.

There is a steady flow of video games raising money on the platform, and it has not slowed down. If anything, without a lot of the attention of large projects raising millions, the projects launching on Kickstarter at the moment seem to be more mature and to be taken more seriously. The ratio of projects getting funded is at its highest ever, with 28 per cent of the campaigns meeting their goal in the first half of 2019.

Of course, a lot of projects are humble and aimed at relatively low goals, often for a complementary budget to help hobbyists increase the quality of their home production. About half of the successful video game campaigns of the first half of 2019 have raised less than $10,000. In the other half, though, you can still see projects raising money north of a $1m.

Among the most successful projects of the first half of 2019, there is Subverse, a UK game project, which managed to raise more than $2m (£1.6m), a third of that amount coming from Chinese backers, a region not usually very active on crowdfunding platforms. The ‘adult’ twist to the game seems to have had a strong appeal there.

It also seems like the long-held notion that a project needs to be launched through the platform’s American system to thrive, in order to show its prices in USD, is being proven wrong. Only one out of the four projects that raised more than $500,000 in 2019 did so in USD. The other three were respectively in GBP (UK), JPY (Japan), and EUR (Spain).

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