Kickstarter's had a mixed 2014: cancelled games, shady goings on but also successes and feel good stuff. Numbers don't lie however, and this year less games were funded and less money was spent. A lot less.
This presentation from consultants ICO Partners has been looking at projects "that ended between the 1st of January 2014 and the 30th of June 2014" and comparing them to last year. It's a slightly speculative report as it's doubling six months of this year and comparing it to all of last year, but there are some noticeable differences. As the author Thomas Bidaux points out: "we don't get near the numbers we had in 2013."
Here are some of the key bits:
- "446 funded projects in 2013, 175 funded project for 2014's first half. Projecting for a similar number of projects in the second half, it would mean that there were only 20% fewer funded projects in 2014. This is a decline certainly, but not a terrible collapse."
- "Looking at total amount of money pledged might be a bigger concern. 2013 saw $58m pledged towards video games, whereas the first half of 2014 stands at $13.5m. If 2014 second half is comparable (something that is not easy considering you need a similar number of big hits), 2014 would be less than half of what 2013 has been… A sobering consideration."
- "There were 21 projects getting more than $500k in funding in 2013, and only 3 in 2014 so far."
Bidaux points to a number of reasons for the drop. For example, many of the games funded last years were "banking on strong 'brands,'" naming things like "Torment, Mighty Number 9, Elite, Camelot Unchained, Dreamfall, Richard Garriott's Shroud of the Avatar, etc." The three games that broke $500K this year were Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Amplitude and Unsung Story, which, he points out, are "hardly the wave of known brands that flooded Kickstarter last year."
Other reasons behind the decline, according to the report, are a mixture of fatigue and competition. The novelty has worn off to a degree, Bidaux says, and some of the higher profile failures have removed some of the shine. Other options like Steam Early Access have also taken a bite out—the ease of that alternative compared to Kickstarter, and the fact that it's continued funding, not a lump sum in particular, have drawn PC projects away.