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Most Kickstarter Games Are, Surprise, Missing Their Release Date

Illustration for article titled Most Kickstarter Games Are, Surprise, Missing Their Release Date

While some high-profile success stories are giving people hope, let's not pretend that everything is OK with every game funded on Kickstarter. Because it's not.

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UnSub has for a few years now been tracking the progress of successful Kickstarter video game campaigns (only those that actually hit their funding target).

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This latest version of the study looks at every Kickstarter video game that had promised to be out by January 2014, and sees whether it made its target date or not.

Illustration for article titled Most Kickstarter Games Are, Surprise, Missing Their Release Date

While the number of successfully-funded games is increasing - from 5 in 2009 to 207 in 2012 - the percentage of those games actually finding their way into people's hands on time and in their full and promised state remains fairly constant.

Smoothing the figures out over the space of four years, "the data indicates that only around 1 in 3 have fully delivered their promised title to their backers".

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Things get a little better when you allow for partial delivery - games that have delivered a first episode, an early alpha build, etc - but not by much. UnSub says that when this concession is taken into account "then about 1 out of 2 projects have delivered something video game-ish for their support. Which leaves the other half of projects with backers that are still waiting."

Illustration for article titled Most Kickstarter Games Are, Surprise, Missing Their Release Date
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That's insane. When Kickstarter first blew up a few years back, it was seen as a means for people to get games made outside the traditional publisher system. It was a way to let anyone make a game, so long as their idea was a popular one.

The reality, as these figures show, is a little more sobering. While high-profile games continue to be released, and are turning out pretty great, those are often from veteran developers with established studios and experience in making video games.

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The other side of the Kickstarter equation - inexperienced gamers with big ideas - are obviously finding that making a video game is a lot harder than they thought when they first put together a budget, posted some concept art and asked for your money.

UnSub's research doesn't accuse people of taking money and running, or of projects vanishing into vapourware. If anything, it's just showing that when people who have never made a video game before start promising release dates, you might want to take them with a grain of salt. Maybe get ready to wait years, not months.

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You can read the full report below, and if you're up to it, you can comb through the data here.

Kickstander: Only Around A Third of Kickstarted Video Game Projects Fully Deliver To Their Backers [evilasahobby]

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DISCUSSION

princeoftheuniverse
PrinceofTheUniverse

I think its still important to point out, this is not a problem with crowd funding, this is a problem with each individual developer of these games. Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites such as indiegogo, are merely places by which these developers collected money from willing participants. All accountability for the games production should only be held by the developer.

What this really serves to point out is that developers are not accustomed to working with a fixed budget. You hear about AAA games costing upwards of 20 million. Well 20 million was probably just the starting point. If the game needed more features and more polish then the publishers just shovels them more money until the game is done. Developers aren't used to have a set amount of money to work with. They've grown used to big daddy Activision or EA coming to their rescue when things turn south.

I know what your thinking "what about the indie devs who have never worked with a publisher before?". Same problem, different perspective. First of all they are inexperienced developers finally trying their hand at their first big title so some problems are bound to happen. Second, they don't have the same big name pull, as some of the bigger projects so their budget is bound to be smaller. And then we come back to the problem where its a fixed budget so if things turn south they don't have a publisher to turn to.

I'm not trying to say crowd funding and game development don't mix. There have been plenty of game that have come out of crowd funding that have turned out just fine. The problem lies solely with the developers and their inability to plan ahead and constrain their scope. Crowd funding games can work. Any failures that may have occurred are self contained events and have no correlation.