Is Kickstarter over-saturated? I was going to blog about something else entirely, but this topic has heated up in my mind to where it’s overflowing like a volcanic island.
By over-saturated, I mean simply: Have we reached the point of saturation of games coming out on Kickstarter to where a finite gaming community can’t take much more? I observe the gaming community as I participate in it, and this just my opinion based upon my observations: The game community is struggling to keep up. The people who have been backing games on Kickstarter over the years are running out of time, money and shelf space. Good projects by good community builders are struggling or even failing. The chances for new-to-the-world game designers are slimmer and slimmer.
That stated, good designers with solid followings and reachable goals are still getting there. It’s not an impossible proposition by any means, it has just gotten much, much more competitive and its board game market may be flattening out.
I base this thinking off the following:
1. Increased failure rate: I have no data to back this up, but what I can tell you is that I’m seeing well-run campaigns struggle, and other well run campaigns fail. I don’t know all of what those campaigns did or didn’t do to build a community, but I can tell you that they had interesting games, great art, great videos, great reviews — all the boxes were checked as far as I could see, but the projects still struggled or even failed.
Here’s New Salem, a really good one that failed:
I think the format looks pretty sharp, they have a clear game and theme, and the reviews look positive, but it fell just short.
Here’s another that I think will get there, and I’m backing it, but it ends this week and still has a bit to go:
Flickfleet looks pretty sharp, it’s definitely original, Jackson has spent a lot of time building up hype for it, and he’s done all the right things as far as creating and maintaining a social media presence. I think the campaign will succeed, but it’s by no means a sure thing and if they can’t succeed with that game, I would have a hard time suggesting to a new game designer (including myself) that he go the Kickstarter route. The Flickfleet guys are doing almost everything right.
If you have specific feedback on where the above 2 campaigns are going wrong, I’m certainly interested in hearing your POV.
2. Gamers are telling me that they have too many games.
A. Take this tweet as an example:
Looking at my #boardgame collection, & I’m considering a No Buy 2019. There is no way I’m getting value from my collection. I struggle with FOMO, but between storage space & actual gameplay, I feel like I’m missing out with what I have. Anyone else feel like this?? #bgg #bggplay
— Orla (@B0ardgameBureau) November 28, 2018
B. My pal, docmogs, who has backed a lot of projects told me that he’s no longer backing projects. Why? Because he doesn’t even have time to play the games he’s already bought, so why would he buy more? FOMO doesn’t last forever.
3. The presence of well-established game designers, well-established properties and high prices:
Hi, I’m a new and unknown game designer with my first game, please back–
IT’S ROB DAVIAU AND A REMAKE OF FIREBALL ISLAND!!! GOT TO GET IN ON THIS! OOH OOH OOH! THIS LOOKS AMAZING! EVERYONE IS BACKING IT!
Uh, who did you say you were, and what was your new game again? Sorry, I just spent $130.
4. Established companies and the use of Kickstarter as a pre-order site.
If that’s not enough, now you’ve got established game companies like Monolith, using Kickstarter as a pre-order system with Claustrophobia 1643, as the esteemed Jamey Stegmeier blogs about.
Add it all up, and it’s become a tough proposition to break through for a new board game designer. That stated, I have seen new games by new designers succeed, I just backed Pumpkin Patch Bad Seeds in the fall and it was a success:
Congrats to Travis! He built a solid following by putting in a lot of work towards social media as well as the game, and I was personally attracted to the high quality of art, Halloween theme, and low $9 price point. However, part of his success was needing only $4500, and even he fell short of the $10K that many projects would require. I think part of the success of Pumpkin Patch Bad Seeds was charging only $9 for a complete game in a market where many titles are going for over $100, as well as keeping the goal manageable.
Even if you show up with the next Gloomhaven or Kingdom Death, you’ve got to bring your A+ game. The people who buy board games are getting over-saturated themselves. There’s only so much room on the shelf, only so many dollars in the bank and so many hours in the day.
Interesting article. If either of us were less lazy, we could check the actual stats for % funded, which would lend an objective air to our discussion. 😛
I think that KS is certainly becoming more competitive for the mid-tier projects (those needing 7k-20k).
I don’t know if my first project would fund today. How can I?
Most of the backers were either folk I knew or one step removed. I don’t think that would be very different today – I am lucky enough to have some people in my life that were able to spent £12-20 to support me and get a game they might really like.
I asked for £2.7k and only just funded in the final hours. So it was close enough that I might have failed had things been slightly different.
In the end though, does it really matter? If I was coming onto KS today and failed, I’d have tried a 2nd time I think.
General backers are more likely to want a review but I think that’s a great thing. New creators with amazing ideas (that publishers don’t want, or that the creator wants to retain absolute control of) can still get a review from some folk for free. The games will eventually be made.
The real problem is the amount of material waste. With so many thousands of games being created yearly, I despair at the amount of plastic being created and the amount of fuel used to transport those things, only to end up sitting on a shelf.
Thanks Bez! Congrats on reaching your KS goal. KS has gotten a lot more competitive but even now, it’s definitely not impossible.