One of the biggest developments in board gaming retail over the last decade has been Kickstarter. If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter, it is a crowdfunding platform where creators can build a campaign offering various rewards ranging from a simple thank you to copies of the product/ service they are trying to fund, often with a whole bunch of exclusives or discounts that you can only get if you back the product via Kickstarter. It is important to know, Kickstarter is not a pre-order service, as a result there is a risk associated with ‘backing’ a project, for example if the company goes bankrupt or falls afoul of copyright issues then you may not receive what you backed and paid for.
From its inception in 2009, Kickstarter has grown into the biggest crowdfunding platform on the internet. The use of Kickstarter by Tabletop Game publishers and the gaming community has contributed to the success of the platform with companies such as CMON, helping establish Kickstarter as a popular platform for Board Games with their game Zombicide in 2013. Many companies, such as CMON and Awaken Realms, have directly benefited from Kickstarter’s popularity within the board game community which is reflected by their growth into two of the most recognised publishers within the gaming industry. Part of the reason that board games have been so popular on Kickstarter is directly related to the ‘non essential extras’ which have quickly become expected extras. By going down the crowdfunding route, it has allowed companies to increase the production quality of their games far beyond what was normal for traditionally released games, which has also become necessary to enable the projects to stand out. This has had a knock on effect on games released outside of Kickstarter, with the standard production quality typically improving. However, this has had an impact on the cost of Board Games with the average price increasing.
Up until now, if you are a consumer or creator, alternative options have been limited with the most well known being IndieGoGo. However, these other platforms currently lack the traffic that Kickstarter gets, don’t have a strong affiliation with Board Games and typically come with more associated risks when backing projects.
The new crowdfunding platform on the block, GameFound, created by Awaken Realms, is looking to become the #1 destination for Board Game crowdfunding and is aiming to be up and running by June or July 2021. One of the disadvantages of using Kickstarter is that whilst it allows you to promote your project, it then requires a separate pledge manager to enable backers to modify pledges and to calculate shipping costs per country. Gamefound was created as a pledge manager but they are now beginning to allow projects to be crowdfunded through the platform, effectively providing an all in one solution to Board Game publishers & designers.
Of course, it will be no easy task to attract companies to move to Gamefound from Kickstarter, which has the established traffic and customer base. However, the main points of differentiation between the two platforms is that Gamefound:
- Provides a crowdfunding and pledge manager all in one platform
- Is dedicated to tabletop gaming
- Offers new features including; automated stretch goal list, ability to easily select add ons and an emphasis on visual presentation
- Moderates comments section of projects
- Easy to use search features introduced, eg allowing the use of hashtags and @mentions in comments
- Introduction of tools for creators such as; shipping cost & production calculator and automated invoices
- Currently setting up a project on the platform is free to do, with a payment processing fee, which is charged once the project funding has been collected from backers. This is versus Kickstarter which charges a platform fee of 5% of funds raised and the payment processing fee in addition to this.
Some of these features are easier to implement for Gamefound, in comparison to other platforms, this is because it is dedicated to Board Games therefore the development can be more focussed. These features are a necessity in order for Gamefound to compete with the behemoth which is Kickstarter. Creators choosing to use Gamefound over Kickstarter, will need to carefully consider whether a decrease in traffic could result in lower backer numbers and if that is the case if the lower fee’s that Gamefound offer will offset a loss in backer revenue.
Gamefound is off to a good start as a crowdfunding platform for Board Games with ISS Vanguard from Awaken Realms achieving funding of $4.9 million and Robinson Crusoe collector's edition reaching its goal in less than 20 minutes achieving total funding of $2.2 million and the following big projects announced in February that will be coming or have already funding via the platform:
- Monster Invasion, from Petersen games who are behind the immensely popular Cthulhu Wars, which has been funded
- Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising, from Lucky Duck Games, which has been funded
- Elder Scrolls Skyrim from Modiphius Entertainment
- The Domain of Mirza Noctis, the next game in the HEXplore It series
- Gajin, from Awaken Realms Lite
Personally I prefer the Gamefound platform over Kickstarter as I am only interested in backing Board Games and the additional features allow for greater ease of use for backing Tabletop Games. We will almost certainly see Kickstarter develop similar features over the coming years, however Gamefound will be able to have a greater focus on the Board Game market therefore I believe they have an opportunity to develop & add additional features more suited to the gaming community due to their greater understanding of the Board Game niche and be able to introduce the changes quicker, which should attract both creators and backers to the platform.
I am looking forward to seeing the Gamefound projects in 2021 and we will keep you updated via the Meeple Design blog, with more information regarding projects that appear on Gamefound.