Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Numbers Game with Kickstart Projects

With Shenmue 3 breaking Kickstarter records this month for their video game category, it's easy to assume that games on the crowd-funding website are doing pretty darn well. Even with the drop in numbers for new projects last year, according to consulting firm ICO Partners, the only news we really read about is the positive stuff. So...things are moving alone just fine. Right?

Gamasutra editor Thomas Bidaux dove back into the website to figure out the current state of game development via crowd funding. While the site went big, really big, in 2012 and 2013, 2014 saw a huge drop in new projects and those being funded. From $48 million to $20 million. This year may be a bit better, with $20 million already raised in the first half of the year, but it's not on course to match 2013's numbers, let alone 2012. The argument is that with the big games like Shenmue, it's drawing more attention to the site and causing more money to be spent. The idea that smaller developers are getting a piece of the market isn't at the same strength as it use to be.

Bidaux argues that the market on Kickstarter is over-saturated. There are too many options now on what and where to put your support. And we all have budgets. We'd love to give all of the game concepts $100 a piece, but we can't. To add on to this, I would say that the long development times has put a damper on people's interest to back a project. Most people may not realize this, but it takes a long arse time to make a video games. If you don't have EA or Activision standing behind you with a bevy of computer banks, indie projects can take years to build. And typically the teams of developers are only a handful of people. I would be surprised if they consisted of more then 3 people. A number of the games that received full funds from 2012 are only now being released on XBox Live and PSN. Gamer and backer fatigue is settling.

The summary is that we don't really know what's happening with Kickstarter. We hope to see more indie games get funded, but it seems to be at extremes on who is seeing the backing. It's a few big titles and a few small titles. There's no in-between. Those with mid-sized budgets looking for backing seem to be in the lurch. They don't have the brand name or star power of the big developers, and they want a budget too large for people to feel comfortable with backing. Bidaux makes the claim that the big devs are hiding the problem with Kickstarter's video game division. They're using their influence as "We Are Y" to get people to donate. And that's fine. They are free to do so. As such, it's creating false expectations for the rest of the game developers who don't have the gear, or the funds, to play to that level of marketing.

It's hard to say...but the numbers are very interesting.

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