To say that Kickstarter is one of the biggest developments ever to happen in gaming would be an oversimplification, and not a subject I feel qualified to take on as a whole. For that kind of thing, I recommend Kicktraq, Funding the Dream, and Daniel Solis’s surveys.
However, there were two big impacts it had on my year. For one, pitches for us to check out a Kickstarter have increased dramatically, sometimes multiple ones coming in each day, and one memorable week where I received one every day of the week. (If your idea of promoting your Kickstarter is to spam the same message over and over again to as many related twitter accounts as you can find… you’re doing it wrong.)
Secondly, it’s increased my gaming spending- and from what I can tell, it’s added on to the games I buy, not replaced them from other sources. As 2012 wraps up, I wanted to take a look at the Kickstarters I supported this year, and ultimately focusing on the games, particularly the RPGs, my most-supported category.
In case it needs to be said, this is not a comprehensive look, nor is it in any way scientific. This is just a look at what I supported over the year to see if I can identify any trends amongst those that personally interested in me for whatever reason. Additionally, I’m not interested in calling out project X for being late or project Y for sending too many updates or whatever, so most of this is aggregate data only.
- Total Projects Supported In 2012: 32
- Total Projects I Supported That Hit Their Funding Goal In 2012: 28
Breakdown by Project Types of Funded Projects
- RPGs: 12
- Board/Card Games: 5 (I’m including one IndieGogo project here)
- Video Games: 2
- Other Gaming-Related Projects (Movies, Comics, etc.): 6
- Other: 3
RPGs dominated the projects I supported this year. There are a number of factors for this, probably the strongest one being that I can usually toss in $10 for a PDF and not worry that much that it’ll take up space or be a lot of money if I don’t like it. Additionally, it’s easier for me to judge quality from a known quantity in an RPG than another type of game.
Board games are much more risky for me, especially since I’ve got burned so often by games I’ve picked up in a store, and usually no comparable option is there for board games: while I think print and play versions of board games is a good idea, I’m very unlikely to actually go through the effort to put a prototype together, especially for a game with many more pieces. Video games are even further out there most of the time between me giving money and having something I can try to see if I like it.
RPG Delivery Statuses
- Fully Delivered: 2
- Partially Delivered (Completed PDF but not print, missing Stretch Goals, etc.): 4
- Draft Delivered, Nothing Else: 3
- Nothing Delivered Yet, But Still Communicating: 3
- Projects “Gone Dark”: 0
This doesn’t give the complete picture, since these projects launched at different times of year. However, I think it is important to underscore that projects will take a while to fully be delivered, no matter how complete the game is to begin with. Additionally, as I mentioned I’m more likely to back projects by creators I’m familiar with, I also have a better understanding of where they are in the process and unlikely to completely crash if funded.
As a rough estimate from what I understood when backing, when taking into account communications since:
- RPGs Delivered Fully On Time: 1
- RPGs Apparently on Schedule: 5
- RPGs Running Late But In Progress: 2
- Scheduling Status Unknown: 4
For this one, I’m looking at all the Kickstarters I’ve backed (not just in 2012), just looking at the ones where I’ve actually received a final product (even if it’s not the complete package), and judging my satisfaction on a simple scale:
- Satisfied: 10
- Neutral/Mixed: 5
- Dissatisfied: 6
This is one of the few metrics I was surprised by when reviewing, honestly. I expected more projects to fall into the valley of meh more than anything, but I should be thankful that I’ve been satisfied with a plurality of projects I’ve received. There is part of me that thinks that the middling project number will go up as more are delivered next year. For instance, I supported 4 different video projects and 2 music projects, and for some reason, I find that I’m more interested in helping those get out for others than seeing the end result personally. That said, the one video project I have received I was pleased with.
A Few Final Notes
Finally, I’d like to single out just a few projects for some exceptional or otherwise noteworthy aspects of a few Kickstarters:
Best Stretch Goal Rollout Strategy: Dungeon World
As new stretch goals were unveiled, the backers explored a dungeon, complete with boxed-text prose. Though the only way to play was to give more money, it was still a cool way to overlay a “game-like” experience on top of the base Kickstarter.
Both projects were huge, and every day, blew through new stretch goals. Numenera continually rolled out new improvements, supplements, and even new games that turned it from a one-off RPG into a full fledged line of games. Hillfolk, meanwhile, added more and more setting write-ups from a variety of amazing talents, even outpacing the size of the physical book in a situation they called “Pagemagedden.” Both contributed to the feeling that not only were you supporting a game, you were on a roller-coaster ride along with the publishers.
Biggest Disappointment for Not Funding: BAM!: The Untold Story of the Future of Rock & Roll
A documentary about my all-time favorite radio station (and way more influential than many realize) made by a fellow gamer- some day I hope it makes a return to Kickstarter and funds in full. My wallet stands ready for it.
It also makes me wistful, wondering if we had Kickstarter when the station was on the air years ago, if we might still have it to this day…
Best Kickstarter Video: Are You The Werewolf? Deluxe
OK, that’s just because I was in it.