The Kickstarter Bubble Bursts as Gamers No Longer Trust Crowdfunding
Kickstarter is facing a steep decline, with revenues for its video game projects having fallen by nearly 40 per cent since the crowdfunding site’s $28 million peak in 2013.
The company revealed that video games pulled in under $10 million in revenue on the site, a marginal improvement on its 2016 figures but still a major disappointment. As revealed in data gathered by ICO Partners (via GamesIndustry.biz), this continues an unfortunate trend for Kickstarter that has seen users plugging far less money into prospective video games than in previous years, with only $9.4 million pledged for successful projects in the first half of 2017, compared to near $20 million pledged in the first half of 2016.
Kickstarter has faced a periodic decline before, with 2014 seeing revenues for video game projects teeter around the $10 million mark in both semesters, before experiencing a dramatic increase in 2015. However, it doesn’t look hopeful that the same will happen in 2017, unless the video games subcategory receives a shot of adrenaline in the latter half of the year.
But while video games are on the decline, tabletop games have experienced monumental growth. Nearly $70 million has been amassed by successful projects in the first half of the year, dwarfing the figure for video game projects and putting the subcategory on course for its best year yet.
So why has there been such a steep decline for video games but a tremendous growth spurt for tabletop games? The most obvious determining factor is the distinct lack of trust surrounding crowdfunded video games from consumers, with multiple high-profile projects having either been cancelled, heavily delayed or releasing to an underwhelming critical and commercial response.
Though there are plenty of well-received Kickstarter projects, they rarely make as much noise in the industry as those that suffer from a less fortunate fate. Whereas Kickstarter used to be an excellent place for dream projects to be brought to life, in the past few years the optimism surrounding these projects has taken more than a few hits. When games such as Yooka-Laylee, one of the most funded Kickstarter projects ever, receive a middling reception, and the likes of Shenmue 3 remain in perpetual development with few updates detailing their progress, it’s no wonder that fewer consumers are willing to hand over their cash.
Though crowdfunding remains an incredibly useful way for creators to get projects off the ground that would otherwise have little chance of receiving funding, the distrust surrounding the site from gamers has inevitably had a huge impact on the dwindling fortunes of the gaming subcategory. While it’s unlikely that it will turn around any time soon, there is still plenty of room for creators to bring their projects to life on the platform — it’s just a case of convincing consumers to invest now that the rose-tinted glasses have been removed.