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How is Kickstarter transforming board gaming?

Posted Saturday, 24-Oct-2015

With new board games added to Kickstarter every week, it’s become a central part of the games industry, and one that could re-energize it. 


Contributed by Andrew Knighton


In just a few years, Kickstarter has become one of the most famous organizations on the planet. It has provided crowd funding to thousands of projects, including hundreds of board games. So what impact will this have on board gaming?


Talent Unleashed

One of the great benefits of Kickstarter is that it lets anyone find funding. While marketing skills will help to draw in supporters, an interesting game and good design are also vital. This means that talented designers can find funds to back their games, even if they don’t work for big companies.

For small presses and individual designers, cash flow has traditionally been a problem.  However well a game might eventually sell, the designer couldn’t make it without a way to pay the bills. By providing funds up front, Kickstarter lets them take the time to do this.


Kickstarter practically launched board game designer Isaac Childres' career after a successful campaign for Gloomhaven.
Kickstarter practically launched board game designer Isaac Childres’ career after a successful campaign for Gloomhaven.


It’s a democratizing force, one that puts the power to put games into the market in everybody’s hands. It gives us all more power over what games we get, and the designers more opportunity to make their most interesting projects.


Disillusionment and Disappointment

Of course there have been Kickstarter= failures along the way. Not just games that didn’t get funded, but ones that were funded but never appeared. High profile failures like The Doom That Came to Atlantic City could easily turn people off to Kickstarter.


An FTC investigation was opened for the game 'The Doom that Came to Atlantic City' after the project was unable to deliver.
An FTC investigation was opened for the game ‘The Doom that Came to Atlantic City’ after the project was unable to deliver.


The intrusion of big companies into the space also threatens to crowd out the independents who gain so much from Kickstarter.  

Yet cynicism hasn’t kicked in. The successes outnumber the big setbacks, and it’s still providing funds small creators could never previously have gained.

Scythe, a recently launched Kickstarter by Stonemaier Games was fully funded within 5 minutes.  The game is now set to raise well over a million dollars toward its launch.


Emotional Investment

The biggest reason for so many successful board games on Kickstarter is surely the same thing that creates a great backlash against the failures – emotional investment. We care more about a game if we’ve helped to fund it and have seen it grow from an idea to a bright box on the shelves. That means that people love games all the more for seeing them go through a successful Kickstarter.

It’s also creating variety, allowing designers to try new ideas and settings that big companies might not risk money on. Kickstarter adds huge levels of choice and diversity to the board gaming community.


Where Next?

So what will the long term impact be? It’s impossible to know for sure, but from where we are now it looks like Kickstarter could help fuel a huge growth in board games. Now only does it create more games, but it creates more excitement around them, and around board gaming in general.

For all the failures, Kickstarter has also seen many successes, bringing games like DRCongo, Spurs: A Tale in the Old West and Ultimate Werewolf Ultimate Edition. It is reinvigorating gaming, emotionally as well as financially, and that’s a great thing.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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