Crowdfunding is a popular way for creators to finance their video games and make their ideas a reality. Video games align well with crowdfunding because the campaign is like a game. There are goals to reach and rewards to achieve in return for investing time and money.

Many well known video games began as a crowdfunding project. The Pillars of Eternity is Kickstarter’s most successful video game campaign. It raised $4 million from 74,000 backers. In 2021, Kickstarter video games projects raised $23 million – the highest since 2015 – with 408 projects meeting their targets.

Changing the face of the industry

The crowdfunding model has arguably changed the face of video gaming. Crowdfunding has created more space and possibilities for smaller, more interesting projects rather than the large-scale blockbusters only AAA studios could hope to create.

But for every success, there is failure. Even in the case of crowdfunding success, many projects do not come to fruition. Perhaps the funding wasn’t enough to cover the development costs. Perhaps the team encountered blocks they couldn’t overcome. Media outlets are reluctant to promote crowdfunding campaigns, saving space for the video games that reach the marketplace.

When crowdfunding works

Crowdfunding is a brilliant way to test your idea and see if it has an audience. If you have an existing community – via social channels, forums or mailing lists – you have a head start on crowdfunding success.

If Kickstarter highlights your campaign as a Project We Love, that will boost the campaigns’ discoverability. The more success your campaign has the higher it will be ranked on Kickstarter. Many backers discover projects through Kickstarter, so your existing community can be leveraged to help widen your audience.

The challenges of crowdfunding

But what if you don’t have an existing community? While valuable, building a community is time consuming. It has to come second to developing the game itself. A campaign requires much time and skill investment from the creator – before, during and after.

Kickstarter is notorious for favouring backers above creators. An unfortunately common practice is for a critical backer to pledge a nominal amount and spam the comments and updates, before withdrawing their pledge on the last day of the campaign. This can put off other backers and affect the campaign’s momentum.

Backers can have high expectations of how they can affect the product. They may want to introduce features without understanding the implications. Feedback is useful – but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your original vision. The promises made during the campaign may limit the changes you want to make during development.

Crowdfunding may be the best way forward for video game developers. Others may find alternatives a better option. If you’re considering crowdfunding to expand your product, we offer an alternative finance option. SugarFlow gives you instant access to your revenues from stores, platforms and partners.

We can also help you scale up and gain users after the crowdfunded game is live. SugarBoost finances the marketing for your video game based on your own metrics and helps expand your community. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss how we can support you!