Funded: How Kickstarter Changed The Board Game Economy

Kickstarter Games, those who create them, and those who fund them, have fundamentally changed this hobby. It’s a fact.

Kickstarter Products have changed how the market works. If you want to see just how much, you need to take a peek inside the board game economy where it used to be you could only find games at small local shops, but now the hobby has exploded across the world, in part, because of crowdfunding websites like kickstarter.

Like every. single. one. of my posts, this one about The Age of Kickstarter Games may have affiliate links in it. These links never influence my opinions about a product or service. Why is this important? You can find the answer by reading my full disclosure policy here.

This is part one of a 3ish post series about Kickstarter. While I have only backed 2 kickstarter projects in my entire life, and even though I won’t be joining the “back every tabletop project that exists” club any time soon, I can still easily see the vast impact that KS and other crowdfunding sites have brought to the hobby.

I wanted to take some time to dissect things a bit and share with you my thoughts about how this relatively “new”  phenomenon has affected this hobby that we enjoy so much.

1. Kickstarter Brings Mass Market Access to Individual Designers

In the not so distant past, if you had a game idea you had 2 “realistic” options, along with a 3rd, less exciting one.

  • You could pitch the handful of game companies and hope they like the idea (Chances are fair that they wouldn’t). 
  • You could put a few thousand dollars down to get the game designed and published on your own. (Probability says that amount of risk will keep your idea at the prototype level).
  • You could give your game away as a print and play on a board game forum like Board Game Geek.

Enter Kickstarter

In 2009 this crowdfunding took the world by storm. And it is a completely fair assessment to say that it has had a huge impact on Board Gaming.

How Huge?

As of this writing, in Kickstarters lifetime of just under 8 years, there have been 11,617 board game projects.

While I’m sure not all of those games funded, and some of those projects might be duplicates, second editions, and expansions; I want you to stop and take a second to think about that…

11,617 tabletop related game projects.

Now take a second to consider how many of them would never have had the chance to see the mass market without some form of crowd funding system.

One of 2 Kickstarter Games I have backed. I became familiar with The City of Kings from a podcast that I religiously listen to.
The City of Kings is 1 of 2 Kickstarter projects that I have backed. Click on the image if you’d like to check it out for yourself. It looks like it’s going to be an Epic game experience!

As an avid podcast listener, I’ve lost count of the number of designers I’ve heard interviewed who quite possibly would never have had their big break if it wasn’t for that first game of theirs that went through Kickstarter. Fast forward to today and some of them are developing their own companies while others have been scooped up by existing labels, and all and all, it has brought more and more games to the hobby.

2. Kickstarter Games Give Gamers A Larger Say In What Get’s Made

Before crowd funding, you enjoyed a trip to your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) to pick out a game that was on the shelf. Some companies may have solicited feedback in the form of a post card, or on hobby forums, but they really could only judge whether or not a game would be success based on games that were already produced. That was really their only viable window into what the market was doing.

Now, publishers and designers have a whole new tool of market research. They can see what Kickstater projects have people lining up out the figurative door to give away their money, and which projects are falling flat. This gives them a completely new data point for the game development R&D!

Another avenue of market research is the comment section.

Even though this may not be true of the internet as a whole, the comment section in a Kickstarter project can be VERY benificial to a designer/publisher! Many designers and publishers have made changes to a game in-between funding and publishing based on comments and feedback they have received from backers in the Kickstarter process! Try doing that when you buy a game at your FLGS or off of Amazon.

3. Kickstarter Adds More Paid Positions Within The Industry

No… this isn’t an announcement. I won’t be running a Kickstarter campaign or starting a Patreon account… yet.

But, reviewers of games have been around for a little while. In the past, however, in order to make any money from being a reviewer or other board game media content creator, you needed to rely on advertising, maybe a little bit of affiliate marketing, but generally just plan on working for free games.

As the hobby has grown, so has the need for quality reviews from quality reviewers.

Again, enter Kickstarter (and other crowdfunding sources)

Watch it Played is an amazing board game content creator. He provides a huge amount of value to the industry, and has been able to make it his job thanks to an annual IndieGoGo crowd funding campaign. (Note – His salary is not $90K).

Not too long ago, content creators began soliciting their viewers for donations. Much like public broadcasting, and some private broadcasting entities, they started holding annual fundraising events. Bam! Now, people are getting paid to provide awesome content. It’s not the only way it can happen, but it seems to be one of the most popular by far, at least for now.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see that Kickstarter has had a huge impact on board games! So why have I only backed a couple of projects? Well – You’re going to have to come back in a couple of weeks for that answer. Next week, however, I’m going to have a first on Art of Boardgaming. I’m turning over the article writing to a special guest… and it’s fair to say this person has backed a couple more Kickstarter projects than I have.

You’ll want to come back for that!

Read the Next Post in My Kickstarter Series:


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post about Kickstarter Games are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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