Have you ever played a game and said to yourself “I can do better than this"? If so you’re not the only person to do this, and many people who do this fund their projects via Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a crowd funding website. Game designers set a funding goal for their project. This is usually the outlay required to manufacture and distribute the game. The public can then fund or 'pledge' any value they want. Each backer is then rewarded depending on how much they pledge. This basic pledge usually bags you a pre-order of the game. Higher pledges will usually get the backer something interesting or unique. It could be signed copy of the game or artwork, having the backer's name or image used in the game or a special edition of the game. If a project doesn't meet its funding goal then nothing happens; the funds are returned to the backers and the project doesn't go ahead. There are a number of these services available but Kickstarter has become the system of choice for board and card games.
There have already been a number of notable successes on Kickstarter. Carnival, D-day dice and Alien Frontiers have all smashed their targets and become a success. Subsequently Kickstarter is becoming full of potential games.
Kickstarter has generated some controversy. There are some who believe that because these games do not pass through a traditional publishing process then the game has not undergone the vetting, play testing and proofing that a professional company would conduct. This would mean that Kickstarter could be full of poor quality games. There is also the potential risk of a con or a project going wrong and all parties losing their money. So far this hasn’t happened on the board game section but there is evidence of other Kickstarter projects going wrong. As with any project, investors should look carefully into the project before putting forward the money.
The website has some flaws. Considering the Kickstarter concept relies on users finding potential projects the browsing mechanics of the website are very poor. Browsing projects can be difficult and unless a particular project is featured or already popular it is very difficult to find. Another issue is the Kickstarter is an American website and is subsequently American focused. This means that all pledges are in dollars and the website is not really designed to support foreign backers. Thankfully most board game designers have seen past this issue and offer separate rewards for non-US backers. This usually means as a backer you will have to pledge more to cover international shipping costs but its does mean you’re rarely going to see non-American games.
Even with these issues Kickstarter is causing a bit of a revolution amongst the board gaming community. Being part of a new product and supporting its success is a big draw and who knows you may be one of the investors behind the next big game. Check out the board and card games section of Kickstarter here.