Kickstarter Funding For Indie Games Falls Off A Cliff

Last year, it was all about Kickstarter for video games. And while the site has seen some amazing and notable successes this year… video games haven’t generally been among them.

The Escapist has a breakdown of Kickstarted indie games this year, and it’s indicating crowdfunded games are a little more conservative. Total funded games on the site are at 175 in the first half of the year, on track to 350 for the full year and almost a hundred fewer games than were funded in 2013. More worryingly, though, only $13 million was pledged towards games in the first half of the year, meaning that if trends hold, Kickstarter will bring in less than half of the funding for games it found in 2013.

So why did the bloom come off the rose? Well, first of all, it’s worth noting that the massively funded projects that started this boom came from established names with long careers. Gamers are more willing to throw Brian Fargo or Tim Shafer $20 than you and I, because, well, they’ve got long resumes with good games on them.

Secondly, there have been far too many high-profile projects that crashed and burned, and even the professionals can struggle to deliver the game they promised. It hasn’t erased enthusiasm for crowdfunding games entirely, but reasonably, it’s made gamers a little skittish about throwing large sums of money at somebody they don’t know. And the big stars are busy making the games they promised, so they’re not raising money on the site.

It perhaps does not help that the most popular crowdfunded games have not quite been a slam dunk. Wasteland 2 can be painfully old-fashioned in places; Shadowrun Returns was fun, but hardly essential; Broken Age isn’t even finished; and Pillars of Eternity isn’t out until next year. Also notable in those projects is the nostalgia factor, which a small indie game generally lacks.

Kickstarter is still a good source for funding, but it appears the initial rush of blind enthusiasm has ended. And maybe, in the long run, that’s for the best.