Three years of Kickstart This! have come and gone, and I thought we would celebrate this milestone in Warp Zoned’s history by looking back at some of the games that have graced the series, from the lucky projects that found success with the help of contributors, to those who missed the mark.
The “Premiere Edition” of Kickstart This! was first published on July 30, 2012 and featured five campaigns: Defense Grid 2, Project Lodus, Echoes of Aeons, Thoughts?, and Bad Planet. The first two were successfully funded, but the other three unfortunately fell by the wayside. This was a harsh lesson in the early days of scouring Kickstarter for game projects, especially with regards to Bad Planet, which boasted actor Thomas Jane and comic book author Steve Niles as part of its creative team.
Throughout the three years of Kickstart This!, I have covered 161 games in total (minus the most recent edition). Out of those, 61 have been funded, and 100 were either unsuccessful or cancelled before the funding deadline. This oddly falls in line with the 38% success mark that Kickstarter revealed for all of its gaming projects in the year 2013. The overall rate of success for Games was 34.18%, 5.5% less than the total success rate of the site that year, which stood at 39.68%.
There have been some anomalies along the way. None of the six projects featured in the December 2012 “Jingle Bells Edition” were funded, yet in the March 2014 “Guinness Aftermath Edition,” all six games ended up being funded.
Kickstarter had its first huge gaming success back in March 2012, when Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure raised a ton of money ($3.3 million), backed by just under 90,000 people at various levels of contribution. The industry took note because a veteran of Schafer’s calibre had managed to take this relatively unknown platform and make it work for him. But I would argue that while Schafer’s efforts were a resounding success for video games, it was Rob Thomas’s Veronica Mars revival project that debuted a year later that showed what a large fan base could achieve, reviving a long-dead TV series and accompanying it for one last jaunt to the cinema screen. Veronica Mars pushed crowdfunding into the mainstream, making “kickstart” a buzzword and elevating the funding platform to the pedestal it now rests upon. Many, including myself, have sought out funds from other’s pockets, but despite an entire industry having risen to meet the demands of running a crowdfunding campaign, there is still no answer as to what will be successful, and what will fail.
Gaming projects that have tackled tough subject matter like depression or the death of a child through cancer have caught the imagination, while large, generic, AAA projects have not made it out of the gate. Crowdfunding has allowed developers to take risks and break apart genres, to try new ideas and see if they catch the attention of enough people to bring it to life.
I have shared in the joy and pain of these projects, having often put my money where my mouth is by supporting many of these campaigns. Some have been successful, others have not, but there is a resilience embedded in most developers. They do not simply give up after the first defeat. Gamers know that death is not the end, only a mistake that will be rectified on the next turn. We have covered at least two projects that took a second run at Kickstarter and ended up securing the cash. Other games have found alternative means of funding and development after a Kickstarter campaign, often utilising the fan base generated during that window to spread the word.
In the coming weeks, we will be sharing interviews with developers, and also revealing the games that remained with us long after the Kickstarter project had expired.
This celebration is for the gamers who make Kickstarter possible, who see something and want to help make it a reality. It is for the developers, who have the gumption and sheer will to give birth to an idea and transform it into a reality. It is a beacon for an industry that has entered dark territory, overcharging customers for special editions and exclusive content. And it is an inspiration to a united world, one that loves playing games.