Crowdfunding: Where New Board Games Go To Launch

Crowdfunding is fueling a board game renaissance
Zack Miller, About.com Crowdfunding Expert

In a world of 24/7 Internet, it may sound surprising that there seems to be a renaissance of sorts occurring in the board game industry. Yes, in addition to playing massively multiplayer online games that border on a truly virtual reality gaming environment, old school games with a new-school twist are making a comeback.

And crowdfunding is powering this powerful trend. Board games are playing a bigger and bigger role for the top crowdfunding sites.

Check out this link for a more in-depth discussion on the best crowdfunding sites for gaming.

Here's a link to Kickstarter's board game category, too.

Bull Market for Board Games

More games are being made than ever. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites are becoming the go-to place for an enterprising game entrepreneur to finance his or her big idea and get thousands of backers and early customers to help launch a new board game.

And some of these new crowdfunded board games are raising millions of dollars via crowdfunding. Here's a list of the top crowdfunding campaigns for board games ranked in order of how much money they raised:

PROJECTBACKERSPLEDGED
Exploding Kittens219,382$8.8m
Zombicide: Black Plague20,9154.1
Conan16,0383.3
Reaper Miniatures Bones II14,9643.2
Zombicide: Season 312,0112.8
Reaper Miniatures Bones 313,4652.7
Dwarven Forge’s Modular City Builder Terrain System2,7192.4
Zombicide: Season 28,9442.3
Dwarven Forge’s Caverns-Dwarvenite Game Tiles Terrain3,9502.1
Kingdom Death: Monster5,4102.0

                                                                                                                             Source: fivethirtyeight

2 Roles Crowdfunding Plays in Launching New Board Games

According to an article by fivethirtyeight (a great blog if you're interested in data-driven analysis about business, sports, etc.), there are 2 real roles that crowdfunding plays in the board game market:

  1. Market testing: Instead of launching a new game only to see how receptive the market is to a new game, crowdfunding takes the traditional product launch/manufacturing cycle on its head. Game designers can effectively test their ideas, build an audience, and see if people are willing to commit real money to a new game before its fully manufactured and launched. Crowdfunding lowers the risk of producing a new game and builds a community of excited backers willing to commit to a new game idea.
  2. Democratization: The typical process to launch a new game entailed a game designer to pitch his or her idea to a game publisher. Like authors and publishers, this process is filled with inefficiencies and very few titles get produced. Crowdfunding disintermediates the middle man by giving a game designer the tools to go directly to the crowd. That means more ideas see the light of day and game designers build their own fan bases.

In Crowdfunding, Old School Games are Beating Digital

When Kickstarter launched in 2009, it set the stage for small businesses of all sorts to raise money for their big ideas. Gaming definitely benefited from this new financing mechanism and crowdfunding has set off a sort of renaissance for renewed interest in board games.

Here's fivethirtyeight:

Since that debut, pledges to board and card game projects on the site have totaled $196 million, according to the company. Ninety-three percent of that money went to successful projects — those that reached their fundraising goal. For comparison, pledges to video game projects, including hardware and mobile games, have totaled $179 million. Of that, 85 percent went to ultimately successful projects. On Kickstarter, analog is beating digital.

There aren't many places anymore where analog is beating digital but crowdfunding for board games is one of them. It's a great confluence of new ideas, entrepreneurism, and excitement around a very old form of entertainment.