Welcome to the usual deep dive into the past year for crowdfunding in general, as well as for games specifically.

tl;dr: A record breaking year for Kickstarter in general and tabletop games in particular. Video games are also doing well.

Overall Kickstarter Numbers

When it comes to the money raised , 2020 is now holding the record for the best year for Kickstarter, with a staggering $730m.

Purely looking at the number of projects launched last year, it might seem like 2020 was not the best of years for Kickstarter projects. But this is just confirming the trend of the previous year where less projects were launched overall, but more projects were funded. In 2020, we saw a tiny dip in the number of funded projects, but it doesn’t belie the trend as the overall number of project launched dropped much more significantly.

Crowdfunding is confirmed as a specialist exercise, with a larger proportion of projects meeting their goal overall.

Kickstarter Numbers per Category

I have separated all the categories on Kickstarter in three tiers, for more readability:

  • Categories that raised more than $50m in a year
  • Categories that raised between $10m and $35m in a year
  • Categories that raised less then $10m in a year

In the top tier, we find again the three categories that have been the most successful on Kickstarter the past few years: Design, Games, Technology.

All three of them have seen growth this past year, but it is obvious that Games have seen biggest bump.

In the mid tier, we can see a different story:

  • Art, Comics, and Publishing have grown quite significantly in 2020
  • Food projects also have collectively collected more in 2020 than 2019, but to a lesser extend (+20%)
  • Fashion, Film & Video and Music, have all three had a worse year in 2020.

For Film & Video and Music, this particularly striking as these two categories were the ones on which Kickstarter built its initial success. It is the lowest total amount raised for each category since 2010.

For Film & Video, 2020 is also the year with the lowest number of funded projects since 2009, the year of the launch of the platform.

I strongly suspect that an already downward trend was amplified by the need for in person events for both of these categories (concerts; cinema showing).

The bottom tier (by amount raised) shows categories that have all done poorly in 2020 in comparison to 2019.

The Theater category in particular dropped -78%, and the Covid-19 pandemic is probably the main reason for this.

Kickstarter & Tabletop Games

2020 was again a record year for Tabletop Games on Kickstarter. They represent nearly a third of all the money raised on Kickstarter that year.

This is also the biggest increase year-on-year that the category has seen in the past five years, with +33% ( representing +$60m).

The number of funded project has followed a similar growth to the one seen in the amount of money raised.

Interestingly — the number of projects that didn’t get funded has been roughly the same for the past four years. It means the percentage of funded projects has been increasing quite consistently, now sitting at 70% for 2020.

Looking at projects per tiers, we can see there has been more projects in all brackets of funding.

Projects that raised more than $500,000 obviously account for a significant part of the record breaking amount of money raised by the category, but with close to $100m raised thanks to the smaller projects, it shows that Kickstarter is not benefitting just from the big hits.

There were a few noteworthy projects to know about last year:

  • Frosthaven. The sequel to the hit game Gloomhaven. It went on to break the record for most successful tabletop game crowdfunding campaign, raising $12,969,608 from 83,193 backers. The previous record holder, Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5, had raised $12,393,139 back in 2016.
  • Nemesis Lockdown was the third most successful tabletop campaign of 2020, raising close to $7m. What is very interesting is that since then, its publisher has expanded its pledge managing service, Gamefound, to fully a fully fledged crowdfunding platform for tabletop games. Its first project, ISS Vanguard, raised close to $5m.
  • Return to Dark Tower was another very successful take on redesigning a classic board game by Restoration Games.

Kickstarter & Video Games

Video Games have had a much more tumultuous history over the years with video games than their tabletop counterparts. The medium are quite different, and the industries behind them function in fundamentally different ways. This said, it is interesting to see that 2020 has been a good year for that category as well.

2020 has seen the most money raised for video games since 2015 and the most projects funded since 2014.

While it doesn’t mean we are getting back to the level of enthusiasm and success we saw these two years, it solidifies the platform as an opportunity for video games studios considering it for the coming years.

Specifically looking at projects by tiers, 2020 excellent performance appears to be mostly supported by the excellent performance of its six $500,000+ projects, with its two most successful video games this year coming from Japan (Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and The Wonderful 101: Remastered). Out of these six projects, only one of them is being made in the USA, Kindred Fates. Sea of Stars is being made in Canada, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is from Owlcat Games in Moscow, and My Time at Sandrock is from Chinese studio Pathea Games.

2020 has had the most projects raising between $10,000 and $50,000 of any year — lifting the median amount raised by video game projects.

Concluding words

2020 was far from being a typical year for all of us… But when it comes to Kickstarter and games, things have looked eerily similar to previous years, following the trends set lately.

The good performance of the video games category, both with more projects funded and more money raised than in quite a while, is also good news, and we might see more growth in that category in 2021!