The RPG Kickstarters Which Break The Bank: Fame Pays


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  1. #1
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    The RPG Kickstarters Which Break The Bank: Fame Pays

    Amongst the dozens of new RPG Kickstarter projects launching each week, we seem to be getting one major bank-busting multi-hundred-thousand-dollar extravaganza every few weeks. The most recent have been the Reaper minis project which has probably filled your Facebook feed for weeks, and Monte Cook's still-ongoing new RPG, Numenera. Here's a list of some recent really big successes in RPGs:
    1. Reaper Miniatures Bones (Reaper Minis) - $3,429,236
    2. Order of the Stick Reprint (Rich Burlew) - $1,254,120
    3. OGRE Designer's Edition (Steve Jackson Games) - $923,680
    4. Pathfinder Online Technology Demo (Goblinworks) - $307,844
    5. Traveller5 (Marc Miller) - $294,628
    6. Rappan Athuk (Frog God Games) - $246,541
    7. Artisan Dice (Charlie Brunfield) - $91,542
    In addition, Monte Cook's Numenera is closing in on $200,000 and still has three weeks left to run. I'm sure I've missed some others.

    The oldest of this particular list (of seven, including Monte's) was in February this year, six months ago, so even without any I may have missed we're looking at an average of more than one such blockbuster per month.

    In addition I estimate I'm reporting on RPG Kickstarters about a dozen per week, and I'm certainly not getting all of them, and have run two successful (though much smaller scale than the above) Kickstarters myself.


    I don't know what conclusions a potential Kickstarter-starter could draw from the above list. A few data points to start with, though I'm sure others could analyse these in much greater detail and to more accurate effect:
    • 4 of the 7 are reprints or upgrades of old existing material (arguably, I suppose, the Pathfinder MMO is an 'upgrade' of existing material), so it seems that "new" stuff isn't featuring strongly in the list.
    • The dice and the miniatures seem to be the exception (and Monte's new game will be one, too, when it finishes).
    • 6 of the 7 (including Monte) are from existing companies or already high-profile individuals. Or, to put another way, somehow leverage a large existing brand: only Artisan Dice does not.
    It might appear from that list that to have a blockbuster Kickstarter, then, 6 out of 7 need to be capitalizing on existing material, brands, or name recognition. That doesn't take into account the dozens upon dozens of much smaller but still successful RPG Kickstarter projects, of course. You certainly don't have to be famous already to use Kickstarter successfully, as the sheer number of them attests.


    Kickstarter is most definitely a very popular method of funding RPG projects. There's been a lot of talk about how there are just too many of them, that they're dominating the news, and so on - I've even been part of that viewpoint at time as the deluge seems to simply increase. However, I do feel it's important to realise that it's simply a funding source - the cool part is the RPG product. The mistake (from perhaps reporters like myself) is identifying them primarily as "Kickstarters" rather than "Here's a cool new RPG product coming soon!" - rather like if, a few years ago, I'd referred to every new project as "Funded By Bank Loan" or something. I'm looking at it more as "Holy crap, there's a lot of varied and exciting new RPG products around these days" and ignoring the fact that they're funded in the same way.

    Oh, as a final tip - if you're running a Kickstarter, check out kicktraq.com - it very cleverly tracks and projects your project and provides more data than kickstarter.com itself does. I found it invaluable in my own recent Kickstarter. And, of course, don't forget to add your project to RPG Kickstarters.
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    Last edited by Morrus; Monday, 27th August, 2012 at 02:28 PM.

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    I still can't believe I missed this one... Saw it last night at Monte's sight, I would've pledged $100 just for the heck of it, we don't own any minis, and the chance to get such a collection at such a low price... and now that chance is gone.

    Well, can't win them all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otakkun View Post
    I still can't believe I missed this one... Saw it last night at Monte's sight, I would've pledged $100 just for the heck of it, we don't own any minis, and the chance to get such a collection at such a low price... and now that chance is gone.

    Well, can't win them all.
    The reaper pledge manager will let you get the set (I think the price might be a bit higher, but it's still a wonderful deal.

  4. #4
    Great topic, Morrus.

    I don't know what conclusions a potential Kickstarter-starter could draw from the above list. A few data points to start with, though I'm sure others could analyse these in much greater detail and to more acurate effect:
    4 of the 7 are reprints or upgrades of old existing material (arguably, I suppose, the Pathfinder MMO is an 'upgrade' of existing material), so it seems that "new" stuff isn't featuring strongly in the list.
    The dice and the miniatures seem to be the exception (and Monte's new game will be one, too, when it finishes).
    6 of the 7 (including Monte) are from existing companies or already high-profile individuals. Or, to put another way, somehow leverage a large existing brand: only Artisan Dice does not.
    It might appear from that list that to have a blockbuster Kickstarter, then, 6 out of 7 need to be capitalizing on existing material, brands, or name recognition.
    This was certainly a concern for us as we set up our own Kickstarter. One thing it may speak to is a lack of great venues for folks without a preexisting brand or involved luminary to use to get the word out. Or perhaps the issue is one you already cited: a lot of RPG Kickstarters out there all at once, competing for attention and overwhelming the public. Both of these issues are probably factors; I wonder what else?

    One thing I wish Kickstarter offered is better subcategorization of projects. I know I'd use an area of the site dedicated specifically to RPGs. Perhaps they feel curated pages are a better alternative, but there don't seem to be a whole lot of these, and finding them can itself be difficult. I'm glad people are maintaining independent lists of Kickstarters, but they lack the audience of the Kickstarter site itself.

  5. #5
    Keep an eye on the Reaper site. I'm pretty sure they'll offer another way in. They want to capture the people who use Paypal (and couldn't or wouldn't use Amazon Payments), so I'm pretty sure others will be able to get into it after the fact.
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    cool i made the list!!! i still can't believe how well rpg and board games are doing on kickstarter. it seems the whole gaming community has come out in droves to back project after project. when the artisan dice project completed i was totally blown away by all the support. for a no name project like mine to rank 3rd in the board games category was something i would have never expected. now just a handfull of months later i'm backing a project that hit nearly 3.5 million dollars in support! (congrats to the reaper folks they are awesome people) kickstarter is growing leaps and bounds every day.

    i can say for certainty all the "block buster" projects mentioned hear have one thing in common, they all provided one heck of product. in my case it was a nitch product in the form of hand crafted dice. in reapers case is was the ability to score a ton of really cool minis in the much much more affordable bones line. for oots, hell it oots who doesn't love rich burlew's comic? ogre looks like it's going to be a really sweet game, and pathfinder's online tech is a big hit with my gaming crew. so i guess i'd have to say to those folks that want to have success on kickstarter you need to start with a really cool product. other than that i'm not one to offer advice. hell i though i'd be begging folks to get the $300 dollars i was originally asking for, so you can place a safe bet that i had no clue what i was getting in to when i launched the artisan dice project.

    @squirre james - agreed reaper will most defiantly be doing the pledge management site to help get all the paypal folks. we did a tick over 10 grand in paypal backer the week after the artisan dice project ended and we still take order every day over at Artisan Dice Handcrafted Dice for the Discerning Gamer Artisan Dice. i can only imagine how much support reaper will get from paypal backers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    The mistake (from perhaps reporters like myself) is identifying them primarily as "Kickstarters" rather than "Here's a cool new RPG product coming soon!" - rather like if, a few years ago, I'd referred to every new project as "Funded By Bank Loan" or something. I'm looking at it more as "Holy crap, there's a lot of varied and exciting new RPG products around these days" and ignoring the fact that they're funded in the same way.
    That is a very good point - I won't plug my Kickstarter here - but, also feel that crowdfunding has opened a lot of possibilities for smaller companies and opened a vast resource of creativity.

    Lumping it up as "another Kickstarter project" soon turns the whole idea stale - it is hard to get something new and innovative off the ground in a room full of giants.

    I remember specifically how the Deadlands RPG changed my view on what you can do with a roleplaying game.

    We may soon see another "golden age" in RPGs.

    Keep up the good work.
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    Why, If Ogre is on that list, are not Zombicide and Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster on that list? Those two are actually pretty new properties, one from a virtually unknown maker, the other from a known sculptor. Not to mention that the Pathfinder thing is for an MMO (computer game).

    From the 20 $100k+ non-computer game projects only six were from established IPs.

    The Reaper Bones is essentially 90% old miniature sculpts in a new cheap material. The almost $3.5 million will probably spent on new production facilities for the new material, the 5+ million miniatures they'll have to produce (extra) in the next six months, and shipping, lots of shipping. The post office must love Kickstarter! ;-)

    The difference with most successful Kickstarter funded projects compared to different types of funding is both the customer and the developer get all the benefits instead of the bank/investors. The customer gets extra stuff, the developer doesn't pay interest or dividends, and has a large number of direct sales up front.
    Last edited by Cergorach; Monday, 27th August, 2012 at 10:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Kickstarter is most definitely a very popular method of funding RPG projects. There's been a lot of talk about how there are just too many of them, that they're dominating the news, and so on - I've even been part of that viewpoint at time as the deluge seems to simply increase. However, I do feel it's important to realise that it's simply a funding source - the cool part is the RPG product. The mistake (from perhaps reporters like myself) is identifying them primarily as "Kickstarters" rather than "Here's a cool new RPG product coming soon!" - rather like if, a few years ago, I'd referred to every new project as "Funded By Bank Loan" or something. I'm looking at it more as "Holy crap, there's a lot of varied and exciting new RPG products around these days" and ignoring the fact that they're funded in the same way.

    Good thinking, I think.
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    I agree that Kickstarter is just a new way to fund projects and that the real emphasis should be the cool new RPGs.

    At the same time, I think that Kickstarter makes it easier for new projects to get off the ground, so its increasing the number of RPGs out there.

    Also since anybody can start a Kickstarter projects, there are bound to be some out there that are real duds. In some ways its worse than the d20 glut because you only need a few hours and no money up front to get a Kickstarter campaign going.

    Also I am not at all surprised that known projects from big names do better. Books with big names also sell better.

    Cavemen, wizards, sky pirates, and cyborgs unite to stop an evil that threatens to destroy time itself. The Kronocalypse is now funding on Kickstarter!

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