On Kickstarter There Are More Successful Projects But Creators Earning 30% Less

More successful campaigns but smaller shares of the pie!

Screenshot 2024-02-01 at 16.07.35.png

A report from Polygon, which used data from Tabletop Analytics ( site which collects data about Kickstarter campaigns) indicates that while the tabletop segment of the crowdfunding platform is still growing, individual creators are getting smaller shares of the pie.

Individual creators earned an average of 30% less in 2023 compared to 2019, despite there being 22% more successful campaigns.

Interestingly, Kickstarter has historically shared data directly, but this year has declined to do so. Head of Communications at Kickstarter, Nikki Kris, told Polygon that "We’re not disclosing specifics around the total dollars raised at this time". However the data is available from Tabletop Analytics which draws from the public-facing campaign data on the platform.

In 2023 Kickstarter as a whole earned $10.2 million less from tabletop than in 2022; but in 2021 the decline was far steeper, a drop of $33.6 million--most likely caused by the ending of the pandemic lockdowns. However, it's still $50 million up from before the pandemic, while individual creators are 30% down. More campaigns, less money for each one.

Of course, the number of TTRPG million-dollar Kickstarters doesn't seem to be suffering. 11 in 2021, a drop to 7 in 2022, and then 10 more in 2023. Kickstarter is also starting to face competition from Backerkit which is starting to get a few million-dollar campaigns of its own.

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Another data point to throw out there.

The central premise of the article seems to be that the amount individual projects is raising is lower than before.

I know that I as a publisher am running campaigns for smaller books than I used to with smaller goals. With things like Zine Quest I'm not the only one. I've got a Kickstarter running for a small PDF right now. I know it's going to be an order of magnitude smaller than the $20,000 I've raised for a large hardcover book, but I'm doing that on purpose and things are going how I expect them to go.

So I'm making less money per project, but since they are smaller I can do more of them, and make more money overall.
Yeah we run a lot of little ‘quickstarters’—10 days, small product, quick fulfilment. Each is small but they add up. Intermixed with larger projects of course.
 

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undeliverable KS i think has a large impact,
Honestly, I'm not so sure? The vast vast majority of kickstarters seem to get delivered. Late, usually, but they get there within a not-ludicrous timeframe (and honestly, anyone backing a KS probably should factor in a reasonable 'inevitable time overrun' buffer, especially if any physical rewards are offered). There's a few prominent ones that have been complete no-shows or have been years late (Far West, 7th Sea Khitai, etc), but they're mostly easy to name because they're so notorious. Not that this helps improve the mood of a backer of one of those campaigns, but I don't see any indication that people are backing away from KS as a platform. More that the funding butter is being spread over too many slices of campaign bread.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Honestly, I'm not so sure? The vast vast majority of kickstarters seem to get delivered. Late, usually, but they get there within a not-ludicrous timeframe (and honestly, anyone backing a KS probably should factor in a reasonable 'inevitable time overrun' buffer, especially if any physical rewards are offered). There's a few prominent ones that have been complete no-shows or have been years late (Far Wats, 7th Sea Khitai, etc), but they're mostly easy to name because they're so notorious. Not that this helps improve the mood of a backer of one of those campaigns, but I don't see any indication that people are backing away from KS as a platform. More that the funding butter is being spread over too many slices of campaign bread.
Yeah there’s late ones but I’ve never had one not deliver at all.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Backerkit needs to step up what it offers on the backer-side. Kickstarter is by no means perfect, but it's vastly more user-friendly for backers, especially those who don't back projects regularly (which is where all of the growth is, by definition).
How so? Many of the Kickstarter projects I've backed over the years were fulfilled by Bakerkit already. Bakerkit is what made Kickstarter more user friendly for me as a backer. For those projects I've backed directly on Backerkit, I can't think of anything that made it less convenient than Kickstarter.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
How so? Many of the Kickstarter projects I've backed over the years were fulfilled by Bakerkit already. Bakerkit is what made Kickstarter more user friendly for me as a backer. For those projects I've backed directly on Backerkit, I can't think of anything that made it less convenient than Kickstarter.
Yeah gotta agree. Backerkit is the one with the features. Kickstarter is the one with the traffic.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
How so? Many of the Kickstarter projects I've backed over the years were fulfilled by Bakerkit already. Bakerkit is what made Kickstarter more user friendly for me as a backer. For those projects I've backed directly on Backerkit, I can't think of anything that made it less convenient than Kickstarter.
Have you backed a campaign run purely on Backerkit? The fulfillment end is great, I agree, but their version of the user-facing side of Kickstarter is pretty lackluster, with information often harder to find, no automatic nag button to prompt updates 30 days after the last update from the campaign, and the overall page organization is poor. And discovery through the front page isn't nearly as good.

Backerkit decided to compete directly with Kickstarter, but their UI people don't seem to have actually looked at the Kickstarter site and see what it offers. The result is a page that feels like a beta, but which has hung around for an awful long time without improvements.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
I mostly backed a few projects from CMON on backerkit, that were not really crowdfunding, but more preorders. That was very straightforward.

But looking at Mementomori on Backerkit makes me understand why some say it's less userfriendly then KS. But I have to wonder how much is the fault of the team doing the crowdfunding and how much it's Backerkit's fault... I like the bookmarks on the left of the page, that quickly allow you to go to a section, like pledges, which are described/organized horribly. Then there is also a tab that goes to the pledges you can pledge for, same name, but a lot more clear. The first is done by the Mementomori team, the second is default functionality of Backerkit (instead of all the pledges on the right on KS).

Now, I've always found the Backerkit site an absolute mess to navigate on. With KS you always come back to the KS main page, with BK it's always a maze of pages and links, better hope you're in the right section of the site! It's a bit better then in the past, but you see it happen still quite often.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Have you backed a campaign run purely on Backerkit? The fulfillment end is great, I agree, but their version of the user-facing side of Kickstarter is pretty lackluster, with information often harder to find, no automatic nag button to prompt updates 30 days after the last update from the campaign, and the overall page organization is poor. And discovery through the front page isn't nearly as good.

Backerkit decided to compete directly with Kickstarter, but their UI people don't seem to have actually looked at the Kickstarter site and see what it offers. The result is a page that feels like a beta, but which has hung around for an awful long time without improvements.
Fair enough. Perhaps Kickstarter is better for engagement, but I can't really comment. I generally don't engage in comments and really only check on status of my backed projects every month or so. I read any updates as I get them by e-mail most of the time. When I used to rubber-neck the comments threads on lagging or failed campaigns on Kickstarter, the nag-for-an-update button never seemed to make much of a difference.

Out of curiosity I just loaded both BackerKit and Kickstarter in side by side windows on my screen. After comparing the two, I have to say that I now agree with you. I think Kickstarter's interface provides a superior backer experience, with one very important exception--fulfillment. Bakerkit is MUCH more customer friendly for managing your pleges, tracking order status, and updating your deliver address (as you acknowledged in your post). Below are the results of my side-by-side comparison.

Home/Front page. For me both are similar. Highlighting new projects, most successful projects, projects their algorithms think I might be interested in. Backer kit has some more interactive elements like polls. Mostly I find find neither particularly useful for me personally and I generally spend little time on the front pages of these sites. Both have a user icon to access your account info in the upper right of the page with a search icon next to it. Kickstarter has a prominent link at the top of the site to "Start a Project" for creators. Bakerkit doesn't. Doesn't matter for me as a 100% baker/consumer. Bakerkit has a mountain icon acting as the home button for the top navigation. Kickstarter uses it logo. Kickstarter has a clear "discover" text link with some of the more popular categories listed in a horizontal text menu. Bakerkit has a hamburger icon you have to click on to pull up the discover menu. The former may be a bit more convenienct with one less click, but the later gives a cleaner and less messy page design. I find both pretty much the same, with a slight preference for Bakerkit. But I don't find either ideal. I would prefer highlighting the status of projects I'm currently backing right on the home page, but I understand why they want to use this space to advertise and entice you to click on new projects.

Account drop-down menus. When you click on your account icon in the upper-right of the screen for both site, it opens a drop-down to access status of your current project, account info, etc. For me, Kickstarter is the clear winner here, mostly because it will list your most recently backed projects right in this lisk. Which can save a click. Also, Kickstarter allows you to quickly jump to your messages and recent backed-campaigns activity feed right from the menu. Backerkit's drop down is "cleaner" but Kickstarter's is more convenient. For me Kickstarter is the better UI for me in this respect.

Backerkit's account drop-down menu on left, Kickstarter's on the right.

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1707090707858.png


All Pledges/Backed Projects Pages.
Kickstarter is the clear winner for me. Backerkit lists the projects but it is not interactive or useful beyond a click-through list. The Kickstarter list how has features that allow you click and confirm which projects you have received, making it a checklist of sorts and making it easier to know which projects you may want to keep an eye on and check up on. It also alerts you of any new direct messages from that project that you can click through to the message directly. Backerkit doesn't even have an in-site direct creator-to-backer messaging feature. Perhaps they find the project updates on the project page plus e-mail messages sufficient. But I've found the Kickstarter messaging feature to be very helpful over the years. The Kickstarter list also allows you to show how you feel about each project. I have no idea how impactful that is, but I do use it.

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Project Pages. The pages with the project details, project updates, your pledge details, and comments. Kickstarter is a much more pleasant layout and much easier to navigate. Bakerkit's project pages are serviceable, but look messier. I much prefer reading about projects and following updates on on the Kickstarter pages than the Bakerkit pages. I also like having comments in a separate tab. It is just cleaner. Not a big deal for me as I'm not spending a lot of time interacting with the project pages after I've backed a project, but Kickstarter is the clear winner her for me. I'm not giving screenshots here as I would have to give multiple large, long scroll captures or videos to give a good comparison.

Fulfillment Tracking. Bakerkit is the clear winner here, because Kickstarter really doesn't offer this, except when creators deliver product via special links shared through direct messages. Most of the Kickstarter projects I back use Backerkit for fulfillment. I can click directly to deliver information, surveys, update my delivery information, etc. all from links from Backerkit project pages. Or I can go to "My Surveys" page in Bakerkit and see a list of my projects in BOTH Bakerkit AND all the Kickstarter projects I've back that use Bakerkit for fulfillment and see my order status. I can also update my shipping address for ALL outstand projects at once. It is a huge convenient. In Kickstarter for nearly any project I check I see people asking about how to update their address because they've moved since backing a project, asking about shipping status, and all of that has to be handled by project updates, FAQs, and comments, usually with links and instructions for other fulfillment websites, usually Bakerkit. Bakerkit is the clear winner here and it is a big advantage addressing a common point of confusion and frustration for backers on Kickstarter.
 

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agrayday

Explorer
Honestly, I'm not so sure? The vast vast majority of kickstarters seem to get delivered. Late, usually, but they get there within a not-ludicrous timeframe (and honestly, anyone backing a KS probably should factor in a reasonable 'inevitable time overrun' buffer, especially if any physical rewards are offered). There's a few prominent ones that have been complete no-shows or have been years late (Far West, 7th Sea Khitai, etc), but they're mostly easy to name because they're so notorious. Not that this helps improve the mood of a backer of one of those campaigns, but I don't see any indication that people are backing away from KS as a platform. More that the funding butter is being spread over too many slices of campaign bread.
I should have been clear in that i was just speaking lumping rpgs & tabletop boardgames together as far as where people like to shop and decide to fund projects. My impression is, people prefer gamefound but mostly boardgames and there are RPGs on there as well. I know myself have at least 5 indie projects that never delivered on KS (one of the creators just changes his name and is still creating projects under several different names). There are some very large boardgame projects that have not delivered.
 
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