The Board Game Design Course

Where great games begin

Game Design

Of course you should use Kickstarter! Except…

There are a number of crowdfunding sites online, but since Kickstarter has really shown itself to be the go-to place for board games, we’ll focus our attention here.

If you’re familiar with Kickstarter, you’ve no doubt seen some of the huge success stories. Tabletop games generally do fairly well on this platform, and there have even some many games that have made millions of dollars here (or have gone on to make millions). However, there are a few things they don’t tell you.

For example, while board games have a relatively high success rate of around 50%, many of the goals are very low and are just barely met. You might have a successful campaign, however, you may only bring in $5,000-$10,000 in revenue. Remember as well that this is revenue, not profit – you still have to deliver a game to all your backers.

This amount may not even be enough to cover your first print run. Moreover, while there is minimal risk, at least up until you meet your funding goal, if you don’t budget well or take into account any of the possible problems that could arise, you could actually lose money on the project. It’s easy to highlight the big successes, but in reality, about 1% of board game campaigns are bringing in nearly half of all the money.

And why do the successful campaigns make so much money? It’s usually because the creator is well-known, and the project has some really phenomenal marketing behind it. If nobody knows who you are and you haven’t been promoting this game heavily leading up to your launch, you’re unlikely to be very successful.

Oh, and all the stats I’ve mentioned above? They’re based on projects that were completed. Cancelled projects are not included in these numbers. So the success rate is also inflated.

Did I mention that if you run a Kickstarter campaign and are successful, you’ll now be running your own business? You’ll have to take on all the responsibilities, and will have to figure out shipping, manufacturing, fulfillment, marketing, and all the other things that go along with running a business.

You must be good at budgeting and considering all possible contingencies because if you miss one thing, your once-profitable project will now be losing money. You’re taking on all the risk, but also getting all the rewards.

I’ve run multiple Kickstarter campaigns and they were a lot of work. This included the preparation, running the actual campaign, and everything that you need to do to get your game out to backers afterwards. Almost everyone I’ve talked to who has run a Kickstarter campaign has also said it was a lot more work than he or she ever expected. Oh, and you probably also have a day job, right? These are just a few of the things you want to keep in mind.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use Kickstarter. You’ll just want to keep all this in mind if you do!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Are you thinking about using Kickstarter for your game? If so, why?

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    Kickstarter or gamefound. And the things you mentioned i.e. marketing, fulfillment; those are kicking around in my head. Still years away, only first prototype completed as I’ve recently believe I have figured out the car combat aspect of my game. Now to test it out.

    Hey, Christopher! Yes, first prototype, playtesting, and development all come first. For a first-time or most any other indie creator, I would lean towards Kickstarter. They just have such a built-in audience that knows crowdfunding well, so it’s usually easier to find more interested backers.

    This is spot on. I successfully ran and fulfilled a Kickstarter in 2022 and everything here rings true. I’d also add that many backers these days won’t back an unfunded project, so you need to make your goal less than you really need so it gets funded quickly. Which means you are willing to put up money to get a big print run if need be and then hopefully make your money back over the course of years potentially. That said I’m doing it all again in March, whee!

    Thanks, Shawn! Yes, people like to back a winner, so the sooner you can get your game funded, the better it will be for your campaign. However, you have to be careful about setting your goal artificially low. It may help you to fund sooner but if you don’t surpass your goal by much, you could come up short. Then, you either need to be able to fund the remainder on your own or cancel (which doesn’t look good for a funded project).

    Good luck with your upcoming campaign!