Tag Archives: video games

Data Analysis: How does category influence Kickstarter project success?

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“Wasteland 2” from InXile Entertainment made $2.9 million in Kickstarter contributions, but are games generally more likely to be funded than other projects? Image from incgamers.

As my semester in WVU’s Blogging and Interactive Journalism class is coming to an end, I am taking a break from the blog to concentrate on completing my master’s thesis. This will be my last post until the end of the school year in May.

A question I’ve often had in reading about Kickstarter is whether the category of a project influences how successful the project will be.

The games category has made the most money. Technology and film & video projects tend to be featured most prominently in the news (as far as Kickstarter campaigns go, anyway). Music on crowdfunding is popular enough to have its own site.

Does the prominence of these categories lead them to have more visibility in the Kickstarter world? Are fanbases stronger for these categories?

In September, Crowdfund Insider compiled a list of the top 50 campaigns that made the most money in pledges and grouped them into categories.

Note that this list does not use Kickstarter’s official category names, so some projects may have been in different categories when they were posted on Kickstarter.

I’ve arranged the data in the chart below. For purposes of simplicity, I combined “games” and “tabletop games” into one category.

Kickstarter Chart 1

As expected, due to their high total funds, the games projects had the greatest representation on the list, with video games holding 19 of the top 50 spots and tabletop games holding 10. Product design made the next best showing with eight, followed by technology with five. The remaining categories all had one or two projects featured on the list.

The chart below illustrates the prominence of games, which outnumbered the other categories combined by a margin of 29 to 21.

Kickstarter Chart 2

One can see, then, that the categories related to games and technological products are probably more likely to bring in a large amount of money.

To a large extent, this tendency is inherent in the nature of the projects. Developing a complex video game or a smartwatch is an expensive endeavor, so successful campaigns require large amounts in pledges.

In addition, Kickstarter has taken off as a widely used platform in some communities more than others.

Crowdlifted looked at Kickstarter’s statistics to determine the top five categories with the highest total numbers of projects (successful and unsuccessful). From most projects to fewest, the categories were film & video, music, publishing, art, and games.

Despite the prominence of Kickstarter in those communities, the greatest chances for successfully funding a Kickstarter project lie elsewhere.

SFGate compiled a list of every Kickstarter category’s percentage of projects that are successfully funded, as well as other statistics. The chart below shows each category’s success rate.

Kickstarter Chart 3

Dance, with 71 percent success, and theatre, with 64 percent, have the highest success rates by a considerable margin. Music is the only other category to have a success rate higher than 50 percent.

Again, cost is certainly a factor. The average successful dance project raises about $4,300, which is the smallest average of all the categories. Unsurprisingly, the category with the highest average is technology, which averages around $75,000.

Because dance requires less money, it has a greater chance of success. But cost is not the only factor.

The average prices for theatre, music, and art are not much higher than dance, yet dance has a considerably higher success rate than theatre, which has a considerably higher success rate than music and art.

The amount of competition is likely a factor. Though Kickstarter is not necessarily a market, anything people spend money on competes for that money.

Because dance and theatre are less popular categories, there are not as many projects posted to attract pledges, allowing the projects that are posted to receive more of the money backers have budgeted for supporting Kickstarter campaigns.

On a less “cold” economic note, dance and theatre projects are more likely to be tailored to one specific geographic location than most of the other categories, so the focus in local communities can bolster interest in a project.

Ultimately, it’s the interest in supporting a creative campaign that drives Kickstarter, but the volume of competition a project faces certainly plays a role.

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Fans Kickstart their own superhero successor with “City of Titans”

A group of fans of the now-defunct online game "City of Heroes" used Kickstarter to fund a new MMORPG, "City of Titans." Image from the "City of Titans" Kickstarter page.
A group of fans of the defunct online game “City of Heroes” used Kickstarter to fund a new MMORPG, “City of Titans.” Image from the “City of Titans” Kickstarter page.

Driven by a dedicated fanbase, superhero-based MMORPG City of Titans finished its Kickstarter campaign this week with about $678,000—more than twice its funding goal.

Developer Missing Worlds Media is a group of fans of City of Heroes, the first MMORPG to feature a superhero setting and characters, who wanted to fill the void in the genre after City of Heroes shut down in late 2012 with the closing of its developer, Paragon Studios.

For the eight-and-a-half years of its existence, City of Heroes had an enthusiastic fan following (as evidenced by this account of its final night) and persisted in a genre where many games struggle to maintain an audience.

City of Titans was conceived as a spiritual successor to City of Heroes, but the developers stress that it is a not a clone of the old favorite.

“We have an opportunity here to build a modern game, respectful of the play style, lessons, and fun of the old game, while taking advantage of the more than ten years of industry development since our spiritual predecessor started development,” said the project creators on their Kickstarter page.

Characters from "City of Heroes." Image from GameSpot.
Characters from “City of Heroes.” Image from GameSpot.

Missing Worlds Media is staffed entirely by volunteers, with more than 100 people working on the game.

City of Titans is slated for release in November 2015. The plan is for the game to be sold through its website and other digital distribution platforms such as Steam. It will be free to play but will include “VIP” subscriptions with premium features.

The concept of a community-driven game is the kind of utopian idea Kickstarter champions. Though it does tend to have a store-like quality about its projects, Kickstarter wants to promote feelings of community between creators and backers.

I generally do not feel like Kickstarter facilitates all that much of a participatory culture between parties (did people feel like they were creating Cards Against Humanity, or did they just want a good deal on a cool-sounding game?), but fan influence on City of Titans seems exceptional.

An online multiplayer game made by a fan community of people each contributing their skills to an interactive whole? Henry Jenkins would lose sleep from all the excitement.

The game has its detractors, too, and they raise some compelling points (as seen in the comments sections of Polygon and Joystiq).

Missing Worlds Media's staff will be made up entirely of volunteers, as indicated in this image from the "City of TItans" Kickstarter page.
Missing Worlds Media’s staff will be made up entirely of volunteers, as indicated in this image from the “City of TItans” Kickstarter page.

Some wonder if the creators, having limited experience with the developer side of video games, will be able to create new in-game content at the same rate people play through it. Another concern is that operating costs will prohibit the game from being around very long.

How the game’s development plays out remains to be seen, but Missing Worlds Media appears to have thought things out well—its Kickstarter page features an extensive review of its budget and staff.

Also at issue is where the money will go if the game makes profits. Will the money be distributed to all the volunteers who work on the game? Will the game be able to sustain a volunteer-only means of operation?

If I were playing City of Titans, I would not be too concerned about the volunteer system. I doubt the game will make profits; it seems more likely that any money made beyond covering expenses would be used for more in-game content. And if some volunteers did not want to work on the game anymore, there is a fanbase in which to find new ones.

What do you think? Will a for-fans-by-fans game work?