Is Kickstarter for Video Games Dead?

Eurogamer took it upon themselves to launch "an investigation" into whether Kickstarter for video games has fizzled over time. They point to the downward trend of funds being pledged for video games on the service, while also chatting with inXile's Brian Fargo and Larian's Swen Vincke about the success that Fig is enjoying with Wasteland 3, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, and other titles in its stead.

Of course, it helps that Brian, Feargus Urquhart, and Tim Schafer are the ones behind Fig, but there's certainly nothing wrong with multiple competitors in this space as it can only be helpful for us consumers:
The multi-million-dollar video game success stories kept rolling in. Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Oculus Rift, Ouya, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Mighty No. 9. Hit after hit after hit; it seemed like anything could work - and so everybody tried. Approximately 300 games struck out on Kickstarter in 2011; in 2012, approximately 1400; a year later, 1800. Graphs that look like houses next to skyscrapers.

But how long could it last? How many nostalgic holes were there left to fill? As Brian Fargo puts it: "How many franchises can we go back and say, 'Well if that one were to cut free...?'" Maybe a Baldur's Gate 3 still could, he muses, but "the velocity has changed forever".

People started getting fed up of hearing about Kickstarter campaigns, and press got tired writing about it. It's hardly remarkable when hundreds of games are doing the same thing. "In 2013 we would do an update, just a simple update to show off a screenshot or a music piece, and you guys would cover it!" says Fargo. "We would get coverage constantly throughout the campaign. Flash forwards to now and from a press perspective Kickstarter is fingernails on the chalkboard."


People trust Kickstarter, too - the game creators and game backers alike. I ask Swen Vincke, founder of Larian Studios - maker of Divinity: Original Sin, a series that has had great success on Kickstarter - whether he'd consider Fig because he sounds keen. "It really depends on what it would be for," he says. "Kickstarter has been really good for us, and the community we get out of it is our core community, and we get a lot of back and forth with them. I'm 100 per cent sure Original Sin 1 and Original Sin 2 wouldn't be the games they are if not for those guys. I consider them almost part of my development process."

These are among the reasons people still turn down Fargo's Fig advances. "I'll say, 'You might want to consider Fig because you get a second class of investor, you get to double your audience up.' I give that pitch and they still want to go to Kickstarter," Fargo says. "There are still people wedded to that."

But for how long? "Once a Fig game goes out and people can say, 'Hey I just got a 40 per cent return on my money...' That's going to be a real game-changer. You'll have a group of people saying, 'I don't even care what type of game it is, I just know I make money on the darned things.'"