A number of Wii U — and to a lesser extent 3DS — projects have emerged through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Some have arrived with publisher support, such as Cloudberry Kingdom, other examples like Shovel Knight are legitimately well on the way, and a series of others are well into development or a little way off. Even in the most notable examples — like these projects from Yacht Club Games and Pwnee Studios — there can be important considerations; the former has been delayed from its initial September 2013 target, while the latter was actually published by Ubisoft when it finally came to market.
Of greater concern, perhaps, are those projects that are never actually delivered. Blog Evil As A Hobby has posted a detailed analysis — including a full disclosure of the data used — to explore projects launched between 2009 and 2012 and break down their success in delivering to backers. The headline table, below, shows the percentages of delivery rates for each year from 2009 to 2012, with the remaining percentage not shown indicating those ongoing in each respective year. The following table and excerpt breaks down key results (with slightly different categorisations) year by year.
For a side-by-side comparison of the results from then versus now, you’ve got to add the fully delivery and partly delivered projects together, so that you see:
2009: 40% in October 2012 delivery versus 60% delivery by the end of December 2013 (which means only one extra project has delivered from this time period in 2013)
2010: 33% delivery then versus 38% delivery now (which is, again, only one extra project delivering something to its backers)
2011: 30% delivery then versus 42% delivery now (about 8 extra projects fully or partly delivering since the original examination)
2012: Can’t really compare the two results since the previous recording was just a part measure
The analysis goes on to point out that the majority of successful Kickstarter campaigns are for less than $20,000, highlighting the platform's role in supporting smaller projects. In perhaps the most worrying table, however, it's shown that projects from 2009 to 2012 have more money owed to backers than have been fully delivered, as of 2013. In numbers, this means that "US$16.9m in backer contributions have delivered partly or fully on their pitch, while there is US$21.6m left outstanding in undelivered projects", which is excluding formally cancelled projects.
Kickstarter is an inescapable part of modern game development, and has proven a valuable funding source for a number of exciting projects; we'll continue to share examples that seem full of promise. Despite this, these appear to be damaging numbers. We'll do some digging of our own but, in the meantime, share your thoughts on this in the comments below.