Average Jane, Hans and recently Takashi can share whatever they create on Kickstarter and (hopefully) make it big. The ones who go beyond just “big” are the true titans of Kickstarter, veterans who turned the platform into fuel powering their businesses. Boasting tens of successful campaigns, with millions of dollars pledged, they take topmost spots in all rankings related to the platform.
Today we wanted to have a look at the biggest Kickstarter creators, check out how they operate and if possible, get some inspiration from their approaches.
5 – Monolith Board Games LLC – $10,899,245
The fifth place in our ranking is taken by Monolith, a 4 years old company that is currently hard at work with their third game. Their recipe for success is very specific. Monolith focuses on games based on popular licenses. They’re able to get these thanks to partnership with Bombyx, a well known french publisher. They began with Conan the Barbarian and delivered a well received game that collected over 3 million dollars.
After Conan, they managed to get their hands on Batman license, which resulted in Batman: Gotham City Chronicles. The recently finished campaign offered plenty of expansions from the get go, and most of these promised exclusive detailed miniatures of fan favourite villains and characters. Over 4.4 million USD was pledged to kickstart this game with average pledges as high as 320 USD.
4 – Dwarven Forge – $11,245,120
While not really games by themselves, products by Dwarven Forge take the honorable fourth spot of top grossing Kickstarter tabletop category creator list. Established by Stefan Pokorny, a long time fan and player of Dungeons & Dragons, they started their company in 1996. As a talented sculptor, Stefan wanted to create detailed terrains for use in his favourite game.
In 2013 Dwarven Forge joined Kickstarter and since then, they’ve been selling lots of sculpted miniature dungeons with tons of customization options. Most of their products are really pricey (which leads to high pledges), but the quality makes up for that.
3 – Elan Lee – $11,998,250
Kickstarter never fails to surprise. Exploding Kittens made by an ex-XBOX developer, became a colossal phenomenon and topped many complicated tabletop game campaigns by sheer power of humor, absurd and top notch viral marketing. The community of four million fans gathered around Matthew Boyd Inman, the illustrator of the game, also was a key factor in the success.
The tagline says: “This is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats”. Exploding Kittens, despite being a simple party card game, managed to collect over 8 million dollars followed by Elan Lee’s next game: Bears vs Babies, that got to 3 million.
2 – Kingdom Death – $14,444,601
Second place in the top grossing ranking goes to these guys. Well, they certainly can’t boast creating 30 games like CMON team. In fact they have created only…. one (named Kingdom Death). Their other campaigns include expanded version of the game and some early attempt at selling figurines on Kickstarter.
How to explain Kingdom Death’s phenomenon? By pledge prices. The game feels ultra premium. 400 USD for the basic version may feel insane, but when you look at the contents of the box (well, more like a trunk), it begins to make sense. 18 miniatures, 1000 game cards, 400 illustrations and other elements to make your table cry for some fresh air.
1 – Cool Mini or Not – $40,724,286
Easily the leaders in the Kickstarter tabletop race. They began as miniature figurine makers. It gets pretty obvious, if you take a look at the majority of their games. CMON perfected the figurine-campaign-bait strategy and uses it masterfully. They craft detailed statuettes that work like a magnet for each of their announcements.
CMON has published a total of 29 projects, 30 if you count the currently running campaign for Zombicide: Invader. Most of their games get at least one million USD in pledges. That obviously excludes their biggest franchise – Zombicide. The ever popular undead-smashing-miniature-game gathers thousands of backers each time a new variant gets announced. And let’s not kid ourselves: stunning figurines are the main selling point here yet again.
Judging from the examples above, if you wish to ever make it really big on Kickstarter you should invest in plastic miniatures, famous million dollar licenses, make expensive yet rewarding pledge options for 400 USD… or like the “Exploding Kittens” campaign – be funny and get a good marketer.