In 2019 board and card games were more popular on Kickstarter than ever before. Past year brought even more money to projects belonging to the “tabletop games” category and there were more campaigns hosted than ever. The shape of the market keeps changing and the way campaigns look and work evolves with every passing year. Bigger players keep moving towards Kickstarter, while tiny independent teams often have it harder.
Welcome to our yearly analysis. Time to take a look at what happened to Kickstarter tabletop game projects in 2019. Enjoy!
The Magnificent Twenty
Before we delve into big numbers and percentages, let’s look at what projects were the winners of 2019.
As you can see, Awaken Realms have their game on the very top spot second year in a row with Etherfields. Bloodborne, which adapts a video game of the same name, placed second and got over 4 million USD from backers. Trial by Trolley was another colossal success, especially considering it’s a party card game. It was created by one of the most popular webcomic artist teams – Cyanide and Happiness, so such high result is understandable.
Next: we had another huge project by CMON – the new edition of Zombicide. The campaign was wildly popular and kept growing steadily to reach $3,410,084 by the end.
Middara, a colossal, anime-style, campaign game managed to collect $2,575,192 and place 7th. That’s a crazy result, especially considering that it followed the original 2015 campaign which had problems with delivery. The authors remained honest with their backers and regained their trust. This led to topping the original campaign’s result by over 2,2 million USD.
The 2019 top 20 list also has 3 campaigns for tabletop gaming related accessories/products – a fancy set of dice, miniatures and a DnD 5e related supplement book.
Who Owns This Place
As we’ve mentioned earlier, 2019’s Kickstarter was being dominated by a bunch of big players, who use it as the main channel to sell their upcoming games. There’s a number of publishers that have been doing great since the board game boom started and they still maintain their positions. So who was most successful this time around?
CMON won when you count all the dollars pledged to their projects. After summing up the results achieved by Bloodborne, Zombicide 2nd Season and Trudvang Legends we get a whopping $8,916,529. Meanwhile Awaken Realms got $6,544,349 from their 2 campaigns (Etherfields and The Great Wall). That’s lower than what they did in 2018 by almost 4 million dollars and… is still incredible. Other big publishers have also experienced plenty of success stories, but failed to have more than one game in the top 20.
Succeeding in 2019
The number of campaigns increases every year since tabletop games started to be funded through Kickstarter. 2019 was no different in that matter: 4044 campaigns have been launched comparing to 2018’s 3500. That’s 13% more projects than last year.
So how hard was it to achieve success? Apparently, there were more successfully funded projects launched in 2019 than during any other year before it. The percentage of funded projects (versus the ones that have failed or got suspended) rose by 1% from 66 to 67 percent. As you can see, everything seems to grow in a stable, although not rapid manner.
Bucks and Backers
2019 also broke the records when it comes to sums of money collected from backers. 176 million USD have been pledged to all tabletop gaming related projects. That’s 11 million more than last year and twice as much as in 2015.
There were 38 campaigns that have collected over 1 million USD in pledges. 9 managed to reach 2 million, 5 got to 3 million and only 2 campaigns, Etherfields and Bloodborne, have collected more than 4 million dollars.
Now let’s look at backer numbers. These can vary a lot between successful campaigns. Tiny party games often top this ranking as they’re usually a small investment, have short shipping times and are often a buyer’s-remorse-free impulse buys.
The game, that made the most people pledge their hard earned money was Trial by Trolley (55.000 backers). It was followed by another party game – Throw Throw Burrito (53.000 backers). Etherfields, despite being much more expensive, placed third with 32.000 backers. Turmoil, an expansion to Terraforming Mars, was fourth with 26.000 and Muffin Time, another party game at 25.000. Overall: 33 games managed to have more than 10.000 backers.
Not Only Kickstarter
The entire tabletop market outside of Kickstarter seems to be expanding a lot as well. Players, who don’t need to get a game at launch or have no idea about the existence of crowdfunding, tend to buy their games at FLGS or online stores (either hobbyist or regular ones like Amazon).
Constant growth can be attributed to plenty of factors. First of all: it’s the appearance of modern board games. Next: the fact that board games are now often considered “trendy”, and more people get the chance to try them. That includes gaming events in many companies/corporations and groups of friends getting other people into their hobby. Board game cafes, that have been popping all over the world, also do a great job at making the market grow faster and popularizing board games.
According to the amazing research conducted by Technavio and posted on Businesswire: board and card game market will grow by over 5 billion US dollars between 2019 and 2023, with a CAGR of 17%.
The Bottom Line
By the end of they day, It’s clear that tabletop games were doing incredibly well in 2019 both in retail as well as on Kickstarter. The campaigns hosted on KS had insane amount of backers, sometimes reaching 55 thousands.
The Kickstarter creators had more money pledged to their projects than ever before, although a huge part of it of it was divided between major players. Smaller ones have settled for less, picking lower funding goals and reaching them despite all odds. Thanks to that the number of projects, including plenty of successful ones, rose a lot. More and more people are warming up to the idea of publishing games with the help of Kickstarter. Same with the producers of tabletop gaming related accessories and RPGs.
We’re expecting most of these trends to continue in 2020. People discussing on Facebook groups and online forums often say that they’re getting burned out on expensive Kickstarter games, but these still continue to sell and most likely still will. The launches of Frosthaven, 7th Citadel and Ankh will without doubt attract plenty of backers to Kickstarter platform this year as well.