Crowdfunding has certainly shaken up the world of tabletop games. Independent designers with good ideas got the chance to promote their creations. Some projects that would be difficult to sell in retail finally have a way of reaching their audience (e.g. huge games with lots of minis and multi digit price). Biggest players in the board game industry have also joined the race, and began using crowdfunding as their (often exclusive) way of introducing new products.
Kickstarter, despite leading the market by a huge margin, is by no means the only crowdfunding service used to promote and sell new board games. Many countries have developed their own local equivalents. These websites often target the needs of a very specific population and allow for things missing from Kickstarter like: better shipping pricing or additional project support for the creators.
And let’s not forget about industry specific crowdfunding websites. These are created as an attempt to promote tabletop gaming projects exclusively. This again allows for meeting the needs of a very specific audience and often includes bigger involvement from the platform itself: from marketing to manufacturing.
German Spieleschmiede (meaning “the forge of games”) is one of the greatest examples of local board game crowdfunding websites. They boast a whopping 229 funded projects, 13893 backers (that they call “smithies”) and over 3 million euro collected. Most projects are the local editions of games already successful worldwide. The current record breaker title belongs to the Champions of Midgard by Grey Fox Games.
Spieleschmiede defines their mission as bringing games, that wouldn’t otherwise appear on the market due to various limitations, to players. Comparing to websites like Kickstarter: it’s not possible to launch a project yourself. Instead creators need support from someone in the industry or hobbyist press. While this may sound limiting, such approach makes projects less risky and the backers are more likely to trust them.
Interestingly, Spieleschmiede is not Germany exclusive and ships worldwide. The site is available in 6 different languages and projects sometimes include the English version as well.
Game On (France / Worldwide)
While the concept may sound similar on the surface, the French crowdfunding service is quite different from its German counterpart. They’ve started under the name “Casus Belli” and initially targeted French market only. In 2017 the idea went through various changes, including a complete relaunch, this time targeting international audiences.
The service tries to offer something unique for both backers and publishers. The former can for example late pledge to get games, that are no longer available on Kickstarter. This includes some huge titles from creators like Mythic Games (Joan of Arc, Solomon Kane).
Publishers have access to a huge number of tools useful for hosting campaigns and allowing for some post campaign support. The site has its own pledge manager for projects hosted on Game On or other websites.
Campaigns can be automated on a whole new level and include:
- auto-unlocking stretch goals
- more customized pledge options
- adjusting shipping prices according to variables (like box weight).
Additional services include helping with marketing, manufacturing and shipping.
Inno (South Korea)
Let’s leave Europe and America and take a look at yet another continent…
Tabletop game creators from South Korea host their projects (or localizations of overseas games) on Inno – a website similar to the two mentioned before. According to the “About us” section, Inno is the only board game crowdfunding service in South Korea.
Campaigns hosted on Inno look and work similar to Kickstarter. You pick a reward and if the campaign is funded – you get your precious game some months later. When it comes to unique features – Inno has its own system of “badges”. These can be designed by every project creator and added to his campaign as a small picture. Badges are awarded to all backers (even if the project ends up failing).
The page claims, that the Korean market for board games isn’t huge, but they want to change that. It’s visible as apart from hosting campaigns, they also have their own BGG-like forum called BoardLife.
So far, over 1 million USD was pledged to projects on Inno, including This War of Mine by our fellow countrymen, Wingspan and recently Suburbia.
Local Kickstarter alternatives that focus strictly on board games, seem to pop up in many countries all over the world. They not only allow backers to save some money but also deliver translations that wouldn’t otherwise exist, or provide creators with tons of additional services that make designing and shipping games easier.
If you have one of these in your country, they’re often a great alternative to Kickstarter or sometimes: the only option when making your own project.