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Gamefound VS Kickstarter – Comparing Crowdfunding Platforms

When Kickstarter launched back in 2009 nobody expected it to change the way we buy many products so much. Various markets embraced crowdfunding, while some legendary disappointments happened as well. Still, without doubt no market went though such a colossal change as the board game publishing industry. Tabletop games (and accessories usable with them) make for 25-30% of all Kickstarter projects nowadays.

Kickstarter Appears

In the beginning getting a hundred backers was considered a miracle and a crazy achievement. In the first year the highest tabletop gaming related product was a rulebook for The Reign Enchiridion role playing game with over $6000 collected and nearly 250 backers

A few years later in 2013 Zombicide was already reigning supreme along Kingdom Death – both of which got to 2 million US dollars pledged by backers. The platform was certainly becoming bigger but the golden years were still a bit away.

Kickstarter main page

Since 2015 the numbers started getting crazy. A fun little party game known as Exploding Kittens attracted almost 220.000 backers and got over 8 million dollars in funding. Current record holders are Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 (12.393.139 USD pledged) and Frosthaven (12.969.162 USD).

Change Desperately Needed

While the numbers are rising a certain stagation is starting to be visible. Big established game brands and publishers are still incredibly successful but many new creators have trouble competing against them.This is quite likely unavoidable, since the crowdfunding model has proven to be effective for board game buyers. Just look at what Hasbro did recently with Hero Quest. 

Still, Kickstarter as a tool has been feeling stale for a while. The need to use separate “pledge manager” platforms, modifying pledges based on add-on choices, counting shipping costs specific for your country. All of these make campaigns chaotic and unappealing, especially to a less Kickstarter savvy audience. 

Lucklily there’s really no motivational tool as good as healthy competition. And we might just be witnessing the birth of a pretty strong one.

Gamefound Enters the Stage

Gamefound the pledge manager

If you’re interested in getting games through crowdfunding then you must have heard about Gamefound. One of the few pledge manager services available on the market and established by Awaken Realms – a board game publishing company based in Poland. Ever heard about Nemesis, This War of Mine or Tainted Grail? They’re the guys responsible for the huge successes of these games. Their pledge manager can also be considered a success as more and more creators are using it each month. It also happens to be free, at least for now.

Last week brought news that barely anyone expected. Gamefound is going to become an alternative to Kickstarter. A tabletop game focused crowdfunding platform with many never before seen functionalities and a pledge manager included in it. The first project hosted there will be a long awaited space exploration game ISS Vanguard. You can already see its preview page here.

Campaign for ISS Vanguard (preview)

New Features

First huge innovation that Gamefound is going to introduce will be the way they handle stretch goals. Instead of creating an image and altering it manually when the project reaches a certain sum, the creators will be able to make an automated stretch goal list that updates when reaching certain goals. The next unlockable SG will also be shown right away.

Gamefound’s mock-up stretch goal list

Add-ons will also be much easier to deal with too. All you’ll have to do is click the ones you want, and they will be added to your pledge automatically. No need to bother with choosing them after the campaign and summing all the prices.

Gamefound’s mock-up add-on list

Pledges themselves will be presented in a much more visual manner with pictures representing each component and expansion you will be getting.

Mini Wizard is another great feature, especially for these new to the platform or to crowdfunding in general. It’s going to lead people visiting a project through the entire backing process, explain each little detail and help with avoiding confusion that often scares newcomers away.

Improving Communication

According to Marcin Świerkot from AR they want to create a platform that’s backer and creator friendly. “The best way to build community is to build trust” says Marcin. He also encourages people using their platform to share new ideas on how it can be improved. The Gamefound community is going to be the central part of the entire system.

Kickstarter has always had a problem when you wanted to talk with their staff or communicate with the publisher in the clogged comment section. “They could do a better job communicating with creators and backers” says Marcin. To resolve that, Gamefound will use a lot of moderation and introduce hashtags in the comments to make searching for topics that interest you easier. Same with @mentions where you can call the creators faster.

Upcoming Tools for Creators

Gamefound’s mock-up creator tools

Project creators are also going to see many new features that are missing from Kickstarter. Apart from the add-ons and stretch goal automation mentioned above, Gamefound will successively add new tools starting with automated invoices

Later on the platform is also supposed to add a helpful calculator for production costs so that you can focus on designing the game instead of spending ages in Excel. This would help in informing creators whether their plan is realistic and can be completed. Similar functionality is planned with shipping costs. In one of the interviews Marcin goes as far as to say that they would like to create an algorithm that would do all the maths by itself in the future.

People responsible for Gamefound are also planning to check projects out before they launch. As Marcin Świerkot says “We want to take [next] 3-4 months where we’ll only hand-select the few projects that we want to put in and support them”. This is planned to avoid unsuccessful campaigns and help creators who would benefit from some more polish. Backers should also gain a bit more trust thanks to that. 

Right now Gamefound is free to use but some premium programs will likely follow, especially considering all these creator related features coming soon. At first it will be a set of useful tools, while later on becoming a highly automated platform inspired by Valve’s Steam.

Kickstarter Keeps Developing

Kickstarter (left) and Gamefound (right)

Meanwhile Kickstarter isn’t sleeping. While it’s the dominant crowdfunding platform and is quite likely to stay, losing some highly funded board game projects would be a mistake. That’s why Kickstarter is slowly introducing its new Add-On feature similar to the one on Gamefound. It allows backers from some countries to choose additional buys and add them to the pledge in a more simple manner. As Kickstarter is making money mostly thanks to the cut they get from each project, adding the Add-Ons to their income pool sounds quite smart. Especially considering that these were often bought on pledge managers and KS wasn’t getting any money from that.

Kickstarter is also opening for more markets. In the coming weeks Poland, Greece and Slovenia will be able to host projects on the platform.

Which platform will end up as the go to choice for board game fans? Only time will tell but introducing quality of life changes for backers and creators will certainly play a big role in that.

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