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Best Kickstarter Tabletop Games in 2018 – Trends and Numbers

Tabletop gaming category on Kickstarter has managed to outdo itself yet again in 2018. More board game campaigns have appeared again, got funded successfully and had people pledge more money per campaign than they did last year. The number of US total dollars pledged reached in said category over 165 million, setting a new yearly record – just like each year since 2013.

Games on Kickstarter

Comparing to tabletop games (including card games, miniature games, board games, RPGs etc.), video games aren’t growing on Kickstarter anymore. How to explain this? Many video game projects got some serious bad press after their releases, and discouraged backers from further pledging. Video gamer community often sees Kickstarter games as really risky projects, even though successes like Banner Saga or Shovel Knight speak otherwise.

Meanwhile: Kickstarter is becoming the go to place for people with board game ideas, hobbyists looking for early access to new, exclusive editions of games, and huge companies realizing, that nowadays they just can’t ignore the platform anymore.

Funding Your Project With Success

The amount of tabletop gaming projects hosted on Kickstarter was higher than last year and exceeded 3500 (comparing to 3100 in 2017).

The percentage of successful campaigns that reached their funding goals (and weren’t cancelled or suspended) sits at 66%. That’s a few percent less than last year. How to explain the drop?

The tabletop market is attracting more and more creators. People flock with their new concepts, encouraged by these who already made it big. On one hand: we get hundreds of amazing indie projects, but on the other: some creators who are good at designing games might lack funds or experience in promoting their campaigns. This in the end leads to decrease in the percentage of projects funded, despite the fact, that more money is collected in pledges each year.

Another explanation can be attributed to a growing number of multi million projects based on famous licenses. Each of these takes the attention away from smaller campaigns and makes backers ignore them more often.

Campaigns Evolving

Over 2300 campaigns managed to get “funded successfully”. That means they’ve reached their funding goals (and possibly some stretch goals). Does funding mean success? That depends as creators often set the bars too low or deliver a product later than promised. Miscalculations in manufacturing process also happen. Still, the tabletop gaming category had little to no scandals, and most games get delivered, even if a bit later than promised. The only questionable campaign from 2018 got quickly discovered by internet board game detectives and was quickly cancelled by Kickstarter.

Remaining “failed” campaigns make for about 30-34%. This includes these suspended by Kickstarter (due to violation of rules), ended with not reaching their funding goals (20%) and cancelled by the creators. The latter actually keeps on happening more often as more creators decide to cancel their projects, as despite getting to the goal they performed underwhelmingly. People realize that they made some miscalculations in production costs and stop their campaigns altogether.

Campaigns themselves are also changing. They’re getting shorter and often drop the classic 30 days funding period, getting as short as 20 or even 10 days. Same with the stretch goals. Creators are moving away from adding gameplay content and expansions and often either go for cosmetic changes or offer no stretch goals at all (the unique campaign for Claustrophobia 1643 is a good example). Nowadays people prefer short, engaging campaigns, with tiny story-based updates or voting for character designs.

Month by Month

Let’s look at certain months of the past year. There’s a pattern when it comes to projects funded in different months. March, June and the end of the year period (October to December) had highest amounts of successful projects – over 300 per month. January is easily the worst month for launching, most like due to people spending all their money during the holiday shopping period. Apart from June, most of the summer months also turned out weak.

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The Big 20

Now let’s look at the biggest projects funded during 2018. What are the numbers and do the most generously pledged projects have something in common?

The top funded tabletop game of the year was Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon made by Awaken Realms, which got 6.4 million USD in pledges. The company had a fantastic year, as they also placed third with Nemesis (4 million USD). Other top projects include Batman by Monolith (4.4 million USD) and Zombicide: Invader by CMON (3.3 million USD).

This year winner is also the 4th highest funded tabletop game Kickstarter campaign ever, after Kingdom Death Monster, 7th Continent and Exploding Kittens.

If we look at top 20 campaigns in the category: there are 18 full fledged games, 1 accessory set (terrains for D&D by Dwarven Forge) and one podcast. Highest placing projects really show what’s the hottest thing on Kickstarter for the past few years -miniatures. Out of 20 highest funded projects – 13 included paintable character / monster minis. Genre popularity is also worth looking at. Co-op games are getting more and more in demand as 7 of the top 20 belonged to this genre.

Plenty of projects were based on licenses – from popular comic books like Batman or Hate, video games like Street Fighter to a niche pulp novel (Solomon Kane).

As you can see, the market for Kickstarter tabletop games is on the rise since 2013 and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The numbers are bigger, the designers more mature and while the influence of big corporations gets more visible, smaller creators still have huge chances to make it big, as proven by titles like Villagers, Arena: the Contest  or Skull Tales: Full Sail.

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