The Kickstarter update (December 2021)

A holy hand grenade was recently thrown into the tabletop game hobby.

Kickstarter is moving towards the blockchain for reasons they can't quite articulate. I won't be delving into the various conspiracy theory around this move. But I do want to highlight a few points:

  • this is already hurting creators

  • this is already killing projects

  • this will only get worse

Any publisher with any kind of progressive audience is currently facing enormous pressure to leave Kickstarter. It's coming from the community of backers as well as the creators themselves. Both of these are good, and I encourage creators in particular to use their seat at the table to move companies in the right direction.

Unfortunately, it isn't clear what the right direction is, and the notoriously unlikely prospect of 'making art and paying the rent' just got a lot more difficult for us all.

Every publisher has their own context and situation to consider, but for Long Tail Games I believe switching to alternative platforms means an 80% reduction in revenue. Almost all of the current sales are via Kickstarter, and almost all backers arrived via that website. This calculus changes depending on your audience, project, and operating budget.

At any rate, we need to be clear that shifting to alternative platforms does not mean making less money. It means losing money. There is no safety net and no limit to the losses you can face. And this means projects don't go ahead (or worse - they go ahead to everybody's ruin). For the brave, foolish few trying to pay the rent with games, these are extremely high stakes.

So what am I doing about it?

Part of the problem is nobody quite knows what Kickstarter intends with this pivot. In the best-case scenario, the whole stupid idea is walked back. However, life is a real-time game with imperfect information, and we all need to adapt to the board state. So...

(1) There will be no Kickstarter campaigns after June 2022.

Long Tail Games' upcoming three projects (Tiny Tome, Sunderwald and A Brazen Crown) will be taken to Kickstarter. After this, I will be shifting to Gamefound for main projects, and a series of alternative platforms for smaller experiments.

This isn't perfect, and there are many people who will want me to do more - and faster. But I believe this is the right approach, sending a message to Kickstarter while also protecting the current projects (and the people behind them, who have invested many months of their lives and deserve an audience for their art).

My hope is that after this window:

  • Long Tail Games will have a larger audience

  • Long Tail Games will have smaller projects

  • The community and ecosystem will be more developed on the alternative platforms

(2) I also started my own crowdfunding platform.

For real. Check it out here. We already have projects launching.

It's a different model that I don't want to get into here, but my point was to show that Kickstarter is trivial to replicate on a technical level. I encourage everybody to find a niche and launch their own model. The difficult part (as always) is the audience. Kickstarter functions as a marketplace, which means it's a natural monopoly with massive network effects.

So that's it. I'm asking you - whether player, creator, or anyone in between - to investigate alternatives and announce clear, explicit plans for a post-Kickstarter hobby.

The great tradition of throwing dice and shuffling cards will survive this. That's not a question. Our challenge is looking out for each other while that happens.

Happy gaming and happy holidays :)

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