Kickstarter.com is an innovative American crowd-funding site for a wide variety of creative projects. Boardgame projects have proven particularly successful there, however, generating over $1.1 million so far in 2011. Unfortunately, creatives from outside of the U.S. face a number of technical, logistical, and accounting hurdles when attempting to set up projects on the site.
Canadian publisher Valley Games has managed to overcome those hurdles, however, and this morning launched a $13,000 Kickstarter project for D-Day Dice, a cooperative dice-based wargame by Quebecois designer Emmanuel Aquin. Less than 19 hours later, the project is already 107% funded, a remarkable accomplishment. The project remains open for funding for another 39 days, officially closing on December 9.
Check out Emmanuel's Kickstarter video describing the game and keep track of his current funding progress:
In many ways, Kickstarter is no different than a traditional pre-order model that publishers have used in the past to help manage their cashflow and gauge demand for their titles. But it's operating with an ease and scale that hasn't really been seen before. When publishers are able to fund and sell entire print runs through a direct-to-consumer model, what does that mean for retailers and distributors? Do they get left out of the loop entirely?
Personally, I think there's room for a model where core consumers, retailers, and distributors all work together via a site like Kickstarter to help get great games made. For instance, what if special funding levels and discounts are made available for those wanting to buy in bulk? A retailer might pre-order a caselot, for example, and a distributor might place an order in the hundreds or even thousands, receiving additional promotional materials in exchange. The retailers may receive the additional materials they would need to run a themed launch party or better promote the game within their store. The distributor may receive a special expansion only available through the distribution chain.
Ultimately, what's so powerful and innovative about Kickstarter isn't so much the funding model but rather the marketing model. It allows customers (and therefore publishers) to assign clear monetary value to a strong promotional video or a piece of concept art or a release of the rules. It clearly rewards best practices and therefore coaches publishers about how to best promote their games to the public. That's huge and is precisely what's needed to continue growing this industry. Done right, a strong Kickstart program can be to everyone's benefit.