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Kickstarter’s Cindy Au breaks down a successful game fundraiser

At the time of this writing, the Double Fine Kickstarter drive has raised an astonishing $2,830,877 for the development of an untitled and entirely unseen adventure game, with thirty hours to go before the fundraiser’s end. It reached the studio’s lofty $400,000 goal seven times over, and — if the promotion manages a last-minute push before its termination — could reach a cool three million (update: It just did!).

That number is quite an outlier, but Double Fine is not the only studio to seek and find funding from Kickstarter’s crowdsources. The list of successful video game funding drives propagates with surprising frequency, listing titles which will hopefully become realized thanks to their newfound fungible support. Some of the more recently backed titles include Code Hero, a game which teaches users to make games — which pulled in $170,954 during its pledge drive — and an online, Tecmo Bowl-inspired football title Gridiron Heroes, which made $7,613.

For every one of these successful game-funding projects, however, there are three that failed to meet their goal, according to Kickstarter community support staffer Cindy Au. She spoke at large about this phenomenon during a SXSW Interactive panel titled “Alternate Funding for Game Development,” which explored options like Sony’s Pub Fund and the IndieFund.

According to Au, the categories of “Board and Card games” and “General games” sport a 45 percent success ratio, which is the (shockingly high) average for all projects on the site. However, video game projects are only successfully funded 25 percent of the time. That may be because there are more video game projects on the site (653, to be exact, a bit more than the 400 board and card games and 221 general games). Regardless, Au pointed out some traits of successful Kickstarter pleas to help bring up that success rate.

The most important factor is the inclusion of an explanatory video on the user’s project page. Another is offering desirable rewards for the correct price ranges — the most popular donation levels are $10 and $15, Au explained, but the average donation to a successful video game project is $42. Setting the right goal is also important, as the stats gathered by Kickstarter indicate that a user should aim low, but hope high.

“The average goal for a successful video game project is $5,400,” Au explained, “but the average raise of a successful project is $11,200.”

Cashflow for game developers to tap into on the site is increasing, as the $60,000 donated to games in 2009 grew to $3.8 million in 2011. Just three and a half months into 2012, games have brought in $3.6 million.

“Now … there is one project,” Au said before being interrupted by a peal of laughter from the audience. “So, yeah, this graphic is a little skewed. But it’s safe to say that the games category in general is experiencing a really healthy growth.”

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