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GamesBeat 2012 panel will feature Kickstarter crowdfunding lessons

VentureBeat are pleased to announce that they will have a panel on crowdfunding, one of the biggest changes to the funding of video game production that we’ve seen in a long time, at their annual GamesBeat 2012 conference on July 10-11 in San Francisco.

Kickstarter has become a new source of alternative funding for mid-size game publishers and indie developers, who previously had to rely on funding from game publishers or venture capitalists. But with the passage of the JOBS Act, Kickstarter is not going to remain the only crowdfunding option for long.

The panel will feature some of the most interesting experts on the topic today:

Tim Schafer (pictured at top), chief executive and founder of Double Fine Productions. Schafer broke game crowdfunding wide open with a campaign that raised $3.3 million in 30 days from more than 87,000 Kickstarter backers last month. The company will use the money to create a new adventure game and a documentary that chronicles the game’s creation. Schafer founded Double Fine in 2000 after spending a decade at LucasArts. He is known for zany and critically acclaimed games such as Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.

Brian Fargo (pictured above), chief executive of InXile Entertainment. Fargo has been making games since 1982 and his hits include The Bard’s Tale, MDK 2, Messiah, Tanktics, Redneck Rampage, and many more. Fargo recently raised nearly $3 million on Kickstarter for a sequel to his 1988 post-apocalyptic game, Wasteland. Before Kickstarter, Fargo was unable to convince publishers that Wasteland 2 would be a worthwhile project. But now he has enough funding to build the turn-based role-playing part game set in a post-apocalpyse landscape.

Cindy Au, director of community at Kickstarter. In a short time, Kickstarter has become the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects by tapping the enthusiasm of the fans. She works closely with users and has spent a lot of time building relationships with the games and comics communities.

The theme of the conference is “crossover strategies.” The game industry as we know it is changing. We’re all seeing established companies cross over from one market to another, where once they faced barriers. As companies adapt to change, we are witnessing disruption, change, consolidation, innovation, and the arrival of big money. We’re talking billions of dollars that are at stake.

Their previously announced speakers are Will Wright of Stupid Fun Club; Atul Bagga of Lazard Capital Markets; Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins; David Perry of Gaikai; Mitch Lasky of Benchmark Capital; Peter Relan of YouWeb; Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio; Seamus Blackley of Innovative Leisure; Tim Chang of Mayfield Fund; Will Harbin of Kixeye; Tim Merel of Digi-Capital; Chris Petrovic, general manager of GameStop Digital Ventures; Riccardo Zacconi, CEO of King.com; and Kristian Segerstrale, executive vice president for digital at Electronic Arts.

VentureBeat are inviting 500 movers and shakers from throughout the game industry — social, mobile, online, and console.

by Dean Takahashi


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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