October 7, 2013
Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly common way for new business owners, artists and creators to finance their projects in a simpler and more personal way. There are now over 500 crowdfunding platforms and growth has been dramatic, at 60 percent in 2012. The majority of these platforms are based in the US, where almost 200 are currently running, with one key player being Kickstarter. Although this popular platform has come under fire in the past year for its uncertain success rates and projects that fail to deliver on time, an undeniably impressive $794 million has been pledged to 48,759 successful projects. The rate of funding for some of these projects is staggering, as is the sheer amount of money raised by creators, many of whom are relatively unknown. To explore this funding phenomenon and find out what the most successful projects have in common, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the ten Kickstarter projects that have generated the most money so far.
#10: Wasteland 2
Along with four other projects in the top ten, Wasteland 2 falls into the games category. It was created by InXile Entertainment and billed as a post-apocalyptic role-playing video game set in an alternate history timeline in which a nuclear holocaust has broken out. As its title suggests, this is a sequel to Wasteland, an ‘amazingly popular RPG’ from 1988. This apparent popularity was proven in 2012, when the project raised 325 percent of their target funds from 61,290 backers. This brought them a total of $2,933,252; a sum that was at least partially raised by offering contributors the opportunity to attend a private party with the creators and have a shrine built in their honor. This is a somewhat unusual tactic, but by no means the strangest to appear on Kickstarter.
#9: FORM 1
2012 saw the first wave in the rise of the 3D printer, and the creators at Formlabs saw an emerging gap in this highly promising market. Their vision was to produce a 3D printer that was affordable but didn’t compromise on the quality stereolithography of high-end models. As a vast amount of freelance designers and small businesses were longingly eying up the printers that heralded the new age of manufacturing, it was no surprise when the FORM 1 model generated a gargantuan 2,945 percent of its funding target. Perhaps the most impressive factor in these pledges is that they came from just 2,068 backers, showing that designers were willing to contribute a great deal to get this venture up and running. All in all, $2,945,885 was raised; making FORM 1 the most funded technology project in Kickstarter history.
#8: Wish I Was Here
Exploiting an existing fanbase has proven to be an effective tactic to gain funds on Kickstarter, especially in the games category, where the majority of successful projects are closely linked to existing games. This has also been useful for celebrities who use the platform to fund independent artistic ventures, including Zack Braff for his film “Wish I Was Here.” When launching the project, he explained his view of Kickstarter as ‘fascinating and revolutionary,’ and explained that it allowed him to take artistic control over the film. Although not the most funded film project, Braff’s idea raised 155 percent of its target from 46,520 backers, giving him $3,105,473 to play with. One enthusiastic fan even paid $10,000 to have a speaking role in the film and attend the premiere and after party. Who says you can’t buy happiness?
#7: Double Fine Adventure
Making up a decent proportion of the $100 million plus pledged to games projects since 2009, Double Fine Adventure is a point-and-click video game by designer Tim Schafer. As is was his first project in the genre since 1998, this attracted a great deal of attention through Kickstarter and raised 100 percent of its target in just over eight hours. Through offering contributors lunch dates with the creators, original paintings of art used in the game and mini self-portraits, the team raised 834 percent of their target from 87,142 backers. This generated a total of $3,336,371 and a huge base of guaranteed customers.
#6: Reaper Miniature Bones
The only games project in the top ten not to take the format of a video game, Reaper Miniature Bones is a much cheaper, plastic version of a widely popular range of metal miniature figures. To mark the funding process, the artistic team at Reaper Miniatures developed a graphic to reveal which figures they would add to the collection at each monetary milestone. Although a seemingly unlikely candidate for a highly funded project, the game surpassed all other percentage funding to date by achieving 11,430 percent of their target. The fact that they generated this from a comparatively small 17,744 backers shows that big fans will pay big bucks, which in this case amounted to $3,429,235.
#5: Project Eternity
Described by its makers as “an isometric, party-based computer RPG set in a new fantasy world,” Project Eternity is another highly successful addition to the video games category. Through a combination of naming characters after the most generous donators and threatening them with reminders that they were being watched by Kerflufflepogus the Devourer, Obsidian Entertainment managed to raise $3,986,929 from 73,986 backers. The complexity of the game had set the bar pretty high, with the promise of hand-drawn backdrops for the majority of the game world, but the funding actually only amounted to 362 percent of their target. Still, it’s hardly something to complain about.
#4: Torment: Tides of Numenera
InXile Entertainment’s Torment: Tides of Numenera became the most funded game in Kickstarter history when it raised $4,188,927 in early 2013. It was billed as a sequel to the 1999 fantasy role-playing video game Planescape: Torment, and generous backers were offered copies of every InXile game released over the next 10 years, invitations to the launch party, and personalized plaques. Creators also encouraged pledges by adding The Castoff’s Labyrinth to the game, which they described as “a unique location offering gameplay after death.” The more money that was donated, the further into the labyrinth the creators delved, eventually extending the game out over twelve “fathoms.” This hooked a total of 74,405 backers, who raised 465 percent of the target fund and became a part of crowdfunding history.
#3: Veronica Mars Movie Project
After the cancellation of the Veronica Mars TV series, writer Rob Thomas and actress Kristen Bell began to outline plans for a film. When their idea was rejected by Warner Bros, they turned to Kickstarter to raise funds through their enthusiastic existing fanbase. They reached the original funding target of $2 million in less than ten hours and went on to generate a total of $5,702,153 from 91,585 backers. This is the largest amount of backers ever to fund a single Kickstarter project. One generous fan even paid for the chance to have a speaking role in the film and attend the premiere, although the guidelines did state that the role could be cut if it wasn’t up to scratch. Not exactly what you want to hear when you’ve just paid $10,000.
Despite the recent controversy that has surrounded the delayed distribution of the Ouya games console, it remains the second most funded project on Kickstarter. An impressive 63,416 backers clubbed together to raise $8,596,474 for the creators who managed to drum up a great deal of interest by describing the console as a development kit for gamers who wished to modify their hardware. Alongside this highly attractive and original idea, offers of private dinner invitations, and having names engraved on consoles incensed backers to exceed the funding target by a huge 905 percent. Even though the quality of the console and promises of the creators are now being criticized by gamers, there’s still no arguing with those figures.
The creators at Pebble Inc. jumped on the smartphone bandwagon with their design for Pebble: a waterproof e-paper watch that can link to smartphones. As well as fulfilling the traditional timekeeping functions of a watch, the design also gives alerts for text messages, calls and reminders to keep the user connected to their phone when they don’t have it onhand. The simplicity of the idea, combined with the attractive technology and design, meant that a total of $10,266,845 was pledged by 68,928 backers. This smashed the funding target by 10,266 percent and showed a surprisingly high demand for the gadget, especially as the biggest pledging gift offered was 100 watches. Unless the Pebble turns out to be about as technologically robust as a tamagotchi, it’s unlikely that anyone will need 100 of them. So we hope that the 31 backers who took this offer were actually planning to sell them and not just getting too excited about the project.
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