No one can have escaped the chatter about Kickstarter. It's being a collection of remarkable stories of significant funds raised by crowd-sourced budgets, gamers investing in projects in the place of publishers. And those numbers are significiant. Since the beginning of March, gamers have pledged over ten million dollars to games via Kickstarter. And that's to projects that have achieved their funding, or are just about to. It's not including hundreds of thousands more in games only midway through their run.
To clarify, the way Kickstarter works is that projects must reach their targets to receive any funding at all. If a developer wants $100,000, and only $98,500 is pledged in the time period, then they receive nothing at all. Once they get to their target, everything that arrives on top is cherries for them. In many cases, fleets of lorries carrying cherries.
Of those that have finished their run, that started since the beginning of March, an incredible total of $6,977,432 has been successfully given to gaming projects. Then you can add on the figures from those still receiving donations but have already received their minimum amount - in other words, guaranteed money. That adds on $2,362,256, bringing things to $9,339,688. And then there are three games that seem very likely to make their big money in the next couple of weeks, Leisure Suit Larry, Grim Dawn and Moebius - that's another $701,670, giving the extraordinary grand total of $10,041,358.
And this number is a wild under-estimation for how much will have been given in the two months since the 1st March, with dozens of projects already having thousands pledged their way, and very many already deeply into the tens of thousands. Clearly some of these will fail to reach their target, but many will keep adding to this total.
(I should add, Kickstarter's layout of projects isn't enormously helpful - these figures have been reached by totalling up all the gaming funds I found, and some could easily have been missed.)
And of course this isn't a phenomenon that began with Tim Schafer. For someone with more patience than me, who is willing to total up the giving to games since the beginning of the year, a couple more million could be added on. However, it's also of crucial note that of the total from the last month and a half, 85% comes from just five games.
Clearly with this remarkable phenomenon of gamers paying for games before they exist, and in some cases, before the idea for what the game will be has been had, there are those warning of doom and danger. It really should go without saying that you should carefully weigh up the potential of a project before handing over your prospective cash. If a team of two are pledging to make a COD-beating shooter for $50,000, you might want to question adding to that total. But that's common sense. The largest chunks of the money have been given to known developers with significant experience.
And it's good news for Kickstarter too! That's half a million they've made from their 5% cut, just from gaming in a month and a half.