Gamefound could be the new alternative for crowdfunding board games

Serial business owner Marcin Świerkot, creator of parlor game publisher Awaken Realms, has a hot hand. Not just is his ISS Lead amongst the most expected brand-new parlor game arriving this year, however his new-fashioned crowdfunding platform Gamefound is poised to end up being a severe rival to Kickstarter. He informs Polygon that it will leave beta in the next numerous months, opening its doors to more tabletop developers the world over.

Kickstarter released in 2009 with the objective to reinvent how imaginative tasks get moneyed. While customer electronic devices like the Coolest Cooler and the Pebble Smart Watch amassed headings, tabletop video gaming has actually grown to end up being the tech business’s biggest single source of crowdfunding profits. However the platform was not initially constructed to be a platform to pre-order miniatures-heavy parlor game and tabletop role-playing video games (TTRPGs).

Gamefound absolutely was, and Świerkot says he’s ready to compete with the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding platform toe-to-toe. His ambitious goal is to match the tech company’s tabletop crowdfunding revenue by 25% in 2022. Kickstarter brought in more than $270 million for tabletop video games last year. That means Świerkot’s goal is a non-trivial $67.5 million.

Based on his 2021 results, he definitely seems to have some momentum behind him.

Gamefound’s highest earning campaigns

Game Creator Funds raised Backers
Game Creator Funds raised Backers
ISS Vanguard (2020) Awaken Realms $4,912,097 28,962
Too Many Bones Chip Theory Games $3,392,804 11,823
Robinson Crusoe Collector’s Edition Portal Games €2,277,000 17,313
Chronicles of Drunagor: Age of Darkness Apocalypse Creative Games Studio $1,954,908 6,495
Lords of Ragnarok Awaken Realms €1,673,875 10,368
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The Board Game Modiphius Entertainment £1,250,117 7,247
Masters of the Universe: Fields of Eternia Archon Studio €912,028 5,317
Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising Lucky Duck Games $865,673 7,676
Wild Assent – Lavon Rising Lazy Squire Games $809,560 2,840
HEXPlore It: The Domain Of Mirza Noctis Hexplore It $507,179 2947

Gamefound has been around for a while, serving as a BackerKit-style, post-campaign platform for taking late pledges, coordinating global fulfillment, and handling payments. But its new crowdfunding features include lots of bells and whistles. Stretch goals are fully integrated, as are add-ons and upgrades — popular features on just about every tabletop crowdfunding campaign these days. It allows creators to run their campaigns from many different countries and in several different currencies. It even boasts a brand-new system to seamlessly manage Europe’s increasingly complex VAT tax structure — just the sort of thing that tabletop creators have been asking for.

Most importantly, it centers a given game’s community around a single destination, rather than what has become the sprawling, ad hoc set of platforms (standalone websites, Board Game Geek pages, YouTube channels, crowdfunding pages, and post-crowdfunding pages) required to create and maintain a community while also bringing a new product to market.

Gamefound began its push into crowdfunding in 2021 with a modest rollout, setting a curated selection of campaigns live throughout the year. Świerkot tells Polygon that his company ended the year with a little over $22 million earned for creators — and that doesn’t include post-campaign purchases. A total of 31 projects were successful, which is a far cry from Kickstarter’s 3,520. But what the Polish company lacked in volume it made up for in cash money. A total of six campaigns cleared the million-dollar mark last year.

Despite that success, and the robust feature set of his platform, Świerkot gives all the credit to the creators.

“I’m 100% convinced this [success is due to] the games and the publishers behind them,” he told Polygon in an interview. “The [intuitive design of the] platform might help a little bit, […] but I’m sure that on Kickstarter they would have also been very successful .”

With the platform itself in the final phases of a full rollout, he states that the challenge now is to prove the value of Gamefound to creators who have never used it before. At the same time, Kickstarter has come out with some very confusing messaging, telegraphing a move to blockchain technology that has angered and alienated creators and backers alike. Kickstarter says that the move will be to an open-source protocol that claims to be environmentally friendly. Many remain skeptical, or downright adversarial, about the change.

“You have Kickstarter saying, ‘Guys, our vision is blockchain!’ And you have like a zillion people saying, ‘Guys, this is not a good direction. Don’t do it,’” Świerkot said. “If Kickstarter would believe in the spirit of crowdfunding, they would say, ‘Yeah, we get it. OK. You’re right.’ Or, ‘We will adjust it because you offer this feedback,’ or whatever. [Instead], they just double down.”

It appears that, in the short term at least, Gamefound’s biggest appeal isn’t the robust set of features that it has, but the one confusing feature — blockchain technology — that it lacks. Rather than pouring energy into web 3.0, Świerkot says instead he’s focusing on the nuts and bolts of making a traditional website. He’s looking to become for the tabletop industry what Steam is for the PC gaming industry — a global platform where developers of every shape and size can bring their products to market, a virtual storefront where things like credit card payments and taxation are handled seamlessly behind the scenes, and a portal for community engagement.

“If I am a creator and suddenly I have to adjust to 100 different tax jurisdictions, it’s impossible,” Świerkot said. “The digital game market would not be where it is if Steam would not come in and say, ‘Listen, guys, you make awesome games. We will take care of the global tax thing for you. We’ll take our share of the profit, for sure.’ But right now, look how much of indie games is thriving because of it. You can be a single guy, and your only task is just create a game, and then Steam will take care of the rest.”

Once it exits beta, Gamefound will still be in a sort of slow-rolling launch. Creators will be vetted based on their past projects and the size of their organization, so micro or individual creators won’t be able to hop in right away. But Świerkot sees his creation as a lifeboat for mid-sized tabletop developers and publishers to break away from Kickstarter.

“As a platform, we are appealing to the big publisher that wants to treat [crowdfunding] professionally,” he said, “People’s [livelihoods] depend on the outcomes you have actually from the platform, and whether the platform works or not. You expect professionality out of the platform.

“How much people trust you is the most important,” Świerkot stated, “regardless of the platform.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.