What Does a Kickstarter Failure Look Like?

Torment: Tides of Numenera has set the record as the most highly funded game ever conceived on Kickstarter. Torment received over $4.25 million in funding from more than 70,000 backers, all of whom were able to pledge their money to the project through Kickstarter as well as through PayPal.

InXile and its founder Brian Fargo are hailing the success of Torment as a success for Kickstarter—not just as a viable platform for game developers to pitch their titles to the public, but as transformation of existing game publishing models toward something much more crowd-oriented. Through Kickstarter and similar platforms, the public now has a direct say on the development of the products it consumes.

Fargo, who is also a producer on the game, wrote in his latest update: “We often speak of paradigm shifts and game changers in our industry but you are truly witnessing it in this groundbreaking new model of connecting creators with the players.

“You have all heard me speak to this new power, but truly it will shape the kinds of games you play and the policies of the developers and publishers. More than ever we are in sync with the simple goal of making games without ever losing the gamer’s interests. At Interplay our slogan was By Gamers, For Gamers and this attitude could not be truer today.”

After the success of the Double Fine Adventure Game on Kickstarter last year, the platform saw a surge of high-profile titles, including inXile’s own Wasteland 2, Project Eternity from Obsidian Entertainment, Star Citizen, Shadowrun Returns, the Homestuck Adventure Game, and several others. Regardless of its successes, Kickstarter isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for game developers. A number of big titles, including a Gas Powered Games’ Wildman and Lootdrop’s Shaker: An Old-School RPG have met with failure. Peter Molyneux’s title Project GODUS only barely managed to meet its goal with a few days left on the clock.

More recently, just as inXile’s Torment set the record for the highest-funded game of all time on Kickstarter, another project, The Adventures of Dash, met with failure just a few days ago, raising only $33,000 of its $400,000 target. The Adventures of Dash is, or was, the brainchild of Robert Bowling, a former developer of Call of Duty and one of the most well-known gaming personalities around. Bowling, who goes by ‘fourzerotwo‘ on Twitter, was the spokesperson for Infinity Ward and the Call of Duty franchise.

Bowling may have bet his popularity on the success of his Kickstarter, which didn’t end up being as high as he thought. He wasn’t able to leverage his popularity to drive the game as much as Tim Schafer and did. Popularity alone was not enough to drive the Kickstarter, and the concept of the game failed to catch on with the public.

The various successes and failures on Kickstarter go to show that the public knows what it wants, and having a big name attached to a project just isn’t enough to get people to give up their money. In short, people aren’t going to give up their money for a game they don’t want to play.

To that end, we’ve compiled five high-profile games on Kickstarter which failed to meet their goals in an attempt to closely examine what made them failures, and why.

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9 Comments on What Does a Kickstarter Failure Look Like?

Mustachio Maruader

On April 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm

This is exactly the reason I continue to come back to your page, you guys are always at your best when you write your own articles and this was no exception.


On April 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm

First class article :D . A long look at how kickstarter projects succeed or fail is EXACTLY what the gaming industry and gamers in general needs right now. Pity no single factor could be found to explain the failures, but looking at your analysis it seems clear there are a number of things to look out for (including competing products at time of announcement, focus of project, number of updates, plain ‘ol fun ideas, etc). We all NEED kickstarter to succeed if we’re to see a games industry that’s anything other than toxic, insulting and exploitative (to developers and fans). Thanks for making this article!


On April 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm

FYI, your “set the record” link is this site’s WordPress login.


On April 16, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I’m actually pleased to see that people are seemingly more judicious lately about which projects they choose to fund. As much as I admire the concept of Kickstarter in that it can potentially give rise to games that the big publishers would never take a chance on, I’m also quite skeptical of the idea of basically giving money to a business without a lot of strong obligations on the company’s end. Seeing that people are looking at more than the “who” of a project, and taking solid looks at the “what” is encouraging since it will most likely encourage increasingly creative thinking.


On April 17, 2013 at 5:17 am

I am a huge supporter of KickStarter and firmly believe that its much more of a benefit to any industry it covers than a negactive (although there is a real risk of big companies placing false projects out there to take advantage of KS). Still this is a good article. It is easy to just paint such and incredible development such as KiskStarter in a glowly feel good story, but the truth is that KS only has about a 50% success (funded project) rate. It is an impressive tool and trumps monolplies (can you say EA?) but as you point out it is a gamble. Its just a low risk, high reward gamble. You put some time into a project, just enough to present somethng real on Ks and if it doesn’t get funded not big lose. If it does get funded, you have a great project you enjoy and have already laid the foundation for an interactive fanbase. A lot more rewarding than risk taking there.


On April 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Very instructive, there were two idea that specially talk me,the firs is about the market saturation for Wildman, i used to ask myself why in movie ‘s industry and game now, they like so much the” clone thing “and what make them think we love this too, and the second idea is about Demigod who was” before it’s time”. Before it’s time… words who can drive mad.


On April 21, 2013 at 5:14 am

Woody Allen always says whether one of his movies is a success or a total failure is mostly a matter of luck. A large, unpredictable set of circumstances surrounds every original project.

Vinícius Santana

On April 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

Great article. Kickstarter is not a channel of success for everyone and it’s become more cleary now.

Keep writing like this!