Can Indiegogo Bite into the Board Game Crowdfunding Market? A Guest Post by James Hudson

31 March 2017

Today’s guest post was provided upon my request by James Hudson of Druid City Games, who is currently running a very successful Kickstarter campaign for a tabletop game called The Grimm Forest. Thanks James!

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Can Indiegogo bite into the board game crowdfunding market?

Kickstarter is the king when it comes to board game crowdfunding. It has the traffic, 46 million visits in February, and a system that it’s users are familiar with and enjoy. The market doesn’t refer to crowdfunding a board game, they refer to Kickstarting a game, their platform has transcended the market and has become the vernacular that the market uses.

So how could Indiegogo hope to break into the stronghold that KS has built? Nate Murray, the Manager of Gaming Outreach said this, “In the last year the site has launched several tools that should make creators lives better. From a better check out system, to a late backer platform. Indiegogo’s focused on making life easier on creators and backers.” You can familiarize yourself with their strategies in the “Field Guide”, a downloadable “how-to” for beginners.

Nate went on to say “From idea to delivery, creators can get support from the IGG team. Indiegogo has formed partnerships with manufacturers, distributors, and even has a team in China making sure products are moving forward.”This is all good news for potential creators that need help with marketing and fulfillment.

They have some key differences that could make a big difference.

  • Flexible funding
  • They charge the backer at the time of pledging. (Anyone who has run a Kickstarter knows the pain of seeing your funding plummet with transactions that fail.)
  • Post-campaign platform that flows from the active campaign to post campaign sales and marketing.

IGG is attempting to remove the need for other tools, like pledge managers.

“The tool set the site offers is more robust than any other platform, and should eliminate the need for campaigners to need outside tools to run their project. There’s also dedicated strategists and outreach managers ready to help ensure your campaign gets the best chance at success,” say Murray.

With my most recent campaign, The Grimm Forest, I considered IGG over KS for the reasons listed above. One of the big advantages to KS is the network they have built within the system. I have hundreds of people that follow me, so when I launch a campaign, they are alerted. I also follow hundreds of others and when they back a new campaign, I see what they are backing, I have been turned onto many great projects from these notifications.

Another glaring reason is traffic, Kickstarter more than doubles IGG in traffic. (46 million vs 19 million Feb stats) The gaming market is already on Kickstarter, with $88 million in projects in 2015 and $113 million in 2016, the platform is seeing massive growth year over year in board games.

In the end, I stuck with the platform that has performed for me before (my first project was Barnyard Roundup in July of 2016) and has proven itself to be the “go-to” place for board game crowdfunding. I don’t think it’s a lock that it will always be this way, there is room for competition, can Indiegogo do it? Only time will tell.

What could make you consider Indiegogo over Kickstarter (as a creator or a backer)?

Also readKickstarter vs. Indiegogo: Which Crowdfunding Site Should You Choose?

34 Comments on “Can Indiegogo Bite into the Board Game Crowdfunding Market? A Guest Post by James Hudson

  1. If a game I wanted was available on IGG, the pay on pledge thing might make me think twice…I often change pledge levels and that would make paying straight away awkward. Also I like having that interest free period on my pledge… A couple of minor things – I check KS regularly, have backed enough things to be considered a super backer, I have my credit card details saved on KS, all these little things add up to make my life easier (sometimes too easy to back something!) If something was only available on IGG and I was on the fence about backing it these things would probably tip me over into the no camp.

    1. No doubt that friction is one of the things that would initially drive away a lot of people. What if they had SEVERAL games on that platform that you were interested in? If they looked like they were going to become a regular place for good board gaming projects, would it bother you as much to go through the hassle of setting up your account?

  2. I might already have an account, I can’t remember. There was something non board game that I backed or thought about backing a year or so ago. If there were several games possibly… but the paying immediately is a big thing for me. But I completely understand creators wanting more certainty that they will get their money.

  3. You can look to Fantasy Fantasy Baseball struggling to raise funds on IGG (for a second print I assume), even though they raised $20k on KS before. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1750633593/fantasy-fantasy-baseball

    I don’t even have the link for the IGG campaign because it didn’t show up in my Google search, whereas the #1 listing is the old KS campaign.

    It would take a company with the success rate of Stonemaier Games, CMON, etc. to even shift the market marginally, but what incentive would these companies have to potentially cut into their profits by switching platforms? The answer is there isn’t one.

    1. They are re-lsunching Baseball. The IGG campaign is for Fantasy Fastasy FOOTBALL.
      That’s why you couldn’t find it

      1. Ah, my bad for the misnomer. In any case, the point stands. IGG is so focused on converting KS creators rather than incubating their own CMON or the like that they are destined to follow.

      2. As a follow-up, I kid you not. Typed Fantasy Fantasy Football into Google. A bunch of ESPN listings, then at some point the KS for Fantasy Fantasy Baseball, then at some point the BGG listings for both Fantasy Fantasy Baseball and Football, but no IGG listing even on the 5th page.

  4. Great post Jamey/James!

    Another factor to consider, although I know I’m the minority, is the fact that IGG allows creators to set up everything from anywhere in the world. Normally, if someone wants to launch its product living outside the 10+ countries that KS currently manages, then it’s a bit of a pain to have it done correctly.

    Also, I enjoy downloadable content and IGG toolkit can be downloaded whereas I can’t do that in KS (I know if I save it as a PDF it can work but the default functionality doesn’t allow it to be simpler).

    PS. I have backed one game in IGG because I missed the KS campaign and they were using the InDemand feature which sounded great. The experience went smoothly.

  5. Quite a few games are pulling in decent money on Indiegogo.

    Quodd Heroes raised $370k on Kickstarter
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wondermentgames/quodd-heroes-0

    And about the same amount on Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/quodd-heroes-games#/

    I saw decent hype for Dice Throne, which raised $185K on Indigegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dice-throne-cards#/

    Which is more than the $181k they raised on Kickstarter:
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mindbottlinggames/dice-throne

    And then there is Tortuga 1667 which raised $409k on Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tortuga-1667#/

    Again, more than the $403k they raised on Kickstarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/travishancock/tortuga-1667-a-pirate-game-of-mutiny-plunder-and-d

    There are some smaller success stories as well. Argle Bargle raised over $13.5k on Indiegogo:
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/argle-bargle-funny#/

    And about the same on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2144440276/argle-bargle-the-game-where-you-insult-your-friend

    So, my question is: Why aren’t more publishers leveraging both platforms? Seems like not running a congruent Indiegoggo campaign is leaving money on the table.

        1. I believe James (Druid City Games) is correct. I know the Dice Throne guys and they ran their campaign on KS for ~$180k and are only using IGG for preorders. The IGG numbers include the KS funds. I’m willing to bet that’s the same case for Tortuga as well. That’s why the IGG are so similar (but slightly higher) than the KS numbers. The small difference between the two numbers is the value that IGG is providing post campaign.

  6. As soon as you mentioned that IGG charges immediately I knew I would not back the. I often change pledge levels it drop pledges completely if I see something going on I do not like. Having to deal with refunds would not be worth the effort there. That would also be an issue for projects that fall to fund.

  7. IGG either needs to attract creators or backers to grow their marketshare. I think attracting backers is tough because there’s little to be offered in terms of experience on the backer side of things — at least compared to what they can offer to creators. Creators often dictate the experience so providing them with the tools to do so would in turn attract backers.

    For small and first time creators, we’ll go wherever the largest audience is. We have little choice in that. Where you’re going to see movement (if any) is with the larger players — the creators with their own audience and a larger amount of clout. The repeat creators are going to feel the friction with suboptimal tools as they launch campaign after campaign. They’ll start feeling that extra cost of using a 3rd party pledge manager. If you’re running a $2mil campaign and there’s an extra 1% of fees, that’s $20k. That becomes a factor.

  8. IGG can bend over backwards to make their platform attractive to creators, but the Elephant in the room is the fact that IGG charges backers immediately upon pledging. That is a complete non-starter for anyone considering backing a game that may not ever be produced.

    One of the many beautiful features of Kickstarter (and acknowledging a LOT of ugly warts too) is allowing backers to pledge up front, but only pay at the end of the campaign. Apart from the perceived “safety” in being able to pledge but not pay, this feature often results in backers developing loyalty to the campaign and encouraging them to participate in helping the the campaign succeed through stretch goals. As backers become emotionally invested, they are also more likely to increase their pledge for various add-ons, or additional copies of the game to share or re-sell on the aftermarket.

    None of that is possible with IGG’s basic model. IGG succeeds as a platform to accept pre-orders once the game is already set to be produced, but at that point, their competitor isn’t Kickstarter, it’s Try Celery. But is that the market they are really trying to capture?

    If IGG wants to seriously compete with Kickstarter in the crowdfunding market, they need to fundamentally re-imagine their crowdfunding campaigns so that the platform itself fosters emotional investment by backers toward the games they decide to back. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing about their current model that is designed around emotional connection between the game and the backer.

    But maybe I am missing something?

  9. Jamey, huge thumbs up for opening this subject. However, I think it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. When I saw James Hudson’s picture in the thumbnail of this post, I thought this was a post about his experience. I think he is one of the best marketeers in the industry and would’ve loved to hear more from him on that subject. Instead, we received his personal preference on the different platforms with a lot of quotes by Nate Murray.

    For this subject, I would have preferred to hear directly from Nate, or from a creator that had campaigns on both platforms, so we can hear their thoughts first hand on the experiences they had.

    But, no big deal :) Here are my two cents on the subject as a KS creator and then of IGGs InDemand service…

    We used this service as a pre-order platform and as a way to sell add-ons. So in a way, we used it as a pledge manager, that’s why you’ll see I compare it sometimes.

    According to our analytics, 21% of the backers on the InDemand service, were brought to us by IGG. I don’t know if any other pledge manager out there can do that for you. Even though IGG is not your typical pledge manager, it can certainly substitute it without charging ridiculous amounts of money. There is great potential in IGG.

    At the moment, KS is a no-branier, but IGG is on the rise.

    Now I know a lot of people are talking about that if IGG goes up KS will go down because it will eat from their traffic. This is true partly, however, the biggest difference that IGG has with KS, is that they are open globally.

    And I can’t believe that this is not mentioned as the most important asset IGG has over KS.

    There are creative minds scattered all around the world that don’t have the chance to share their ideas because Kickstarter is off limits for them.

    There could be a Stefan Feld sketching his ideas somewhere in the world and we don’t have the chance to celebrate his or hers designs, because KS says, sorry about the bad luck being born there.

    You might say, yeah it’s off limit to creators but where are the backers from those countries?

    Once creators create successful campaigns and are from the other part of the world, their stories get picked up in their communities, and thanks to that, a lot of people become aware for the first time of the crowdfunding concept and that is how you bring more backers to crowdfunding platforms. I’m writing this from personal experience, after our success a lot of the mainstream media in our country wanted to talk to us, to share our story. Also, we are being invited to train organizations and individuals about crowdfunding. One year ago, awareness in my country for Kickstarter was practically non-existent. Now, thousands of people know about it with hundreds of them frequent backers and dozens of them working on their ideas hopeful that someday they will Kickstart them too and bring more backers to the platfroms. And this will snowball…

    And that’s only in one year, in a country of 2 million people. Transfer this example to, let’s say Asia, and you’ll see the future of crowdfunding, especially IGGs potential.

    1. I have a marketing specific article coming to the Kickstarter blog next week, which is more of my area of expertise :)

      This is a subject Jamey and I discussed previously and I knew I wanted to share my thoughts on it. I think your point about the availability to other countries is really important, but not something Americans think about much, because it doesn’t pertain to us.

  10. It really comes down to traffic. Until IGG can provide the ‘window’ traffic that KS can, it really is a no-brainer most situations.

    A good example that makes sense for IGG is The Dice Tower, where random browsers won’t get the same value as they would from a physical product, and Tom already has a solid audience to pull from:
    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dice-tower-season-13-podcast#/

    Also, obviously, the worldwide issue will be the driver for many.

    For everybody else, you’re basically asking whether or not they want to have a storefront for their boutique store on 5th Avenue or an attached side street. Sure, the side street building might have better amenities, rent, and sidewalk access and still be prominently visible, but you won’t drive the same exposure with those things if you’re anything less than a major player.

  11. I agree with a lot of what people are posting on here – it’s not about which platform is going to have the best tools, its about which platform is actually going to get the game funded. Perhaps for a different type of product I consider using IGG, but at this point there is such a community built around games on Kickstarter that to take is anywhere else would be a waste. And to reply to what RestlessEntropyGames said above, I think that the reason more people don’t try to run their campaigns on multiple competing platforms at once is so that the creator can really focus on raising traffic and awareness to one campaign. Although I have not yet launched my first campaign, from reading on this site and others I can see how much effort goes towards raising awareness and building an audience for your campaign, and I think that effort would be best spent directing that audience towards one single goal. In addition, running multiple campaigns really complicates things like stretch goals, etc.

  12. Some real IGG data/experience:

    • We raised $181k on our Dice Throne kickstarter: http://ks.dicethrone.com
    • We then rolled over to the IGG InDemand program for discounted pre-orders: http://igg.dicethrone.com
    • We have since raised $4k among 66 new backers over the past 4 weeks on IGG.
    • 43 of those new backers were generated directly by IGG.
    • Nate Murray is on the ball and excellent to work with.
    • But these numbers are far from astounding. That’s basically 1.2% of new backers for our campaign generated by IGG.
    • To be fair, the actual campaign has concluded; so the FOMO has passed and so has the exclusives. But we are still offering an MSRP discount.
    • Is this enough conclusive evidence that IGG will be worse? No since the data is not truly apples to apples. However, do I think the discoverability of games on IGG is equivalent to that of KS? Absolutely not.
    • Is IGG’s stronger ability to edit the campaign story formatting enough to move me over due to Kickstarter’s horribly outdated campaign editor? Almost ;)

  13. James, your post title asks a question, and what comes below it seems to respond: No,

    Your post presents an interesting comparison. I agree that the “charge immediately” policy of IGG might be good for the creator, but will put off a lot of potential backers (including me).

    It’s interesting to see you posting here, having followed Grimm on BGG and KS. Your policy on KS exclusives reminds me of someone else’s….

    1. Jamey is no doubt a mentor in this industry for me. I believe exclusives are a bad deal from start to finish. I want the person who picks my game up 2 years from now to have the exact same experience as someone who was lucky enough to find my small company when we had an active campaign. I think we can all think of a time it felt like we weren’t getting the ful experience of something, it’s not a goof feeling.

      Thanks following the project!

  14. Kickstarter definitely has a huge advantage in terms of audience. There are a lot more board gamers browsing Kickstarter than IGG. Nate’s already doing a great job of bringing creators aboard (not a surprise, as he’s great at what he does), and I’d imagine that will narrow the gap quite a bit. But I have another concern that hasn’t been addressed yet.

    IGG uses PayPal to collect money, and PayPal has time and again proven that they’re not friendly to successful pre-order programs, especially those outside IGG.

    In the last few months, both Leder Games (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1661923/second-letter-friends-leder-games) and Portal Games (https://dtgreviews.com/news/portal-games/) have had their accounts locked and plans disrupted because PayPal insisted they find some other funds to manufacture the game they’d already collected money for.

    Neither of those involved IGG. But this has happened a lot with IGG campaigns a few years ago. Here are some links to horror stories from 2013-2014:

    https://venturebeat.com/2013/08/14/glassup-raised-100k-on-indiegogo-but-paypal-is-refusing-to-pay-up/
    https://www.giantbomb.com/articles/crowdfunding-s-secret-enemy-is-paypal/1100-4743/
    https://arstechnica.com/business/2013/09/paypal-freezes-45000-of-mailpiles-crowdfunded-dollars/
    https://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2013/05/paypal-effectively-destroys-my.html
    https://wp.josh.com/2014/01/21/read-this-before-you-contribute-to-an-indiegogo-campaign/

    In most of those cases, the project creator was able to make enough of a public stink on social media and sites like Ars Technica that PayPal quickly released the funds. But that depends on how much public pressure the creator is able to put on PayPal. And in Leder’s and Portal’s case (again, neither of whom used IGG), both had large followings, but were unable to reverse PayPal’s decisions (thankfully, both were able to work around PayPal’s actions; in Leder’s case, by going to Kickstarter!).

    To IGG’s credit, they are quite up-front about posting the limits that PayPal enforces for crowdfunding campaigns, both in the US (https://support.indiegogo.com/hc/en-us/articles/201751837-How-do-I-set-up-my-PayPal-account-) and outside the US (https://support.indiegogo.com/hc/en-us/articles/526426-International-PayPal-Restrictions – link requires login). PayPal themselves announce that any pre-ordered product must be delivered within 20 days; they make an exception for eBay, but not IGG (https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/brc/presale-policy-and-reserves).

    And it looks like this kind of PayPal freeze hasn’t happened to an IGG campaign since 2014, unless my Google skills are failing me. I wonder if there’s some sort of pre-clearance that PayPal accounts have if linked to an IGG campaign. But with no public knowledge of a mechanism like that, I have to assume that I could just as easily hear another horror story of an IGG project’s funds frozen by PayPal tomorrow, especially as more high-flying board game creators move from Kickstarter to IGG.

    As long as PayPal is involved, I can’t be comfortable using IGG for any sort of crowdfunding or pre-order, unless I know exactly what IGG does to keep PayPal from withholding my funds. I need an assurance that if my campaign funds, I *will* get my money, regardless of any arbitrary rule on PayPal’s side.

      1. To make it clearer: I don’t suggest using PayPal for pre-orders. IGG’s pre-order platform looks good from a reliability perspective.

  15. Excellent posts so far… All make good points.

    To go back to the final question of the post – what would make you choose IGG over kickstarter?-

    As a backer, I would have to agree that payment upon pledge is a scary thought for some games that don’t have the foundation or history of a good game producing company. My money could be lost without hope of ever seeing a product.

    On the contrary as a new game creator, this aspect of IGG would create a sense of security for creating my game that my funds could go towards improving the game and relaunching, which is something that I have seen regularly happen on KS.

    I think that these two platforms can be somewhat compared to gaming consoles. The specs are different (the platforms), but the true reasons someone buys an Xbox v. a PlayStation is usually the games themselves. If one console has the majority of good games, then people are more likely to use that console. Likewise, if kickstarter has all of these excellent games on their site, then that will draw users to them.

    If IGG wants to be competitive they are going to have to incentivise good game creators to use their site. I think having great products will draw backers to their site, but they must also allow them to feel that their hard earned money won’t be lost.

  16. I’ve supported exactly one Indiegogo campaign because it would mean a favorite Youtube channel would continue to exist. I would never back a game on Indiegogo. The flexible funding means I am no longer able to build the trust I need to put money into it. (That, and I don’t see any valid reason to use flexible funding for people who are not out to rip you off)

    If you want my money, you need to not go through Indiegogo.

  17. […] Room Enough for the Two of Them? An interesting examination of the other crowd-funding web site, Indiegogo, and the possibilities and obstacles it faces it competing with Kickstarter…or even dethroning it…maybe…? Source: https://stonemaiergames.com/can-indiegogo-bite-into-the-board-game-crowdfunding-market-a-guest-post-… […]

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