In 2019, fans pledged more than $176 million toward tabletop games

Monday, July 20th, 2020

Tabletop gaming has evolved dramatically over the years, but lately board game funding has changed even more:

Then, on March 30, the board game Frosthaven — the dungeon crawling, highly-anticipated sequel to the hit game Gloomhaven — surpassed its funding goal of $500,000 on Kickstarter in mere hours. Today, it is the most-funded board game on the site ever, with nearly $13 million pledged toward funding the game’s development. Only two projects have ever crowdsourced more funding on the site.


Games like Dark Souls, Ankh: Gods of Egypt, Cthulhu: Death May Die and Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon are among those that earned multiple millions through crowdfunding.

Creators use Kickstarter like a social media site, an advertisement and a fundraising tool all in one, and they use it more successfully than nearly any other game creators on the site. In 2019, fans pledged more than $176 million toward tabletop games — up 6.8% over the previous year, according to Kickstarter data gathered by the entertainment site Polygon. In all, more than 1 million people pledged to games on the site last year.


It takes a lot of startup value to create your own video game, for instance, but for board games, you only need a good enough idea and a well-placed Kickstarter page to gauge public interest.


Creators are responsible for everything if their goals are reached. They have to print the games and send them to their customers on their own — a process that can be grueling, time-consuming and even detrimental. One board game creator miscalculated the amount of money it would cost to ship games and lost his house due to the unexpected financial burden.

(Hat tip to Nyrath.)


  1. Freddo says:

    Traditionally one of the biggest issues of launching a boardgame has been the need to print the entire run and then slowly make your money back as the stock sells and the warehouse empties. A huge advantage of Kickstarter is that the publisher gets the money upfront.

    As an aside: for books print-on-demand has become feasible for the long tail, but boardgames of course have a variety of components (board, cards, various figures, tokens, coins) that make print-on-demand unfeasible. Who knows when 3D printing will be advanced enough for mass produced board games.

    Second major advantage of Kickstarter is that distribution and game stores claim 40-60% of the final sales price. Especially thanks to a whole new industry of fulfillment centers a designer can now offer a lot more value at the same price point, most often as huge stacks of plastic figures.

    Not to say that there have not been some amusing failures when Kickstarter was the hot new thing. (Amusing for those who did not back or design the game.) Luckily it is a lot easier to judge a new boardgame based on concept art, a copy of the rule set, and the designers’ previous performance than it is for computer games.

  2. Back in 2012 I pitched in for a KS for an Ogre reprint. We were shocked it reached nearly a $million. Now Terraforming Mars–a much more complex game–is pulling nearly $3 million with 23k backers. Just as a fancy upgrade of the original cardboard to plastic minis of buildings. There’s an amazing growth curve there.

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