Crowdfunding has certainly shaken up the world of tabletop games. Independent designers with good ideas got the chance to promote their creations. Some projects that would be difficult to sell in retail finally have a way of reaching their audience (e.g. huge games with lots of minis and multi digit price). Biggest players in the board game industry have also joined the race, and began using crowdfunding as their (often exclusive) way of introducing new products.
Kickstarter, despite leading the market by a huge margin, is by no means the only crowdfunding service used to promote and sell new board games. Many countries have developed their own local equivalents. These websites often target the needs of a very specific population and allow for things missing from Kickstarter like: better shipping pricing or additional project support for the creators.
And let’s not forget about industry specific crowdfunding websites. These are created as an attempt to promote tabletop gaming projects exclusively. This again allows for meeting the needs of a very specific audience and often includes bigger involvement from the platform itself: from marketing to manufacturing.
German Spieleschmiede (meaning “the forge of games”) is one of the greatest examples of local board game crowdfunding websites. They boast a whopping 229 funded projects, 13893 backers (that they call “smithies”) and over 3 million euro collected. Most projects are the local editions of games already successful worldwide. The current record breaker title belongs to the Champions of Midgard by Grey Fox Games.
Spieleschmiede defines their mission as bringing games, that wouldn’t otherwise appear on the market due to various limitations, to players. Comparing to websites like Kickstarter: it’s not possible to launch a project yourself. Instead creators need support from someone in the industry or hobbyist press. While this may sound limiting, such approach makes projects less risky and the backers are more likely to trust them.
Interestingly, Spieleschmiede is not Germany exclusive and ships worldwide. The site is available in 6 different languages and projects sometimes include the English version as well.