Nine per cent of funded Kickstarter projects fail, new study claims


It already feels deeply embedded within the games industry – and in fact the wider world  – but crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept, so studies like the one conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School make for interesting reading. Researchers analysed successfully funded projects on the Kickstarter platform, and found a failure rate of around 9%, while a relatively low 5.2% of backers reported not receiving any rewards. 

You know what sort of games often find their budgets via crowdfunding platforms? The best PC indie games. Seamless.

Kickstarted collaborated with Wharton School on the study to gather data, which may set a few alarm bells ringing. However, professor Ethan Mollick who collated the data worked independently and wasn’t compensated by Kickstarter for releasing his findings.

Mollick used a sample of just over 47,000 backers. Just 2% of those backers felt that they had not been given what was promised after pledging money to a Kickstarter project that got successfully funded. 5.2% said they simply never got a reward. Mollick used these conditions as the framework for the study, although as points out, 18.8% of backers said they hadn’t yet received what was promised but were expecting to at some point.

That makes 7.2% of backers who agree that their projects failed – but among that percentile there’s disagreement as to whether a given reward fulfilled its promise. Mollick decided that if a single backer for a given project reported that they hadn’t been given what was promised, that project could be considered a failure. That framework produced a ‘failure’ rate of 9.95% among respondents.

The study finds that projects with a low funding threshold – $1000 or below – have a slightly higher failure rate, likewise projects for food, technology of film projects. Music projects, on the other hand, are a bit more resilient to failure.

The study doesn’t focus on Kickstarted games, like the tremendously successful Divinity: Original Sin 2, or record-breaking Shenmue 3, in any great detail.