Smith, Martin and Smith, Kelly (2016) “All Out War” on Kickstarter: Reward-Based Crowdfunding in Tabletop Games. In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2016, 27th to the 28th October 2016, Novotel Tour Eiffel, Paris, France. (Unpublished)

Background Context

Research into crowdfunding is a growing area and while there are many accepted facts at this point in time, the understanding of the relationship between this important micro-financing phenomenon and the wider role of the entrepreneur in certain contexts is still evolving. Reward-based crowdfunding has become a significant method for entrepreneurs to secure funding, with backers that are motivated by what they receive at the end of the project in return for their investment. Kickstarter is the most prominent example of a reward-based crowdfunding platform. There are many sub categories of funding on the platform and this paper focusses on Tabletop Games.

Tabletop Games has been chosen as a focus area for this research due to a number of observed factors:

- The industry can be observed to be responsive to social trends as reflected in their output
- A diverse range of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations are present
- The backer community is particularly strong, persistent and vocal.

Current Literature

The current literature has focussed in different ways of addressing the crowdfunding phenomena. Mollick’s initial study (Mollick, 2014) covered a wide variety of project categories but introduced the concept of social media connections into the equation as a barometer for future success. There has been little dedicated focus on a particular segment and the unique aspects of their backer community. Ryu and Kim have developed a typology of backers that focuses on four core archetypes of backers (Ryu and Kim, 2016) but many projects that operate in the Tabletop Gaming segment of Kickstarter do not appear to follow these conventions; more research is needed here.

Initial Study

Initial observations by the author identified that funding of Tabletop Games was achieved early within the lifecycle of the project with the focus subsequently shifting to one of maintaining interest and momentum among the backer population. This appears to show a different pattern from other segments.

At this initial stage we have recorded observations over the lifespan of a live project from Mantic Games, a UK SME. The Walking Dead: All Out War met its project target of $50,000 in fifteen minutes and left the project attempting to maintain interest and generate momentum for four weeks before the projects conclusion at $685,853. Day to day analysis yielded information on particular issues that may have reduced or increased backer support. Initial findings suggested that the management of backer expectations and interest is key to ensuring the level of success desired.

Next Steps

The results of the initial analysis described above will be used to develop a framework from which a narrative methodology will be developed to combine observations with the thoughts of the backer population collected through informal interviews. This should allow for the identification of techniques that affect backer support within a niche backer environment. As the research progresses further projects can be considered, looking particularly at other unique features of the sector, for example a look at sequel projects that commonly occur following successful projects.

All Out War on Kickstarter MG Smith K Smith.pdf - Accepted Version

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