Making a Living from Kickstarter

The links below are a three part analysis of RPG Kickstarter projects by the Geek Industrial Complex blog. I need to read them in more details but some numbers jumped out at me.

The average successful RPG Kickstarters raises $8,251.31 per project from 110 backers on average. About $45 per backer or the price of an average RPG book.

Given the low volumes, the Kickstarter fees, postage etc etc, at best each Kickstarter will have to pay out 50% in unavoidable costs (the real figure is probably about 80% but I’m being generous). Lets assume that the rest of the money is income for the person organising it.

Income per Kickstarter – $4125

Minimum wage in the US – $15,080 per annum

Average income in the US – $28,567b per annum

To make minimum wage via Kickstater RPG projects would take 3.6 projects or one a quarter. To make an average income it would need 6.9 projects in a year.

Of course this assume a perfect hit ratio. According to the stats, only about 60% of projects get funded.

These figures show why Kickstarter is not a way of running a company and making a living. It is very good for one-off projects or hobby projects or where an existing company wants to test the water with an idea.

But if you want to build a company, build a product range and build long-term success, you need a better strategy than “Let’s do a Kickstarter!”.

Kickstarter RPGs Part 1,
Part 2 and Part 3.


  1. Good analysis.

    Personally I’m getting a rather tired of hearing about Kickstarter projects. It’s become the “get rich quick” scheme of the modern age.

    As more people jump on the bandwagon the success rate is going to decline, and the saturation will mean those causes which truly deserve to flourish using that method of funding won’t get the support or recognition they deserve. The Kickstarter bubble will burst, no doubt to be replaced with some other scheme.

    Just my grumpy thoughts.

    1. Kickstarter start is definitely a bubble or, probably more accurately, a gold rush. A few people striking it rich and most people either losing their money or finding that is a lot hard work for minimal returns.

      Hopefully, once gold rush comes to end (after a few horror stories of goods not being delivered etc), it will settle down and become a serious business tool. The KS model has certain uses, but it is not solution to every problem.

  2. Kickstarter was never intended to be a good way to run a business. It’s to raise funds for projects that entrepreneurs and companies otherwise wouldn’t have the capital to launch.

    1. You are absolutely right but most people are not as smart as you. There are many people thinking about a Kickstarter to launch their RPG (and other) business and believe that all they need to do is KS projects.

  3. I like when kickstarter was used for rpg projects that would not have gotten written without it.

    I think of jim pinto’s King for a Day or Greg Stolze’s Dinosaurs in Spaaaaaaaaceeee!

    I have a serious problem chipping in to cover the up front costs of a product that will sell well, was already written or is a reboot of a current problem particularly if its from a company that is liquid.

  4. Let me first say that I am a big supporter of KS projects, nearly all RPG.

    That being said, I think if you look at a KS as a way of getting rich quick or even making a living from it then you are approaching KS in totally the wrong way. Even a “big” success with a KS project is only going to go so far, normaly the bigger the project the more the cost of producing it.

    What KS is good for is raising funds to get “existing” projects off and running. It gives these projects the chance to be better (better print quality, better artwork, better quality control)than they could be without funding.

    Finally, I would take the “statistics” from that 3 part blog with a grain of salt. From my knowledge of KS and what is offers, many of these failures are just down right “dogs” of games/accessories that only their promoter could love and it is pretty obvious why they fail 😉

    1. We are pretty much in agreement about how KS should be used, though many people still think it is an easy, get rich scheme.

      1. There are probably ways to make a buck out of Kickstarter, but not for Pen & Paper RPGs. If you can cover your costs (artwork, printing, postage etc..) I think you are doing well. I don’t think you can really look at recovering your development costs, they are just a freebie you have to write off.

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