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11th April 2014 by Thomas

Quo Vadis 2014 – State of crowdfunding for video games

KICOThis week I was in Berlin for the 2014 edition of Quo Vadis. The event is visibly growing every year and it has shed its German skin to become more international (I think that 3 or 4 years ago, english-speaking lecture were the exceptions, the past two years had zero German-only content; that’s quite a quick change).

 

I won’t go into the panel about luck in business that I was sitting in on Wednesday, not because it wasn’t interesting, but mostly because one big fascinating chat and I couldn’t take notes. It was great though. Just believe me. Or ask someone who was there and took notes.

 

Yesterday, I presented a “State of crowdfunding for video games” and as usual, I am sharing the slides of the lecture:

 

Looking at the slides again, they are not all very self explanatory but the recommendations in the end should help significantly. If you have questions, hit the comments.

 

 



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7th March 2014 by Thomas

PR monitoring – February 2014 – with a “F” like…

LOGO_ICOMEDIA_invoicesA growing activity for us is our PR services that we provide under the ICO Media brand. While this is a topic that we have very rarely discussed on this blog, we are developing in many ways and I might share more on the topic in the future (it is unlikely however, that I will discuss anything specific related to the work we do for our clients).

So, we do PR. But as you may have noticed, I tend to like data and I value information that is backed by numbers and not just intuition. For the past year we have been developing a couple of tools in order to make the team’s work easier and/or more efficient. As a “happy accident” from the building of these tools, I have now a monitoring tool that tracks articles mentioning specific game-related terms in our database of websites (about 5,000 sites IIRC). I have been feeding the tool with specific search for a few month now and what I will share today are the results for the month of February for a number of video games and video games platform.

Read the rest of this entry »



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4th March 2014 by Thomas

Kickstarter in 2013 across all categories

KICOAfter writing my blog post on the 2013 numbers for games on Kickstarter, I felt like there was even more information to provide. While I am mostly following the crowd funding phenomenon in relation to games, the way we datamine Kickstarter means we have a lot of data for other categories too – sharing these is just a matter of taking the time to collate and make them presentable.

With Kickstarter hitting its first $1bn pledged this week, it appears to be perfect timing to provide more information to crowd funding enthusiasts. I hope you find it useful.

 



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18th February 2014 by Thomas

New report out: MOBA games in Europe

MOBA_ICO report cover_Image 01Available now is our latest market report. We have taken an in-depth look at the MOBA sub-genre, specifically its presence on the European markets. This is an extensive report, looking at each game as well as every single market, and drawing an interesting picture of the current trends in the genre.

 

With an estimated revenue for all the games in Europe of €173m ($237m) for 2013, MOBA games have been growing very rapidly in the past few years and should continue to develop for the foreseeable future. Below, you can find the foreword to the report as well as the table of contents. As usual, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Read the rest of this entry »



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10th January 2014 by Thomas

2013 for games on Kickstarter

With a new year starting, it is time for two customary types of blog posts: retrospectives and new year wishes. Here, I have decided to combine them both for you.

 

Considering how much time I have spent looking at and talking about Kickstarter data, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to join the crowd of analysts of the platform in giving my own take of the  past year – with my usual focus on games in general, video games specifically.

 

 [reminder - for the purpose of our data analysis, we re-qualified the Ouya as a Technology project]

 

2013 and Kickstarter

In 2013, there has been $477m pledged on Kickstarter, across close to 45,000 projects. About 20,000 projects got funded this way.
$ pledged in 2013 on Kickstarter

 

Games represent the largest category on the platform, in front of Films, and by a large margin.

 

Video games in 2012 and 2013

2012 was a remarkable year – it saw the Double Fine Adventure project put Kickstarter on the map for independent video game developers all over the world and the number of video game projects explode on the platform. From $1.2m  pledged in 2011, Kickstarter went to close to $44m in 2012.

Throughout that year, a number of projects reached very impressive numbers for their funding and 2012 can be seen as Kickstarter Year One for video games for sure.

So what about 2013? We saw that games as a category did very well, but you have to account for the fact that the category itself accounts for both video games and tabletop games projects.

 

Comparison Video Games and Tabletop Games

 

Yep, that’s right. Tabletop games represent almost half of the money that was pledged for games on Kickstarter in 2013. Being a board gamer, it makes me incredibly happy. But more on this later, I will keep looking at video games for now.

 

Video Games - 2012 & 2013

 

2013 was to be a key moment – would the trend of growth continue and was it going to be steady? Or was there to be a collapse as the first large projects got delivered and a certain fatigue for crowd funding crept in?

Purely looking at the total of money pledged for video games projects, it is obvious that 2013 was a better year than 2012. About 30% better.  But such a snapshot can be a bit misleading – 2012 had a slow start with the Double Fine Adventure explosion happening after February.

 

2012 and 2013 - Month by Month

 

Looking at 2012 and 2013 month-by-month is interesting: you see that the end of 2012 and the end 2013 had almost the exact same volume of money being pledged. The difference between the two years mostly happens in the first half. It is not a big stretch to imagine that a plateau has been reached and that variances are created by the  “hits” (post $500k projects). And, to be honest, I am less interested in those large project performance than I am by the potential of the platform for small projects.

For Kickstarter to get a foothold in the game industry as a source of funding of interesting projects, we need to see projects of all kinds being successful on the platform.

 

Video games funded projects

 

It is reassuring to see that a similar number of projects funded in 2013 compared to 2012, and a much better indicator to see if the model is sustainable.

The following graph shows the number of successful projects per “funding tier”. The funding tiers are based on the amount of money the project raised and were empirically set by me. I think they represent meaningful tiers for independent games budgets.

 

Funded video games project per tiers006

 

So basically, between 2012 and 2013, the number of $500k projects is essentially the same (around 20), but there has been 25% more projects raising between $100k and $500k. 80% more projects raising between $50k and $100k, 60% more projects raising between $10k and $50k and 50% more projects raising less than $10k.

And to me, this looks like good news overall. It shows a wider selection of projects can get funded via Kickstarter, and not just the very cheap or the very famous. I would be ok for 2014 to see fewer shiny, large projects if that would mean a larger number of projects found a way to get funded. I think this evolution stems from the development of a community of video game enthusiasts embracing the crowd funding principles. A growth from the bottom up sounds a lot healthier overall.

 

Some numbers 

Graphs are nice, but you probably want to have some direct numbers from all this. Worry not, I am very happy to provide the ones we have (all for video games projects):

 

2013

Number of pledges made

 1,129,522

Number of projects submitted

 1,851

Number of projects funded

 446

Number of projects that failed getting funded

 1,405

$ pledged to video game projects

 $                   57,934,417.74

Success ratio

24.1%

 

In 2013, Kickstarter expanded its platform to new countries: Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And we also now have a full year with the British platform. I explained my thoughts on some reasons  why this dones’t necessarily mean much, but if you want to know the repartition between the currencies, here it is:

 

Kickstarter platform

$ pledged – Video Games

USD

 $                   50,370,976.75

GBP

 $                     5,910,926.00

CAD

 $                     1,336,856.70

AUD

 $                        287,084.96

NZD

 $                          28,573.33

(Currencies converted into USD equivalent)

 

Tabletop games and video games

 

So, tabletop games got huge this year on Kickstarter:

 

It personally makes me very happy (and I did contribute actively to that category myself) as I love board games, but it also makes me wonder what video game projects creators could learn from tabletop game projects.

The main problems their funding is to solve are fundamentally different. Video games have a high, fixed cost (the game development) and board games have a high, flexible cost (production and shipping of those games). That’s why the crowd funding works so well for board game as they can scale their main cost based on their popularity, a luxury video games don’t have. On the other side, video games have a lot of flexibility in the way they can deliver their projects and the way they can spread their development process over time – Double Fine and Revolution both deciding to deliver their games in two parts is clearly playing to that advantage.

 

But I digress as I think there is a lesson to learn from the success of board games (just FYI, the success ratio of tabletop game projects in 2013 was 53% compared to the 24% of video games):

Aim for the smallest amount that guarantees you can deliver your project.

 

Kickstarter is a platform that is perfect for projects that don’t aim for the moon, but promise a quality experience for the amount they ask for. I get to review a lot of projects on a regular basis from video games studios since I have started blogging about the crowdfunding of games – the vast majority of them are simply too ambitious and too expensive when considering the studio’s track record and its reputation. This is not the only point of failure there is, but this does seems to be the most common.

 

So, if I have a wish for games on Kickstarter for 2014, it might be “be more humble, be more successful”.

 

Special thanks to Potion of Wit for their help in the data-mining process.

 

And to end this note

Oh, and I didn’t forget that I promised this blog to cover two purposes: have a wonderful new year, we wish you and your families all the best for 2014!

 



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26th November 2013 by Diane

Come work with us!

  • ICO Partners is expanding – we are looking for a Senior European PR Executive. The description is the following :

 

Skills and requirements:

Graduate in public relations, journalism, marketing or related programme

  • Fluent in English and another European language

  • Minimum 3 year’s experience in a position involving contact with the media

  • Experience of people management preferred

  • Strong communication skills, both spoken and written

  • Ability to work with and analyse data

  • Self-motivation and sense of initiative

  • Interest and knowledge of online games is a plus

  • Skills and experience in online video marketing and communication (Youtube, Twitch…) is a plus

 

 

Responsibilities:

  • Managing relationships with journalists in one or several European territories
  • Managing relationships with clients
  • Team management responsibilities based on applicant’s profile
  • Writing of Press Releases and Media Alerts
  • Developing and updating media lists and contact databases
  • Participating in daily media relations tasks, including collection and analysis of press coverage, reporting, organization of events, working with related service providers to support projects, etc.

 

 

The job is full-time and based in Brighton, UK. Salary to be negotiated depending on experience.

If you feel you would fit the bill, please send us your CV and cover letter to jobs@icopartners.com. We look forward to hearing about you soon!



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1st November 2013 by Thomas

New report: Video Games in Turkey Market Research

Anyone who met us at gamescom this year know that  we have been working on two new reports on the game industry and we are very pleased to announce that our market research on the Turkish video game market is now available to everyone on our website.

 

It was a very productive collaboration with Smart N Digital Marketing whose insight in the market was essential as we prepared the report. We also received a lot of support from local actors who answered a lot of questions and shared their insight with us.

 

You can find details on the report content over here.

 

 

We made an infographic to illustrate some key data on the market:

 

Print

 



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3rd September 2013 by Thomas

Kickstarter UK – First half of 2013

uk_starter2It has been some time since I last checked on the progress of Kickstarter in the UK for the blog. With Kickstarter launching in Canada next week, it seems like an excellent time to look at the performance of the GBP projects again. I have pulled some data (from early July) and tried to get a feel for the current trend.

 

Read the rest of this entry »



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9th August 2013 by Thomas

New website for ICO Media

LOGO_ICOMEDIA - SFA short update to point you in the direction of our new website for ICO Media, our comprehensive PR service.

 

ICO’s PR activity has grown significantly since we started it in 2009, but we always kept it under the ICO Partners umbrella, mostly as a way to keep things simple. As it has grown significantly lately, we have decided to give it a proper space on the Internet with the launch of our ICO Media website. It’s light, simple and (hopefully) straight to the point:

 

So please take a few minutes to check it out:
www.icomedia.eu

 

 

This is as good an opportunity as any other to remind you all that we will again be at gamescom again this year. You can contact us to arrange a meeting – or just drop by our booth to say hi – we are in the Hall 4.1, booth number A014.

 

 



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24th June 2013 by Thomas

Strike Suit Zero– The Kickstarter post mortem

 

I have promised to write a post-mortem on the Strike Suit Zero Kickstarter for a while now. I haven’t done so for many reasons, but the main one was that I wanted to have the game out and most of the rewards delivered before doing so. The fact that the game has been released is one of the most interesting points here, and a good way to get a complete view of what the Kickstarter did for the game beyond the campaign.

 

For lots of reasons outside of my control as well as the studio’s, I won’t be able to share sales number for the game. It is unfortunate but hopefully, there will be enough to learn from here to still make it valuable.

 

As a short side note, I probably need to clarify my role with the studio: I am a Non-Exec Director of Born Ready Games and worked as an executive producer for the title (not hands on, providing on-going feedback on the project). ICO has been providing the PR for the game in Europe since it was first announced (back in 2011).

 

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10th May 2013 by Thomas

Post-Quo Vadis note and upcoming May events

I haven’t had much time to follow-up on the past events – apologies for this. Quo Vadis was great again this year, very interesting discussions there and a LOT of discussions on crowdfunding… That intrigued me, so I looked at the statistics for video game projects and where they are coming from on Kickstarter (the most discussed platform then).

 

Here are some figures I pulled on the repartition of projects for the year 2012 – they tell quite a telling story: Read the rest of this entry »



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18th April 2013 by Thomas

Indie Game Summit – GDC 2013: slides, raw data and extra thoughts

I have been a bad boy. It has been weeks since my lecture at the Indie Game Summit during GDC and I haven’t put the slides on the blog. Hopefully, anyone interested in them already got a look at them on SlideShare, but I do need to share them here as well, and I need to share more.

First things first, here are my slides from GDC:



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13th March 2013 by Thomas

That trend blog post – 2013 edition

divination1With Diane taking a much deserved break, I took on to write on the regular blog post on what we think are going to be the trends in our space for the coming year. Not to put her to shame, I decided to be even more late in delivering this than she usually is. It is also likely to be a different kind of look at the trends, hopefully, it will be equally interesting. If not, come back in a year.

 

Read the rest of this entry »



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26th February 2013 by Thomas

Upcoming conference presence (and Kickstarter in the UK part 2)

I will be talking at 2 events in the near future, in both occasions, it will be about crowd funding and Kickstarter. While this probably comprises less than 2% of my time, I think  it makes feel event organizers that much more comfortable in inviting me talk about the topic.

I am not selling anything to the audience and I have no agenda when I come as a speaker. It makes me scratch the itch, so we are all winning in the end.

So, what’s cooking?

 

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4th February 2013 by Thomas

New report out – Client-based MMORPGs in Europe

We are very happy to announce that we have released our first market report directly available on the website. This is a very specialised report as we looked into client-based MMORPGs specifically, with a deeper look on how they perform in the largest countries of the region (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland).

Read the rest of this entry »



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16th January 2013 by Thomas

Kickstarter for video games in the UK

imagesKickstarter launched in the UK a bit more than 2 months ago, I wanted to have a look at the initial set of data. That data sample is quite small still, projects usually run for 30 days, so you only really have 2 months and half (kinda – see below) to look at, but still, it seemed interesting to check the early days.

I also want to point out that the data collected was done differently this time. I have gone away from the manual collection of data and now run a fairly simple script to collect my info. This is still limited to successful projects only, but there is no lower limit on the amount those projects have raised as opposed to the $10 000 I had set before (I still think there is a point in excluding the small projects for my purpose in the analysis I am doing, but here, this is very useful). Read the rest of this entry »



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7th January 2013 by Thomas

That seasonal blog post

It is that time again where we wish you all the best for the coming year. 2013 is holding a lot of promise for ICO Partners, some of which we should be able to discuss soon, others that are still in early stages, and all of them quite exciting.   Anyone whom I ran into last month probably knows from my raving rants at the time it was taking, but we have finally moved into our new offices. We have roughly doubled the size of the space we were in, as well as improved our autonomy. The offices are still in Brighton and very close to the train station for that matter. The details have been updated on the Contact Us page, but here they are again, for good measure: ICO Partners Office 6, 10 Fleet Street Brighton BN1 4ZE United Kingdom   More news from us very soon, but meanwhile…

OUR BEST WISHES FOR 2013!!!

 

Happy_2013_web_450px



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14th December 2012 by Thomas

Kickstarter – Beginning of December numbers

imagesIn preparation for this week’s panel at Evolve, I refreshed the data collected on the successful Kickstarter Video Games projects. We decided at the last minute to focus more on projects stories rather than talking about data on the platform, but as the work was done, and it was 3 months since the last time I had a look, now is the perfect opportunity for a blog post on this. Read the rest of this entry »



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27th November 2012 by Thomas

Panels ahoy – Game Connection Europe and Evolve London

The year is not just over yet and I will be attending a couple of events before the holiday break. You are very welcome to join and say hi if you are at the events.

 

Game Connection Europe

 

The event starts tomorrow, in Paris, and I will be contributing to two panels there:

- I will be moderating a panel on marketing entitled New vs Old – What does Video Game Marketing Look Like Now? where we will discuss what has changed in today’s marketing, and what didn’t change. It’s on Thursday at 3pm. Link

 

- On Thursday as well, at 5pm, I am one the two panelists invited to talk about… big surprise… Kickstarter! The panel, creatively named Funding Your Game with Kickstarter, is moderated by Kickstarter’s Cindy Au and my co-panelist is Stainless’ Matt Edmund. I suppose he will be talking about Carmaggeddon and I will be sharing my experience from the Strike Suit Zero campaign. Link

 

London Evolve

 

On the 11th of December in London, I will be on the Kickstarter panel taking place at 5pm. This should be a very different discussion, more focused on the potential of that platform as well as its risks and shortcomings, as the title implies: Kickstarter : Industry Game Changer or Flash in the Pan? Surprisingly, I think I am the “pro-Kickstarter” component of that panel. Link

 

 



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21st November 2012 by Thomas

Gstar thoughts and feedback

While it is still relatively fresh in mind, I want to share about our experience from the Gstar 2012 and what we saw and learned there.

 

First of all, you can find a summary of the event over at Thisisgame: http://www.thisisgame.com/en/2012/11/19/gstar2012-wrap-up

 

As highlighted in the article, the most impressive change from last year’s event was the very strong switch to mobile that Korea is operating. So, of course, there were still many online games present, but having probably around 50% of the B2C showfloor taken by mobile publishers was very impressive (and think about it, how much space is usually taken by mobile games at other shows?).

 

And that’s my biggest take away from this year discussions – Korean developers left that online corner they stayed in for so long and a lot of them moved to mobile. Last year, there was an interest in social games, but this is nothing like it.

 

There are multiple reasons for that strong change in the developing landscape, but the biggest one mentioned is the stellar (recent) success of Kakaotalk in the game space.

 

Kakaotalk is an online chat app for mobile (with VOIP as well) that has been very widely adopted in the country. It runs on iOS and Android (and Bada and other OSes that don’t matter much) and many operators bundled it and its adoption is crazy.

 

In July, they launched their first games (on the Appstore for iOS obviously, and Google Play for Android), including Anypang, a match-3 game, heavily using the Kakao contacts as a social graph (leaderboards and gifting). The game has been *very* successful. They report 10m DAU, in a country of 50m inhabitants (I think users outside of Korea are negligible), and significant revenues (that figure varied a lot depending on who you talked to but it averages around $1m per day).

 

It has created a lot of attention to the mobile space in general and Kakao in particular – with many studios lining up to integrate with them. It also means that money from investments is quickly leaving the MMO space towards the mobile space.

 

If you are interested in that market, I recommend you to have a look at the Kakaotalk app: http://www.kakao.com/talk/en

 

And Dragon Flight, the current game doing very well for them (Google Play link):
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.NextFloor.DragonFlightKakao&feature=nav_result
Discussing the Kakaotalk success last week, I was asked why I thought it worked so well, compared to Facebook for instance (or Skype). I think a short answer should be: “Check the app!”.

It is very easy to use, very quick to load and does what it does very well. This is a Dropbox case: service existed before, but was overly bloated (see Skype – I won’t launch the app on my phone, it takes ages to launch, ages to load, difficult to navigate). Kakaotalk also works on every device.

 

It seems that in Japan, The Line, a similar app, might get the proper momentum and build a similar success and start challenging DeNA and Gree presence. And we might have other apps doing the same in different countries. Whatsapp was mentioned (SEA and Spain), as well as Tango (North America)…

 

Interesting to see how this will develop…

 

When discussing with local developers and publishers, I collected a few rough estimates on the mobile market make up. Take those with a grain of salt, but it does help in getting an impression:

 

In the past year, the mobile OS distribution seems to have completely shifted. Where iOS was the main one a year ago, Android has taken over (through Samsung devices mostly but not exclusively). I was told 89% Android, 10% iOS, 1% margin of error for others – it is probably exaggerated but it highlights the current trend.
Another change, the carrier Android app stores have lost lots of market share, with Google Play being currently the main App store (about 50%), followed by Tstore – the android app store of SK Telecom (30%), Apple App Store (10%), and Others completing the count.
That change seems to have happened through users getting educated about the ecosystems (and not liking being tied to their carrier for their apps) as well as Kakaotalk pushing all its android distribution and payments through Google Play.
One last bit of relevant info: I was told that there was close to no piracy on Android in Korea.

 

Like every year, going to Gstar was a very good experience. We had excellent meetings, we were able to have a peek at trends from a very different territory and we met with local industry people that we don’t have the opportunity to catch up with at other events.



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