Almost one year ago in June 2010, the board game Alien Frontiers made waves online. The game was being send to print, but it was not due to the deep pockets of a major publishing company. It was the efforts of fans, contributing a few dollars at a time through fundraising website Kickstarter.com, that brought this game to life. A story such as this could have come and gone, but the x-factor in this situation was that Alien Frontiers turned out to be one of the best games of the year.
Suddenly, every gamer wanted to be a part of the next hot Kickstarter project. They had plenty of reason to be, given that while most Kickstarter-funded games will be available through later print runs, initial backers will get the first copies. Often, these will include some exclusive mini-expansion or upgraded components. The key reason, though, stems from initial availability. Following the original Kickstarter printing, it can be many months (potentially years) before a second print run hits shelves. To demonstrate this point, copies of Alien Frontiers are fetching over $100 on eBay.
Hot on the heels of Alien Frontiers, the deck building card game Eminent Domain came along and became the highest grossing Kickstarter board game to date, even making the site's hall of fame. Eminent Domain originally sought $20,000 in seed money to produce their game, but came away with $48,378 from 699 individual backers. The extra money will be used to create as large of a print run as possible, with additional pre-orders taken at select retailers or directly from publisher Tasty Minstrel Games, but initial demand is still thought to outweigh the available supply.
The confluence of board games and Kickstarter goes beyond even the games themselves. Recently funded projects have included documentaries covering the board game industry and the culture surrounding it. Under The Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story fulfilled its $20,000 goal and closed on March 11th, but even more impressive is Lorien Green's documentary Going Cardboard, which raised more than double its $4,500 funding target almost immediately out of the gate. Even though the film is funded, Green has promised to put any extra funding to good use, and the project is still open for new backers all the way to April 23rd. Taking one look at the ridiculously impressive list of game designers who have been interviewed so far, this looks to be the definitive board game movie.
Take a look at the scene today on Kickstarter, the hot project of the moment is Rolling Freight from APE Games. The game enters one of the most strategically intense genres of board gaming (rail building and shipping) in an unconventional manner by incorporating dice. Rolling Freight may be the missing link between the casual Ticket to Ride and the punishing Age of Steam. This project is still open to new backers until the evening of April 5th, and must reach it's $18,000 funding goal in order to move forward. Currently, Rolling Freight needs less than $2,000, so it will likely be successfully funded as gamers realize they don't want to miss out on the next Alien Frontiers or Eminent Domain. Head on over to the Kickstarter project page to put your own order in before time runs out.