Blockbuster Effects

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When a new project launches, the first thing its creators do (if they hope to be successful) is promote it to their friends and fans. This starts a ripple effect of promotion and backing that often accelerates if the project is picked up by a well-read blog or online community. This is how the majority of audiences are introduced to projects.

As we've grown, we've heard people worry that it will be harder and harder to fund projects as the total number of projects grows. They wonder: Do more projects mean greater competition for the same dollars? 

And when there's a blockbuster project, they ask: Are these projects stealing backers from other worthy projects?

For both questions, the opposite actually appears to be true. Projects aren't fighting over a finite pool of Kickstarter dollars or backers. One project's backer isn't another project's loss. The backers that one project brings often end up backing other projects as well. Each project is not only promoting itself, but the Kickstarter ecosystem as a whole.

How's the health of the Kickstarter ecosystem right now? Currently there are more projects funding on Kickstarter than ever before — more than 4,500 in all. That big number is good news for both current and future project creators.

To illustrate that point, let's look at two recent blockbuster projects: the video game Double Fine Adventure and the webcomic Order of the Stick. Both projects raised more than $1 million — and brought a flood of new backers in the process.

Double Fine Adventure

Double Fine Adventure is the largest project in Kickstarter history by pretty much every metric, including dollars pledged and number of backers.

  • Dollars Pledged: $3,336,371
  • Total Backers: 87,142
  • First-Time Backers: 61,692 (71%)

Double Fine brought a lot of new people — more than 60,000 first-time backers — to the site. Did that activity extend to other Video Games projects? To measure this, we calculated the average number of pledges per week to projects in the Video Games category before and after the launch of Double Fine. The dotted line marks Double Fine’s launch; pledges to Double Fine itself are excluded.

In the month before Double Fine, the Video Games category averaged 629 pledges per week. After Double Fine's launch, the Video Games category averaged 9,755 pledges per week, excluding pledges to Double Fine itself. The jump is similar in terms of dollars:

  • $1,776,372 was pledged to the Video Games category in Kickstarter's first two years. In the six weeks after Double Fine, $2,890,704 was pledged ($6,227,075 counting Double Fine).
  • Before Double Fine, one video game project had exceeded $100,000. Now, nine have. 
  • Wasteland 2, a million-dollar game project that launched after Double Fine, has received nearly $400,000 in pledges from Double Fine's first-time backers.

Did only the Video Games category benefit? Of the 60,000 people whose first-ever pledge was to Double Fine, 13,715 of them (22%) have backed another project. Here's their activity after their Double Fine pledge:

  • Dollars Pledged: $877,171
  • Distinct Projects Backed: 1,266

To date, new Double Fine backers have pledged an additional $875,000 to 1,200 projects. Here are those pledges by category:

Category Pledges Dollars Pledged
Games 18,055 $639,862
Design 986 $64,557
Film & Video 1,137 $46,245
Comics 897 $45,772
Technology 366 $27,022
Publishing 503 $15,552
Art 231 $12,862
Music 404 $11,918
Fashion 82 $6,034
Food 153 $4,813
Theater 36 $1,304
Photography 30 $1,147
Dance 9 $83

Games had most of the activity, but every category — even Dance — got pledges from new Double Fine backers. About $250,000 has been pledged to projects outside of Games.

Order of the Stick

Let's look at the same metrics for the webcomic Order of the Stick:

  • Dollars Pledged: $1,254,120
  • Total Backers: 14,952
  • First-Time Backers: 11,343 (76%)

How did Order of the Stick affect pledges to other Comics projects? Here are the average pledges per week before and after its launch. All pledges to Order of the Stick itself have been excluded.

Even in Comics, one of the more established categories on Kickstarter, you can see a big bump. In the month before Order of the Stick, the Comics category got an average of 780 pledges per week. After the launch of Order of the Stick, that doubled to 1,653 pledges per week.

How about for non-Comics projects? Of the 11,343 people whose first pledge was to Order of the Stick, 2,455 of them (22%) have backed another project. Here's their activity:

  • Dollars Pledged: $206,766
  • Distinct Projects Backed: 722

More than 700 projects got pledges from Order of the Stick's first-time backers. Like Double Fine, they pledged to every category:

Category Pledges Dollars
Games 3,017 $109,549
Comics 710 $43,437
Design 293 $21,796
Film & Video 232 $9,433
Publishing 257 $7,216
Technology 75 $4,129
Food 72 $3,521
Music 88 $2,981
Art 62 $2,382
Fashion 15 $1,321
Photography 21 $563
Theater 19 $374
Dance 5 $62

Combined, Double Fine and Order of the Stick raised more than $4.5 million, and their first-time backers have pledged another $1,083,937 to 1,000 other projects. Double Fine and Order of the Stick's achievements have inspired tons of press and even other projects — as of today more than 35 projects have been launched by first-time backers, and 4 have already been successfully funded. Fellow blockbuster Wasteland 2 launched after being inspired by Double Fine. 

These projects illustrate how the Kickstarter ecosystem is strengthened with each new project and backer. We'll keep an eye on these trends and share more findings when we have them. Thanks for reading!

(Update: we originally noted that over 200 projects had been started, but not all of these projects have yet launched, or necessarily will launch.)

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