The Kickstarter Blog

Supporting an Open Internet

Kickstarter was built on the foundation of an open Internet. We — like Twitter, Wikipedia, and everything awesome on the Web — would not exist without it. The more than 65,000 (and counting!) creative ideas that have been brought to life with Kickstarter depend on a free and open Internet.

On Sunday I wrote a Washington Post opinion piece sharing Kickstarter's thoughts on how important Net Neutrality is to the future of the Internet, and today we filed an official comment with the FCC. As citizens of the Internet and believers in innovation, we’re proud for Kickstarter to wave this flag. We hope others will also voice their opposition to get the attention of the FCC before they make a decision this fall.

It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae and cynicism of the Net Neutrality debate. It’s everything we hate about politics: money trumping common sense, and the loudest voices being those with the cash to hire lobbyists. Unfortunately, just believing in the common good rarely translates into political influence. But sometimes it does — as we saw with the SOPA victory in 2012, our voices can be powerful when we use them together.

As John Oliver so brilliantly implored us to do, we can all share our feelings with the FCC directly on their site, or through the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s tool. The deadline for this round of comments is July 15.

The Internet as we know it depends on an open Web with equal access for all. That core principle is very much in doubt. Please join us in making a stand — for everyone's sake. Thanks.

2014: The Second Quarter in Numbers

A lot has happened since April when we last took a look at the numbers — we threw a block party for the Kickstarter community, shared the Creator Handbook, created a page that collects over 100 Kickstarter-funded games, went to the White House Maker Faire with a dozen creators, and launched some new features to make starting a project even easier.

Here are the full numbers for Q2 (April 2 - July 1, 2014):

Dollars pledged to projects: $144,210,565
Average pledged per day: $1,584,731
Successfully funded projects: 5,716
Total backers: 1,132,329
New backers: 703,604

Here’s a snapshot of what April to July looked like:

By the Numbers:

1,000,000,000 dollars now pledged to successfully funded projects.

1,584,731 dollars pledged, on average, each day in Q2.

373,977 Project Updates were “liked” between April and July. That’s a lot of good updates!

105,857 people backed Reading Rainbow, which now holds the record for the Kickstarter project with the most backers.

11,724 people backed more than 10 projects.

1,073 Kickstarter-funded films were submitted to the Kickstarter Film Fest! (We watched every single one of them! See the final slate here.)

370 people backed more than 50 projects.

148 Kickstarter-funded games are available to Play Now! Here are some of the top picks from members of the community.

113 new sub-categories! We added everything from Space Exploration to Vegan Food to Mobile Games to Photojournalism, and more. Some might say there’s a sub-category for everything.

24 Kickstarter-funded products were featured in the MoMA Design Store.

20 works of art were featured in Kickstarter’s first art show! We included pieces by Jeremy Bailey, Swoon, Heather Hart, Howard Tangye, and the Marina Abramovic Institute.

11 people spoke with us for a story that answered the question Why there are so many wallets on Kickstarter?

10 new people joined the Kickstarter team between April and July.

3 Kickstarter-funded comics were nominated for Eisner Awards!

2 new featured categories were added. Say hello to Journalism and Crafts!

1 awesome block party went down! Thanks to the tens of thousands of people who came out to enjoy a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Relive it here.

For more, check out our stats page, updated at least once a day with the raw data behind Kickstarter.

How to Host Your Own Kickstarter Film Fest

The fourth annual Kickstarter Film Fest begins July 18 in Brooklyn, with more screenings to come in Los Angeles and London. Can’t make any of those? No problem! The Kickstarter Film Fest can also swing by … your house! To learn how to screen the whole program for yourself and your friends, just watch the video above. (Go ahead, we’ll wait.)

Got it?

For reference, here's just about everything you’ll need to have a great DIY fest of your own:

  • A thing to watch on. A computer works great. A big-screen TV is even better. And if it’s nice where you are, you can get a projector, go outside, and watch the festival on a great big white sheet or a wall.
  • A thing to sit on. Chairs are cool, but the thing you sit on can also be the ground. If it’s the ground and there’s grass, maybe get a blanket involved, so your clothes don’t stain.
  • Popcorn (optional). To get popcorn, basically just apply heat to some unpopped popcorn kernels. A little oil helps. Some people like to add butter and salt.
  • Beverages. Popcorn can be salty, especially if you salt it. Keep a delicious beverage handy! (This is not optional because it’s actually pretty important to stay hydrated.)
  • People who you like who maybe enjoy films. One thing we’ve learned at Kickstarter is that the world is full of terrific people who enjoy watching films while sitting on things and holding delicious beverages. You probably know some. You’re probably related to a few! Get them in the mix. The more the merrier.
  • This link. You'll have to wait until July 18th before you use it — but once everything’s ready, you'll be able to head right here and get started. Have fun, and thanks for helping all these great films come to life!

Announcing the 2014 Kickstarter Film Fest

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been anxiously watching and waiting to learn the exact date and time you can head over to our fourth annual Kickstarter Film Festival. Who wouldn’t be excited to spend a great evening under the stars, eating food, listening to music, watching amazing film, and having an all-around blast?

Well, the wait’s over, and the 2014 Kickstarter Film Fest is nearly here. The festivities will kick off on July 18th, at 7:00 pm in Brooklyn, NY’s beautiful Fort Greene Park. And that’s just the beginning. This year we’ll also be bringing the fest to Los Angeles (September 12), London (TBA), and — wait for it — your house! That’s right, your house. The 2014 Kickstarter Film Fest will be free to watch online, so we encourage you to toss a blanket down in your backyard, hang a sheet on a clothesline, load a cooler up with some cold beverages, and enjoy the show with friends and family. (More details on that to come.)

This being our fourth time hosting the film fest, we decided to switch things up a bit, so early this year we announced an open call for submissions — for features, shorts, animations, documentaries, webisodes, music videos, or any other film work coming out of the Kickstarter community. We received 1,069 submissions, watched every single one of them, and didn’t even get in any fistfights over which were best. We’ve put together an incredible program for you, featuring everything from a love story about animated sheep to a documentary about Libyan rebels to — you knew this was coming — a star-studded zombie comedy.

That’s not all. In Brooklyn, we’ll also have live musical performances from the Asphalt Orchestra marching band and singer/songwriter/guitar-genius Kaki King. Plus treats — sweet, savory, and occasionally both — from friends like Brooklyn Soda Works, Butter and Scotch, La Sonrisa Empanadas, and the popcorn scientists at Pop Karma. Plus more! Including hundreds of your friends and neighbors who love film as much as you do.

Join us, will you? Friday, July 18th. 7:00 pm. Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. Or L.A., or London, or your house — see you there.

Final Countdown: How Three Projects Made it Just In Time

Some projects make their goal in the first few days. More often, though, we see the ones that inch toward their goals slowly and steadily. And on occasion, it comes down to a photo finish as the project crosses its funding threshold in the last few hours (or even minutes!). Those are the projects that we, at the Kickstarter office, are watching, refreshing, and obsessing about.

We thought it would be interesting to talk about this final-day phenomenon, so we picked out three creators with projects of varying goal amount, and asked them to talk about the last day. What was it like, with its anxieties, triumphs, and emotional moments? Those three creators were Remy Karns from Classroom Aquatic, Tina Essmaker from The Great Discontent, and Anna Wilson from Delta Mouth Literary Festival.

The funding graph for Classroom Aquatic
The funding graph for Classroom Aquatic

The graphs for Delta Mouth and Classroom Aquatic show a pretty gradual climb. How did that feel?

Anna: We have some dyed-in-the-wool supporters, but we have to work pretty hard to remind a lot of busy folks that our fundraising efforts come with expiration dates and that we really truly cannot make the festival happen without grassroots funding. Overall the response was positive and people admired the effort we had to put into the project to maintain activity. Some folks questioned the validity of this type of fundraising, with comments like, "Why doesn't the school just pay for the festival?" This was an opportunity to share information and stories speaking to the need for crowdsourced arts funding, both practically, as states slash arts and education budgets (hello, Louisiana?), and ideologically, as state-funded event will inevitably support a different group of artists than an independent event.

Remy: The gradual climb was something we were very pragmatic about. Despite this being our first Kickstarter, we were all aware of the "bathtub" nature of how projects received funding. Everyone was very excited about the working on the game itself, so we never let a middle-period day with very low funding get us down.

The funding graph for The Great Discontent
The funding graph for The Great Discontent

Conversely, The Great Discontent had a strong start and then plateaued. How would you describe the response?

Tina: Our community is extremely enthusiastic about The Great Discontent. Our readers are very loyal, and many of them have sent us messages about how the stories of the people we’ve interviewed have had an effect on them, from providing general encouragement to helping them make major career decisions. We’ve always encouraged our community to take risks, and this was a really cool experience because the tables were turned—we were the ones taking the risk, and our readers were the ones encouraging us!

How would you describe your communities in general?

Remy: Wonderfully supportive! It was great to see all the community feedback about the game, whether it was private messages sent to us or people making videos of themselves trying out the demo.

Anna: The LSU literary community is pleased that student organizers have been moonlighting to bring this event together and we have received support from both the English Department and the English Graduate Student Association. A lot of our organizational efforts strive to make the festival truly a community event, and we dedicate significant resources to bringing innovative literary artists out into the larger Baton Rouge community--readings/performances take place at venues around town. We're still building awareness in Baton Rouge but we have received significant support from Baton Rouge Gallery and from businessman Dave Remmetter, an owner at Chelsea's Cafe and Radio Bar.

Tina: In general, people are very supportive. Our readers are amazing, and so are the people we interview—many of them have become friends.

The funding graph for Delta Mouth Literary Festival
The funding graph for Delta Mouth Literary Festival

How did you keep people engaged with the project throughout its life?

Anna: We used a combination of social media and in-person hounding.

Tina: We did a few things; some were planned, and some were spontaneous. We posted the campaign link in the about section on all of our social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and on our site. We posted daily updates on Twitter and Facebook to remind people that the campaign was happening. We added new rewards halfway through our campaign to keep things exciting. And a little over halfway through, we added two print-first features to the magazine, one which we chose and the other which we asked our backers to choose.

Remy: We kept the community engaged by listening to their comments and criticisms about our Kickstarter, always letting our backers know that we would answer any and all questions they had, and tailoring our updates and edits based on what they wanted to know more about and what they responded most enthusiastically to. The community around the game was indispensable in helping direct the idea of the game and how we pitched it.

A lot of your support came from the very last day. What did that day feel like, and how did you get through it?

Anna: I sort of pretended that I didn't have room to consider that our project might fail. Yes, it was nerve-wracking, a bit, but I believed in Kickstarter stats that indicated that if we funded substantially we were very likely to make our goal. I deeply believe in the festival's mission and I think this helped a lot. I I just focused on my faith that people would come together to support art and community!

Remy: It was an incredibly emotional experience. On the final day, we were quite a ways away from our goal, and by that time we had come to accept that we weren't going to make it—we were even in the process of mapping out our eventual relaunch! We were all being very pragmatic and objective about it— "Oh, well, you know, it was our first try, we learned so much and can do it better, it was a valuable learning experience and we'll get them next time," but despite all that, I remember feeling a wave of sentimentality towards everyone who had contributed to our project. After I began posting my updates thanking everyone who had supported us, people began taking to social media en mass to bring about support for the game: friends, family, designers I consider my heroes, people who had covered the game or interviewed us, all these wonderful people began working to help us reach our goal. I'll admit, I was bawling. I couldn't suppress how grateful I was to everyone who had help make this a reality.

Tina: When we woke up on the last day of the campaign, we still needed over $35k to meet our goal. We weren’t sure if it was possible. We had raised $30k in the first 24 hours of our campaign, but we had less time than that to raise even more money! In the morning, people were already buzzing about it online; some said it looked like we wouldn’t meet our goal and others were showing support and urging friends to donate. We had already accepted that we might not meet our goal, but we decided to give it one last shot and really promote it.

We spent the day hunkered down at our computers. It was hard to focus on anything; the excitement was palpable, and we were running on sheer adrenaline. We felt like underdogs, but our community carried us over the finish line. It was a true testament to the people who believe in The Great Discontent and us. By the time we reached our goal, we were exhausted, but in honor of the campaign, we met up with Frank at The Meatball Shop for celebratory drinks and ice cream sandwiches. That night, we went to sleep feeling extremely grateful.

Meet the Team: Julie and Jake

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Julie and Jake:

Julie Wood (@juliewood)

Job: "I talk to reporters and producers and bloggers about Kickstarter and awesome projects."

  • Happy Trash Day — "Sanitation workers have the hardest job! This little art project throws surprise parties for them when they come around to pick up the trash."
  • Grow Urban Farms in Brooklyn's Empty Lots — "Pretty simple: productive green space > vacant lots."
  • Korengal — "This film depicts the daily-life experiences of American soldiers in war. I backed it for a ticket to the premiere, where brilliant filmmaker Sebastian Junger shared some important wisdom about promoting a culture that supports veterans, and how we can just all be better to each other."
  • Bring Sunny's Back Home! — "This was the first Kickstarter project I backed. Sunny's is the best. Red Hook! Cheap beers! Tunes!"

Jake Loeterman (@jakeloet)

Job: "I investigate risky behavior and figure out how to keep our system healthy."

  • Introducing Art History to Inmates — "Learning about art can often be a transformative experience. It would be amazing if this became a trend."
  • High Voltage Image Making — "These are prints of film exposed to a blast of electrical charge, the effect of which is something like scientific tie-dye: the fractal-like networks, set against blurred abstraction, create a cosmos. They're totally mystical."
  • Dorrance's "It's All About Mimi" — "My mom and I loved this book. A minimalist chic mom understands her newfound motherhood through an aesthetic. It's hysterical."
  • NeoLucida - A Portable Camera Lucida for the 21st Century — "I wrote my senior thesis on Vermeer, so when I saw this affordable remake of the camera lucida designed by two art professors, I was stoked."

The Dunk Contest of the Century of the World Actually Happened

The hoop before the contest by Mark Campbell
The hoop before the contest by Mark Campbell

Comedian Ben Larrison wanted to organized an elaborate dunk contest that involved competing against WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, dunking over a baby doll, dunking while taking a selfie, dunking with scissors and generally just slam dunking in as many inventive ways as he could think of. Larrison turned to Kickstarter, got Swoopes involved and put on the event. We liked the sound of it, so we asked him to send us a brief rundown of how it went. Spoiler alert: he lost.

For far too long, dunking has been the domain of the tall, the skilled, and the athletically gifted. Shorter-but-willing dunkers like myself were excluded from the joy that comes with soaring through the air and thrown down a sick jam, just because the majority of basketball hoops are an arbitrarily-cruel 10-feel tall. It was, simply put, unfair.

No longer.

On Wednesday, June 11, I competed against basketball legend Sheryl Swoopes in a slam dunk contest on a Fisher-Price children’s basketball hoop.

Seriously.

Sheryl Swoopes wooing the  judges/sitting on one of their laps by Mark Campbell
Sheryl Swoopes wooing the judges/sitting on one of their laps by Mark Campbell

The event will forever be known as The Dunk Contest of the Century of the World, and its impact will hopefully resonate throughout the dunking world for weeks—or even months—to come.

Sheryl Swoopes doing her best  Michael Jordan impression by Jesse Gomez
Sheryl Swoopes doing her best Michael Jordan impression by Jesse Gomez

The dunking was fierce and inventive, ranging from the innovative (Swoopes taking a mid-dunk selfie, to the absolute delight of the crowd) to the adventurous (me dunking while running with scissors and simultaneously being shot at with Nerf guns by a former U.S. Marine.) In the end, Swoopes—a three-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time WNBA MVP and four-time WNBA champion—was ultimately crowned The Dunk Contest of the Century of the World champion, because obviously. But together, we proved that, just as Kevin Garnett predicted, anything is possible.

Sheryl Swoopes dunking over two  members of her staff by Nicole Vespa
Sheryl Swoopes dunking over two members of her staff by Nicole Vespa

Now sure, this epic, five-round, winner-takes-all slam dunk extravaganza between a celebrated, world-renowned athlete and a 5’5” comedian/ridiculous person most likely had no real excuse happening. But somehow, thanks to Kickstarter and some amazingly awesome and generous people, it did, and the result was one of the coolest, craziest, most fun things I have ever experienced. The fact that there is a platform like Kickstarter that allows crazy people like me to pursue ridiculous ideas like this—all for the sake of making the world a little more weird and a little more fun—just makes me unbelievably happy and hopeful and thrilled. So thank you, Kickstarter, and thank you my Kickstarter friends, for being a part of this ridiculous thing.

Ben Larrison dunking over a baby  (doll) by Paul Lorsbach
Ben Larrison dunking over a baby (doll) by Paul Lorsbach

SLAM DUNK!

Ben Larrison decked out in some swag he’d just be given by Sheryl Swoopes, celebrating after the judges award him some points by Mark Campbell
Ben Larrison decked out in some swag he’d just be given by Sheryl Swoopes, celebrating after the judges award him some points by Mark Campbell

Ben Larrison is a writer and comedy person living in Chicago.

Introducing Play now

Since Kickstarter launched in 2009, people all over the world have pledged more than $250 million to over 10,000 games projects. That’s more than any other category on Kickstarter. A lot of these projects are tabletop games, but many are video games. Any way you look at it, the numbers are staggering.

These are games by independent developers and studios, sometimes just one or two people, and sometimes the tireless efforts of many, all working to create something for other people to enjoy. These are games like FTL: Faster than Light, Wasteland 2, The Banner Saga, Octodad, Castle Story, and, of course, Broken Age.

Today, we’re excited to create a new home for these games. It’s called Play Now, and it’s a collection of over 100 Kickstarter-funded games that you can play right now on Steam. From retro zombie survival games like Organ Trail, to vintage reboots like Shadowrun Returns, to platformers like the magical Creavures, Play Now highlights all the incredible ways game developers are exploring the medium. And this is only the beginning. We’ll be adding new games to the page as they arrive, and working with Steam to make sure we’re featuring as many Kickstarter-funded games as possible. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just curious about what’s out there, you’re sure to find something you’ll want to play. Not sure where to start? No worries, we spoke with many of the people behind these games and got their take. See their picks here.

P.S. If you have a Kickstarter-funded game coming out on Steam, and you want us to feature it on the Play page, email us at games@kickstarter.com and we’ll add it to the page!