Gloomhaven Publisher Leaves Kickstarter for Backerkit via Blockchain


Gloomhaven Publisher Leaves Kickstarter for Backerkit via Blockchain

Backerkit has been the trusted backend for crowdfunding projects for many years, handling the shipping and organizational logistics for Kickstarter campaigns. Now the San Francisco-based company is building its own crowdfunding platform that will compete head-to-head with Brooklyn-based crowdfunding giant Kickstarter. Backerkit crowdfunding emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, and one of its first live campaigns is being run by one of its competitor’s biggest success stories: Cephalofair Games, creators of the critically acclaimed board game Gloomhaven.

Since 2015, Cephalofair Games has raised more than $17.9 million on Kickstarter. His recent campaign for a game called Frosthaven, is the largest tabletop campaign in Kickstarter history and the fourth most funded project on the platform. However, Cephalofair founder Isaac Childres says he’s had enough of Kickstarter, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was Kickstarter’s most recent foray into blockchain technology.

We disagreed with the decision to take blockchain to court,” Childres wrote in his company’s newsletter on Tuesday. “So we’ve made it clear that our upcoming project will be crowdfunded, but not necessarily a Kickstarter project. And we started seriously pursuing other options.”

In December 2021, Kickstarter unilaterally announced that it would migrate its platform to blockchain technology. The backlash from the developer community came quickly. Kickstarter has since hit the brakes, slowing but not stopping the transition to a novel protocol based on “Proof-of-Stake” cryptographic technology. It is also looking for a new CEO.

“Kickstarter made it clear to us that they want to be at the forefront of the transition to Web3,” Childres wrote, “and Cephalofair Games just isn’t about that. Kickstarter hasn’t provided a concrete example of how moving to a blockchain will make crowdfunding better for developers or backers in the 7 months since their announcement, and pretty much all we’ve seen from the crypto space in that time is widespread fraud, theft and financial ruin. We’re quite hesitant to move in any way that would associate us with it or enable any of it.”

Asked for comment, Kate Bernyk, Kickstarter’s senior director of communications, referred Polygon to her company’s announcement, also made on Tuesday, that it had completed the formation of its proposed Community Advisory Council. It will be tasked with providing “guidance” for Kickstarter’s “roadmap for future development,” the announcement said.

“Creators need to choose the platform that suits them best,” added Bernyk. “Kickstarter is a project-based platform, and we recognize that what works for one project may be different than another. Our goal is our mission, not market share. We are focused on making sure our platform best serves the thousands of creators who use it to bring their work to life.”

Backerkit traditionally handles developer post-Kickstarter campaigns, helping to organize shipping, add-on products, community management, and all sorts of bells and whistles that accompany modern board game campaigns. Childres cited this tenacity and flexibility in supporting its customers as a key reason for the change.

“We knew they were the right people for this because they are constantly innovating,” Childres wrote. “They are always to pay attention and look at everything in the crowdfunding space to see how to make the service as useful and streamlined as possible.”

That feeling seems to be reinforced by Backerkit’s own explanation of its goals and processes.

“We never cease to be amazed at the workarounds developers come up with to connect with their existing backers and connect with new ones,” Backerkit wrote in its announcement. “Creators deserve a platform that embraces these strategies, encourages exploration, and develops tools to help creators apply new techniques that are proving effective. That’s why we believe in working closely with developers, observing how they work and listening to their feedback. We want to make sure your experience with Crowdfunding by BackerKit gets better every time.”

Backerkit crowdfunding will also include many other tabletop companies. The landing page features an upcoming project from Exalted Funeral, Leder Games (Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile), Tuesday jousting (mothership) and Bigger Than Games (Guardians of the Multiverse), among other.

Backerkit isn’t alone in its quest for tabletop crowdfunding dollars. Serial entrepreneur Marcin Świerkot, founder of board game publisher Awaken Realms, recently brought his crowdfunding platform Gamefound out of beta. His goal this year is 25% of Kickstarter’s tabletop revenue for 2022, or $67.5 million earned on tabletop campaigns in 2023.

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