Fig: Videogame Crowdfunding Gets Serious

••• Rob Stothard / Stringer / Getty Images

In the world of crowdfunding, video games is one of the largest categories receiving money from backers. It doesn't take long to research but if you look at the most successful crowdfunding campaigns, you'll quickly see that the list is littered with video games. Projects like Star Citizen, Shroud of the Avatar, and Shenmue III have literally raised millions of dollars from thousands of backers. We've written before about the top crowdfunding sites for gaming.

While this looks great, the future for video game campaigns on general reward crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo isn't so clear. Here's a recent quotation on Techcrunch from a gaming expert:

"The current leading platforms, they’re meant to be everything to all different industries. The campaign structure has to work as well for taxidermy as it does for $5 million video games.”

That's right -- on Kickstarter, it's hard to determine the serious games from the less serious games. Also, how can a backer determine how far along in development the title they're interested in backing is? Is this game just an idea? Or, is it a serious project with serious progress lead by serious people?

Enter Fig.

Fig: A Crowdfunding Platform Entirely Focused on Gaming

If gaming requires its own nuance form of crowdfunding, then Fig may very well be it. The new site recently launched and announced it received funding from serious investors like Spark Capital. In addition to plain vanilla crowdfunding, the site allows accredited investors to equity crowdfund, essentially investing in a game title in return for a share of the game's profits. (When virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift, ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and eventually got sold to Facebook for billions of dollars, backers felt somewhat betrayed.)

How does Fig differentiate itself from general crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo?

According to a Techcrunch article:

So how exactly is it different? Fig has a dark theme like Steam, where many of the games it funds might eventually be sold. It’s aggressively curated so you only see high-potential titles. It’s built around a development timeline that lets backers know how far along the game is. Fans can easily assemble bundles of different digital content rewards. And if they upload the necessary documents and legal info and put in at least $1,000, they can earn money if the game does.
For comparison, Kickstarter is overrun by games so it’s tough to know what’s worth funding. Cobbling together digital content bundles is awkward, discouraging pledges. And Kickstarter doesn’t offer equity crowdfunding. At its core, Fig is designed for flexibility, and can mold to the games it hosts.

Niche Crowdfunding and Why (Sometimes) It Makes Sense

As the biggest crowdfunding platforms in the world, Kickstarter and Indiegogo do an excellent job of creating vibrant ecosystems of all kinds of campaigns attracting backers from all walks of life. These sites will continue to grow at a very healthy rate as crowdfunding continues to gain traction.

But, there are some industries, perhaps like gaming, that require their own nuanced forms of crowdfunding. For example, I've compiled these lists:

Could niche campaigns be run on a site like Kickstarter? Sure, but if there's enough interest around a certain form of crowdfunding, it may make sense to specialize. Gaming appears to be well-suited to specialized crowdfunding. It's sexy, it's a proven money-maker for crowdfunding, and it requires a certain level of specialization to bring titles with the top potential to market.