Sometimes you need a little extra help getting your game made, and who better to rely on than the fans? Many a game company or aspiring indie developer has turned to crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter to make their dream game, and a lot of games get funded that way.
Some games, on the other hand, make an absurd amount of money through Kickstarter. Here are the top 10 highest-funded games through Kickstarter ever.
But first, an important note about Star Citizen.
According to the Kickstarter page for Star Citizen’s initial campaign in 2013, it states that the game received $2,134,374 from 34,397 backers, which is not enough to land it a spot on this list.
However, the official Star Citizen website combines the Kickstarter money with the money directly obtained through the website in its full total, which is now around $250,000,000. This is an absolutely ridiculous sum, and some of it was obtained through Kickstarter, so I’m throwing it an honorable mention before we get into the list.
Without further ado, here are the top 10.
$2,707,269 (£2,090,104) from 73,206 backers
It isn’t surprising that Yooka-Laylee made the list based on what they were advertising. It was right there in the campaign title: A 3D-Platformer Rare-vival! The idea of a 3D platformer from the team behind Banjo-Kazooie was enough to inspire seventy-three thousand people to invest in a true return to form.
The whole gang got back together, and though Yooka-Laylee didn’t fare the best, the lizard and bat haven’t hung up their hats yet. The franchise continues with Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, and it’s all thanks to the original Kickstarter campaign.
9. Myst: The 25th Anniversary Collection
$2,810,127 from 19,304 backers
A lot of people want to play a lot of Myst. The Myst 25th Anniversary Collection launched in April of 2018 to celebrate the Myst legacy by compiling the seven Myst games together in a unique package with original artifacts, and, here’s the kicker, it was exclusive to Kickstarter.
Sure, the games were all going to be made available on Steam and GOG at some point, but the pitch was the ultimate collector’s box, exclusive to Kickstarter backers.
The appeal of getting this unique box set, or even just the digital copies of the seven Myst games, clearly spoke to a lot of Myst fans; Cyan Worlds, Inc. made 1,100% more than their original goal.
The box is a cool idea, and the original games being made available is a good deal. Fans really liked the idea, because Myst made $100,000 more than Yooka-Laylee with 54,000 fewer backers. If there was a special list for games that made the most money with the fewest backers, I’m sure this Myst collection would be near the top.
8. Wasteland 2
$2,933,252 from 61,290 backers
You’ll notice nostalgia as a major contributing factor in a lot of these campaigns, and Wasteland 2 is no different. The original Wasteland was released in 1988, and the Kickstarter for the game’s sequel launched a whopping 24 years later, in 2012.
So, when inXile Entertainment gathered much of the original team behind Wasteland and the first Fallout games and asked for $900,000, fans were eager to pitch in.
The Kickstarter was over-funded, and the game was made. The Kickstarter was so successful that it funded the Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, also on Steam. Here, in 2019, Wasteland 3 is on the way; once again, nostalgia and about 70,000 fans furthered and resurrected a franchise.
7. Ashes of Creation
$3,721,809 from 19,576 backers
Hey, an original property! And with such a simple goal, too, since all Ashes of Creation sought to do was bring about the rebirth of the MMORPG. Simple, really, very simple.
Okay, so maybe Ashes of Creation has some lofty ambition. This open-world, non-fiction based, high-fantasy MMORPG seeks to bring real choice and consequence to the MMO, where no two server will be the same.
I say ‘seeks’ instead of ‘sought’ because the game has yet to be released. It was beyond fully-funded in 2017, and the release date is yet to be announced, but production is still rolling. A battle royale mode went into early access in September, and there is more to come.
6. Broken Age (Double Fine Adventure)
$3,336,371 from 87,142 backers
This campaign was very unique. Double Fine Studios, responsible for Psychonauts and Costume Quest, have always been proud of their indie heritage. They acknowledged how Kickstarter has helped a lot of studios make their game, and decided to do the same.
They went to Kickstarter with the goal of being the first big studio to crowdfund a game and then develop it in the public eye. That game ended up being Broken Age, a point-and-click adventure starring Elijah Wood.
The money also went toward a documentary about the game’s development to help show people what behind-closed-doors game development is like. The project was backed in less than 8 hours, Broken Age turned out pretty good, and Double Fine returned to crowdfunding for Psychonauts 2 a few years later. Just not on Kickstarter.
5. Mighty No. 9
$3,845,170 from 67,226 backers
Nostalgia returns bigger and better than ever, and it did not turn out so great. Everyone wanted a new Mega Man game, including the father of Mega Man himself, Keiji Inafune. He wanted a new one so bad that he took to Kickstarter to essentially make a new Mega Man game without Mega Man.
He and his studio, Comcept, asked for $900,000 to make the game, and since they got way more money than that, they continued to bite off more than they can chew with their stretch goals.
Many delays and one very, very long story later, Mighty No. 9 eventually released with decidedly mixed reviews. It was a famous disaster and pretty mismanaged, but it certainly made a lot of money.
4. Pillars of Eternity
$3,986,929 from 73,986 backers
Remember Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment? So does Obsidian Entertainment, and they want to give it back to you, but shiny and new. Pillars of Eternity as designed from the ground up to evoke the feel of those old RPGs.
You know the story: the old gang (being the people who worked on those old RPGS) gets back together, asks for $1,100,000, and the fans are there to over-deliver.
Pillars of Eternity was a resounding success, as was the campaign, and a successful franchise was created. A sequel to Pillars of Eternity, called Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, was crowdfunded (not on Kickstarter) successfully as well, releasing in 2018.
3. Torment: Tides of Numenera
$4,188,927 from 74,405 backers
inXile Entertainment makes its second appearance on this list, this time with another RPG called Torment: Tides of Numenera. This spiritual successor to 1999’s Planescape: Torment takes place in the world of the tabletop RPG Numenera, and sought to evoke the feeling of the old RPGs like Pillars of Eternity.
Torment: Tides of Numenera asked for $900,000, and was fully funded in just six hours. Once again, due to the insane amount of money they actually received, stretch goals caused them to delay the game for a few years, and the game was finally released in 2017.
2. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
$5,545,991 from 64,867 backers
Kickstarter is once again the place to go if you can’t continue to make games in your own franchise. This time it’s Castlevania and Koji Igarashi, assistant director on Catlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The Kickstarter campaign made $5.5 million, resulting in two games instead of the original promised one, and the games proved than fans are still itching for side-scrolling RPGs like Castlevania.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night both released pretty recently; the project only launched in 2015, so it made good time. A lot of money, a hallowed franchise, and a dev team filled with veterans? Sounds like a game destined to be on this list.
1. Shenmue 3
$6,333,295 from 69,320 backers
The most recent release on this list is also the highest funded. It had been 14 years since the last Shenmue game when the Shenmue 3’s Kickstarter launched, and as of 2019, the series is now a trilogy, and it’s thanks to almost 70,000 backers.
Though this game had its fair share of controversy before it released; the decision to release on Epic before Steam did not please the backers, to say the least.
Shenmue is back, and it wouldn’t be possible without crowdfunding. The ingredients to all of these games existed on their own; all they needed was the melting pot of Kickstarter to put them all together.
To read more about Shenmue 3, check out the wiki guide to help get you through the game.