The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim The Board Game is on the way from Modiphius Games, publisher of the popular Fallout- and The Elder Scrolls-themed miniatures games. But it’s not coming to Kickstarter, the go-to crowdfunding site for new tabletop games.
Instead, the project will launch on Gamefound, an ambitious new crowdfunding platform custom-built for tabletop games. Created by board game developer Awaken Realms (Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon), Gamefound is announcing an ambitious slate of campaigns scheduled for 2021. That includes a refined collector’s edition of the award-winning Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and much more. Polygon has the exclusive reveal, plus new details on the platform itself.
The brainchild of Marcin Świerkot, founder and CEO of Awaken Realms, Gamefound hosted its first crowdfunding project in 2020. The campaign for ISS Vanguard, a miniatures-heavy science fiction board game, earned nearly $5 million. Speaking with Polygon on Wednesday, Świerkot said it was high time for a Kickstarter competitor to enter the space.
Crowdfunding has lit a fire under the entire tabletop industry, fueling a renaissance among small and large creators alike. The category has grown exponentially on Kickstarter since that platform was founded in 2009, including a 32% spike last year. Along with the much smaller category of video games, tabletop games account for roughly one-third of Kickstarter’s total annual revenue. But Świerkot says the platform has been slow to adapt to the needs of its most profitable customers.
“I think that the board games are the ones pushing the boundaries to the limits of what is possible [on Kickstarter],” Świerkot said. “They are certainly the most innovative in terms of rewards [...] the most complex for sure. I guess we as board gamers like to make things complex for ourselves.”
Świerkot says that Gamefound was designed with tabletop creators, and their fans, in mind. Stretch goals and add-ons — items like expansions and upgrades that commonly accompany modern tabletop games — are deeply integrated into the platform. That means customers should never have to leave Gamefound to manage their purchases, either during or after a campaign.
Currently, many tabletop creators utilize other platforms like BackerKit, which allow them to continue taking new orders and adjusting old ones even after a campaign ends. That can create confusion with consumers, and errors when games are finally shipped. Gamefound originally launched with a similar feature set some time ago, so those features are already available on the platform.
Additionally, Gamefound includes key information — like the timeline of campaigns, and details on their current funding levels — right at the top of the page. And there are handy links to the recommended pledge level and a campaign’s next stretch goal.
Community features are also a priority, Świerkot said. The platform already boasts a robust comments system with threaded conversations and hashtags. In addition, Świerkot told Polygon that his company is dedicated to transparency. While influencers and tabletop gaming personalities will be heavily integrated into the platform, the goal is for content to be clearly marked when it has been paid for by a developer or publisher, said Świerkot.
While more features will be available on his platform, Świerkot said that Gamefound will nonetheless be matching Kickstarter’s current fee structure. Just 5% of the funds raised will go to Gamefound, while 3% of funds raised will go to the payment processor.
There’s currently just one campaign live on Gamefound — Lucky Duck Games’ Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising, which is based on the tower defense video game series. Świerkot said that slow pace will likely continue throughout 2021 as a curated selection of titles and partners makes its way onto the new platform.
Among the first of those partners will be Modiphius Entertainment, which has made huge strides into licensed video game and pop culture franchises over the last several years. The company publishes games based on Conan and Star Trek, as well as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. It also has a Homeworld role-playing game, a Dishonored role-playing game, and a Dune role-playing game in development.
The first project from Modiphius to launch on Gamefound will be The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim The Board Game, which will draw on assets from the Bethesda classic. No details are being offered about the project at this time, but fans are encouraged to sign up at Gamefound for more information. Modiphius co-founder Chris Burch told Polygon that the crowdfunding campaign is expected to go live in June.
Also launching in 2021 is the collector’s edition of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. Designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek (Imperial Settlers, Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game) and first published in 2012, Portal Games’ narrative adventure title has won multiple industry awards — including the coveted Golden Geek from the community at Board Game Geek. The campaign for this upgraded version will offer plastic miniatures and a new expansion called The Book of Adventures, designed by Joanna Kijanka and previewed during last year’s digital Essen Spiel game fair. Expect the campaign to go live in March.
Three more campaigns have also been announced: The Domain of Mirza Noctis, a cooperative, hero-building adventure; Gaijin, an adventure board game set in cyberpunk Japan; and Monster Invasion, a collection of four titles from Peterson Games, creators of Cthulhu Wars. No launch date is available for those campaigns.
Gamefound is live now, and will allow new users to sign up to be reminded when new campaigns are launched.