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Monster Hunter World: Iceborne board game launches and quickly funds on Kickstarter

The campaign launch follows layoffs at UK-based Steamforged Games

Key art for Monster Hunter World: Iceborne The Board Game, including blue hero minis and grey monsters. Image: Steamforged Games via Kickstarter
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Steamforged Games, the British company behind tabletop crossovers like Elden Ring: The Board Game and Dark Souls: The Roleplaying Game launched and successfully funded a new product Thursday. The Kickstarter campaign for Monster Hunter World: Iceborne The Board Game began at 1 p.m. EDT and has already crossed the finish line with the equivalent of more than $620,000 pledged. The campaign runs through June 1, with an estimated delivery date of November 2024.

The announcement and successful funding of Iceborne comes amid a flurry of news about Steamforged. On Monday, the company said that it had completed shipment of the last 174 copies of Monster Hunter World: The Board Game to eager backers around the world. Then, on Tuesday, Dicebreaker reported that the company had previously laid off some 20% of its staff in March of this year. Steamforged characterized that move as a restructuring, not a sign of financial weakness. The company quickly bounced back Thursday morning by announcing a long-term, four-game partnership with Kickstarter — a first-of-its-kind partnership for the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding pioneer. Steamforged simultaneously launched and funded Iceborne.

Steamforged burst onto the scene in 2016 with Dark Souls: The Board Game. It went on to stack one success on top of the other, using Kickstarter to promote and successfully fund many more video game crossover titles inspired by Resident Evil, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Monster Hunter. It’s biggest misstep, however, has been with the Dark Souls tabletop RPG. The initial print run of the book was so riddled with errors and inaccuracies that the company opted to reprint the book free of charge for its most loyal early adopters.

According to Steamforged and Kickstarter’s joint announcement, the partnership between the two companies will include “collaborating on educational content for emerging games creators as a way to support the next generation of tabletop publishers.”

Kickstarter used the occasion to push back against the idea that Kickstarter is, in some way, detrimental to the ongoing health of small businesses, creating a boom-and-bust revenue cycle that many creators have mentioned to Polygon in the past.

“There’s a common misconception that creators need to ‘graduate’ from Kickstarter but, especially in the tabletop industry, that isn’t the case,” Kickstarter’s chief strategy officer Jon Leland said in the company’s blog post. “This partnership with one of our biggest tabletop games publishers is a testament to the fact that Kickstarter can be part of an ongoing business model that works beyond initial success. This is the first time we’ve done a partnership like this and we’re hoping to continue finding impactful and creative ways to deepen our relationships with creators of all sizes, across all categories.”

Tabletop games remain the single largest source of crowdfunding income for Kickstarter, comprising roughly one third of its total revenue from backers. In 2022 the company saw the first decline in tabletop revenues since 2014.

Update (June 1): The crowdfunding campaign for Monster Hunter World: Iceborne The Board Game has closed. Thanks to a total of 13,111 backers, the campaign brought in the equivalent of more than $3.5 million. Delivery is expected in Nov. 2024. Late pledges are now immediately available as pre-orders on the Steamforged website, starting at $81 — roughly the same price as via Kickstarter, but without any of the components exclusive to the crowdfunding campaign.

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