Board game publisher Ravensburger has made a surprise move into the world of crowdfunding with a $4.5 million investment in Kickstarter rival Gamefound.
The veteran German publisher is best known in the hobby for publishing board games including The Castles of Burgundy, Puerto Rico, Labyrinth and Disney Villainous, with a particular focus on family and children’s titles. The company also produces a number of jigsaw puzzles. As of last August, market research provider Euromonitor International estimated Ravensburger to be the second-largest Games and Puzzles company in the world, behind only Monopoly, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering maker Hasbro.
Ravensburger’s investment in Gamefound will see it join forces with Awaken Realms, the tabletop studio behind board games Nemesis and Tainted Grail, which launched the crowdfunding platform last year.
According to Awaken Realms, Gamefound projects have raised more than $22 million in total to date. Notable projects to have launched on the platform include the board game adaptation of hit video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which raised over £1.2 million; Awaken Realms’ own sci-fi co-op ISS Vanguard, which raised over $4.9 million; and the standalone expansion for dice-building RPG Too Many Bones, Unbreakable, which saw close to $3.4m pledged.
While Ravensburger has not crowdfunded any of its own games to date, the announcement of its investment in Gamefound said that the company would “lend industry expertise to Gamefound’s growing community and play a role in continuing to develop the platform’s tools and offerings”.
The publisher’s global head of games, Filip Francke, added that the company “evalurates over 1,000 game ideas a year”, but is only able to release a handful itself. Francke said that Ravensburger’s involvement with Gamefound would “help deliver even more game experiences to tabletop fans around the world”, but did not specify exactly what this would mean.
Awaken Realms CEO Marcin Świerkot indicated the investment would help Gamefound to increase the size of its team and “develop new functions [for] bringing the platform to the next level”. The company previously laid out its "vision of crowdfunding’s future" for 2022, taking a swipe at Kickstarter in the process.
Ravensburger’s partnership with Gamefound is the first investment under the publisher’s Next Ventures initiative, launched earlier this year as an effort to invest in startups and projects in and around the games, toy, books, puzzles and education markets. The company said it would initially invest in up to four projects a year via the programme.
Ravensburger’s move into crowdfunding comes at a time when the previous dominance of Kickstarter in the tabletop industry looks to have wavered, with several high-profile projects launching first on Gamefound and a number of creators actively looking for alternatives to the platform in the wake of its controversial planned move onto the blockchain in 2022.