"It's still a Coke and Pepsi world in crowdfunding," said Wharton School professor Ethan Mollick, but he added that he does expect the industry to splinter a bit, for example, with smaller platforms growing up around private companies and universities, the real estate industry and even on the basis of demographic divisions.
"Part of the advantage of a Kickstarter or Indiegogo is the many millions of people on both platforms, and that gives you user base. Why doesn't everyone have their own Twitter? There is economy of scale," he said. The Wharton professor said another reason the crowdfunding duopoly attracts the most users is established fraud protection protocols, both through an active community of informed backers who can "sniff out" suspicious projects, as well as platform algorithms that monitor projects for signs of potentially bad intentions.
Mollick doesn't think Roberts' success is the best example of crowdfunding's go-it-alone future, either, because Kickstarter has more or less already "won" video games, but he added, "The key to crowdfunding isn't the funding part but the crowd part, and if you can attract your own crowd, then this strategy might be a viable alternative."
While Roberts said that his industry is significantly different from many others and some of the techniques he used won't be a universal help to other crowdfunding projects and crowdfunded companies, he does have one suggestion: If there's any way to avoid it, skip physical rewards.
Instead, for digitally-oriented projects, focus on backer bonuses that will impact the experience directly. It's something useful for backers instead of a trinket that will likely be shoved in a closet or tossed someday, and it will save the project creator money.
"The physical side is cool, but it's more difficult to distribute on a worldwide basis," Roberts said. "That's the problem with crowdfunding, especially with games. You tend to focus on physical, and most people don't realize how expensive it is to manufacture and ship those. We said, 'Give us more money and we'll give you a better digital ship in the [game's] universe.' That was kind of revolutionary, since before that it was 'We'll give you statue, or a bigger box or dinner with development team.' As a gamer, if I'm backing a game, I want something that improves the game, not sits off to the side."