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Crowdfunding Year in Review: Top Grossing Projects of 2012
© Image: Eric Blattberg /

Crowdfunding Year in Review: Top Grossing Projects of 2012

In case you hadn't heard, 2012 was the year that crowdfunding exploded onto the scene. Sure, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub and others were around before this year, but the last 12 months saw the very concept permeate much deeper into the collective consciousness. 

Numerous new platforms like and niche platforms like Medstartr opened their doors, the JOBS Act in the US and other laws in Europe opened the door for equity crowdfunding, and donation-based campaigns began to collect seven-figure totals from the crowd.

To kick-off our year-end review of crowdfunding in 2012, our team profiled the five highest-grossing projects of the year. Lots of them have to do with gadgets and gaming, as you'll see. I want to make it clear that these big money-makers are just a small slice of the overall crowdfunding pie, and we believe this top five reflects the fact that gamers and gadget early adopters have emerged as a kind of early "sweet spot" for donation-based crowdfunding. More about that in a massolution research report coming out soon.

It's also important to note that there's more exciting things happening across all crowdfunding platforms than we have time to cover. Many of them don't bring in (or really even need) millions of dollars and don't generate as many headlines. Rockethub, for example, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for important, science-based projects through its SciFund Challenge. Indiegogo has become the go-to place for instant fundraising in response to whatever is happening in the world, from the Connecticut school shooting to building a Goddamn Tesla Museum or sending a bus monitor on a well-deserved vacation (or more likely retirement).

We'll profile more of those projects soon, but for now, here's a look at those top five earners for 2012:

#5. Reaper Miniature Bones (Figurines)
Platforms: Kickstarter
Total raised: $3.4 million
Reaper gave its backers a choice: help grow the line relatively slowly by reaching the $30,000 goal, or make its popularity explode by hitting stretch goals. (Read our full project profile.)


#4. Project Eternity (Video Game)
Platforms: Kickstarter and PayPal donations
Total raised: $4.3 million 
When it comes to running a flawless crowdfunding campaign, Obsidian Entertainment may just take the cake for its Project Eternity Kickstarter page. (Read our full project profile.)


#3. Star Citizen (Video Game)
Platforms: Kickstarter and IgnitionDeck (web plugin)
Total raised: over $7 million 
In the video game industry, few people are as recognized as Chris Roberts, so when he announced a new title was in the works, it’s no surprise people paid attention. (Read our full project profile.)


# 2. Ouya (Android Game Console)
Platforms: Kickstarter
Total raised: $8.6 million 
When Ouya launched its campaign, few had even heard of the oddly named video game console. Within 24 hours, however, that had changed. (Read our full project profile.)


# 1. Pebble Smart Watch
Platforms: Kickstarter
Total raised: $10.2 million 
The Pebble smart watch is the most successfully-crowdfunded product to date, with nearly 70,000 backers on Kickstarter. Even the watch's makers probably didn't think such success was possible. (Read our full project profile.)


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