2,526 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
While pledges can be made by anyone over 18 years old, the equity crowdfunding model is open primarily to individuals in the European Union. The platform’s FAQ section stresses that all potential investors outside of the E.U. must first conduct the proper due diligence about investment laws in their countries.
U.S.-based individuals are barred from investing, at least until the SEC specifies the rules around equity crowdfunding (which is supposed to take place in early 2013). Still, giving Americans the option to pledge money toward a project – which wasn’t one of the options when Gambitious entered its beta phase – is a step in the right direction.
“As exciting as equity crowdfunding is, we think it’d be crazy to ignore fan donations,” Wilson said. After all, he explained, a fan who simply wants to pledge $20 in return for a copy of a game will not want to deal with the more involved investing process.
Indeed, there has been much talk of crowdfunding video games lately, and most of that has been focused on the pledge-based platform Kickstarter. To date, it’s helped game developers and hardware designers raise nearly $55 million for game-related projects. In the video game subcategory, Kickstarter has helped five projects raise over a million dollars, and a sixth is about a week away from finishing its campaign. Its games-related projects sport a 34% success rate, lower than the 44% rate spanning all categories, but still a respectable percentage.
The competition from the crowdfunding giant, however, does not intimidate Gambitious’ cofounder.
“I’m Kickstarter’s biggest fan and I’ve spent too much money supporting friends’ projects on there in the last year and a half,” Wilson said, laughing. “The reality is, it doesn’t work for everyone. It may be that just a different developer that gets funded through us versus what would get funded on Kickstarter. We think equity [crowdfunding] is a natural evolution, we think people are really going to be into that once they figure out how it works.
“Other than that, once we build a community on Gambitious, people are going to enjoy interacting with people who are just into games – it’s a pretty dedicated, vocal and interested audience,” Wilson continued. “Giving [gamers] a place for crowdfunding that’s just for them is important.”
Echoing some of the concerns raised by crowdfunding detractors, Wilson thinks that a “backlash” may occur soon against crowdfunded projects. There’s been some of that already, as backers of the record-breaking Pebble project keep waiting for their smart watches, which the designers originally intended to ship in September. This is something he and his team hope to avoid.
“There’s going to be a negative reaction,” Wilson said. “Not towards Kickstarter, necessarily, but toward crowdfunding in general. As we stated when we launched, our mission is to try to protect this [crowdfunding] opportunity for game developers.”
While it's too early to tell how the investors and backers will react on Gambitioius, the developers on the platform are so far expressing positive feedback. One of the most recognizable names on the platform is 3D Realms, the maker of the popular Duke Nukem franchise. The developer will use Gambitious to crowdfund Earth No More, a post-apocalyptic first-person shooter.
The game had been shelved and revived on several occasions, and rumors have circulated that it may have been brought back into production. In an email exchange with Crowdsourcing.org, 3D Realms owner Scott Miller confirmed that the game is returning (though he would not comment on the campaign’s launch date and how much his team is looking to raise).
“The Earth No More concept is super solid, and compelling,” Miller said. “And while I cannot say too much about it, there's a current effort in turning it into a film or TV series, so it also makes sense to get it back on track as a game experience, too.”
Miller sees crowdfunding as “an exciting new door to opportunities.”
“I think it's a true breakthrough for passionate, creative, driven entrepreneurs who might not have seen their babies born without the help of passionate fans who can see the potential in this new model,” he said.
And what brought him to Gambitious, specifically?
“Gambitious takes project funding to a new level,” Miller said. “Not only does it cater to fans in the same way that Kickstarter does so well, but it adds a institutional investors to join the party. And even more exciting is that it allows both fans and institutional investors to invest in a new way: ownership is now possible.”
Smaller developers are also looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Gambitious. One example is GL33k, a turnkey game audio company that decided to create an iOS game called Cosmic DJ. The game’s developers are looking to raise €35,000 ($45,250) over the next five weeks.
Matt Piersall, GL33k president and founder, told Crowdsourcing.org that aside from the core concept of crowdfunding, Gambitious’ focus on video games also appealed to him.
“Because it’s a game-focused site, it was going to be easier for us to stand out, as opposed to going to a larger, more established crowdfunding site where we could very easily get lost in the mix,” Piersall said. “It’s a better way to get noticed.”
In the near future, Wilson said the Gambitious team will continue to work with regulators in the E.U. and the U.S. to make equity crowdfunding a smoother and more local process. Until then, fans can donate to one of a number of projects currently live on the site.
To learn more about the platform, check out our From the Crowd podcast featuring Gambitious cofounder and CEO Paul Hanaraets.
This post was UPDATED on October 1, 2012 to clarify Gambitious' standing with the SEC and FINRA. Gambitious has not received "pre-approval" for equity crowdfunding in the United States from the SEC. Rather, Wilson was referring to Symbid (Gambitious' backbone technology) having received the CAPS accredidation, as initially reported in Forbes.