The rise of crowdfunded products in recent years has been a boon to projects that might not have survived a long and winding corporate road to consumers. And while technological innovations, food, and film draw a lot of those dollars, it may surprise you to learn that the gaming category is at the top of Kickstarter’s leader board. Donors have spent a total of $813 million on nearly 38,000 different video and analog game projects, with board games dominating most of the market.
Starting May 1, board game and comic book publisher Space Goat Productions is taking that marriage of direct-to-consumer financing and entertainment a step further. They’ve launched a Wefunder campaign that will allow people to become equity investors in the company best known for its Evil Dead II, The Terminator, and Howling board games.
“We are the first publicly-owned board game and comic book hybrid company,” Shon Bury, Space Goat’s president, tells Mental Floss. “We have a foot in both niches.”
Equity fundraising was first made possible in 2012, when Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, also known as the JOBS Act. The legislation allows companies to solicit investors for an ownership stake with the potential for a financial reward: The ability to sell to anyone online, not just private investors, began in May 2016. Bury, who had grown tired of seeking capital from banks reluctant to lend to small businesses, saw an opportunity for gaming fans to take on a larger role in the publisher’s efforts. Campaigns that people have a personal investment in—like the Beta Bionics fundraiser to back an experimental diabetes monitor, which raised over $1 million—tend to attract the most attention.
“Comic book and board game fans like the participatory process,” Bury says. “Something about that type of consumer wants to get involved in the hobby with creators.”
By law, investors in Space Goat or any other company must invest a minimum $100 to obtain a future equity share with the company, which has been estimated at a $5 million potential valuation cap. While they don’t get to outvote Bury, who is the majority owner, they can—at certain pricing tiers—get involved in beta-testing games, offer feedback, and get discounts off Space Goat merchandise.
The money raised during the Wefunder’s 45-day campaign will go toward company overhead, production costs, convention expenses, marketing, license acquisition, and distribution of games to retail outlets. Both Evil Dead II and The Terminator are slated for a 2018 release, while The Howling, an original board game titled Game Buds, and a possible Evil Dead II graphic novel are on tap for 2019.
With Kickstarter campaigns, donors are usually reserved copies of the product along with incentive extras. For Wefunder, the objective is to back the company as a whole, not just a single release. If Space Goat continues to be successful, investors will be able to sell their shares once a second round of crowdfunding begins or if the company goes public. If they elect to keep their shares, they’ll get a proportional percentage of their net profit. Company valuations and revenues will be SEC-compliant, Bury says.
“This is an actual investment with risks,” he adds, which means it’s possible you could, like any investor, fail to realize a return. But for some gaming fans, wagering on the appeal of werewolves, Deadites, and Skynet is likely more interesting than trading pharmaceutical stocks.