A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business has surveyed over 47,000 Kickstarter backers and concluded that successfully-funded Kickstarters still have a roughly one in ten chance of failing to deliver.
While this may seem to be of chief interest to Kickstarter backers, developers who use Kickstarter to fund their own work may also appreciate how the survey results shed light on how Kickstarters that fail to deliver spoil the platform for other creators.
In short, they don't. Of those surveyed, 73 percent of Kickstarter backers who felt burned by a successful Kickstarter they backed (i.e. they did not get their promised backer reward, or the reward they got did not meet their expectations) agreed that they would still be willing to back another Kickstarter.
That's especially notable in light of the fact that earlier this year the state of Washington concluded what it called the nation's first-ever crowdfunding consumer protection lawsuit by ordering a Kickstarted (card) game creator to pay $54k for failing to deliver on promised rewards.
To get his data, study author (and occasional Gamasutra blogger) Ethan R. Mollick worked with Kickstarter to survey 47,188 Kickstarter backers of 30,323 projects that successfully funded.
Working from those results, the rate at which project creators fail to follow through on their promises fluctuates depending on how you mark failure: 9.95 percent of Kickstarters fail to deliver according to at least one of their backers, but only 5.6 percent of successful Kickstarters are considered a failure by all of their backers.
For a deeper dive into the data, check out the full report [PDF].