Crowdfunding websites generally allow anyone to post projects, although may encourage them to provide details about the final product they are creating or discuss the risks involved in production of the product. Typically, project creators will set a funding goal and a deadline by which they aim to reach that goal. Although different crowdfunding websites handle it in different ways, on Kickstarter and other sites if the project does not receive its full funding goal before the deadline the project creators will not receive any money and those who pledged money will not be charged for their pledge. Typically project creators will set up a tiered reward system for those who pledge money to the project, so that when individual contributors pledge a certain amount they will receive certain rewards in return. Rewards vary greatly, but typically a copy of the game is included as a low tier reward, while higher tier rewards commonly include early access to the game, exclusive in-game items or perks, or a special edition of the game.
Crowdfunding is almost always used by independent game developers, for lower budgets projects, or for those with a niche audience. Such projects are often motivated towards crowdfunding as they may not be able to receive funding through conventional publisher support due to potentially low economic returns or potential uncertainty about economic return for an investor. It is important to note that games that have received crowdfunding do not necessarily use crowdfunding as their sole or even primary source of funding and that higher budget projects may be funded through a variety of means.
Crowdfunding for games really took off when Tim Schafer set up plans to fund a then unnamed adventure games through his Double Fine studio. The high profile campaign resulted in Kickstarter achieving a type of legitimacy and other big names quickly followed.