Kickstarter Custom Luxury Playing Card Deck Market 2014-2020, Part 1

Well, instead of writing about my various decks of cards, or posting more of them on eBay (check them out) in hopes of being less card-poor (I’m fine, I just want to sell some extras πŸ˜‚) I thought I would poke around and see if I could understand a bit more about this Kickstarter Custom Luxury Playing Card Deck phenomenon.

Initial Findings: this market grew 40% in 2020.

Some of the cards in question. Go ahead and judge me by my books.

I found an amazing resource: the Webrobots Kickstarter archive which goes back to 2016. I have done an OK job of understanding the campaigns I’ve backed, but that’s only about 60. And it turns out that there are a LOT more than that — which I’ve been super curious about. So I downloaded just one of their JSON files, from mid November in this year, and got to work.

I’m not a data scientist, but I’m also not particularly shy about jumping in and taking a look. With a little bit of python and some know how (read: googling), I massaged the file, simplified a lot of the data (timestamps were in unix format lulz) and flattened it (embedded objects, who needs them) and then brought it into a Google sheet. Which you are welcome to look at.

And then I decided I would do a quick pivot table, to summarize everything by year. The market itself has been growing quite nicely, including about 40%, from $6.2m in 2019 to $8.7m, in 2020. NO WONDER I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO KEEP UP with all the beautiful decks.


Well, one possibility is the data is wrong. I’m super early on this, so: maybe.

Another possibility is that KS has turned into more of a marketplace for custom playing card decks, and less of a crowdfunding site, and so it’s just where you go.

Still another idea is that with everyone bored in 2020, and many people unemployed, this is a good gig for people who YES PLEASE would like to make a little cash. Good for them.

Now some notes on the data:

The webcrawler data appears to insert some duplicates, I don’t know why, but I’ve attempted to remove those. Also they make it clear that they only return what KS gives them — so the data may be incomplete.

I’m using the “Playing Cards” category, and while I’ve filtered out anything with “Tarot” in the name, I have not scrubbed the rest of the data and we all know there are some non-custom playing card deck items in there.

There’s a remarkably small number of failed projects in this data, so I consider that data unreliable.

Anyway, fun to look at the data this way. What I’d like to do is get to an aggregate view of how supporters pledge per deck — see some of my analysis here — and really what I should do is stop buying bricks of decks.

Side note: more than 10,000 people supported a Name of the Wind art deck to the tune of $630,300. Apparently it’s a whole series of popular books. You can buy the popular 4 deck set for $168 on eBay — 3,653 backers paid $50 for this back in 2017. $630k. Wow.

Happy Saturday!

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