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Opinion: Why I won't be backing Kickstarters anymore
Opinion: Why I won't be backing Kickstarters anymore
March 4, 2013 | By Mike Rose

March 4, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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In 2012, I backed a total of 18 game projects on Kickstarter, pledging more than $300 towards initiatives that took my fancy. And yet in 2013, I can't really see myself pledging anything at all via the crowd-funding platform.

At a time when Kickstarting video games is a hugely common occurrence, there's a number of negative points that are beginning to seep in -- not just for myself, but for plenty of others that I've talked to on the matter.

First and foremost, there's a huge amount of saturation going on. It feels like a new Kickstarter project that we're all meant to care strongly about is announced every single week, and I now find myself sighing upon hearing about new campaigns far more than getting excited about them.

But there's a lot more to it than simply an over-abundance of projects to back. As I mentioned back at the start of the year, 2013 will be the dawn of Kickstarter buyer's remorse -- a twinge I've already felt just this week.

[Note: Since this article was originally posted, Stoic's Alex Thomas has responded to the author's and others' criticisms in a blog post on Gamasutra.]

One of the first Kickstarter projects I backed was The Banner Saga, a turn-based strategy game based in viking culture that sounded right up my street. For $10 I could get the first chapter, with a November 2012 release planned.

I threw my money down eagerly, as did over 20,000 other gamers. The project smashed its $100,000 target, with a total of $723,886 cashed in overall.

banner saga.jpgBut then came the delays, and the stuff that I really didn't want at all. The Banner Saga was first delayed into the first half of 2013. Fair enough, I thought -- games are delayed all the time, so there's no reason to believe that Kickstartered games would be any different.

But the latest move by the development team most definitely goes against what I paid money for. The Banner Saga: Factions was released last week, a free-to-play multiplayer grind-a-thon that is based in the world of The Banner Saga.

As a result of the work on this multiplayer standalone -- a release that I do not care about in any way, shape or form -- work on the single-player campaign has been pushed back once again. "Our best guess right now is between mid and late this year," says the team.

Essentially, what has happened is that the team decided to build this free-to-play game due to the huge influx of extra cash that it received during the Kickstarter, and is now no doubt focusing a good portion of its attention on balancing and building additional content for this game, rather than actually making the game that myself and many others pledged towards.

In simpler terms, I was coerced into funding a game that I have absolutely no interest in, with the promise that the thing I actually do want will be coming at some point. This free-to-play game will also bring extra cash in for the team, meaning that it will no doubt slowly but surely begin to focus on the desires of its Factions players, rather than the people who gave it a voice in the first place.

Kickstarter Remorse

This is my first solid feeling of Kickstarter remorse, and it works to fuel my reasoning that backing Kickstarters is not as worth it as I had once hoped. I enjoyed backing projects on Kickstarter because it felt like I was helping the developer out and keeping their dream alive. That sentiment has most definitely ebbed away now.

What it all comes down to is this: The potential rewards for backing a Kickstarter aren't worth the risk. If The Banner Saga devs decide to continually focus on this free-to-play game, and push the main spectacle back further and further, there's nothing I can do. I pledged money based on trust, and nothing more.

And if any of the other 17 projects that I've backed (none of which have come to fruition yet) decide to bottle it and I lose my money, it's a similar scenario. In comparison, I could have just waited until the game's public release and probably paid at extra $5 to definitely receive a game.



But I already knew all this. I was always aware of the risks, and the fact that my money may end up being flitted away. What I came to Kickstarter for was the feeling that I was part of the development, and giving the studios I backed a pedestal.

Yet here there's nothing but disappointment. One part of feeling like I'd helped a studio out with my pledge was receiving useful updates about how development was going, and seeing new information before anyone else. Unfortunately, updates on Kickstarter have become frequent and unnecessary. For most of my backed projects I've turned email updates off, and for the others I usually read the update subject line, then hit "Archive" instantly without opening them.

I honestly couldn't care less if you've put out a new podcast, or got some new concept art to show me -- I want real content! Wasteland 2 recently updated with a preview video of how the game is going, while Sportsfriends only updates to let me know when my alpha builds are available to download. These are the sort of updates I want. Don't feel obliged to release an update if you have nothing decent to show me!

I stand by my theory that 2013 will be the year that Kickstarter buyer's remorse begins to sink in for many. That's not to say that backing numbers will decrease (there's still plenty of people out there who haven't experienced Kickstarter yet) but it doesn't look good for the future of the platform.


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Comments


Michael Pianta
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Will this be the year of Kickstarter remorse? Maybe. I've back four Kickstarters so far, but one of them was LA Game Space, so that's a different thing. Of the three regular ol' games I've backed, it will be interesting to see if all of them actually come out, and, when they do come out, if they manage to actually be what they promised. I am fully aware that it is risk, but I wonder if many other backers are not fully aware of that? It would be exceedingly ironic if this whole Kickstarter phenomenon managed to backfire and reinforce the traditional publishing model.

Mike Rentas
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Did you bother, you know, asking them what they're thinking? Maybe they wanted to develop this as a proof of concept for their animation style? Maybe they're trying to build hype for the main game? Maybe the Kickstarter money turned out to be insufficient to fund the full scope of what they wanted to do? I can think of a bunch of scenarios other than "they tricked me and stole my money and now they're just going to work on this stupid thing I don't like and never release what I want and it's all about me".

Personally I'm not interested in Factions either, but I'm quite excited for my Oculus Rift to show up, can't wait for Mercenary Kings (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/322438897/mercenary-kings), am looking forward to the imminent release of the first part of Tropes vs Women in Video Games... and generally I'm happy to have contributed even toward that look like they might not bear fruit after all. Shit happens, people miscalculate, minds change, things don't always pan out, but that's the whole idea of Kickstarter - you're giving someone a tiny investment without a solid expectation of return. You're helping a person with an idea you would like to help along circumvent the banking and VC systems, nothing more.

Kyle Redd
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Yeah, I don't understand his line of thinking either. He's essentially giving up on Kickstarter because one of the projects he backed has been delayed longer than he expected (but is still coming out), and also because some of the projects are giving out too many updates.

Mike, would you rather The Banner Saga not have been developed at all? That seems to be the alternative here. If you could go back in time and have to decide between donating $10 that would mean the difference between both the single and multi-player games being made, or neither of them, would you still back it?

I've put something like $1,000 into a couple dozen Kickstarter projects by now, and I can tell you with absolute confidence that I'm not going to regret a single pledge. Some of the projects will no doubt be a great disappointment. A few of them may turn out to be straight-up terrible. I don't care.

Wasteland 2 is a single-player, turn-based CRPG that is DRM-free. Cryamore is a Secret of Mana-ish action-RPG for the PC, also DRM-free. Barkley 2 is a follow-up to one of the most ludicrously offbeat freeware games ever. These games DO NOT happen without crowdfunding, period. I don't want to go back to that world. Does anyone?

Glenn McMath
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What makes this article even more ridiculous is that he didn't even need to ask the developers why they were making Factions. They explained it DURING THE KICKSTARTER. Factions was always planned to be released before the single player content, as it's a way for the devs to test, balance, and refine the core gameplay of the single player campaign.

The fact of the matter is, Chapter 1 of The Banner Saga has been delayed both because Factions took a bit longer than they initially estimated (which is understandable), and because they received 700% of their initial estimated budget, which has greatly increased the scope of production. All of this was spelled out in the updates that the author of the blog didn't bother to read.

But completely aside from the article's deficiencies, I agree with both Mike Rentas and Kyle Redd. Kickstarter is a way to allow developers to pursue interesting ideas that no publisher would ever sign. I don't expect or demand those developers to be beholden to MY will and wishes, because doing so would only mean that they had traded 1 overlord for thousands. It's reasonable to ask for transparency when you've backed a project, it's against the entire spirit of the venture to demand oversight.

Doug Paton
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I know I've stopped considering Kickstarter projects. Not so much through buyer's remorse (although I am a bit peeved about the Banner Saga situation - although in their defence this is pretty much exactly what they said they'd do).

For me it's because I've now pledged/invested as much as I'm comfortable with, and I'm going to wait until some/all of my current backed projects are done before putting any more money down on anything else. There's only so much I'm willing to spend on pie in the sky projects when there are real, playable games out there that I can spend my money on after all!

Michael Herring
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"...although I am a bit peeved about the Banner Saga [doing] pretty much exactly what they said they'd do."

Why on earth would that peeve you?

Phil Maxey
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It seems to me the issue you have or had was with the developers not the whole crowdfunding process itself. If you are not happy with a particular developer then you will not donate anymore money to them for future projects, and if it's the same for other pledgers then that developer will no longer be able to get funding via crowdfunding. That to me is the crowdfunding process working perfectly.

Crowdfunding anything is a risk. You look at the proposed project, you look at the people who are trying to put it all together and you make a decision based on whether you think it's worth putting your money into it, and also if what they are telling you is true. Taking all of that into account I don't see how you can really blame the process for making the wrong choice.

Having said that, crowdfunding is a very new process and I would of thought must evolve, perhaps to help minimise the risks involved for pledgers

I can't see crowdfunding ever going away, for this simple fact, for the first time players can fund games that they want made. This is something completely new and innovative. There definitely are some wrinkles that need to be ironed out and I'm sure they will, but the process is here to stay.

Justin LeGrande
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From The Banner Saga Kickstarter page:

"Play online: Though the single-player campaign is our focus, The Banner Saga provides a deep multiplayer game; build a unique party of characters and battle friends and enemies in multiplayer combat. Upgrade your party over time and devise new strategies."

"Additional funding allows us to give you:
A bigger, richer world. More characters in combat, more animation, more diverse landscapes, more music, engaging animated cutscenes, and more multiplayer options. We have a huge story we want to tell and this will let us deliver it in the most compelling, meaningful way."

Did you see these pieces of their proposal? According to this, John Watson of Stoic Studio basically told their backers that creating an additional product on top of the single player experience was going to be necessary at the higher backing levels to assist with total funding for their vision. They did not bamboozle you, they have followed through on what they laid out in their Kickstarter proposal. Perhaps you're not satisfied with the specifics of the proceedings, but it doesn't seem like you asked for clarification during the project funding period.

For me, all of the project leads on those projects which I have backed have spoken out on using methods of acquiring funds legitimately, without impacting the offer made to the backers. All of them have held true to their words, and all of them seem to be maintaining communications with their backers.

We all know that game development is not cheap. We also know that developing a product without a publisher hounding the development team gives them more leeway in their schedule, so they're not ever forced to work for 12+ hours every day, or even without weekend breaks. We have become so used to the breakneck speed of release schedules of the game industry because we have become so used to the expectations of publishers.

So, when a team or company goes indie, and no longer relies upon publishers, where is their income going to come from during this possibly prolonged development cycle? The donated amount from Kickstarter backers is not going to cover the expenses in most situations...

Justin LeGrande
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They might not have WANTED to focus on the multiplayer first, but to reach their ideals, within their still-limited budget, they probably needed to do so... Again, should have asked for clarification on Stoic's schedule planning, not call shenanigans just because it didn't turn out exactly according to our, the public's, perceived plan.

They may not have directly said anything about focusing on the multiplayer first, but they DID mention that additional funding brings more opportunities. More opportunities means higher costs, thus, they needed to focus on the potentially more profitable section of their project first. The multiplayer segment in games is usually more profitable than the single player segment, so they switched their focus to account for their available resource allocation. The single player section got a boost in resources, correlating into a boost in time and effort needed to reach their vision.

The point is, if they only barely reached their funding goal, they would have focused on the single player segment first. It would have had less potential for polish than the product they are working on now, though. If anything, this situation is better for them, since this gives them more time to polish their single player segment.

This sort of ad-hoc decision would have been difficult, if not impossible, for them to make under a publisher. (Hence, the point about publishers.) So, they're just exercising their increased freedom in this situation. That might seem scary, but we will just have to see if Stoic Studio can make the risk pay off. If it does, then other project teams will have a precedent from which to factor into possible future ad-hoc decisions.

Jason Attard
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I backed Banner Saga and I feel Stoic's been very good about posting updates explaining their reasoning. They started Factions as a platform to create and refine their combat, and having played it for several weeks now I've seen the huge strides it's taken as a result. I think it probably improved the coming single player game FAR more than it hurt it.

Full Stoic post on the subject here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stoic/the-banner-saga/posts/4
10956

Frankly if I was going to get upset about anything it would be that their initial estimated delivery date was ridiculously optimistic, but that's such a common Kickstarter failing (to say nothing of the rest of the game industry) that as long as I get the game eventually I'm happy.

Tyler Shogren
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It was Molyneux crying that killed it. I hope the SEC gets involved because there's no reason any kick started project needs as much money as they've been targeting. It should not be a wholesale replacement for conventional funding, inso doing Kickstarter has but investors at great hazard without adequate disclosure or protection.

Justin LeGrande
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Molyneux has lost much trust over the years from his original Populous fans, but that didn't stop his Kickstarter project from being successfully funded. He's acted as a mouthpiece for publishers for so long that he became used to not having to come through on all his promises. Now he's sweating, since he once again needs to swear by the first and second rules of customer service:

1. "The customer is always first." (The customer is always right is not the rule anymore)

2. "Do not make ANY promises to your customers of which you are not absolutely certain you can keep."

And by the by, corporate procedures often afford very little disclosure, liability, or protection to the public. So they're not necessarily any better off.

Tyler Shogren
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Exactly what prevents me from posting some snappy copy, some concept art and walking away with $250k+? Kickstarter seems to be a fraudsters dream. Post some additional development material over a year and then shut it down saying you've run out of money and the teams fallen apart. No recourse for investors.

Justin LeGrande
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Might I point you to Mega Man Legends 3... A perfect example of pouring an amazing amount of work, time, effort, and money, with plenty of community involvement, just to bag it because of some corporate drama. No funding method is completely safe.

A crowd funded project team's lifelong reputation is on the line with every proposed project. There are serious, unmendable consequences to doing the example you mentioned. It's not so easy to cut and run without liability, as it is within a publisher model.

Roderick Hossack
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Tyler: Con men can get sued. There's also part of the Kickstarter agreement that says that you have to deliver on whatever reward tier you say you will, if people choose it. If you say you'll deliver a game, and you don't deliver one, people who backed at that tier are entitled to a refund.

Tyler Shogren
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Conmen get sued: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/failed-kickstarter-proje
ct-seth-quest-hanfree-ipad_n_2479798.html

There's a lot of gray area here. How bad can a delivered game be before it no longer satisfies the contract?

Justin LeGrande
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"How bad can a delivered game be before it no longer satisfies the contract?"

Ask the big three... they seem to have plenty of relatively expensive "stinkers" with little liability to the developers, within the respective online shops on consoles... Although, there doesn't seem to be any limit, if the online console shops are any indication.

Also, that issue you linked about Seth Quest was a project for an Ipad accessory, not for a game project. There's always room for more games, but not necessarily for more hardware attachments...

Adam Bishop
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Kickstarter is like patronage, not investment. There's nothing about backing a project that in any way resembles investment. You don't do it for a financial return, you do it to support a project you find interesting or worthwhile.

Ariel Gross
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I think part of the Kickstarter issue for me is that game devs fall into the same trap as always, which is overpromising, scope control issues, etc, and sooner or later they realize that they can't do the game within the time and/or budget that they originally pitched. This isn't uncommon in game development, but the snag here is that it's not publisher or private investor money -- it's consumer pledges.

But, I'm okay with this only because when I pledge on Kickstarter, I look at it as a donation and then try to mostly forget about it. If/when the game is released, then it will be a pleasant surprise. This is just my personal approach, not saying that it excuses anything.

Justin LeGrande
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On the contrary, project teams in the crowd funding model live and die by their trustworthiness; project teams in both the traditional publisher and distributor models are protected from public scrutiny to a large degree.

One of the main benefits of crowd funding is that the backers stay in ongoing communication with the project teams throughout the proceedings. The backers are supposed to keep tabs on them. This can give the project team their incentive to put their limited resources to good use: they are not tapping into a bounteous wellspring of cash from a publisher or distributor; though some may opt for other types of funding assistance.

Michael Theiler
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Hi Ariel :)
I'm not sure Stoic need to make any excuses. I can see how people could feel discontent about not getting the product they want fast enough, certainly. But in the case of The Banner Saga, (of which I am totally biased as I am working on it with the amazing guys from Stoic), the multiplayer that they have released before the single player is a concrete stepping stone for the single player. The assets used in the multiplayer are created for the single player. This includes animations, the city of Strand, all sounds, combat mechanics, interacting with buildings in the city, the way cutscenes are triggered. All the elements of the multiplayer are a part of the single player game.

I just think you should be clear about your stance on this as it appears that you are agreeing with the OP, which is fine if you do, but I'm not sure the OP had much perspective when they wrote it. Of course, again, I am biased as I am privy to the game Stoic is crafting, and it is incredibly beautiful with a lot of depth. Alex recently gave a preview in a Kickstarter update of the amount of branching the that main story has, and to me, it looks like it is going to be epic.

Brandon Van Every
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And who is going to do the job of scope and budget estimation better than the game developers? The crowd funders???

Torben Jorba
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I don't want to comment on certain single projects management, but with Braben's rather lackluster kickstarter management and Molyneux (usual?) "this or death"-dramatization, it is clear that many come to Kickstarter now to simply keep the lights on. And you can or can not accept that, but at the end you don't know if $250.000 or $750.000 are really needed for this specific project or to get the current one that they are still working on "also" out of the door.

The fatigue of too many projects its rather the problem of the market, than of Kickstarter. Everybody wants to follow their creative endeavors without "begging" for money. Especially with people who have a completely different (others say: skewed) business view. And if even this people don't take your call if you can't deliver an SKU count beyond realistic AAA(A) means, then something weird is going on.

I find it rather sad that even ""big names"" have seemingly no other venue than Kickstarter to get seed money. Usually you would expect that this people know how the financial markets, hedge funds etc. work and have multiple ways of getting funding. That they don't is rather a puzzling view on the non-AAA(A) game market.

Justin LeGrande
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There's no longer any realistic count on digital and online product sales numbers available to the public, so there's nothing weird about that at this point. Crowd funded projects could be one of the only types of venues in the future, depending on the willingness of the involved teams or companies, where the managers actually divulge realistic numbers...

Also, the backers receive additional products other than just the main project's product, so that is a factor which is more complex and varied than the traditional "Collector's Edition" products in the publisher model. This complexity becomes more apparent when you look at the details for backing a variety of projects other than just game projects.

For example, there is no monetary value which can be placed upon assisting others to rebuild a farmer's market community, or to enhance a budding public awareness campaign. Rather, there is a sort of spiritual value which is brought into the project, at that point.

Robert Boyd
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Well, I've always liked a challenge. Now, it won't be enough to just make a bunch of money with our kickstarter later this year - I have to earn back Mike's support. :)

Tom J
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Of course on a purely rational analysis we all know that crowdfunding anything is a risk and that we shouldn't get upset when the downside risk eventuates. But the article makes an important point about the underlying psychology, which isn't that abstract and pure.

I've given around $1,500 to various crowdfunded projects, and it would take a lot to make me fund anything again in the near future. The main thing that has driven me away is the psychological effect it has on you once you've backed someone who doesn't quite do what they promised. One person I backed, immediately after the funding came through, tweeted about a load of frivolous things he had bought for himself unconnected with the project, and I was caught in a spiral of (a) feeling upset that the money had been spent on something other than the project I had funded, since it suggested that he didn't really need the money after all but was using the project as a profit centre, and (b) feeling upset with myself for acting like I had some right over this person's life just because I had given him some money of my own free will. It was a recipe for misery.

There's more to it than a simple gamble over whether or not you get what you pledge for. The experience itself can be dispiriting in quite a complex way.

Justin LeGrande
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Personally, I have backed a Kickstarter project called the HuMn Wallet:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1127228691/the-humn-wallet-th
e -best-minimal-
rfid-blocking-wal

They laid out their manufacturer terms ahead of time, and constantly kept in close contact with their backers. They followed through, every step of the way, and today, I have a quality product which scarcely exists elsewhere.

The backers have their own responsibility to judge the people they are backing, before sending any money. At the $1,500 funding level, that entails meeting with the project team personally... if that wasn't part of the deal, then it was probably not such a good idea to back that project at all.

Mike Rentas
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In the case of an indie developer, you're basically paying their salary. Unless he bought a Tesla Model S and then failed to deliver on the game, why get upset? Would it bother you if he used it to pay an artist who used it to buy the exact same things?

Tom J
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Yes Mike - that is precisely the point (b) I identified. But where an indie dev makes a case for funding on the basis that he needs the money or his game won't get made, and then openly spends the money on expensive tat, are you really saying you are so economically rational that you wouldn't be a bit upset?

I'm just saying it's more complicated than most of these comments suggest, and anyone who seeks funding is going to have to grapple with the psychology of their prospective backers.

Glenn McMath
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That's an interesting point, Tom. I think perhaps a solution to that would be more transparency on the part of people running campaigns. Like, if that guy had broken down exactly where the money would go during the campaign, including how much he'd be keeping as personal salary, would you still have that reaction? If he's being honest and upfront about the salary he's pulling, then chooses to spend that salary on a tattoo, I don't think it'd be as much of an issue (unless of course you felt his salary was too high, in which case you could choose not to back the project).

Still, that's an interesting element that I think most people running KS campaigns should keep in mind.

Tyler Shogren
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Relevant: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/11/28/the-kickstarter-succes
ses-where-are-they-now/

Justin LeGrande
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http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/24/kickstarter-katchup-24
th-february-2013/

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/64409699/ftl-faster-than-ligh
t

Faster Than Light was a small game made by a small team, that's why it was released so quickly. It also became a massive success.

Most of the projects currently in the pipeline are significant undertakings which require a significant amount of time. You can't rush them. Many current projects are not expected to be finished until 2014 at the earliest.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun seems to chronicle and look at the crowd funding model with starry eyes...

William Pitts
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You think you'll be able to deliver on your small project, then you get 5X the money...hey lets put in all of those features we left out because we didn't have any money! Scope is always important, but when you get some funding it can all change. Even actors don't always stick to the script. As far as your case goes, it miffs me because you are the type of person that I would like to approach for my campaigns (which of course aren't there yet because I'm making sure that I don't overextend the scope of the project).

Michael Mullins
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Is there no way to end a campaign early once you have funding? That could prevent the too-much-success syndrome that hits some groups.

Justin LeGrande
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http://www.polygon.com/gaming/2012/6/27/3099051/backers-rights-wh
at-kickstarter-funders-can-expect-when-they-pledge

Judging the people of any Kickstarter project team is the responsibility of the backers. Pulling out money to prevent the "too much success syndrome", before the project funding period is complete, is also the responsibility of the backers. The project teams answer to Kickstarter to some degree, but ultimately, the public is their lifeline. If the public is betrayed, it's up to the public to carry out the consequences.

Michael Mullins
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@Justin: I meant that I'm at least somewhat surprised there isn't a way for authors and creators to stop the campaign at or near 100% funding. If overfunding causes logistical problems the the project creator doesn't want to deal with, maybe it would be better to give them the power to not accept the further funding. Is this not part of KS functionality?

Emppu Nurminen
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I do wonder that game projects have been popular in Kickstarter considering that they are always high-risky backing due expensive development process (risky crazy ass art projects rarely are such money-holes), while it's hard to provide anything "off the shelves"-ready material to reduce the risk (while webcomics seem to succeed in it well). Yet equally I do wonder, why games haven't gotten the same restrictions as the design section has; not "concepts only" accepted.

Justin LeGrande
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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/945738280/4see?ref=live

There's more to it than concepts. Even an interesting and seemingly useful educational game can fail to be funded, despite publicity and hard work, just because most people who back games only look for entertainment products.

Michael DeFazio
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for a while there I felt like I was on a "Black Friday Shopping Spree" with these Kickstarters.

Wasteland 2 Yes Please!
Project Eternity Absolutely!
Grim Dawn Sold!

contrary to Mike's Experience, I have absolutely LOVED the amount of updates/information from the projects I have backed. (I read/watch all the WL2, P:E, Grim Dawn, Volgarr and a few others)... but I was conservative in that I only backed projects from folks that had a track record of delivery.

2013 we will probably see some poison in the kickstarter well, when these projects slip/fail or do not live up to the vision some people were sold in their "pitch" videos... which is a shame, I think there will be some great projects that won't hit their goals because backers may get gunshy (if they backed previous vaporware)

Regardless, I'd like to see some hybrid Kickstarter/Private investment model in the future...(i.e. if you hit X goal on Kickstarter, then we (some investors) will make Y investment in said game given these stipulations.

Justin LeGrande
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Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, and Grim Dawn... All of these Kickstarter project teams have specifically stated within their respective propositions that one of the main reasons they joined Kickstarter was to avoid the private investment model, if possible... especially that of publishers. It's safe to say many other project teams joined Kickstarter for the same reason: to develop a thriving public investment model.

Michael DeFazio
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@Justin

ohh, I didn't mean all kickstarters should go this route, I'm quite happy that these projects went with the model they did... I'm just saying it would be interested to have the OPTION of doing some hybrid funding... not the OBLIGATION of forcing this upon anyone.

a model similar to that of "p2p lending" or the like would be interesting, instead of just "preordering" the game, have the public make some kind of "investment" (in the form of a low interest loan) with the possibility of profit would be interesting.

Justin LeGrande
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@Michael,

You're absolutely right, though- the option for hybrid funding can and should always be available to those who need it. Barring teams from developing legitimately healthy business partnerships would be akin to tyranny. So, building a loan plan with interest, or an equitable loan option (alongside Kickstarter, or perhaps alongside another service) could be beneficial to all parties involved.

Especially for smaller projects, such as many educational game projects, a hybrid funding option could mean the difference between being too obscure to get funding, and finding a solid base of backers. To think about it, the hybrid funding option could have a lot of potential in partnerships with schools and universities!

From what I've seen on Kickstarter over the past year, the current public funding process rarely succeeds for educational games. Introducing a private funding process in conjunction could be the partnership needed to launch more high quality educational game projects into the education business sector.

Craig Stern
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"Essentially, what has happened is that the team decided to build this free-to-play game due to the huge influx of extra cash that it received during the Kickstarter"

This is simply false. The Banner Saga Kickstarter page mentions multiplayer something like 6 times! The developers said up-front that they would be developing a free multiplayer mode before moving on to the single player campaign (see: http://indierpgs.com/2012/02/the-banner-saga-announced-stoic-stud
io-interview/ ). It's fine to be annoyed at delayed development, but it's unethical to claim that they misled us when all they did was follow through on their stated goals.

Keith Thomson
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So far, only 1 of my kickstarters has been a total disaster. 4-5 of them have shipped items and betas to me. 3-4 of them are late, but look like they're still coming along nicely. The other 4-5 are still a year out from their target date.

Adam Bishop
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I've supported a few Kickstarter projects: Double Fine Adventure, Banner Saga, Shadowrun, and Dreamfall Chapters. I've used the same criteria for all of them:

1. Is this a game I definitely want to play (as opposed to just finding it kind of interesting)?
2. Do I trust the developers to complete the game at the level of quality they're promising?
3. Do I think this game will get made if the Kickstarter doesn't succeed?

If I answer yes to the first two questions and no to the third I'll support a project. I see Kickstarter as a way to support games from developers I trust that wouldn't get funded otherwise, and I see no reason why that would stop being the case any time in the near future.

Chris Sanyk
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People who have this attitude don't understand risk.

Kickstarter is not for consumers who want to buy a product early, knowing that the product will be built and that it will be everything that they hoped it would be.

Kickstarter is for people who believe in supporting dreams of small people who don't have the resources to try to realize those dreams without funding.

You can expect the rate of project failure to be high even for kickstarters that have successful fund raising. If you are not comfortable with this, then you should not back kickstarter projects. It's as simple as that. If you see someone has a great idea and you'd like to help it have a chance at becoming a reality, then you should back those kickstarters with as much money as you don't mind throwing away on a project if it fails.

Look at a proposal, say "I'd like to see this happen, and if it didn't, I still think it'd be worth $N to give it a shot at happening." Then you can fund without remorse.

Don't fund everything that appeals to some broad category that you happen to be interested in. Be selective. And don't kick in more than you're comfortable throwing away and getting nothing in return.

If you need all your money to feed your family, don't kickstart. If you have plenty of disposable income and want to influence the world in this way, then by all means support projects that you believe in.

The author says he went into the projects he backed understanding risk, but it sure sounds like he only understood it on an intellectual level, if at all, and not on an emotional level. Now that he's feeling the emotional burn of projects that didn't turn out the way he felt they should have, there's all this regret. It's his right to feel however he wants to feel, and to put his money wherever he feels it will do the most good, but it seems silly to me to abandon all future dreamers just because real life is often disappointing.

A better fix for this is the track record of the project owner. Unknowns will always be unknowns, and therefore a much higher risk. But someone who has demonstrated success in the area that they're working in (Doublefine, for example) is a lower risk. Someone who has completed a previous kickstarter project and delivered (close to) on time and (close to) what they said they would, is a lower risk.

You can always just play the traditional "wait and see" and jump on a bandwagon once a product has reached the market and been tested by the early adopters. That's simply not what Kickstarter is about, and what it is about is really cool, because it's really about removing barriers to entry so that innovators don't have to be big companies who have less interest in changing the world and more interest in preserving their established business models and the status quo.

Michael DeFazio
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I agree with many of your thoughts, but I disagree with your premise:

"Kickstarter is for people who believe in supporting dreams of small people who don't have the resources to try to realize those dreams without funding."

... Does not have to be "small people", (actually I tend to shy away from most "Small guy" kickstarters... too much risk). Are Obsidian, Double Fine, or InXile small guys?

Take the Torment Kickstarter for example. InXile may very well have the funding and ability to make this game WITHOUT kickstarter, but am I happy they are going to Kickstarter? YES

... why? because (given what we have seen from WL2's kickstarter) InXile takes the communities comments and feedback seriously and (as a consumer) it makes me feel like I had a hand in the game and I like the Kickstarter feedback mechanisms for managing the relationship (from funding all the way to when the project is delivered)

tl;dr I think limiting the "purpose" of Kickstarter to small guys and their dreams is a mistake. (and as you say, "risky")

Justin LeGrande
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@Chris

I agree with what you said, but... There is one anomaly.

When it comes to interesting educational game projects, Kickstarter has not been good to the "small people"... entertainment game projects seem to be the ones which have historically gotten more public funding. It might be necessary to involve larger organizations, such as business companies and schools, or even community and local ones, to launch more high quality educational game projects off the ground. The current success ratio of educational vs. entertainment game projects on Kickstarter is abysmal right now...

Chris Sanyk
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Replying to my own message because there's no Reply links on Michael or Justin's comments.

Michael:

I said Kickstarter is for small entities, not that it is exclusively for them. Kickstarter can be used by large/established entities, sure. But it is not primarily for them. Kickstarter's mission was originally for people who can't raise funds for a project or a startup venture through traditional methods. Larger entities have fewer problems securing credit/loans, or simply self-funding a new venture.

Is DoubleFine large? I don't know. They're *established* which is not the same thing as large. It was much easier for them to have wild success with a Kickstarter because they are a known entity.

Was DoubleFine able to raise the money to do DoubleFine Adventure without Kickstarter? Apparently not, and they felt that Kickstarter gave them the best chance to raise what they needed. They could not get the backing of the big money in the industry because the industry wants "sure things" which means basically re-treading last year's hit with more polygons, not trying to resurrect genres that they think are dead or exhausted or too "niche" to recoup investments. The industry has a lot to learn about that, and I think may be starting to, but they still have quite a ways to go yet.

Because of the high profile successes of some Kickstarter campaigns, the bigs have taken more of an interest, because doing a Kickstarter means viral publicity. It's not that they have a need to raise money this way, because the other avenues are available to them. It's just a part of their marketing strategy now because Kickstarter campaigns are essentially pre-release hype AND pre-sales rolled into one. As well, taking payment *before* making the product is probably the ultimate anti-piracy measure.

I think that the more Kickstarter is "leveraged" for the free hype factor by large entities that could raise money through traditional methods, the more co-opted and less revolutionary crowdfunding will become.

I'm not interested in kicking in $60 to support Activision so they can build Call of Duty++, when Call of Duty++ is going to be built regardless and I can spend $60 to play it when it comes out if I wanted to (which I don't).

I'm interested in helping someone (possibly someone established and famous, but equally possibly someone unknown but with a very solid pitch) who has a tantalizing, novel idea for a project to have the resources they need to pursue turning their idea into a reality, and -- maybe -- change the course of history. The majority of projects will not change the course of history, and I know this. But even those that don't, if they're doing something the big entities aren't already doing, I'm in favor of it.

Justin:

I am not aware of the data contrasting the Kickstarter success of educational vs. entertainment game projects, so I can't really speak to that point. But I think it comes down to the quality of the project pitch, finding a way to get potential backers to look at it, and what backers are interested in.

Kickstarter funds all kinds of things, not just game projects. But they can't control what people want, or the quality of the pitch, or how compelling the pitchmaker's message is.

Without any evidence or data, I'm inclined to believe that there are a multitude of factors which influence the success of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign.

Lionel Victor Belen
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I understand that this is an opinion page, but I find some glaring problems with this article.

First, for a generalization about Kickstarter projects, why does the author focus his attention on a particular project and single it out as his example? This does injustice not only to his opinion on Kickstarter projects as a generalization - because he only illustrates 1 example, but it also does injustice to the game (The Banner Saga), because it receives negative criticism alone besides it's purported peers.

Second, while this is a journalism article written as an opinion (and has become one the moment it was published on a reputed blog like Gamasutra), this does not give the author free range to put forward an opinion short of sound reasoning and evidence. There is a clear lack of evidence to support a number of the author's views and claims.

1. The author has not mentioned any experience of playing the game and so does not support his claim it is a grind-a-thon.
2. The author cites the latest update for the project, but his claims in the succeeding section quoted below are unfounded,
"Essentially, what has happened is that the team decided to build this free-to-play game due to the huge influx of extra cash that it received during the Kickstarter, and is now no doubt focusing a good portion of its attention on balancing and building addition content for this game, rather than actually making the game that myself and many others pledged towards."

The author neglects to cite and mention the original Kickstarter pitch video where the multi-player game was announced, and other portions of the project page which mention the multi-player game:

See http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stoic/the-banner-saga. Video and "The Game" section which mentions,

"Play online: Though the single-player campaign is our focus, The Banner Saga provides a deep multiplayer game; build a unique party of characters and battle friends and enemies in multiplayer combat. Upgrade your party over time and devise new strategies."

3. The author writes in such a way to imply knowledge of the motivations of the project team, which is something he cannot substantiate (there is no direct or indirect interview or comment), and does not present evidence to, even as something he is deducing. This can be seen in the already quoted, and as he continues,

"This free-to-play game will also bring extra cash in for the team, meaning that it will no doubt slowly but surely begin to focus on the desires of its Factions players, rather than the people who gave it a voice in the first place."

Where does he claim to base his opinion and deductions from?

Again, while this is an opinion article, this does not mean the author should be straying from the standards required by Journalism. Internet or not, free speech a given, one needs to claim responsibility for their words and the repercussions these will have.

I do not believe this article has met such standards, and as such has been irresponsibly published.

James Coote
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Would you back a kickstarter project that had no rewards?

The problem is the growing sense of entitlement from kickstarter backers. I've contributed a dollar or two to about a half dozen games I had no intention of playing and claimed "No Reward". The devs sounded like cool people I can sympathise with, and I want to support niche games, even if it's not my niche.

Lord knows I need to cut down on the number of chocolate bars I buy, so why not spend that money once a week on someone's hopes and dreams instead?

Games have a particular problem, because people are essentially pre-ordering a game when they donate. They expect to see the game, rather than just an idea or a few concepts, and they expect to get the corresponding game at the end

It is not like helping fund the $8000 needed for some artist in another country to pay for the installation of their new sculpture in a local park, because that's something I never actually expect to see. It's not as if paying $30 will get me a t-shirt with a picture of the thing on it, or $50 will buy me a miniature replica sculpture. That's just consumerism, not art.

In fact, how many times have you "bought" or "paid for" something on kickstarter? When was the last time you put $40 into a charity collection tin?

Justin LeGrande
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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cicLAvia/ciclavia-2012?ref=li
ve

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/208904568/power-to-the-freigh
t-shed-building-a-winter-farmer?ref=live

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703712189/cpm-703?ref=live

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/855802805/lowline-an-undergro
und-park-on-nycs-lower-east-sid

I donated to all of these Kickstarters, and all of them barely reached their respective goals; thus, my small contribution, among many, made a difference. Even though I would never directly benefit from these projects, I approve of what they are doing for their respective communities, and I would want the same opportunity to be available to my community. It's up to the backers to discover causes which they approve of.

So yes, I would, and I have, backed Kickstarter projects which had no tangible personal reward for me.

John Byrd
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Be glad you only lost $300 and not $30 million.

Editors: It would be nice if you quit permitting gamers to write op eds.

Tyler Shogren
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Yes, only those with vested interests should have the right to speak!

Zack Wood
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Might be a year of buyer's remorse- or the year a few of those 2011/12 projects come to fruition and show that Kickstarter actually can be used to make and release an awesome game. It all depends on those projects you backed!

Personally, we (Cafe Murder) were one of the first video game projects ever backed on Kickstarter, and we are just now about to release. Wish us luck!

Jacob Germany
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1: It's a method of support, not a preorder system.

2: If I'm not mistaken, Factions is largely simply the core game's combat system. Most of the infrastructure was necessary regardless, and this gives them a very large amount of feedback on one of the major systems in the game.

So, this post seems more entitled whining without understanding the decisions being made by companies you supported than any menacing industry trend.

Kris Graft
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Hey folks. I'm actually expecting a fully fleshed out response article from Stoic. Hang tight.

Craig Stern
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Good. In the meantime, here's mine. http://indierpgs.com/2013/03/opinion-why-kickstarter-matters/

Jacob Germany
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It shouldn't be necessary considering they explained their reasoning throughout the development of Factions. I barely even check Kickstarter, nor have I played Factions, and yet I know their reasoning because of the consistent emails KS sends on account of Stoic's updates.

The author, at best, failed to mention the explanations and, at worst, willfully ignored them.

Kris Graft
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@Jacob

Alex from Stoic approached me asking if he could publish a response. It wasn't necessary, but he was cool enough to do it, so I'm happy to run it. And yeah, apparently there were some important details that were glossed over in Mike's article, unfortunately.

Alex's post: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AlexThomas/20130304/187768/Develop
ing_a_Kickstarterfunded_game_a_look_from_inside.php

Jacob Germany
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Sorry, I didn't mean you implied it was necessary. More that it's unfortunate a reply is necessary to fight against blowback based on a poor understanding of the issue.

Kel Skye
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Funding a project before it is made is always a risk; and even if the project does come out on time - it's long after that initial investment.

Ken Nakai
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While I agree this year is going to be the year of KS saturation...not so much because it's 2013 but because it's been building up and has nowhere else to go.

But, as far as buyer's remorse, I doubt it. Sure, with a larger number of projects and backers, you're going to see more of it but it's not like it never existed. There have been projects that were backed and the project went nowhere or underdelivered (if they delivered at all).

If anything, this year will be the year KS failures will get the spotlight (versus last year's spotlight on the big winners). In the end, though, there's nothing different here from investing in start-ups. There are hundreds of things that could go wrong and there are, as is true in the industry in general, people who might make great programmers, artists, etc. but terrible game developers in general, especially if they're flying solo with no one to back them up.

Similar to how start-ups are funded, the focus as a backer needs to be on who the team is. Even if they haven't produced a game yet, if they look like they can pull it off (maybe you've got a talented programmer and an artist and someone who's just good and organizing people, despite the lack of game development experience), it still might be worth backing them.

I've probably handed over something like $1,000 to KS projects last year. Some have come to fruition (loved getting a huge box filled with board games) and others are still pending (including Banner Saga, which I did back). For me, I still hold the original intention true: I liked the project and what they're trying to do and they looked like they could pull it off.

There's always risk involved and given the amounts we're putting up, the risk/reward potential is a bargain. This is nothing like putting $1m into a start-up that might be gone in less than a year. You're putting up $20-40 on average. The fact that it's crowdfunding just means the risk is spread across more people.

I'm still optimistic about Kickstarter. It's still a great source of smaller funding for small projects and it gives gamers the opportunity to be involved with the development of the game...much more than just getting smacked in the face with game publishers PR engine as you're spoon fed whatever golden BS they're spewing about their overbudget and watered down fare. I think the good devs, the ones that care about the project they're putting together and that are honorable are going to stand out and you'll know them when you see them. Plus, KS backers tend to be a smarter sort tracking down BS projects before they close.

Benjamin Quintero
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Your money on Kickstarter is a donation, not a pre-order. There are plenty of people who gave President X their money over the years and have yet to see the results they expected throughout that term. They may not have been happy about it but they pledged in hopes that THIS time it will be the right person for the job. That's why it's called a pledge, and your page on Kickstarter is called a campaign. It is better to think of it as politics than a store front.

Sebastian Coman
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It would be ideal if everyone could have that view! However, in contrast to politics, in crowd-funding rewards/perks are thrown into the mix which change the backers' behaviour slightly. The rewards/perks are the expected immediate return. That is why it makes backers feel like investors, rather than pledgers. In politics, voters expect mostly long term returns that materialise during the 4 year term.

Benjamin Quintero
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Actually donors (not voter) typically do get some sort of perk, ie free tickets to the post election events and presidential speeches or dinner with the canidate for the million $$ donors, etc.

Stephen Broida
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The problem I have with this piece is that it's too narrow. It doesn't look at the big picture of Kickstarter and really analyzes it in a really in-depth manner.

As an Administrator for the IGDA's Curated Kickstarter Page, I've spoken with many developers who have worked on Kickstarter campaigns: both successful and unsuccessful.

Not too long ago, I spoke with Brian Fargo of InXile Entertainment. We were chatting idly on his Facebook page when he shared a link to some news about the Ouya. I asked if he had any plans for Wasteland 2 to come to the Ouya. He said that currently they were not planning on bringing Wasteland 2 to the Ouya BECAUSE they wanted to finish the PC and Mac versions they had already promised their backers FIRST before doing something like that.

This showed me that for Brian, meeting the promises initially made at the start of the campaign is more important than adding on anything else extra after the campaign ends.

Based on your grievances with The Banner Saga and Banner Saga: Factions, it seems like Stoic LLC decided to take a different approach and add some extras while keeping their fans and backers up to speed. They didn't do all this without informing the people about what they were up to; the backers were well aware.

So instead of the full game being done first, the multiplayer aspect (which was part of the original campaign) was finished, made stand alone, and released to give the backers and the rest of the world a taste of their game. The feedback from gaming news sites about Banner Saga: Factions has been very positive, so for Stoic, this is a win for them.

As someone else said, if you don't like that and feel that they should focus on their core promises first instead of extra stuff like Factions, then you can always choose to not back any of their projects in the future. Your call.

But to say this has an effect on ALL of Kickstarter and the entire crowd-funding medium is simply something I don't see in the cards. The GDC survey has shown a strong uptick in Indie developers, or developers "Going Indie", and also that 44% of the developers surveyed (Indie or otherwise) plan to seek crowd-funding for their games either now or in the future.

I don't see 2013 as being the year of Buyer's Remorse. I see 2013 as being the year that the games of 2012 get finished and come out to show what crowd-funding can really do. Once they're out and about, then the platform will just grow stronger and stronger as more developers seek crowd-funding and offer a wider variety of games and options.

It would be in the best interest of console manufacturers like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to open their doors and make their systems (both home and handheld) more accessible to these developers. Otherwise, they are going to see a staggering decrease in Western developers making games for their platforms and will have to resort to more Japanese imports (think Nintendo's early days of the NES and SNES).

2013 will be a decisive year for crowd-funding, and right now, from what I know and what I've seen, its future is VERY bright.

Sebastian Coman
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Yes, the future for crowd-funding promises to be very bright. Let's see if gamers (both hardcore and casual) go and explore more platforms also, such as Indiegogo. I would have loved to have done a KS campaign but could not because of their legal/geographical/fiscal restrictions. I feel some gamers may be missing out on projects led by international developers, as we face a more restrictive environment than US developers. KS (as the largest platform) is thereby not able to provide a fully representative sample of the creative projects out there.

Kevin Reese
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Whew - out of 17 games funded, not one has been released yet? Ouch.

I've been following Banner Saga and was also really disappointed they made a F2P that I could barely care less about instead of the SP game which looks like a must-buy for me. Although disappointed however, it does seem reasonable what they have done...

But even if Kickstarter was enough just to get FTL, Wasteland 2, and Shadowrun Returns / Online made, then I am a happy guy.

Randell Trulson
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We got our game nearly completed before going on KS so that we would make sure that we would deliver what we said we would. Unfortunately our project is tanking because we don't have any press. I doubt anyone on here has even seen it. The game is called Megaloptura and we only asked for 20K...not 100K or 500K or a million. I am disheartened that we have been lost in a sea of over priced projects that may not even deliver.

Benjamin Quintero
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or maybe people just don't like your game idea...

Kickstarter is quickly becoming just another Publisher, meaning the barrier to entry will continue to rise as larger and higher production titles head to Kickstarter for their funding. We may start to see $5M-$10M campaigns by big name studios and the smaller campaigns by no-names will probably just be lost in the noise.

Justin LeGrande
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Your $75,000 goal post is epic! Your Megalop demo reminds me of classic puzzle games like Yoshi and Puyo Puyo... It seems like the project would be a better fit for handheld devices, rather than PC or Xbox 360. Though, Ms. Kathy did mention that you spent close to a year refining Cortex, so that might just be what you have to work with.

"Survey crew died in an insect territory from exposure. Insects being scavengers, fed on bodies of the crew. They found the humans to be very delicious and wanted more.

Unfortunately it was not known that human hemoglobin acts as a drug to the insects with a very high addiction factor similar to crack in humans. The crackhead insects will DO ANYTHING for more delicious humans."

For example, that's a great hook for a handheld title! It's serious yet silly, not unlike Angry Birds...

Sebastian Coman
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Crowd-funding is beautiful! And for all you “backers” out there I have some “tricks” ready for you to use.

Crowd-funding is new and many still misunderstand it. And that’s OK! There are many uncertainties with any project on KS and Indiegogo et al. But, one thing is certain: Crowd-funding is beautiful. Please don’t be discouraged by some set backs.

The point of crowd-funding is to leverage the voice of an empowered crowd via its early involvement in creative projects. In other words, it’s a democracy. It allows us to “vote with our feet”. You effectively vote if a project should go ahead or not. Or you vote whether an existing product should have a certain set of features or a different one. A project may be about improving an existing offering or designing a whole new one altogether. Any stages from conceptualization to should or can be worthy of funding.

Us, the crowd, is driving innovation. We are asked about what progress we want. Don’t you think that’s cool?

In fact, it is über cool because, as the crowd we finally have a voice to engage the developer directly! And, as the developer, we can listen to all of our early fans directly! We get to implement the things you want in there before we complete the game. To me, as a game developer, that is beautiful! I get some highly valuable early feedback from core players (those that donated and therefore want to be involved in my project). It helps me refine the game, so that I make a game that the players love.

A game that uses crowd-funding wisely will be a lot better for players because of this interaction. It is easier now than it was ever before to make games that the fans actually want! Is this not the most important thing when it comes to innovation and progress? I feel that making something that nobody wants, needs or appreciates is a terrible waste of resources. There are so many games that don’t get played and end up being a pile of wasted resources, which could have been employed better elsewhere...

When investing in a startup, the investor for his or her “investment” is rewarded with an “ownership right” to a share of any potential profits, and faces limited liability (only what is invested can be lost). So the investor needs to evaluate the viability and the attractiveness of a venture as a whole.

In crowd-funding, the backer for his or her “contribution” is rewarded with a “voice” and a set of perks, has no right to a share of profits, but faces limited liability also. So the backer needs to evaluate only the viability of the project, rather than its potential in generating financial profits.

So, being a backer and an investors is related, but is not entirely the same thing!

As an investor the upside is theoretically unlimited and the downside is limited. On the other hand, as a backer of a crowd-funding project you have to be aware that your upside is limited as well as your downside. A backer’s upside is limited to the value or utility one expects to obtain from the intangible rewards (experience of the process and the fun of playing the game) and the tangible rewards (perks received). For a backer, the worst case scenario is therefore:
a) not being made part of the process (no voice)
b) not being able to play the game (no completion)
c) not receiving the perks promised (no or late delivery)

So while investing and “backing” is similar, how can you successfully select good crowd-funding projects by using some techniques from investors?

Follow these non-exhaustive guidelines:

1. How far has development progressed? The farther development has progressed, the more likely the game will reach completion, the more likely shipment will occur on schedule and the sooner you receive your perks. This also shows that the team is trustworthy. Development progress = effective management!

2. Is there a prototype that you can try out? This further mitigates development risk. A test version of a game would have overcome many significant development hurdles already.

3. Does the delivery of the perks depend on the completion of the game? All or at least some perks should be delivered independently if the game gets shipped on time or not.

4. Does it have a solid, diverse and experienced team that you can trust? Talent is the most valuable asset. A track record is important, but maybe an underdog has great potential too! The best blend is a mix of someone experienced and someone who has nothing to lose.

5. Does it explicitly outline the project’s milestones? There should be defined goals to reach. How else would they know where they want to get to?

6. Will you be involved in the decision making process, will you have a voice?

7. How creative or new is the idea? Will you be part of something ground-breaking that has never been tried before? It’s more fun to be part of something those who led the change.


For our game we deliberately postponed our crowd-funding campaign until now because I wanted my team to be able to fulfill as many of those guidelines before launching the campaign. Now that we are in a position to offer our backers a great project with zero development risk (as we will complete it whether we hit our goal or not), we can introduce you to Flirt Planet.

And, we are going to make Flirt Planet of the best and most innovative video games / dating services ever produced. I’m fussy enough to make sure that happens!

Have a look at our Indiegogo and judge for yourselves:
http://igg.me/at/flirtplanet/x/2309370

We offer you a robust campaign in which we mitigate risk for the backers by providing you with a stable game for you to play test. Risk and uncertainty get diminished and in return for your contributions expect to be involved in something innovative, have a ton of fun and receive what is promised to you on schedule!

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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You are operating under the assumption that you have invested in or purchased something, you didn't.
You donated.
You are not entitled to any return on your donation.

Kickstarter is a charity, it's not a store and it's not an investor site.

Shit like this is why we can't have nice things. People go into funding a project expecting it's like a purchase on steam and then get massively disillusioned and become butthurt.

http://livewareblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/how-video-games-are-
killing-crowdfunding/

Jeremy Reaban
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Yes, and now he's not going to donate anymore.

That's the thing - people who hold KS aren't entitled to having people like the author support them. They have to earn it. Apparently they haven't.

Sebastian Coman
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True, it is not an investment, nor an outright purchase. However, as a backer you do have the right to receive your end of the deal. That is, a voice (if that is being offered) and the tangible and intangible perks promised. That is the "return" that you are entitled to receive. When a project does not fulfil its obligations then they will be held liable. Delays are a grey area unfortunately. If delays are a "can't stand" for you, then look for projects that mitigate delays as much as possible.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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@Jeremy

I do not criticize the author for not donating, I criticize him for framing this discussion wrong.

Donations are freely given, he has no right to complain that products are being delayed or that other products are being made "with his money". Its not "his money" and he has no creative or other control over the project.
Again, its not an investment that puts you on the board of developers or publishers. You didn't buy Banner Saga stock.

He is of course entitled to not give money in the future to that particular company, but framing his reasons as if they are a fault of Kickstarter or the Developers is wrong.

Especially the addition of the phrase "Kickstarter buyer's remorse" shows me he thinks he actually bought something when clicking "pledge".

Eric Shofe
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I back 1-3 kickstarters a month, usually 20-30$ a pop. Most if the time, I could really care less about the rewards or the final game/project etc. I do it because as a solo developer, I feel we should help each other pursue our dreams. I mean honestly, wouldn't it be amazing if we all did this to some extent? If we don't take care of each other, things will just continue to slide downhill for the industry. Just my two cents.

Rachel Presser
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"If we don't take care of each other, things will just continue to slide downhill for the industry."

+1000

Rachel Presser
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"If we don't take care of each other, things will just continue to slide downhill for the industry."

+1000

S D
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What goes around comes around; I totally agree with Eric. I supported him on "The Curse of Shadow House" project on Kickstarter, and was happy to do so. He's the nicest guy ever, his project is super promising, and without the support (and funds!) from Kickstarter, it's possible that the project mightn't have happened, or if it did, it would have taken forever.

But that's just one project. Now *he's* supporting projects. How many of those will turn out another supportive member of the Kickstarter community, another helping hand to pay it forward? Nothing is certain in this industry, but we've seen that grassroots efforts can at least help.

Michael Mullins
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I think the response by Stoic is sufficient that Mr. Rose ought to print at least a partial retraction. This article had potential merit and he wasted it by not sufficiently researching or framing his material *even* as an opinion piece. Shutting off communication from KS projects and then complaining about issues that can be solved by communication is tacit admission to sloppiness. There's room for talking about improved project communication and how to get through the noise Mr. Rose is weary of, but not like this.

Mark Terrano
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I back a lot of kickstarter projects - because I believe in the vision of their authors - I fund things that I'll never see or use because they are ideas that deserve a broader audience and success.

As a company, we (HPE) successfully funded and have delivered on our Kickstarter - it was a lot of work to do but I think the Kickstarter let us get in much better contact with our audience and enabled us to build a project that woudn't have happened...and get working on our much larger vision for Defense Grid.

Getting original concepts and games published is extremely difficult if not impossible - publishers are really only interested in things they can get clear market projections on, anything else doesn't get much consideration. By going directly to the fans there will be games made that could never get a publishing deal (or get considered internally). Indies are saving AAA gaming by injecting new ideas, new modes of play, and keeping the old genres alive for the fans who enjoy them.

A shame that this opinion piece casts such a dim view of crowd funding because of a few select examples when it has so much potential for our industry and our medium.

Bob Satori
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Kickstarter buyer's remorse?

I don't see how "buyer's remorse" has so much to do with Kickstarter, except what you hint at in your third paragraph: an "excitement" you had with the novelty of Kickstarter itself, rather than the actual projects you donated toward.

Hopefully the success of crowdfunding to date has not owed too much to novelty, as it has helped a lot of cool things to be made.


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