Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
 
Pre-pre-order

Tipa of West Karana wonders whether Kickstarter will usher in the age of boutique gaming. Well, I am kind of skeptical. I checked Kickstarter's FAQ and found that the people pledging money will be charged the moment the "funding goal" is reached. After that "It is the responsibility of the project creator to fulfill the promises of their project. Kickstarter reviews projects to ensure they do not violate the Project Guidelines, however Kickstarter does not investigate a creator's ability to complete their project." In other words, if you fund a video game via Kickstarter and the game is never released or totally sucks when released, you're out of luck and have no way to get your money back.

Making video games is an extremely risky business. Changing funding from investors to crowd funding does not change that. Thousands of games every year get cancelled before they are ever released, or are rushed to release in a state that only remotely resembles the promises made before. Pre-ordering a game before the first reviews are in is a risk, which is why companies offer you lots of goodies if you pre-order. Using Kickstarter is a far higher risk, as you aren't even certain to ever get that game at all.

Of course like in any gamble there is also a chance that you win, in this case that by pre-pre-ordering the game you assure that you get the game that you wanted, especially if what you wanted isn't really mainstream. Some types and genres of games have fallen out of fashion, and Kickstarter might make it possible for some not fashionable games to be made. I just wonder if everybody is well aware of the risk involved. Hype for a game and a famous developer don't guarantee that in the end the game will be actually any good. Would you have wanted to Kickstart Daikatana or Duke Nukem Forever?

Comments:
It doesn't matter if the game will be good or not, when kickstarting you gave the money for the game to be produced. Look at kickstarting like a producer not a gamer who pays if he likes the result.

You might be interested in VODO. This is a step farther, it is a platform for already kickstarted projects where you can download the first episode of a film for free and if you like it give money so they can make more. I like L5 very much.
 
Kickstarter is a voting booth for the consumer democracy.

I will vote for Black Isle, for Tim Schafer. It doesn't matter if they produce anything at all.

The point is the money will get noticed.
 
I certainly agree but think it is immaterial if the contributor is aware.

The overwhelming majority of small companies fail. Software does not have a good track record and most games do not appeal to me. So the odd of them getting the company, technology and game all working is quite small.

But if a lot of people invest a bit and "let a thousand flowers bloom", there will be a few good games. If game development needs 100+ million dollar investments, then developers will move slower and take far fewer risks. I.e., investors spending $200mm want a WoW clone or a CoD clone. If I donate a couple of cups of coffee, the theory is I might get something innovative. Probably won't.

And some of the fine fellows who support fraud in game may get proactive and use Kickstarter.
 
I see using Kickstarter more as a form of patronage, in the "patron of the arts" sense. I donate some amount of money for a worthwile project, and then (hopefully) see it made and hope it will be fun and awesome.

Most of the Kickstarters I've supported have been for pen-and-paper roleplaying products, but if there is a movie, artistic project, or utility project that looks interesting (and somewhat realistic) I might decide to back that as well.
 
One of the benefits of Kickstarter is that you get to be a part of the story. The newsletter updates, videos and forum debates are part of the service being sold.

Will Wasteland 2 be the best game ever? Will it even be a worthy sequel to the original?

It's too early to say, but all the signs pointed to this being last chance saloon for the franchise. As such, it was worth my $15 to be able to closely follow and support its development.
 
I agree with Herman. I see Kickstarter as a way to support artists (sometimes game creators) doing work that I'd like to see done. My wife and I are supporting the Shadowrun kickstarter, just because we loved S'Run back in the day and fondly remember watching Jordan Weisman announce S'Run 2nd edition back at GenCon so long ago.

As of this writing, that Kickstart has raised $811,285 USD from 18,773 backers, averaging $43. Not enough to, for example, make a full world AAA MMO, but certainly not peanuts.

I hope he makes the game, and does a good job. I'll enjoy getting it and playing it if it does. But from a financial side, this goes in our "supporting good causes" bucket, not the "entertainment" bucket.
 
Like any charity I want to know how much of the dollars go to the 'charity'? What is the overhead of kickstarter? What are they paid?

Some charities give 90% of the funds collected while others only give 20% or even less.
 
If kickstarter ever deviates from the "its basically a charitable donation, if you get anything at all from it it's a perk" line they will be setting themselves up for a lot of trouble.

Like, the Security Exchange Commission will be up their ass kind of trouble. Kickstarter is rife with the potential for unprovable fraud, since anybody can get on there, raise some money for a project, and then use that money to give themselves a salary as they work on the project. The fact that they are wretchedly incompetent and don't do much besides play scrabble on the $2500 macbook they bought to work on the project, but there's not a whole lot that could be done about it as long as they can show they actually tried to do it.
 
Video gamers are on the whole a forgiving bunch, I am sure they will be completely reasonable when they discover that the project they helped kickstart didn't deliver everything it promised due to circumstance, poor estimates and cost overruns.

I mean, games have come out that didn't match players' expectations, and no one posted frothing screeds or conspired to trash a game's review scores.
 
Games get cancelled because the publisher isn't willing to continue footing the bill, and would rather write off the loss than keep shoveling money into it.

I'm actually interested in seeing what happens when a kickstarted company burns through their funding and doesn't have enough to finish the game. Do they release what they have? Do they kickstart *again* for *more* money? And how would the fans/investors react to such a situation?
 
@Moonmonster, I guess you haven't heard about the Mass Effect 3 situation.

"and no one posted frothing screeds or conspired to trash a game's review scores"

This describes exactly what has happened for ME3.
 
Somebody's sarcasm detector isn't working.
 
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