Jumping the Kickstarter-Gun

Chick SpeaksKickstarter is not venture capital.  It’s not angel investing.  Pledgers are not looking for a monetary return on their investment.  I do understand this.  And yet, I’m still not a supporter of Kickstarter, because I think it sends the wrong message to potential developers: money is easy to come by.  I believe it’s irresponsible to teach young entrepreneurs that money should be given to them based on a concept and raw enthusiasm.  Funding should only be given on the grounds of actual ability, a proven track record of completed, competent projects, and the willingness to personally sacrifice for the benefit of your project.  It’s shocking to me how people fund games from people who meet none of that criteria.  I’m even more shocked when a developer reaches their Kickstarter goal, gets the money, and within weeks has another ask posted for even more funding.. and gets it.

I’ve already offered advice to would-be developers who wish to use Kickstarter to fund their projects.  I’m not against the idea of start-up developers seeking funding, and I have no problem with an established developer (indie or otherwise) using Kickstarter.  But I’ve also made it pretty clear that my blog doesn’t exist to plug Kickstarters.  In April of last year, shortly after Double Fine’s then record-breaking Kickstarter got huge publicity, I received over fifty requests to pledge and plug the Kickstarters from developers of all skills and backgrounds.  It got to the point where I added “Kickstarter” to my spam filter.  It doesn’t always work.  Last week, someone with no history in game design at all who read my blog sent me a request asking me to look at their concept art.  They beat my spam filter by spelling Kickstarter “I < ickstarter.”  The ask was in the five-figure range.  Grotesquely appalling to say the least.

I do not want to discourage dreamers from attempting to create their own games.  Far from it.  I encourage everyone who’s ever considered making a game of their own to give it a shot.  But there’s many options to make your games without spending thousands of dollars of other people’s money to do so.  Xbox Live Indie Games, for example.  For $100, give or take, you not only get the tools needed to develop a game, but you’re guaranteed to have your game be available commercially on the Xbox Live Marketplace.  Well not 100% guaranteed.  There are rules against games with sexual, racist, drug, or Nazi themes to them.  So if your dream game was “Smoke a Blunt with that Homo Kraut Hitler” you’re shit out of luck.

More importantly: if you decide game development isn’t for you, or if you run out of time to do it, or any of the hundreds of things that could possibly go wrong, you’re only out $100 and nobody else is out anything.  I went back to look and see what progress has been made on some of those fifty Kickstarters I got requests for back in April.  Of the seven I checked that got their funding (amounts between $600 and $3,500), exactly zero actually put the games out.  Three of the seven blogs haven’t updated in months, and one other no longer has a website.  One of the developers that hasn’t updated in months also had a second Kickstarter that didn’t meet its goal.  I’m not saying those projects will never come out, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  Sadly, many people did bet on it.

The game that started the Kickstarter plague. I'm actually excited to play it, even if my spam inbox is quite bloated from it.  I legitmately have more Kickstarter pitches in it currently than offers for boner pills or Nigerian princes.

The game that started the Kickstarter plague. I’m actually excited to play it, even if my spam inbox is quite bloated from it. I legitimately have more Kickstarter pitches in it currently than offers for boner pills or Nigerian princes.

Besides the things I noted in my previous Kickstarter piece, there are lots of things that people do wrong.  It’s stuff you also see in legitimate investing too.  Like promising stuff you can’t really promise.  I’ve taken pitches from software developers who believe if they receive funding, they will get a contract from a company to adapt their software.  As if the mere presence of a backer will push them through regardless of the quality of the final product.  The old “it’s about who you know” adage that isn’t as true as most people believe.  Obviously things don’t work that way.  If it were true, there would be no room for start-ups in this world.  For start-ups, it’s almost always about the talent on display and the quality of the product.

The Kickstarter version of that is games from start-ups who say they are aiming for, or outright guarantee, a release on platforms like Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, or Steam.  All those platforms are pretty exclusive and extremely difficult to get listings on.  A pitcher can no more promise that than a theologian can claim to prove the existence of God.  It’s okay to aim high, but be realistic about it.  Your chances of getting listed on a platform like XBLA is slim to none.

Another common problem is having a pitcher use their attempt at receiving funding to prove if there’s interest in a product.  The idea being that if someone is willing to invest money in something, obviously it’s a good idea and will catch on, sell well, and make all involved wealthy.  On the flip side, if nobody bites, obviously there’s not interest in it and it’s not something worth doing.  For some businesses, this is actually valid.  Some.  Not all.  For gaming, I don’t believe it is, and here’s why: not every concept sounds like a winner on paper.  I would think a game like Shadow of the Colossus would be a tough sell on most consumers, at least on the drawing board stage.  On the other hand, a game like NeverDead sounds fun and quirky on paper, looks good from screenshots, and seems downright fun when you watch the trailer for it.  The game itself was an unplayable piece of shit.  If I had taken a pitch for Shadow of the Colossus, I would have passed.  An experimental game formula, from a developer with a history of production delays and heavy employment turnover, whose only previous title underperformed in sales?  It would have been an easy pass.

A large-scale developer, like Double Fine, can legitimately use Kickstarter to find out if there’s interest a game.  They did, there was, and they’re making it.  But a small-time indie developer?  If I heard from one of them that they were only interested in making a game if people pledged money, I would assume they don’t have the type of passion I require to invest in someone.  Indies should make the games they want to play, not the games others want to play.  As much as I bust on punishers (as I will in my next review), if that’s where someone’s passion lies, that is what they should be developing.  Period.  End of story.

Here’s a question that is almost never asked, but it really ought to be: “have you ever had this much money?”  It’s a question that can appear to be condescending or invasive, but it’s actually a very important question to ask to anyone seeking any form of investment.  Does this person have the ability to manage money wisely?  Money spends quickly.  Typically it’s a lot quicker than anyone asking for funding realizes.  When a person receives the payment, it feels so large at first, like it will never run out.  Before you know it, it’s gone, and you haven’t accomplished any of the goals the money was obtained for.  Given the amount of developers who post additional asks, it shows that a lot of them aren’t good with money.

In my previous Kickstarter piece, I said that pitchers should get price quotes and state exactly what the money is being spent on.  Believe it or not, this point was the most contested of the entire feature.  But the reason I included it is because not having those quotes can come back to bite you in the ass.  Let’s say you ask for $10,000, with 25% of that being put towards hiring an artist.  You get a rough quote from the artist before the Kickstarter for $2,500, so you think you’re set.  But once you have the money and you sit down to hire them, they find out the project requires much more time, and thus their fee goes up.  You shop around and find similar prices from other talented artists.  Now you’re forced into either paying a talented artist more, or hiring an inferior artist, which goes against the principle of the pitch you used to get the funding in the first place.  Most start-ups are horrified to discover how little they get for what seems like an extravagant amount of money.  Small-time game developers are no different.

Star Trek

This is a great example of using Kickstarter right. The guys behind The Pinball Arcade asked for exactly what they needed to acquire the license for Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The rewards they offered were good rewards. Most importantly, they had a track record of making very good conversions of classic pinball machines. Follow their lead.

If you’ve never made a game before, don’t use Kickstarter.  Visualizing a game, drawing concept art, and planning it out are the easy parts.  Once you receive funding, you actually have to make the game.  It’s a slow, tedious process that is anything but smooth.  Even if you have artistic gifts, making a game that looks good is complex.  Making the game play well is even tougher.  Assuming you don’t just want to rush the game out, having a game that is playable and fun requires fine tuning, concessions on your vision, and many hours of frustration.  Almost any independent developer will tell you that their final products never come out exactly how they planned.  Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.  Others get so discouraged by the whole process that they quit.  Why do you think so many people start games that they never finish.  I promise you one thing: for most, it’s not because they run out of money.

Finish a project.  Finish multiple projects.  Learn to compromise.  Learn to take feedback.  More importantly, find out what you are capable of doing as a developer.  Find your strengths and your weaknesses.  And finally, be ready to admit if you don’t have the level of talent that someone asking for donations from strangers should have.  Not everyone has the talent to make a good game.  No amount of money will change that.  You either have talent or you don’t, and this isn’t one of those deals where you can inject talent to get ahead.

And for God’s sake, don’t open a Kickstarter with the intent of using it to quit your job to develop games.  People who have never attempted to make a game do this.  There’s no nice way of saying it: if you try that, you are a jumbo-sized stupid fucking moron.  It would be like someone who has never picked up a golf club deciding to leave their job to join the PGA tour.  You wouldn’t give them money.  You would call for the nice guys with the straight jackets to come take him to the, ahem, country club.

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26 Responses to Jumping the Kickstarter-Gun

  1. Truth! I’m actually considering the possibility of a Kickstarter to help fund Chasm at some point, but this is not something I’m taking lightly at all. You pretty much hit the nail on the head though. If you haven’t made a game yet, you don’t belong on Kickstarter. I’m terrified of it, just because I know how difficult and treacherous the road of game development is. But hey, ignorance is bliss… right?

  2. Tristan says:

    Knowing, or at least having some idea of your cost going into anything of that magnitude is important. I recently filed a grant request to film a documentary and in discussing my proposal with a colleague they asked if I would really need THAT much money to make the film. I explained the estimated cost (being liberal with the estimates to ensure I wouldn’t run out) of just traveling in order to do the interviews for the documentary, and how that alone would (probably at a minimum) use up nearly half the funds. Equipment would eat up about 1/5th more. So just from that alone 65-70% of the total funds are gone and the film hasn’t even been edited yet. It is very easy to not realize how quickly money gets used up if you’ve never actually sat down and thought about it.

    • CJ says:

      Here’s the thing. I can make a professional 2D game for $2,500. 3D? I would need only $10,000, at most. Fulfilling donation perks is another cost you must anticipate. But most things don’t cost $5,000 each. So why are developers, nay, ANYBODY asking for tens of thousands/millions of dollars when they don’t fucking need/deserve it? Cathy, I’ve seen many requests on Kickstarter get filled, but I’ve seen many more “fairy tales” get unfulfilled. Some idiots ask for $10,000-$30,000 in one month. That is VERY unreasonable. But if you wanted to succeed on Kickstarter, just offer some exclusive schwag. People don’t care how much your campaign wants, but if they get something they can sell on ebay 2 years after, the KicksTARDS will happily give their money away! These are ALWAYS the most profitable kickstarter campaigns.

      • Josh says:

        I’m sorry but this just smacks of someone who doesn’t know the real costs of development, and has no idea what this article was even written for. The requests that get filled or don’t aren’t really the point here, she’s essentially asking for a little bit of self censorship on what gets posted there at all.

        Secondly, costs vary from project to project, change scope half way through, etc. For example your $2,500 for a “professional” 2d game might not even buy the sprite sheets for something more complex than a generic platformer clone, especially if you pick a good artist. “Things don’t cost 5k each” is silly, because everyone knows that, and it isn’t the suggestion talked about here. Pretending everything costs no more than $2500/project is equally stupid. The real point here is that the author(and I, and most reasonable people) is/are much more likely to give money to a project, regardless of size, based on their experience, and specifically how I feel they’ll handle the money. The project asking for 35k, because they need a laundry list of very specific, well articulated and properly estimated items they’re using kickstarter for will get my money any day over the person who says “I can make this whole thing for 2500 bucks, because that is what it costs”.

        An example from personal experience, a friend and I debated putting a board game prototype on Kickstarter. In the end, we decided against it for a lot of reasons, one of which was printing and art costs. We went to several places looking for a professional artist and nice printed cards and boards. We found the costs too high on a per unit/box unless you do a run so large that we didn’t feel it was responsible to ask for the amount needed on kickstarter. Doing a quick browse of the website, I doubt very many people even take this simple step. Instead we’re refining the idea and planning wider playtesting with new rules that allow us to cut down on printing costs. If it proves to still play well, we may release open source to see if it’s popular enough and justifies the investment necessary

        I think in the end, your post here represents the entire problem with kickstarter and similar funding mechanisms. People simply do not understand the business of making games(or any business for that matter) and don’t understand what the management of that money will even mean in the long run. People use kickstarter to for “hey, check out this cool idea, now pay me” instead of thinking through what they need the funding for and how to complete those goals.

        • An XBLIG Guy says:

          Although I totally agree with this explanation, all these arguments adds up to the original $10,000 USD mentioned earlier. I’m sorry, but if an artist is charging more than $1,000 USD per character sprite set, he’s ripping you off. If this same artist charges triple just because it is a “3D model” then he’s committing the same crime tree times bigger. Chapter (and Indigo) are filled with books about converting resolutions of digital images, as well as transform them into textures for 3D models.

      • So you can make a professional 2D game in a month? In this time frame I’d assume you were doing it full-time, and unless you live with your parents, you have bills, rent, food, etc and need to pay yourself. So let’s say you pay yourself a paltry $10/hr as a programmer. This will net you 250 hrs to make the game, which at 8 hours a day comes out to a month total. Now, you may be multi-talented but the rest of us aren’t and have to pay for artwork, sound effects, music, development costs, etc. on top of our own living expenses.

        So you’re either the most productive, multi-talented game developer around, or you can’t estimate a real budget for a game.

      • The two other replies covered most everything that needed to be said to you involving cost (and, believe me, they’re being conservative), so I’ll just point you back to the rest of the internet and tell you, very simply: “Lurk more.”

        • An XBLIG Guy says:

          I don’t think the Internet will provide a better insight. I found threads about a certain developer whose primary work is to develop an “open interface” for shaders for multiple platforms. He has been working on a game for 4 years now but he boasted that he can do a 2D platform in a single month in his spare time. I believe him.

      • Mike says:

        I’m pretty sure even Angry Birds cost over $100K to make. Since a 2D game only costs $2500 and a 3D one $10,000, we can only assume Angry Birds has about 27 extra dimensions to it that they aren’t showing us.

        • CJ says:

          @Mike: Haha, yeah that’s pretty funny! :D The problem with these posts, and the dumbasses behind them, is that they don’t know what it costs to be UNtalented and don’t have valuable folks in their social network. When I said I could make a professional 2D game with a $2500 total budget, I meant it. That’s because I can skip over the sprite creation cost(which are potentially the most expensive part), and do most of that myself. So then, the rest would go to the musician. Soon enough, I’d be able to skip over music costs too since I have music composition program on the way. :D

          I didn’t say I could make Final Fantasy VII with $10K(probably 30K, haha :D). Most people didn’t hear that, and they tried throwing in their 2 cents like morons. It’s not hard fellas. :) Let me explain to the retarded out there why the budgets would be so low.

          Did you know I have a 3D modelling program that can generate humanoid skeletons, and animate them using a simple keyframe system? Or that it can generate complex 3D custom objects with the same capability? And export images using JPG, BMP, PNG and animated GIF to create 2D animated spritessheets? I created it because I was tired of complex 3D programs like Blender. 3D modelling shouldn’t be a life-long trade, so I made it with ease-of-use in mind so people can learn how to make 3d models within days, instead of taking months just to learn the controls of the program. Also, I’m almost done with 3d model exporting too. So I’ll be able to create 2D sprites AND 3D models easily pretty soon.

          Like I said, I also have a music composition program on the way too. Making good music isn’t that hard, most accomplished folks just won’t tell you how! Music production is a valuable cash cow. However, I got all the knowledge I need for it, I just need to create the program, which will probably happen after I get done with all my contract work. All it takes is learning a bit of music theory, analyzing sheet music of the greats like Michael Jackson with a good eye and you’re actually on the right track. One of the few things you can’t get is an R&B legend like Quincy Jones over your shoulder or a network of record producers and their families. These guys are pretty tight-knit. :D

          I believe I’m way more experienced and talented than most indie developers trying to use XBLIG. No offense to the fledgling indie develoeprs who can’t create a decent platforming engine to save their lives(come on, I posted source code for developers to use! -_-) or those who know how difficult it is to hone your prorgamming craft, but most of you don’t even know enough OpenGL to wipe your asses, much less code a decent 3d modeller from scratch or know enough music theory to copy a lullaby. Those of you who claim to have supreme business sense – you can at least do THAT, right?

          The cost of development will vary between individuals, their needs and their limits, but I just know mine beforehand. The less talented you are, the more money you’ll have to pay someone else to make up for the inability to do anything yourself. The difference between many of the above idiots and myself though, is that I can get by, covering up my own weaknesses with programming – it’s the best game development skill you can have as it allows you to make tools that cover art and music if you wanted to. Meanwhile, 80% of App Hub’s population are still trying to make the first Sonic the Hedgehog.

          • Mike says:

            Are you competing with the guy from Project Gert for biggest douche on Indie Gamer Chick? Because my vote is still with him.

          • UnSubject says:

            What hourly rate are you assigning to your sweat capital?

          • An XBLIG Guy says:

            Let me put sour attitudes aside. Now that the bad taste is ignored, let me say… Kudos man!!! Just like you, I worked for years to create a 3D framework that includes a design tool, just like the one you describe. In my case I did it because I have ABSOLUTE NO BUDGET at all. To give an example, the cost of my last 3D game was $135 USD ($100 for the Microsoft account and $35 for a consultant so she could correct my spelling). The development time was about 8 months, though, with all the framework ready (or so I thought). It was a great decision. After all, if there were going to be problems importing models to XNA, I might as well just create the whole thing myself. Yes, indeed, my games are very amateurish, but I got some compliments when it comes to animation.

            Now, to my point: I am an amateur. My role as an indie is a mere hobby and does not intend to replace my day-job. If I were to invest in a more serious project, I would hire a graphic artist to create some digital images. A music composer would be good too, but it would be me who would transform his music sheets to a midi file. Those expenses would account for the raise from $130 to $10,000 USD.

            • An XBLIG Guy says:

              Ok, my baddie. Here is how I would distribute the budget:
              * $7,000 USD for a graphic artist ($1,000 per level for 6 levels plus interactive menus)
              * $3,000 USD for a music composer ($500 per tune, one per level)
              * $50,000 USD for the Indie Gamer Chick (or someone like her) for Quality Control Assurance & Testing.

              Now that’s a kickstarted winner ^_^

  3. UnSubject says:

    Okay, Indie Chick, you’ve squashed my first idea for an XBLIG title, but I’m sure that “White Line Fever With Gay Goebblels” will get up, right?

    More seriously, I looked at the current delivery rate for Kickstarted video games from 2009 onwards. From 2009 to 2011, the delivery rate is about 30% (on limited samples). In 2012, from January to October 31, the delivery rate was half that due to the number of “big costing” titles that promised delivery in 2013 and onwards.

    http://unsubject.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/kickstander-quantifying-hope-and-measuring-dreams/

    To me that’s a big issue. This isn’t to say that a number of these titles won’t deliver, but to date the ability of these crowdfunded video games to end up being released – you know, the important thing – hasn’t been that great.

    • Mike says:

      The problem with that number is late == fail, which is not a valid measure of success. There is a bit on the Kickstarter Blog explaining that while 25% ship on time, only 3.6% never ship: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/is-lateness-failure (not Kickstarters numbers btw, they use the same source of the 25% number).

      I think there is validity in IGC’s point, but I also think it gets overblown. We are talking about $5-$15 from a backer. I don’t think most backers are the ignorant morons they are made out to be, but understand that the project they are backing may be late, suck, or never be done. But if I see someone with a good idea needing to get over that $3K 3DS Max licence I’m willing to toss them $5 bucks to help out.

      I understand the press backlash against Kickstarter. Hell GameMarx gets Kickstarter spam and even if we covered your project we have no traffic to offer you. I’d rather see the press though spend time covering the projects from a critical eye, pointing out the bad and suspect (like the GameStick guys got over $5Mil in VC funds before asking $100K on Kickstarter) yet also hilighting the developers who do have a track record but you may not have heard of them.

      There have already been amazing games created because of Kickstarter. I’ve put more hours into FTL than Mass Effect 3 (which I completed twice, not counting playing all endings). Kickstarter games are no better or worse in quality overall than AAA titles, yet we seem to only remember the good AAA games while only pointing to the bad games in other channels.

      There is an entire section of the population that paid a full retail $60 for Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. At least if you back a bad game on Kickstarter it’s probably just $10, maybe only $5.

      • My point wasn’t to question whether quality titles come from it. I’m going with the Jeff Goldblum line from Jurassic Park. Indie devs using Kickstarter are too preoccupied by whether or not they could that they don’t stop to think if they should. Forget about merit or not. The gaming population as a whole is going to go Kickstarter deaf soon.

        My firm gets between hundreds to thousands of applications annually from entrepreneurs. Of those applications, around 100 to 150 will get to directly pitch to us. Of those, 20 to 25 might enter some form of negotiations. Of those, around 15 will actually enter into due diligence. Of those, maybe 10 will clear due diligence and receive and investment. Maybe I’m frustrated by Kickstarter because it removes the first couple steps. You’re essentially getting pitched to by everyone, and it’s aggravating.

        • Mike says:

          Not every project launched gets funded (I know that’s obvious, but I feel it’s being over looked). If the developers can put together a pitch for the game – pre or post development – it’s not going to sell. So there is a market force at work filtering the candidates. According to Kickstarter itself, games only reach funding at a rate of 34%

          You’re also looking at Kickstarter as if you’ve funded it 100%. You didn’t, you chipped in $5, maybe $10 bucks. You wouldn’t ask me for my last five years of tax returns if I asked you to buy me lunch would you? (Would you? I have a feeling you might, but let’s assume an average person for this =p). I understand on the internet rage scale, spending $5-10 on something is permission to scorch the earth, but IRL most of us don’t even think about a $5-10 purchase (I often call it “lunch”).

          One of the great things about Kickstart is projects firms like yours won’t fund. This includes DoubleFine Adventure – no one would invest in an old click and point adventure because common wisdom said the genre was dead.

          Instead of blanket ignoring of Kickstarter and similar sites, I’d rather see game press use their powers for good to call out the good ones and shame the bad. Like this (indie gogo): http://www.indiegogo.com/save-homeworld – scroll down a bit and you see these guys are a web dev shop. Assuming you can even buy the game license for $50k (I doubt it) there are no funds left to develop the game(s) with (also a red flag anytime a developer talks MMO-ish). Here this is really bad because unlike Kickstarter they will keep the few thousands they raise.

          Last, I don’t think Kickstarter will implode because of to many projects, it’s more likely it will be replaced with a better system. Since you don’t back projects, you don’t see this side but Kickstarter doesn’t make it easy for projects to communicate well with backers. Lot of room here for someone to do a better job. Then again, games had $3 Mil pledged in 2011 and $83 Mil in 2012 so it may be a little soon to predict its downfall.

      • UnSubject says:

        Thanks for the link to the study. The “never ship” figure relates to the Design and Technology category and refers to those projects that have explicitly cancelled themselves after being successfully crowdfunded. I’d argue that video games aren’t the same as the Design and Tech category – it seems (off a limited view) that Design projects show a working prototype and require the extra funds for production, while a lot of video game Kickstarters don’t start serious development on a title until they know they’ve been funded. (Design certainly appears to have a higher delivery rate than video games, 67% for D vs. roughly 1 in 3 for VGs.)

        By comparison based on my stats, video game Kickstarters only have explicit pre-delivery cancellation rate of (5/302=) 2%. But a lot of projects just roll on, sometimes going silent and sometimes with repeated apologies from the development team that things are harder than they thought. So yes, while late != fail, some backers will be going into their second or third year following a project that was only meant to take a few months.

        Crowdfunding requires trust to work. You say you’re happy to kick in $5 to support a good idea, but that kind of attitude erodes over time if you continually see that money taken and then produce no outputs. It doesn’t matter if it is “only” $10 – $15, if expectations aren’t met, people will stop backing projects.

        To be honest, we haven’t seen enough Kickstarted video games to really judge their overall quality – I counted 63 titles in my analysis that have actually launched. A good number of them went unnoticed and unrated. FTL is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to quality and success based on this kind of funding model.

        And as for Steel Battalion: HA – those gamers had the opportunity to see that title’s review before purchase. A Kickstarter of SB: HA would have asked for that money two years before that point based only on high-level preview materials. They _might_ have asked for less than $60, but they probably would have stacked the rewards to make it more attractive at that point.

  4. Kickstarter is just another way of saying “virtual panhandling.”

    I think Kickstarter would be more successful if they had developer ratings and feedback, similar to an eBay sellers rating. That way backers could easily determine if a person has a history of successfully delivering their promises.

  5. davidgaames says:

    This was far more eloquent (and polite) than I could have ever put it. Well done.

    I think the message that Kickstarter is sending to indie developers – particularly smaller teams – is that video game development costs a lot of money. And that’s completely untrue. But these brand new indie development “companies” use it as an excuse to say “we want to make this great game, and because this game is going to be so great, we obviously need a lot of money to make it”. I mostly post about Kickstarters that fail, and a lot of those games get made anyway, because the reality is that the Kickstarter was just a cash grab – whether they were going to use it toward development or not.

    Of all things, you need to be extra justified with a Kickstarter for a video game, because there’s no inherent cost in creating it. If you need to publish a book or create a board game, there’s inherent cost, at least for materials. But when your product is a download from a website, where is that $10,000+ going?

    And if you think a five-figure Kickstarter is bad, you ought to see the first game I posted about. ;)

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  8. Kickstarter is a market bringing early adopters eager to find innovative ideas not provided by the big producers, would it be media or physical goods. It’s first intent is to give the chance to original creators with risky projects to submit their vision and try to convince to chip in and take a gamble together. I think the major part of the buyers on kickstarter are not even buying the final product.
    Evidently, they does but it’s more a question of “I have discover something original and I’ll see where this goes”. There is a relation, an experience for the pledge of being a patron and hell, give a chance to a crazy short film to be filmed. That’s what Kickstarter is selling. At least at the beginning of it’s creation. Now, it starting to be more and more a preselling platform for well established studios capable of getting funds in other ways, but hell, that’s life and nothing is going to change that.

    As this platform give the chance to normally rejected candidate from other funding platform, it is not strange, if you look at the eyes of a VC, to see some project pop up from it and raise an eyebrow. But if you see it trough the eye of a hipster in Queens, pledging for the possibility to see a weird pixel base retro point and click adventure made by a probable ex-heroinoman is worth the 7$. Will the game be perfect? Will it even be fun? Will even be delivered?
    That’s a lot of question and I think that the major clientele of KS don’t even care. They look at the project, they bet on it like a lottery, they buy the dream. They know, deep down inside, there is a risk and they assume it.

    As you say, it is no VC or investing. That’s why some projects takes chances and even if they don’t fit in a very important list when it come to invest, they do fit in the spirit of the crowd funding which is more a liberal approach and the bottom line for them is the reward of having see what other didn’t.
    Don’t get me wrong some people just don’t seem invested in theirs KS process and just think that money will appears because they say the word Zombie Platformer with an exclamation point. Another ones show the next MMO of 700K with a demo of a guy running for hours in a beautifully empty forest.
    But sometimes some project pop-up, realistic, totally not “investible” and people believe. At this moment, an adventure begin between the creator of the project and his backers. It’s is worth has any Kodak share he has in his portfolio? I think so when I’ve backed, and I think they do.

    Finally, I’m just saying that if people wants to quit their day job to pursue something they have to do, burning inside them, why not and who cares? Maybe they’ll succeed.
    We seem to forget that the creator is also in great risk and be assured that if he fail to give you your deck of card, he will pay ten times by lost of reputation the 7$ you pledge six months ago.
    Also, we have to remember that a well rounded tables of big names never guaranty a good game either. We’ve seen so much humongous projects made by those dream team fall flat after gazillion of dollar. Even if I’m “new” as a game developer, I’m pretty sure I’ll make something more interesting than “Duke Nukem Forever”…

    It is also funny to see team with proven track record make yet another platformer since they do this since 20 years… Do we really need another platformer. Ho, I forgot, there is zombies in it. What a twist.

    Not willing to pledge any money on kickstarter is one thing and it’s totally logical, but being against? This I don’t understand. Because it show’s that money is easy to get??? Everybody knows that it’s not even on Kickstarter or any crowdfunding platform.

    Ho, by the way, I would never asked…

    • I think at the time of the writing of this, the landscape was slightly different and the empty cash-grabs were more prevalent, especially in the wake of Double Fine’s thing. It’s slowed down a ton. You have to remember, I was getting Kickstarter requests daily at this point.

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