Kickstarters: Victims of Success?

Kickstarter Fatigue. Who’s feeling it?

I’m here today to talk to something that’s been on my mind for a while. Kickstarters for games, be they table top, board, card or video are common place now. Everyone’s seen one, and have likely backed one themselves (the only one I’ve ever backed, I got my rewards delivered last week. Happy man here). But my question is this – Is anyone else suffering from Kickstarter Fatigue?

Its easy to see the appeal of using a Kickstarter. You get to collect interest and money in something long before you actually invest money of your own into one of your projects, all for little risk to yourself. You’ve seen the runaway success of projects like Dreadball, Bombshell Babes and Kingdom Death and decided you want some of that.

Lets face it who doesn’t want this kind of success?
But the question is are there too many these days? My gaming club uses a facebook page to chat and arrange stuff. We had to ban posting about new Kickstarters from the page because every other post was another game looking for money. I have no problem with new games. I like to try and play a little of something else every now and then. I want to stress that before someone whinges in the comments. I’m not against the idea of using a kickstarter to fund your project. My problem lies in lots of established companies using KS to run projects they could have easily afforded themselves.
If Company X put up a kickstarter to redo a certain specialist game would people feel miffed that they’ve not invested any of their own capital into it? Do people feel peeved that Company Y are expecting us to fund their new sales lines rather than spend their own funds on it? If a video game company like EA put up a Kickstarter to fund the next FIFA or Madden, or Activision expected pledges and payment up front before development began for the next Call of Duty people would be rightly pissed. Why is it any different with table top games?

More and more Kickstarters seem like a massive advertising campaign. Companies announce they’re running a kickstarter way in advance. People count down to them. They seem more like pre-orders with Early Bird incentives. Kickstarter feels like its original idea, of helping small companies reach the funding they need to get off the ground, arguably one of the hardest things for any company to do, is getting trampled into the dust by big companies seeing it as “the next big thing” to promote themselves

How many Kickstarters projects have we seen fail? We see those fail to reach there targets outright like Rick Priestly’s “Beyond the Gates of Antares“and we see ones that reach their funded target, but because they don’t smash it and start adding on tons of free stuff people pull out (like THON).
And I’m not suggesting all kickstarters projects will fail. Clearly they won’t, but am I wrong to miss the days were if you wanted to do something you needed to put your own money into a business, not expect your customers to pay upfront for everything?

What happens to you if you run a Kickstarter, do well, but not exceptionally. You use that money and set up your moulds, spend time hiring sculptors for models, writers for rules. You dispatch your pledges, set up your webstore and…nothing. No one buys anything, cos the only people interested have just gotten all the models they wanted, and at a discount too (cos pledges tend to be at lower costs than buying them afterwards).  And chances are the delay in getting funding and getting your deliveries done is enough that the enthusiasm in your game has well and truely passed. What happens then?

I am just starting to feel fatigued by Kickstarters everywhere I turn. And their own successes are damaging them. There’s only so much money out there to give, and with more and more projects popping up that money is getting thin. Soon money will be spread thin enough that no one will be able to afford any more and some truly deserving projects will go unnoticed. I’ve already seen people saying they “like this project by Y, but X company is releasing their next Kickstarter soon so I’ll save my money for that”. 

And at the end of the day, you’re giving money up for nothing. That is how Kickstarter is. You give money to company for them to succeed. You get free stuff for your donation, but you’re not buying it. It may seem like that, but you aren’t buying the products. You’re pledging money with the knowledge you’ll get a “free” reward for it. And most the time you’re free gifts don’t exist in any form other than a simple 3D rendering when you fork over the money. Because if it already existed, why would the company need a Kickstarter to produce it?

What are your thoughts? Are Kickstarters getting a little too common place. Is the fact that everything seems to launch with one getting annoying? Or should I just accept this business and advertising model as the future?

With all that said if GW were to put up a Kickstarter for a new version of Necromunda I would sell my soul to throw money at that….

Comments are closed.