Kickstarter Broke the Internet

By Polar_Bear
In Contest
Nov 17th, 2014

The League of Extraordinary Gamers gives us their thoughts on Kickstarter and if it’s a good or bad thing for the gaming industry.
I have my own feelings about what Kickstarter has done for the gaming community. What do the rest of you think? I’d really like to see a discussion about this.
Heck, if the topic goes well, I might even hand out a prize to someone, but I want to know if you think that Kickstarter is hurting or helping the gaming world, and you gotta tell me why.
As always, keep the discourse civil, please.


From the article:

So, this article from Gizmodo has been circulating a lot this week. And by a lot, I mean I ran into it in no less than four different industry forums or webpages, all posted up by people that weren’t directly communicating in the other conversations. Could be that one started it, the rest carried it elsewhere, and the next thing we know it’s pandemic. I’m not going to get into a blog vs. blog war of words. What I want to address really is a lot of the conversation points that have come up in the discussions about Kickstarter.

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  • surprize

    Pretty weird article. My one line summary: “Kickstarter doesn’t have a problem, YOU do”.

    I just have a problem taking anything seriously that purports to be objective but gives everything a clean bill of health. My main issue with this article is that the writer uses what seems like deliberate rhetorical fallacies and obfuscation to avoid tackling genuine negative concerns about Kickstarter. For example they address the issue of KS taking sales off FLGS’ by using examples of tiny projects that would never get shelf space, therefore there’s no problem. Completely ignoring things like Mantic’s current KoW kickstarter – how many of the rule book and starter army sales is that taking from FLGS? Ditto for the CMON run boardgame KS’.

    I consider I got burned on the two kickstarters I backed – one was really late and of poorer quality than I was hoping (you get what you pay for) the other is coming up on 18mth late and I never expect to see product or refund. I would still back something I would like to happen and might not without my support, but other than that I don’t like pre-ordering uncertain product months in advance. I’d rather wait, potentially pay more, and know what I’m getting.

  • miniguy

    The Gizmodo complaints are more about tech and aren’t as applicable to games. The risks are lower because we’re talking about some resin, some metal, some cardboard, some rules. Sure, I kickstarted some bad games, but I’ve also bought bad games in shops based on box art and marketing copy. How is that different from KS copy?

    With specific minis, the risk is even lower because the image is the product. Only real risk there is total default.

    • Meh- Gizmodo’s complaints are silly, even when we’re talking about gadgets.

      Investors aren’t the height of expertise- they’re people with money (I have a little experience with traditional investors). Often, they don’t know much about the market, and are wrong just about as often as Kickstarter supporters.

      Yeah, there’s a lot of poorly made garbage getting funded, but that’s true of life in a capitalist economy, and Kickstarter did nothing to change that. We get lots of stuff made, the majority is stuff we don’t need or want.

      Sometimes I feel like the Gizmodo guy was complaining about his own stupidity (if you feel like you need to upgrade your phone every time Apple makes one, you shouldn’t be investing a year out in a case for your phone). And then he felt like projecting his stupidity upon everyone else on Kickstarter (I mean, did all of those people feel the need to buy everything Apple tells them to? Maybe some of them got the product that they wanted).

      And, yes, games might be different from other gadgets, and games (including video games) make up the largest group that gets funded on Kickstarter. So, leaving them out entirely when talking about Kickstarter is just dumb.

      He even failed to acknowledge that well established companies and brands use Kickstarter as well (Reaper, Darksword, Coolmini, Privateer Press, Reading Rainbow). Might be a problem, ’cause not one of his complaints stands true of their projects.

      • miniguy

        I don’t disagree with any of that, just pointing out that a lot of what makes a game a good or a bad buy is subjective. How you like the art, how you like the minis, how you like the rules. Very different thing from a failed prototype or an outright default. It’s like if you buy a book with limited information (reviews, blurbs, you liked the author’s last one) and it turns out to be a dud, it doesn’t make that purchase a failure.

        There is a different complaint here, which goes at your last paragraph. KS lost its mission long before people started using it to beg for handouts to pay their Uber tab. When the focus became Kickstarting individual productions instead of Kickstarting businesses, of course the site becomes like an inferior Etsy or Ebay for presales. And this is compounded when you have Reaper, CMON, and Privateer entering because all they’re doing is using the site to make presales of sight-unseen merchandise that they could just as well release through normal channels. It’s great for those companies, but it’s bad for consumers, so the companies need to throw in the KS exclusive bonuses to offset the risk and the opportunity cost. Exactly the same as exclusive DLC on videogame preorders or the recent increase in paid betas.

        The reason I say this is a problem is that it creates a platform where consumers are more likely to trust projects from folks who have previously launched successful projects. Real startups will find themselves at a greater disadvantage as more spam floods KS. Incumbents will do well trading exclusives for presales, but this is more like GameStop for tabletop than some kind of populist venture capital ideal.

  • I wonder if Kickstarter has settled down yet. So far, we’ve seen a bit of a drop off in funding for games (they don’t take off quite as huge as this time last year) with the exception of established brands from established companies.

    But both articles seem like they’re uneven.

    One thing that bugs me, honestly, is how much of a game is not available if you weren’t one of the people who bought it ‘sight unseen’ via Kickstarter.

    For example, I’ve been playing Arcadia Quest with my friend who got into the KS. I’m honestly pretty impressed with the gameplay, but I feel like I can’t go out and buy myself a copy- because almost all of the heroes we’re playing with were Kickstarter Exclusive.

    Now, I feel similarly about a lot of promo minis, but it seems like Kickstarter has really multiplied the problem for me.

  • Lugh

    I think that KS is just going through a fairly normal cycle for a popular web service. At first, it’s all bright and new and egalitarian. We’re going to flatten the business model, encourage interaction with creators, and provide a way to give small businesses the small boost in capital they need! Then bigger businesses come in and change the landscape purely through gravity. Then you start seeing small businesses not able to live up to the ideals they preached. Then you see con men trying to take advantage of people who still believe in the ideals.

    I’m pretty much with the LXG article. You, the consumer, have control with KS. Do a little research. Figure out your comfort zone. Use your head, and avoid impulse purchases. Use your social media to promote those who are doing it right and call out those who are doing it wrong.

    Which, honestly, is not that different from any other purchase. KS just suffers from higher risk and delayed gratification, which tends to magnify the problems.

    • Ok- I think I agree pretty much completely with you here.

      I do know a guy who needs to stay away from Kickstarters all together. He loves his impulse purchases, and waiting a year for his impulse purchase to show up is always a downer for him.