Recently there has been a surge of support for the production of video games via the collaborative social funding website Kickstarter.
Now, I am a fan of Kickstarter, and I fully support what they are doing. My issue is fear. I have several fears in regards to Kickstarter, and I was all ready to do a big long post about it. I even had a good chunk of it finished and I though “Oh, I can finish this up later in the week. I’ll bide my time, and then the people will see!” Unfortunately, the good folks at CheckPoint and The Penny Arcade Report decided to write about the exact same thing a day before I finished my post.
But seriously, they brought up some very interesting points. From the economic “bubble” that Kickstarter is creating to the potential for scamming. I grabbed this tidbit from the PA post.
“Not all Kickstarter projects will succeed. It’s inevitable that some will fail. This is one reason why Kickstarter is very particular about using the term ‘backer’ and avoiding the term ‘investor.’ Dent explains, ‘It is not actually an investment in the legal sense of the word. The contributor is actually buying something to be part of the game.’ Backers get tangible rewards in exchange for their dollars: shirts, videos, forum access, and (typically) a copy of the game if and when it is completed. It’s a purchase, not an investment.”
This is frightening, because there are an abnormal amount of games being funded through Kickstarter at the moment. You may all be aware of the huge support garnered by Tim Schaffer’s “DoubleFine Adventure,” and may also be aware of the hugely popular “Wasteland 2″ project. What you may not know is that over 50 other games, with less than stellar business plans, have also been funded in the time since DFA created this boom. A huge issue here is the lack of reputation and experience these “developers” have. Many of them underestimate the true cost of making a game. Some of them don’t factor in taxes. A few of them (and I won’t name names) even go so far as to make the Kickstarter rewards a sort of melting pot. Offering someone a chance to be a voice actor in your game is cool. Offering that to people only so that you can have voice acting in your game (and forcing them to provide their own mic and travel to you) is not.
So my big fear, other than someone saying they will be making Half-Life 3 and collecting millions of dollars to spend on their own personal fleet of prostitutes, is that people will realize their mistakes and get disappointed. In a big way. Games will be cancelled, or will be released well below what was expected. People will attempt to take legal action and have no viable options or ground to stand on, costing them more money and making them even more upset. Kickstarter could be getting a big ‘ol kick in the dick soon unless they lay out a more definite explanation of what goes in to “backing” a project.
“If you are unable to fulfill the promises made to backers, cannot complete the project as advertised, or decide to abandon the project for any reason, you are expected to cancel funding. A failure to do so could result in damage to your reputation or even legal action on behalf of your backers.”
OH NO! My reputation! My millions of dollars of reputation!