Kickstarter is quickly becoming the new outlet for game developers to secure funding for their projects, and we’re footing the bill. The Half Life 3 campaign, started by two fans of the popular title, has sparked the interest of the gaming world and makes us realize that we can manipulate the hand of the game developers if we secure their funding in advance.
However, the problem that exists with this knowledge is a double edged sword. If we give them the funding, we’re left with no control over how the product is managed, produced, or ultimately marketed or distributed to the masses. This ultimately gives full control back to the game developer and their studio to do as they please with the funds rose.
In the sad case of Mighty no. 9 we saw that once they reached their funding goal, it became their money plain and simple. Fans became upset with their community manager Dina Karam for her connections to the feminist movement, and her own biased towards the title’s absence of women being present. They promptly asked for refunds from Comcept Games, and were denied.
They were informed that their “donations,” were going toward the release of an upcoming product, and that the studio would fulfill their obligation under Kickstarter’s strict policy, by giving them their “gifts.” Recently it was revealed that Mighty no. 9 wouldn’t feature an English voice track—apparently due to not enough funding being secured.
But wait a minute, isn’t that what your producers, and studio is for anyway? Remember when game studios used to find a way to get private donations, and even pony up the dough themselves for games? Well thanks to Kickstarter we pay the bill, just to receive the most exclusive of releases, and have our names cemented in gaming history. It doesn’t end there though we’ve seen Kickstarter get funding approved for some of the most ridiculous things in the world—including potato salad which raised over $44,000.
I recently began a Kickstarter campaign just to see the process it goes through to see what securing funding would be like and here’s what I found out:
If you don’t have a name, no one will know who you are or care
When I say this, I mean studios have their own marketing outlets, but if you’re a independent person just starting out all you have is social media, unless you plaster posters all over town. Kickstarter doesn’t offer exposure beyond your page, and social media links.
Crowdfunding sharks harass you constantly
There are people on Kickstarter who email you relentlessly claiming that they can get you backers if you pay them! Apparently for as little as $5.00-100.00 they seek backers in your niche, and they get you the funding in your time slot. I can’t say this is true, because when I launched my campaign, I got two backers totaling $10.00. Before it closed out on itself, and I received nothing.
Yes you read that right, if you missed your funding goal, even by a mere penny you can’t cash out. Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal, it allows you to ascend your goal, but not fall short.
Kickstarter doesn’t allow charities, but it will allow social parties to crowdfund.
I had a friend who tried to raise money for ALS on Kickstarter and she was in formed via email by the community manager that if she didn’t “edit,” her pitch with the charity they’d reject it. She ended up just deleting the entire campaign, and started a Paetreon account for the funding. And then we saw Anita Sarkeesian open a documentary about Tropes vs. Women which gathered over $160,000. The sheer difference in necessity is amazing.
But getting back to my original point game developers are looking at us as donators, and no longer fans. This gives us a huge opportunity to change games the way we’d love to see them with future titles such as Elder Scrolls VI or even Fallout IV. The other side is we’ll have to deal with their changes as they move hand to hand upon them, since we’re not in a contractual obligation with them beyond our gifts.
Crowdfunding has a long way to go before it can be a trustworthy source to pool money for games. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t become the new normal, and force us to pay for things twice: Kickstarter, and retail just to get a different collector’s edition.
What do you think of Kickstarter and the gaming industry? Let us know in the comments!
The Gaming Ground