The Gentrification of Kickstarter
It is also my greatest fear as far as crowdfunding goes. Everyone has their own private boogeyman the scammer, the fraudster, or maybe even an old timey grifter for a little variety. For me though, I fear the rise of the Kickstarter professional, and it’s already happening.
Plenty will argue that increasingly professional projects drive dollars and traffic into the neighborhood. I agree – they do drive more in, they just stick to the expressway, and don’t stop for anything short of professional.
Today I discovered a new symptom of this insidious problem. Interested? Read on.
When I first started getting into Kickstarter, I remember stumbling across Springboard, and thinking, “these guys do it right.” Good quality products, good pitches – they had projects that someone with ambitions to launch their own crowdfunding efforts could learn from. I saw new projects pop up from time to time, but there were never quite up my alley; a mechanic that I wasn’t a fan of, or an art style that I didn’t care for always got in the way.
Then they started launching all their products off one account, rather than having (apparently) the design studio launch them. Only then did I start to pay attention to just how prolific they were. As you may be aware, I glance at almost every project to appear on Kickstarter on a near daily basis via its recently launched page – thanks to Kickstarter’s terrible search tools, it’s the only way to catch it all.
But what the hell – Springboard is just a gimmick to help indie designers see their game come true, right? I guess like me you didn’t read the fine print. Take a look at their seal at the top of the page. Gamesalute.com is far more than just a few guys looking to help people out on Kickstarter, they are a fully developed company with dozens of titles and range of services, including “art, graphic design, printing, shipping, customs, marketing, media support, conventions, warehousing, sales, distribution, and customer service.”
On paper, Game Salute appears to be just as professional as some other board game mainstays who I have already complained about gaming an indie funding mechanic (I’m still looking at you Queen Games.) Springboard then, depending on how you look at it is nothing more than an imprint, or better yet - fig leaf.
Still – all that is their business I suppose, it’s all above-board, as it were. This brings me to my real (and recently discovered) problems. Early on, I always assumed that you could only have one active project Kickstarting at a time. I occasionally saw evidence in the history of older profiles that they had two up simultaneously but I never found an example until now. Apparently even two is not the limit though – that would be the sky, actually.
As of right now, Springboard has no less than four active projects. Don’t believe me? Take a look
The obvious question in my mind is, “how could anyone hope to run four Kickstarter’s simultaneously?” Their answer was fairly straightforward, “Thanks for the message. We have a great staff here at Game Salute including all the fine folks needed to staff and support multiple campaigns at once. Since many of our projects appeal to different audiences, we do find an issue with running multiple projects simultaneously.” I’m pretty sure they meant do not, but that’s beside the point.
I ask you, can any organization with enough staffing to manage and execute four simultaneous Kickstarter projects and still execute on their backlog of funded but unfulfilled projects really be in such want as to require crowdfunding in the first place? Personally, I don’t think so.
And backlog, don’t get me started on backlog! At present, according to the status updates on their various projects that I can track down, they have at least 10 projects that are currently unfulfilled on top of the live ones currently going on. That’s not wish-fulfillment, that’s not even madness – its industrial capitalism at its finest. The world is powered by it, but generally I like to think that the dollars I am backing are going to help an idealistic start-up with a dream, not an organization large enough to worry about which department gets what billable hours.
I am sincerely disappointed by this discovery. If they hadn’t started releasing those card decks using already created art assets from projects that had already successfully funded (but not yet been fulfilled,) I never would have thought to dig deeper. I wonder how many of their board game properties Game Salute will brand on the back of bicycle decks before that well runs dry.
Maybe I am over reacting though – what do the rest of you think?