Christmas and Kickstarter


Tis the season to be shopping, for better or worse. Don’t you wish that it was about the giving, or that the thought really counted? These days it is all about the presents, they’re really the only the game in town.

Oh, you thought I was talking about Christmas? Well, I suppose I could see the confusion. Though some of those statements are equally applicable, it should be obvious to my loyal readers that I was talking about Kickstarter.

Though I don’t soon expect to see houses bedecked in lime green lights, people singing Kickmas carols door to door, or sitting around by the warm glow of their monitor searching for hypothetical presents for next year, you have to admit, there are certain resonances.

Come, join me around the hypothetical fire, and we will discuss it further.

Kickstarter has grown exponentially over the last few years, from a relative unknown, to the gold standard in crowd funding. Though Kickstarter finds new ways on a regular basis to tell people that it is not a store, it has done this by preordering awesome things. A quick look at the top ten grossing projects list, shows that it is short on altruism, but long on must have gifts for 2013: 5 video games, 4 expensive electronics, and 1 miniatures game.

This shouldn’t be taken as a complaint: I backed 4 of the projects on that list. It is just an observation.

Kickstarter and Christmas, despite their obvious similarities, are actually kind of antithetical to each other if you think about it. Christmas emphasizes gift giving to the exclusion of every other aspect of its existence  and requires the gift under the tree on a specific night, whereas Kickstarter emphasizes backer rewards to the exclusion of most other aspects of its existence  and who knows when you’ll get them. Really it’s the timelines that hurt their otherwise perfect symmetry.

I would have expected to see fewer projects as the year comes to a close and creators intuitively grasped the pendulums swing from delayed to instant gratification, but that has not been the case. I have seen some anecdotal evidence though, that there are fewer projects successfully funding, by watching the ending soon tab and frequent use of Kicktraq. I will continue to watch this issue, and see if I can find harder evidence on the subject. In the meantime, I would suggest that the window between Thanksgiving and Christmas is generally not the best time to try to get important things done; there is simply too much going on.

Some projects are starting to adopt an IOU model in an innovative attempt to counter this obvious threat; since you will not get your rewards in time to give them away as a present, you can instead print out a certificate-as-stocking-stuffer as a placeholder for our favorite winter holiday.

Disclaimer: I do not celebrate Christmas, but might start celebrating Kickmas if we could agree on some ground rules and carols.

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

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