Kickstarter is Not a Store (but there is Another Site for That)


Every child needs to be nurtured, cared for and protected when they are young and vulnerable. Eventually though, they grow up, and must be allowed to walk on their own two feet and succeed or fail on their own terms; eventually the training wheels must come off.

I imagine that the same thing is true about products. Eventually subsidies must end, marketing campaigns must have their budgets reevaluated, and communities need to have all their hopes and dreams realized (or dashed.) Either the buyer at the trade show wants to buy 10,000 units of your labor of love to distribute nationwide, or they don’t. Either your product breezes up the popularity rankings at Amazon in its category or it doesn’t.

I don’t think that a project’s main selling point in the long run should be that it was crowdfunded, but there are those that disagree.

I was chatting with the creator of another successful Kickstarter project the other day, as we do every week or two, and he asked me if I had heard of a little website called I had, through Reddit several months earlier, but was not nearly as enthusiastic about it as he was. My conversation partner thought it was really interesting that there was a market available for projects post Kickstarter, though he was concerned about how many were being sold at or below the cost featured in the Kickstarter. I was considerably less enthusiastic, and thought it was a diversion at best, and a purveyor of bad habits at worst.

Let’s explore these issues. let’s project creators sell their wares post launch! It does, often before they even finish them. You can list projects as pre-order on this site, essentially allowing for a second Kickstarter, often at the same price as you would have paid in the initial offering.

Without creators would have no where else to turn to! Have you heard of Amazon? The cost putting up your shingle and doing self fulfillment are negligible  and the costs of shipping them a pallet of your book/game/t-shirt and letting them do all the work is hardly more. Who do you think gets more traffic, (Alexia rank 200k) or (Alexia rank 8).

These products need a chance to develop, these aren’t business people! Crowdfunding is, in many ways, angel funding. Angels don’t last forever, and if creators really believe in their idea then they need to pursue it in the wider world, not a boutique crowd funding only specialty store.

This whole line of research does offer an interesting glimpse into projects post crowd funding though, look at Dreadball for example. This miniature sports board game raised nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in its funding period. This was no doubt driven be the urgency of the creators’ message in statements like “Have at it guys, still four and a half hours to go! Please keep spreading the word” in update #80 or “Well, only you and your friends are going to be able to help us find out! 54 hours to go until close, so please keep spreading the news and telling everyone you know (and even those you don’t!) about it and let’s get these goals smashed!” in update #68.

Part of the appeal of crowd funding, is the urgency as the clock ticks down to zero and you either go for it or you don’t. Well, today – right now, you can still pre-order this game (shipping later this month) in at least two venues. Worse, the deals offered both on Mantic’s website, and are basically the same price point as the early backers on Kickstarter. Sure, you can’t get all the extras offered to the original crowd funding group, but with verbiage like season two and season three packs thrown around, I expect those will be out in expansion packs sooner rather than later.

Large companies using Kickstarter as a pre-order scheme is going to happen, but does the world really need round one and round two pre-orders? It’s shenanigans like this that are make me a skeptical person; that and the tinfoil hat I wear to keep the mind control lasers at bay.

What do the rest of you think? Am I way off base here?

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

12 thoughts on “Kickstarter is Not a Store (but there is Another Site for That)

  1. does seem a little unnecessary. It’s not made for any practical reason; it’s made to be cute and niche, and capitalize on the popularity of other crowdfunding sites. And if it’s a store (as in, the creators and/or site owners are 100% responsible for delivering a product), then its biggest crime is being contrived. But with some Kickstarter projects failing even after they’ve hit their funding goal, if is taking preorders, they could run into the trouble that Kickstarter avoids by not being a store.

    It sounds to me like is adding more fuel to the crowdfunding fire, helping assure that somewhere along the line, someone gets burned. Then again, I’m incredibly cynical when it comes to crowdfunding.. in case you didn’t know.

  2. This is an interesting perspective on I completely agree that it’s bad form to let people buy your Kickstarted project at the same price for which they got it on Kickstarter (and it’s another problem if these pre-ordering people get their games at the same time as Kickstarter backers–to me, backers come first), but I’m sensing a bit of bias against pre-orders in general. I don’t quite understand that. As long as a project creator increases the price closer to MSRP and doesn’t offer the Kickstarter exclusives after the KS campaign, is there anything wrong with selling pre-orders? In my mind, at least for board games, the more people have the game and know how to play, the better the experience is for everyone. Plus, if a game really takes off in the marketplace, surely the Kickstarter backers feel good about laying the foundation for something big. Cash flow helps us micro-entrepreneurs in the short term, and pre-orders help a lot in that department.

    Here’s the thing about Amazon: They don’t let you put a product up for pre-order until they have the product in stock. So the alternative is to put a PayPal link for pre-orders on your personal website, but most of the people that are going to see the link are people who already participated in your campaign. Thus I do see a value in having a website devoted to pre-ordering products that don’t actually exist yet because they were crowdfunded.

    I’m not trying to change your mind, but I am curious about the issue you have with pre-orders.

    • I don’t have a problem with all preorders, Jamey, and I’m sorry if I made it sound that way. I have a problem with the second and third waves of buyers getting a product for less value (lower price and/or same level of benefits) as the adventurous first wave. They are taking all the risk, and deserve to be rewarded for that.

      I have no problems at all with your discrete preorder button, though when a company pursues a sort of permanent Kickstarter mentality, I think it waters down the whole process. This is all small potatoes compared to the actions Days of Wonder took today; expect my thoughtful and measured response/angry rant on the subject later this week.

      • David–Thanks for your clarifications on preorders. I still don’t quite understand what you mean by “permanent Kickstarter mentality” though. Perhaps you could use your book as an example. Surely you mean to make it available for the general public to purchase after you distribute it to your Kickstarter backers, right? You used Kickstarter as a launchpad to make the book a reality, you treated your backers really well, but won’t you give future customers the care and attention they deserve as well? I guess I see that as my Kickstarter mentality–individual care and attention, treating every direct customer as a person, not a number. That’s the kind of mentality I want to continue even if/when the project has life after Kickstarter.

      • That’s a good idea. So, using The Wardenclyffe Horror as an example, the backers will pay the same price as future buyers of the book, but they will get one or more of the following never to be repeated benefits: Their name will be included in the book thanking them for their invaluable, and they will receive certain limited run art prints. I personally plan offering no preorders of the book, though I do plan to sell it at cover price at various cons, amazon, and (hopefully) in previews.

        My major concern, is that I want the backers to have in their hands first. ONLY after they have gotten their copies and all shipping problems have been worked out will we move on to the next project and/or work on selling more copies of Wardenclyffe. For me, the biggest thing a backer should get is exclusivity. Even more than recognition, I think that is worth paying for.

        Does that make sense?

      • Okay, that makes sense. Thank you for sharing your vision. It sounds like your backers get exclusivity and priority. Similarly, I’m giving my backers exclusivity (all non-Kickstarter versions of the game don’t include a number of things from the campaign), priority (although I’m not worried about shipping–Amazon fulfillment knows what they’re doing), and also a better price (Viticulture will retail for $60; backers got that version of the game [plus perks] for $35 or $39).

      • Nods. Like I said, I think you are doing preorders right, but a quick survey of shows many projects aren’t.

        If I thought you were being shady Jamey, I would definitely let you know. 🙂

      • Ha ha…that’s definitely true. Thanks David.

        I guess all I’m saying is that as a platform isn’t inherently bad. Some Kickstarter creators might abuse the platform, but it’s possible to use it ethically and with respect to the backers who made the project a reality in the first place.

        That said, hasn’t replied to the product request form I submitted almost a week ago, so maybe they aren’t running a good business… I’ll give you details if I get a peek behind the scenes there.

  3. On the one hand, if they had some of the Kickstarter-exclusive projects, I’d be all over those. I hate missing out, and eBay is expensive.

    On the other hand, if they’ve successfully raised money for their product, and they can’t think of what to do with it besides hawking it at a glorified online outlet mall, then maybe the backers were wrong to give them their money.

    I see “Zombicide” is up there, and I’m honestly curious as to why. It seems to be doing pretty well in gaming shops and Amazon. My local game shop can’t keep it in stock. Overall, though, seems like a waste of time.

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