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Meta-Crowdfunding

spiders-web

I admit it. I find the people that crowdfund projects, and the reason they do it just as interesting as the project they are trying to get funded in many cases. I have given money to creators just because I would like to see them succeed, and passed on projects whose swag I would enjoy just because I don’t want to give them my money.

I especially enjoy ranting about the later group, and I’m always on the lookout for people that treat Kickstarter like it is a business.

That’s not quite right. I want every creator I pledge to treat his project in a dedicated and responsible way (not unlike a business plan,) I just don’t like people that are just here for the money. Over the last few months this behavior has certainly been on the rise (how many passionate minimalist wallet and knock off bicycle card creators can their be afterall?)

Lately though I have seen a new twist on this theme.

The rise of the professional Kickstarting class is upon us.

There are many examples: Mantic, Cool Mini or Not, Springboard, and Kickin’ it Games are the ones I have come across most recently. In most cases, these are companies that had another, more traditional business model that made a product and sold it the old fashioned way. Then they discovered Kickstarter.

  • Mantic is on its fourth project, and well on its way to a new high score.
  • Cool Mini or Not has raked in $5.6 million in funding for its projects.
  • Springboard has launched more than a dozen products successfully.

Some of the above projects I have backed, but all of them now annoy me; I know its just personal preference  but I don’t feel like this is what crowd funding is for. The silver lining here is that all of the above companies didn’t start out with this in mind – they stumbled upon this business model. That is where Kickin’ it Games differs. From their name on down they are a company designed to sell games on kickstarter. More correctly, they are designed to get you to pay them to sell your games on Kickstarter (all for a variety of hourly rates😉 like Springboard but without the runaway success or class.

It feels soulless  Maybe I’m being too judgemental, I tend to do that, but I think that the creator’s passion is a crucial element to the crowd funding process. Agree or disagree, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

8 thoughts on “Meta-Crowdfunding

  1. I think maybe you romanticize Kickstarter a bit, David. It’s just a platform for people to fund their stuff, and that hasn’t changed, even with the projects that don’t really need it. Mantic and CMON have had very successful projects, but so have hundreds of smaller companies. And I think that’s as it should be.

    I mean, some people will spend a ton on the big projects, and not spend it on the smaller ones. I’ve passed on some projects that I was somewhat interested in since I dropped a wad on the Robotech RPG Tactics game. But I’m always looking for that little project that looks like it’s worth backing. Other people will be wary of dropping $100 or more on a big miniatures project, and they’re the ones who keep the smaller projects going.

    Besides, as I mentioned in the Veronica Mars/Zach Braff post, a lot of people backed for the first time with one of these. Maybe only a few will keep backing things, but I do think it’ll be a net gain.

    I prefer to think of the repeat KS companies as a source of cash flow for KS so they can keep up the good work overall. Kickin’ It Games is a bit scummy, though I guess if there’s a market for shortcuts, someone’s going to fill it.

    • This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of being too idealistic. It’s a fair criticism, though I would counter that as long as Kickstarter represents itself as being a place for indie projects that need nontraditional funding I would say that my stance is a totally justified one.

      If Kickstarter wants to change it definition to: “crowd funding, it’s for everything!” then I suspect I will spend my money elsewhere. A company with the track record of CMON could certainly access traditional funding methods at this point; they don’t, I would wager, because the 8% they pay to KS is much less than they would pay to a distributor. That’s all well and good, but without distributors, I wonder what happens to the FLGS ecosystem.

      • I doubt that the FLGS ecosystem is impacted all that severely by Kickstarter. I mean, if 5000 people backed Zombicide 2, it’s unlikely that its total sales will be 5000. Zombicide 1, according to one of the FLGS I frequent, sells out frequently for them. I bought my Z1 from MiniatureMarket.com, but they’re just a FLGS made good with an awesome web presence.

        If you want existing games, you can’t go to KS for them. If you want games that were on KS a while ago, you can’t go to KS for them. If you want miniature painting supplies, you can’t go to KS for them. There’s plenty that Kickstarter isn’t able to provide that retailers can. And I still see retailer-only pledge levels, so I think many of the project owners know this.

      • I would like to second your recommendation for Miniature market. If I had a local game store I would support them, but since I don’t, miniature market gets my business. They are a great company when it comes to price, speed, quality, and customer service.

  2. Interesting post. Really, this is two posts in one, because Kickin’ It Games and Cool Mini or Not are completely different. The former is a company that runs Kickstarter projects for individuals (or consults on them) while the latter is a company that seems to be putting all of their games on Kickstarter to large success.

    I’m all about people and small companies using Kickstarter to fund their dream projects, particularly if they demonstrate great communication and passion throughout the project. I hope those types of projects will always be a huge part of Kickstarter.

    As for companies like Cool Mini or Not that use Kickstarter as a pre-order system to determine their original print run, I’ve come to terms with it. At this point I think they could easily run campaigns on their website instead of Kickstarter, and perhaps they should to see if it works just as well. But Kickstarter does provide an elegant platform for gauging demand, and it would be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

    As for the final category of consultants like Kickin’ It Games and Springboard, I actually think it’s not far off from the first category I mention. Perhaps you have a dream project that you want to put on Kickstarter, but you don’t consider yourself business savvy enough to create and/or run a Kickstarter campaign. I have no problem with you reaching out to a company that knows what it’s doing to help you achieve your dream. That said, you can’t just hand your project over to a company and expect it to do well. That passion still has to come from you–if backers don’t see that, they’re a greater chance they won’t support you.

    The other catch with that final category is that both Springboard and Kickin’ It Games have started to see more projects fail. They do not provide a guaranteed success–the project must still be appealing to backers.

  3. Kickin’ It Games is the worst thing I’ve ever heard of.
    I’ve yet to read through these other comments, so that’s all I have to say right now.

  4. Another well done article David. I’m not too familiar with the subject being new to the Kickstarter thing (and I’m not much for looking through the project boards). I do know that since I’ve been reading your Articles here I know a ton more about KS than I did previously and I have checked a few things out based on yours and other posters recommendations.

    Good stuff all around. And again, great article! Keep up the good work!

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