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All Grown Up

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Heraclitus said that “the only thing in that is constant is change.” The line is as true of the internet as it is the natural world in which he was making his observations. Sure, granite might take a little longer to wear down, and the seasons are far more predictable than trying to divine which players will be on top of the heap next quarter, but it is all change to one degree or another. Once upon a time, afterall, AOL and Yahoo were immortal titans of industry. Today it is Kickstarters turn.

What changes have been taking place with our favorite crowdfunding website? Well, I’ll give you a hint – they haven’t yet found the time to improve their native search functionality.

A typical refrain in many of my past articles goes something like “X project shouldn’t be on Kickstarter because they don’t need the money.” I said it and I meant it – so did many of the projects I backed early on. Need is one of the major factors in the projects of yesteryear. The first project that I gave money to Wasteland 2 made that a central premise of their pitch.This is probably the last chance for a Wasteland sequel.  We have tried to pitch this game multiple times to game publishers, but they’ve balked. They don’t think there’s any interest in a solid, old school type of game.  This is our shot at proving them wrong. And more importantly this could help bring back an entire genre of RPGs” writes an impassioned Brian Fargo in the spring of 2012, just over a year ago.

How times have changed.

You won’t hear me making that argument anymore. Not because I don’t believe that is the case, but because Kickstarter no longer does. In a recent blog post, Kickstarter announced that the funding platform is for everyone and that we were always at war with east asia. That is certainly true today, but looking through their blog at older posts certainly betrays a taste for projects of an indie nature. I imagine that it was easier to be in favor of the little projects before one started to make so much money of the bigger ones.

Now you you don’t just see the one time time mega projects – you see large projects coming back for seconds. Any regular reader knows that my interest in projects on this site borders on addiction, but it is trends like this that will see my interest wane. I love the swag, don’t get me wrong, but I love supporting projects that NEED help to get off the ground more.

Who are these repeat offenders?

Well, Mr Fargo launched a second video game project before delivering on the first (using IP that was Kickstarter spawned but equally unrealized) to the tune of $4.2 million. This was somewhere between disingenous and a travesty to me, and I ranted about it at length at the time.

Doublefine, the Kickstarter that arguably started this gold rush launched a second project of their own yesterday and is already halfway to its own goal of $700k. I would have expected a launch following on the coattails of their first game that raised more than $3.3 million dollars to fund more quickly; it turns out that quite a few of their first backers are wary about backing a second project when the first still has yet to release a game, and is running almost a year late.

Last (and worst in my opinion) Penny arcade recently closed the books on their second project to the tune of $210K. This is a paltry sum compared to their first Kickstarter that grossed over half a million, but a record breaker in terms the percentage in which it exceeded its goal. Penny arcade exceeded their original $10 goal by more than 2 MILLION percent. That’s right – $10. If you are launching a project that only costs $10 to realize, then why does it even need funding?

I feel that all three projects are cashing in, and trading on the goodwill of their various fanbases for something a little more tangible, but I don’t see any other explanation for Penny Arcade’s ham-fisted-cash-grab. It offends me, and I’m not the only one. Sources as diverse as Reddit and Kickstarters own blog boil over with rage on this topic.

I think we will see more of this from all of the above sources and many others. The day is fast approaching when EA tries to crowdfund Madden or somesuch, and that’s okay. Because Kickstarter says it is.

I suppose I should thank them – if this keeps up I’ll be able to save a hell of a lot of money on my crowd funding habit. What do the rest of you think? Am I taking myself too seriously again?

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

5 thoughts on “All Grown Up

  1. Actually, as much as I tend to be the Devil’s advocate when you get all anti-KS, I’m with you on this one. The “Massive Chalice” project says that they only have 1/3 of their developers working on their first project, and this is something for the others to do. But goddamn, if you have that many people who could be helping, why is their first game a year late? What have those people been doing for the last year?

    One effect this is having is to lock my opinion on video game Kickstarters into stone. I backed one, and they’ve been really good with updates, and are making good progress, but in general I am staying well away from video game projects. Either they don’t need my money, don’t deserve my money, or just aren’t that interesting. And when there’s a 1-2 year waiting time? Forget it. Multiply that by 2, and assume a 30-50% chance that they’ll come back for another round of funding.

    And the Penny Arcade thing…holy crap, that takes some balls. A $10 goal? I suppose titling it “Give us money you morons” would have been a little too on-the-nose for them. And now they have over $200k for a PODCAST. Heck, with 200 grand, they can update the special effects or something. This is so stupid it makes me angry at the comic itself for giving them the opportunity to do this.

      • I’m most of the way through a couple of units. I’ve just got to do some touchup work. Probably have pics available for next week. Phoenix Comicon was last weekend, which ground everything to a halt while I recovered. 🙂

  2. I’m mostly off KS due to those things you mention, so you are not the only one bothered by them. I’ve decided to wait for some projects to actually arrive first. And I won’t back second projects when the first hasn’t delivered yet.

  3. I still love Kickstarter, but hate some of the reasons it is used. When you have a small group that either isn’t known enough to get someone to publish their game/comic/movie or maybe is known but big-name companies don’t want to take a chance on their project, okay, used Kickstarter. Then you get these huge name celebrities using it for movie projects they then go and get a studio-backer for anyway (Zach Braff, you have lost so much respect from em) or people who run a Kickstarter for something when they haven’t even delivered on the first promise.

    Plus, almost all of the time I hate those Kickstarter campaigns with tiny goals except in a maybe a tiny number of cases.

    Lastly, the folk who dual-run a campaign. You know what I mean, you have Kickstarter and then have a thing through your website and Paypal. Seriously, how does that make sense. Then again, it failed the cluster-mess that was Shadow of the Eternals so maybe that proved itself a bad idea.

    Anyway, the point of this rant was I still believe in Kickstarter to fund those small little projects that need help, and I just ignore the people who are basically abusing the system.

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