Exalted Smashes Records
A couple weeks ago I mentioned that a project long awaited by gaming geeks the world over finally launched on our favorite crowdfunding website. Since then, the Exalted 3rd Edition Deluxe project has not only knocked down Onyx Path Publishing’s previous “high score” for the Werewolf the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, it has also gone on to smash the funding record set by Monte Cook’s Numenera, making Exalted the most highly funded tabletop RPG on Kickstarter to date. With a total fast approaching $600K (at the time of this writing), that isn’t a record that’s likely to be challenged any time soon–and there are more than 24 hours left to go, so we haven’t even seen the end of the tail spike.
All that said, I think Onyx Path could’ve done even better. Peek below the fold to find out how.
First, let me caveat that I’m a huge fan of Exalted. I’ve been following the game since first edition, lurking the forums, buying the books, and otherwise enjoying the game, so it really turns my crank when Rich Thomas, owner of Onyx Path, includes “the numbers” in his updates. High points include funding the project in under 18 minutes (that’s $60K in under 20 minutes. For a roleplaying game….), and the fact that backers have blown through nearly twenty stretch goals over the past month. There have also been over 10 THOUSAND comments over the past 29 days. By contrast, Numenera is sitting at 2600, and it funded last September… These are impressive success, and a testament to the passion of the creative team, and a rabid fan base.
It hasn’t all been peaches and cream though. The middle of the project was tarnished when one of the previews unlocked by the backers sparked outrage that reached far beyond the comments page. Still, the impact on the project seemed to be modest, and the kerfuffle did inspire some valuable conversations that may help shape the gameline into the future. Not a bad thing, necessarily. And the people who may have withheld pledging are probably better off–Exalted might not be the game for them.
So, if not drama, with a capital “D,” what do I think is holding Exalted back from reaching even higher heights?
Well, in my honest opinion, its a pretty lacklustre Kickstarter project.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the deluxe edition hardcover looks amazing, and the ultra deluxe metal cover is super cool, but besides the books themselves, there is very little to inspire backers to crank their pledges. The add-ons available at launch were readily available pdf’s of eight year old books (long time fans have had them on their shelves for years, and super fans have already have them in print AND pdf, I should know). Sure, backers soon unlocked a handful of nifty add-ons–a storyteller’s screen and a cloth map–but that was HOURS after launch. Since then, bupkis. Numenera only reached empyreal heights when Monte got generous with the add-ons. Fate Core gave away the store and made bank. People want to give you more money, Onyx Path–but they need a reason.
David and I spent some time discussing the stretch goals, and frankly, I’m torn. He doesn’t think they’re terribly exciting, and I tend to agree, but some of them are pretty awesome. Most recently, the highly regarded Anathema character generation software is going to see official support. That’s super cool. Likewise, I love stretch goals that add content to the book, be it in word form or art. I haven’t been a fan of locking up spoilers, for instance. Still, the goals have largely been things that make me think, “Boy, I hope more people pledge,” and not, “I should totally up my pledge for that!” (Though, to be fair, my current pledge is nothing to sneeze at).
Still, Onyx Path has just about 24 hours to make this project even more outrageous. They’ve promised that the final day will see some add-ons (finally!? Better late than never, guess…). That development, combined with with the 24 hour reminders going out, almost certainly assures that some more stretch goals will fall before the end (my gut says the project will see $645K… it’s shy of $600K now–I’m feeling ambitious). I just can’t help but feel like we could be aiming even higher if OPP had followed the golden rule of Kickstarter success–give your backers something to spend their money on. Exalted has broken all records solely on the good faith of enthusiastic fans. Imagine how far it could reach with the right incentives? It boggles the mind…
All that said, if you’re reading this and you haven’t already pledged, you’ve got nothing to lose at this point. The cards are on the table. A pledge now is a guarantee that you’ll be the proud owner of one of the most imaginative games out there, with among the most talented and dedicated development (and creative) teams in the industry today. Not to mention that you’ll be part of Kickstarter history (it’ll be a looong time before this record gets toppled). Pledge today! You won’t regret it.
What ” one of the previews unlocked by the backers sparked outrage that reached far beyond the comments page” about?
I would’ve put an outbound link if there was a convenient place to link to–unfortunately, the conversations are pretty thoroughly buried in the RPG.net forums, as well as Something Awful.
Basically, one of the previews provided thumbnail sketches at some powers possessed by one of the darker splats–the Abyssal Exalted, who are sorta… avatars of death, as it were–the closest thing to Vampires in the Exalted setting. This particular set of powers was connected to manipulation, persuasion, etc., and was meant to evoke the haunting, slow decline into supplication that supernatural bodice rippers and books like Dracula contain (think Mina Harker, or better yet, Lucy). My take away (as well as many others) was these powers were intended to create willing Renfields… Others chose to read them as rape-enabling, victim blaming, show-me-where-the-bad-man… magical powers. ((insert that “I like where this thread is going” jpeg with the ship and the storm here))
Despite apologies and clarifications, the offended remained offended and proclaimed it loudly from the digital rooftops. I think the devs managed to remain classy throughout the shizstorm, but there was quite a flood of vitriol for several days. It’s over now. Time flies on the internets.
I went in, but I did so through grit teeth. The price points were all pretty high and most of the unlocks didn’t really give you any additional incentive to throw more on. I also found it dubious that they weren’t attending GenCon until this KS funded it.
But the good still outweighs the bad. I opted out of getting the Deluxe book, a decision I may regret later. Also did my eyes deceive me or was there no tier for a PoD copy?
Eric, this project is specifically so they can produce a limited run of Deluxe and ultra deluxe books. PoD will be available on DriveThruRpg when the the book releases. I’ll be getting one of those too, so I don’t have to wear out my Deluxe…
Heh, I figured you got one. And you hit on the point that tipped me away from getting one – it’d be a show piece. I wouldn’t play with it.
You know what also will be available on DriveThruRPG? The $30+ PDF they were pimping. I have to figure some other consideration went into it.
Minor clarification: They were going to do the normal GenCon presence no matter what. The stretch goal was to send the developers there, which is not something they normally do.
This project got money from me because I love the property so much, not because they did a particularly good job. I feel like they left a lot of money on the table. Between the high price points and lackluster price points I was underwhelmed, but I love the world, so what can you do.
The big question this project left me with, is did this project ask for too much and give too little, or did similar projects ask for too little and give away too much. The contrast between this and other high profile RPG Kickstarter projects was stark.
Also, I wish that exalted would have jumped on the mini bandwagon – all the cool projects are doing it. I would love to get my hands on a few masterful sculpts, preferably with an emphasis on very large swords.