So, that happened… Exploding Kittens edition

This week, I was planning to write about how a game project recently posted to Kickstarter has been doing gangbusters. THAT post was going to be about Shadowrun: Hong Kong, a new campaign by developer Harebrained Schemes following on the success of their 2012 project. It was going to be about they’ve raised nearly 600k in just a few days time, and how they’, like inXile’s Wasteland 2, are an example of a truly successful crowd funded game developer, unlike some other notable players in that space. The fruits of their first Kickstarter was a riot, and you should totally back the new project.

It was going to be a really good post. But I’m not going to write that post, because this happened.

Two million bucks in two days. $100,000 in an hour. Those are seriously impressive numbers for a card game about cats that are… prone to exploding. Oh, Kickstarter, you crowd funding platform we love-to-love-and-also-hate, you will never cease to amaze me.

The product of two guys and that guy who writes that comic strip about mantis shrimp and being sweaty that shows up in your Facebook feed fourteen times a day, Exploding Kittens is a banal seeming card game in which players draw cards until one of them loses. Riveting!

I think the absolutely wild success of Exploding Kittens demonstrates three truths about Kickstarter. First, Kickstarter, like the rest of the Internet, is run by a secret cabal of sapient cats whose power extends back to the earliest dynasties of ancient Egypt. Secondly, celebrity–even Internet celebrity–will always be a big draw for crowd dollars, even if the product is… sorta ‘meh’ in it’s category. And thirdly, perhaps most importantly, people love to back a winner. People will pony up, just to be a part of a wild success. Success breed success, as it were.

Whenever I see a name I recognize attached to a Kickstarter project, I always take a step back and ponder whether or not they needed the project in the first place. Zach Braff and Spike Lee? Probably not. I mean, they had the hustle and the connections to do what they wanted to do without appealing to the crowd. What about Inman and the other guys? Who’s to say? But I think it IS safe to say that The Oatmeal is about as successful as a webcomic can be, and whenever a public figure who is wildly successful at their craft launches a very public appeal for money–especially for something frivolous or tangential to the primary cause (and that isn’t charity… say, a card game about exploding cats…), I can’t help but think it’s a little cash-grabby.

And what a pile of cash they’ve grabbed. At this point, I’d reckon they’re looking at least a million bucks pure profit. That’s a spicy meatball.

Still, I can’t be too riled up about it. Inman is a pretty cool guy, and I respect what he’s done on behalf of Nikola Tesla. I just hope all this delicious crowd money doesn’t go to his head, or we’re going to get a Blerch miniature strategy game that will net him more money than the GDP of some small countries, whether or not it’s deserved. And I’ll probably back that too. Motherfu…

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This entry was posted by Chris Avery.

2 thoughts on “So, that happened… Exploding Kittens edition

  1. Well…here’s the thing…did they know that teaming up with Inman was going to get them some attention? Sure. But do I believe them when they say that they secured a quote for 1000 units before coming up with their goal? Absolutely. There is NO WAY anyone could have predicted that this stupid game would get that much money. I mean…Spike Lee WISHES he had fans as fanatic as the Oatmeal fans, it would seem, but there’s no guarantee that this would translate into support of a card game.

    I hope the game turns out to be roughly playable, but I’m not expecting any more than that.

    In the meantime, I’m backing Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/damefortunagames/swinging-jivecat-voodoo-lounge), because it looks fantastic AND fun. And if it got even a tenth of the attention that Exploding Damned Cats is getting, I would be ecstatic.

    • Hey Brian. To your point, Inman has always struck me as a pretty humble guy, so I don’t doubt that they approached the pre-launch phase with some humility. That said, I also don’t doubt that they did some back of the napkin extrapolations, in the event that they did blow up… but who’s to say, really?

      I think I’ll forever be the guy who says, “if you have the means, then you probably don’t need Kickstarter.” If they wanted to turn out a modest run of a card game, I have no doubt they could’ve gotten it on store shelves and made a tidy profit. Instead, they launched a Kickstarter, and people are lining up around the Internet to throw them more money than the typical MSRP for most equivalent games at them. Not to mention nabbing the dollars for signature tiers and the like (not cheap on this KS, either).

      The arguments go both ways. Some might say that these celebrity projects bring creators closer to their fans. Others might say that celebrity projects are a great way for creators to extract as much profit as possible from their fans’ loyalty. I happen to lean towards the latter perspective. But I’m a pretty cynical guy… 😉

      And thanks for the tip on Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge! Cursory glance had me intrigued. I’ll look at it closer tonight!

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