1. This is a much better article than the pull-quote might suggest. I think it’s a bit silly to be talking about Kickstarter backers as though they were investors — the hypothetical 10k backer mentioned at the end of the article is really just donating money to receive some series of rewards, including, eventually, the game itself to play; unless the whole thing’s a complete fraud I bet they’ll get their dinner with the developers (or whatever) even if the game never gets completed — but I found myself agreeing that most of his pessimistic predictions will probably end up taking place. (He does, however, seem to think backers of a game that ultimately ends up needing to going to a publisher for additional financing are deserving of more than what they were initially promised. Is he assuming the publisher will renege on sending out copies of the final game to these, in essence, pre-orderers?)

    For what it’s worth, I’ve only donated to one Kickstarter project. I thought of it as nothing more than a half-price pre-order, and it did turn out that the folks involved did not have the skill to expand their already existing and enjoyable little Flash game into something more substantial; nor did they have the self-awareness to realize this, even after the fact, showing hope even then that their game might be accepted on Steam. (Note: They later released a “Season 2” update at no additional cost, which I’ve never gotten around to bothering to try out. The initial “Season 1” release was so buggy and so badly designed, and it has turned me off a bit to the whole Kickstarter thing.)

  2. This was definitely a good article. I’ve been watching some of the d3 dev interview videos, and the amount of money that’s been dumped into making the game is staggering. Comparing that with the sums that even the biggest kickstarter projects are getting… I dunno.

    It also feels strange to me because it’s not a standard capital investment scenario: no one’s asking for a cut of the proceeds, just a copy of the game, mostly. Also I sort of wonder how companies are supposed to keep going after a KS project – what if the majority of the game’s potential buyers just get free copies? =O Where does the revenue come from? Will there be enough to plow into the next project? Being perpetually dependent upon KS for funding seems beyond risky.

  3. Sorry about the pull quote. I just thought that it summed up one of the big problems: you’re preordering for a game that might not ever happen. That’s not so much “investing” in the company as it is “preordering a game, with no possibility of refund.” I mean, for all the jokes surrounding preorders of games like Duke Nukem Forever, those were all handled at the retailer level, and people got their money back (for the most part), and no one really lost out. When you’re funding the developers directly, though, then there’s no getting your money back if the project turns into vaporware. By that point, the developer’s out of business, and they are incapable of refunding your kickstarter/preorder funds, cause they’ve already spent them. True, the people who donated for T-Shirts and other swag still get their stuff, and some people do look at it as a donation to a good idea, even if the game never materializes, but it’s still a risk.

    Also I sort of wonder how companies are supposed to keep going after a KS project – what if the majority of the game’s potential buyers just get free copies?

    That’s an excellent point, and one I hadn’t considered. I wonder if any of the companies that are funding their games like this are considering it as well, or if they’re just focused on getting the game out. For some companies, I suppose that if their game is good enough, they might be able to attract the attention of a real publisher or something, but that does seem like a pretty risky path to take.

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