Kickstarter and the gaming boom

FerrelI was browsing my Twitter feed this morning when I saw a tweet from Troy about his article over at MMO Gamer titled Kickstarter: When do we say no. I was intrigued because PC gaming is currently in a bit of a love affair with Kickstarter. After the success of a few titles literally everyone is clamoring to get their game funded through the platform. Make no mistake, I’m not knocking this concept! To be honest I’m miffed! Aurelis and I have a little game we’re working on that we were going to try to fund in the same way but now everyone is doing it! We’d just be lost in a sea of far more professional titles. That said, you all know I’m a huge Kickstarter fan. Heck, I’m running my own project right now for my book.

Troy’s concern is that Goblinworks Inc is running a project to fund their tech demo so that they can fund their planned MMORPG. He was looking through the rewards and couldn’t find a copy of the game, just an increasing request for more and more money. This put him a bit at odds with the goal and, to be quite honest, I can’t blame him. In the comments section he was accused of trying to tear down Goblinworks but I think his concerns are completely valid.

I am a Kickstarter addict. I love the idea that I can directly fund things I’m interested in and by doing so get rewards that aren’t available anywhere else. That directly hits me in some weird way. If I have the chance to put my name or my website in a book I’m in. If you have some kind of art component to the project and I can get Ferrel in your project, I’m in. I will literally spend hundreds of dollars for that because that really interests me. That is also why it seems people don’t even bat an eye to pledge $250+ for Amanda to draw their character in my books. Much like Troy, I looked at the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter and said, “no thanks.”

The dynamic of Kickstarter, in my eyes, has to be more than just “support this really cool thing because it will be really cool.” I am the perfect target demographic for Pathfinder online. I want a sandbox fantasy MMORPG. I love the Pathfinder setting. I am the dungeon master of a table top game! In every way I am the person they are trying to entice. I was not enticed to donate. Why? It didn’t make sense to me. I realize some people will support the project just because it is Pathfinder but for me there are some issues with their strategy.

Supporting Goblinworks might make the pathfinder MMORPG possible. I truly hope it does. As a tech demo, however, I didn’t see enough connection between my dollars and the end state. This is like funding a lottery ticket. Yes, my dollars might lead to a big win but they might not. This is too far in the planning process for me to want to support it. This is precisely why I do not start a Kickstarter project until my manuscripts are finished. When someone supports an Epic Slant Press book they can be assured that the book will be brought to market no matter what. Funded or not, I’m going to release The Guild Leader’s Companion 2nd Edition.

Rewards are a big part of Kickstarter in my eyes. The rewards should entice you to want to donate and “take a chance.” I wasn’t really thrilled with the rewards that Goblinworks offered me. There was no offer for a copy of the game or anything that really made me go “I need this!” This is counter to how I set my rewards and how another successful project, Kittens in a Blender, set theirs. Coincidentally, you have less than 42 hours to support KiaB and I can swear to you that the game is fun and hilarious.

A better comparison would be to look at Storybricks and their Kickstarter campaign. Now, full disclosure, I consider Brian Green a friend and would support any project he put up there based on that alone. With that said, even if we weren’t, I would have still supported Storybricks. The project they’re running meets my requirements. The support won’t generate enough income to create the game but there is already an alpha in existence. This is a boost to help the team prove to investors that there is interest in the product. More importantly, should the campaign become successful, I will receive a copy of the game and a lot of subscription time. I see real value in this and wanted to support it. (While I’m on this topic, you might want to consider supporting Storybricks too. Click for more details).

What am I getting at? I don’t think Troy was being unfair. I think his concerns were absolutely valid. The type of Kickstarter campaign that Goblinworks is running really isn’t for him (or me). It is for the die-hard Pathfinder fans that will throw money at the company no matter what. There is nothing wrong with that concept at all! I wish I had as much brand loyalty with Epic Slant Press! That still doesn’t mean someone who disagrees with it is wrong. So Troy, I think you’re right even if nobody else does! I was looking for more value too and just didn’t find it.

7 thoughts on “Kickstarter and the gaming boom

  1. It’s like with F2P games, if you don’t pay for content, then YOU are the content.

    I can see Goblinworks simply aiming to prove they have a committed enough fanbase to throw cash at them just based on a concept when all they get for it is a video of a demo. (Storybricks I think is also not a million miles away from the same basis, except they don’t have the committed playerbase that Paizo do.) I personally do think that’s a really poor basis for a Kickstarter, and lets be honest, this MMO is never going to exist. The Goblinworks team have no experience in the area and no one is going to fund an expensive MMO development cycle in the current post-SWTOR climate.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Adam.

    Interesting assessment. I looked at the $50k goal for the Pathfinder Online project and found that to be quite low. I also got the feeling they were trying to show support with the ability to say, “Hey, we were 500% funded!” if they manage to raise a lot more money (entirely possible given they’re past their $50k goal after only a few days). Whereas Storybricks seems like it will have to struggle to raise a much more realistic amount for developing a game.

    If I might be a bit negative here, it also continues the trend of people funding known stuff (seuquels, big names) rather than new stuff. I’d like to think that Kickstarter is where you can go when you can’t get funding from traditional sources.

    But, let me share some good news. You can now try out Storybricks via a browser client. Check out and create your own stories. You can also try out a story I wrote:

    1. My pleasure Brian. I’m glad to support you guys and get the word out too. I like Storybricks and I like you guys!

      I’m also with you. Kickstarter was built around the idea of small companies finding funding outside of the big machine. Now we have the big machine on the site because they can get free money essentially. I mean, as far as the Pathfinder Online project goes, the rewards are almost totally intangible! You don’t even get the product. I just couldn’t back that sort of thing.

  3. Thanks so much for reading the article! I think there were a few people who misunderstood what I was driving at, and took it as an attack on Goblinworks, which it certainly was not. The article was directed at all of us who back these projects, and it was my aim to simply make them stop and think before throwing money at everything that comes across Kickstarter.

    I enjoyed your article, and it was great to get the perspective of someone who uses Kickstarter to fund projects.

    1. No sweat. I didn’t take your article as an attack to be honest. I thought it was very sensible. The problem with Kickstarter is that it is no longer just about independent people raising money for little niche/cool products. Now people do it to prove a point. I don’t mind when proving a point is a side effect. I get a little fuzzy when it seems like it is the only intent. For instance, I could have set The GLC2e’s goal at around $200 just to say “Oh hey yay it is successful!” I wouldn’t have made my costs had I done that. That is my goal. Giving people a chance to get something unique while absorbing all of the up front costs. At the same time, I set the GLC2e’s goal lower than the RCs so it wouldn’t be so stressful on me. Failure looks bad no matter what!

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