Kickstarters

Discussion in 'General Chit-chat' started by keithburgun, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. keithburgun

    keithburgun Banned

    EA’s Madden ’13 Kickstarter Makes 8.5 Million in Five Hours

    Headline is a joke, of course, but with a point. I wrote an article about the irony of all these big developers having these multi-million dollar success kickstarter campaigns, yet small indies are often met with anger for even attempting them. What do you think?
  2. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    I think a Kickstarter campaign needs an existing fanbase and community to draw on before it can go big money.
  3. Kayin

    Kayin Well-Known Member

    Cynical people are always going to post negative things like that. As you pointed out, Wastleland 2 and whatever Double Fine is doing probably has a lot of similar comments I don't think the presence of whiny jerks is really the 'problem'. It's that people can't be confident enough that they'll get a return on investment from a small developer.

    Personally, despite people asking me to make a kickstarter, I've shied away from it because I am uncomfortable taking money before I have a product and I'm fortunate enough to be able to focus plenty of time on my projects but I'm lucky in that regard.

    Kickstarter is probably only going to reward you if you have a lot of established credibility or a blow-your-pants-off crazy good concept and I'm not sure if that is necessarily a bad thing. Even if it is a bad thing, could it ever possibly be any other way? It sucks that failing also means people being jerks to you, but ultimately it's not that big of a deal.
  4. The comments people posted about your game make me sadface.jpg. I mean, $15,000 isn't that much. You'd think each commenter assumed they had to donate the full $15k!

    I actually didn't like it when Double Fine did their kickstarter. Actually, what I didn't like was them raising their funds and then some and breaking records. I always felt that the money that was donated to them could be better off being donated to smaller indie devs who actually really need the cash. Even just a fraction of that money would be OK (assuming average Joe's $100 donation to Double Fine might end up as a $10 donation to decent indie).
  5. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    I'd do a Kickstarter but I'm fighting bankruptcy and that's all sorts of shady.
  6. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    I really don't get the dislike FAB. Tim Shafer and Brian Fargo want to make a game they'll fans will love but publishers won't allow, so they go to Kickstarter. I think it's a false dilemma to think that money that went to Tim Shafer would have ever went to an indie you want (iirc both Wasteland 2 and Double Fine Adventure are independent productions; only differences they have 40 people and several titles behind them which might disqualify them as indies). Think those two are different audiences.
  7. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    $5000 for living expenses for 5 months? Is stuff really that expensive over there? It comes to a third of that here, or something like that. Huh.

    Didn't Kickstarter say that the amount of funding went up across the board since Double Fine's success? You seem to have made the mistake thinking this is a zero sum game.

    You are correct that people don't really understand the cost of making games, but you can just spell that out on your kickstarter page. Other than that, the question is entirely whether or not people are confident in you enough to lay down lots of cash. Turns out that if you're an established developer with a great track record spanning two decades, that's more likely to happen than with a bunch of no-name college kids in a garage. This shouldn't be surprising or upsetting at all, it's just common sense.

    Also, the argument seems to be that, for instance, Double Fine should've just made this game in their spare time as well, instead of using Kickstarter, or something? It's entirely possible that the contracts that get them paid (while they're working on OTHER stuff) explicitly forbid this. Publishers have done far crazier stuff, after all.

    Do you really want to go down that road? Why not say that that cash would be better off being donated to charity or cancer research or somesuch? People spend their money on stuff they think it's worthwhile, not on what needs it more. That's kind of how capitalism works.
    link6616 likes this.
  8. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1272149684/class-of-heroes-2-deluxe-for-the-psp-system

    I like the idea of using it for localisation projects actually... I'm hoping this works well for monkeypaw, although I dislike (as a PSP go/vita user mainly) the lack of digital code until higher rates. But overall I think it's good, the doublefine thing convinced me to actually look at other kickstarters, so I'd say they've done a great thing for the scene there.
    keithburgun likes this.
  9. MarvinPA

    MarvinPA Member

    The Cipher Prime devs did an infographic on how much it costs to run their studio, and still got some of the same response you describe. Even after it's spelled out for them (in this instance, at least - I'm sure the graphic would look different for other devs) some people just don't seem to believe how much this stuff actually costs. But maybe that's just regular background internet hostility.

    And yeah, obviously when the whole system is based on donating money with no guarantee of getting anything back for it, people are more likely to trust established names.
  10. keithburgun

    keithburgun Banned

    Seriously? Where do you live? I live in New York State (not NYC). Everyone I know pays between 500 and 800 a month for rent (and that's cheap around here). So, even assuming $500 rent which is EXTREMELY low, that's already half of that 5K gone. Then there's all kinds of other bills people have to pay beyond that; cell phone, college loans, car insurance, gas. And then there's food, which ends up also costing a lot of money over five months.

    For me it costs about $1000 to live per month. That is, if I want to pay my bills and eat.

    P.S. One thing I wish I remembered to include in the article was how great it is that everyone is able to bypass publishers completely. That's fantastic.
  11. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    Hungary. (you could've clicked on my avatar to find out, btw.) And that's not terribly Eastern Europe, either, things are relatively civilized here.
  12. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Rent up in MA is about the same (500-800).

    Anyways the problem with kickstarter is it feels in some ways like an unreliable investment. There's no way to be sure these games will come out (and I hold the same reservation for things like Wasteland 2 as I do small indie projects) or that they will be good except based on reputation alone. Indies run into the double problem where either you ask for a lot to make a AAA quality title, which you may have no proof of being able to make, or you make a game that's good, but is only the quality of the type of games we see people make for fun or in their spare time (just done a lot faster since you get to work full time on it).

    I don't have any answer in the positive really. It's just the way it's going to be. People aren't going to feel great about investing in someone they don't feel like they know regardless of if it's one big publisher or individual people.

    As always I think an indie's best tools are grassroots marketing and word of mouth. Not unlike you getting some 100 Rogues sales by talking about it on here and letting us know it was free.
  13. bbobjs

    bbobjs Well-Known Member

    Pro Tip: Lie! People like those, that's why they're so popular.

    Instead of telling people you need 15K for living expenses, tell them you need 15K to hire an extra programmer or some other stupid shit that no one will think to question. Also, if you're going to ask people for donations, bringing up unnecessary expenses like "cell phones", "car insurance" and "gas" isn't going to win you any favors. Remember this is YOUR dream game NOT the dream game of your investors. If the three of you are intending to work on this game together, shouldn't you move in together (save money on rent)? If so why are cell phones a thing you all need for this project? Why do you need a car? Surely not to get to work since you'll all be working full time on the game right? Beyond that the majority of cheap housing arrangements are located within walking distance so what would the car be for other than things unrelated to making this game a thing that exists? These are all questions that have perfectly valid reasonable answers (cell phones have contracts, don't want to sell your car)... that no one is going to sympathize with. So instead create an environment where people don't have a reason to ask these questions.

    Unfortunately you've already told the truth and you're going to have to live with that; however don't give up hope, the truth is fairly easy to bend!

    In your defense though $1000/month is less than what you'd make working full time for minimum wage in that state of New York.
  14. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    As another counterpoint to "DoubleFine's taking all the indie moneys", I'd like to mention FTL, another indie roguelike Kickstarter project. They asked for 10K, got twice that in a day. Ended up with 200K in the end. It might be worthwhile to take a look and the differences and see what could've been improved with Auro (complete lack of a demo and an impersonal video would be obvious shortcomings).
    NoahTheDuke likes this.
  15. Kayin

    Kayin Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that sounds about right. I'm on Long Island, which is less expensive than NYC but more expensive than the upper parts of the state and it's probably like 700-1000 for rent unless you're renting a room or something.

    Only reason I can pull off living on ad money is by paying rent to my parents and deciding I'd rather pay car insurance than have a cellphone, but hey, sometimes you gotta swallow your pride to be able to make things. Living is expensive!
  16. daniel c w

    daniel c w Member

    So how do you make more people understand, that the basic cost of living is very different from country to country, even in the western world.
    Gamers seem to be esspecially bad at that.

    If you want to be honest about the cost of kickstarting a game, you have to get that point across.




    What is the current poverty line in Hungary? How much money do you need to live a healthy basic live in Hungary?
  17. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    Official statistics say 78736 HUF per person per month, which is roughly $350. Which is about right, I'd say. You'll easily be able to afford everything you need, and the occasional extras.
  18. Waterd103

    Waterd103 Well-Known Member

    I'm from argentina and I spend 1.7k per month. really 5k would last me 2.x months....

    I pay 650 of rent, around 300 on food, then you have all services, Repairs, Clothes. And I don't even have a car...

    Keith: The problem may just be that developers are deceiving people creating confusion on why you would ever need 15k. Your project is , as I know very well, Way more expensive than 15k.

    But why this confusion? Because most developers don't need money or that much, and they ask MUCH less than what they actually "need" for the game. You see games that would cost several times of what they ask. But they already have all the money they need or most of it. Then it could create confusion "if A) cost X, then B) can't cost Y" The problem is of course related that most people are completely ignorant on how much a game cost.

    Regardless, I'm pretty sad that you had to face those comments, but my known misanthropy doesn't allow me to be surprised at all.
  19. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    A question for intelligent minds.

    Can I start a kickstarter for a project where I openly discuss my bankruptcy and that a portion of funding, if it indeed exceeds the goal, would be used to pay it off?

    I live in Canada, but even knowing how it works in, say, the US would arm me with knowledge.

    AND KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
  20. garcia1000

    garcia1000 World Champion Staff Member

    You can but it would not get donations because kickstarter contributors only like to contribute to the pure making of works of art
    NoahTheDuke and specs like this.
  21. CWheezy

    CWheezy Well-Known Member

    Are you saying that escaping bankruptcy is not a beautiful work of art
    specs likes this.
  22. MarvinPA

    MarvinPA Member

    http://www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines

    Escaping bankruptcy on its own sounds like it's covered under "fund my life" projects. I guess if the project is something else entirely and paying off bankruptcy is mentioned as something that excess funds would be used for, maybe it'd be allowed. Probably wouldn't instill much confidence in potential donators, though.
    specs likes this.
  23. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    Good info. I will resolve my financial troubles first, then.
  24. bbobjs

    bbobjs Well-Known Member

    I think you should be more upset that some guy got over 15K for ripping off apples to apples.
    specs likes this.
  25. OK, I seem to have a misconception that Kickstarter was designed not for established entities. I guess there's nothing in the fine print that say established/published or whatever companies can't use it.

    What I felt against Double Fine was like when someone does something in a sports game which is not explicitly against the rules but disrupts the spirit of the game. That's how I feel about the Double Fine thing. Sure, theyPTW, but I felt it was at the cost of losing this whole "for the indies" thing that kickstarter sorta had.

    ... or maybe that was just my misintepretation of what kickstarter is actually about.

    I'll admit I'm wrong here. Especially that since I posted that, and seeing how Double Fine's success actually rose donation amounts across the board, I have come to be OK with it and accept the new rules this game is played by (new rules to me, obviously they were there the whole time :p).

    Anyway, back onto the topic at hand. Keith, I really feel for you. I hope that you've at least learned lessons on how you should approach kickstarter in the future (and a big thank you for detailing it all - this should help other struggling indies). And I hope even more that your next kickstarter project is a massive success and you make awesome games forever :).
  26. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    How is turning to fans to finance projects that would never be backed by publishers not indie enough? "Indie" isn't being an upstart with no cash or no clue about game development - it's doing what you believe is worthwhile, regardless of everything else. Calling them "cheap" for being established developers is like calling Daigo "cheap" for spending 8 hours a day practicing for the last 10 years of his life or so.
    NoahTheDuke and -Y- like this.
  27. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    Kinda strikes me a bit as a No True Scotsman (/Indie). I'm not sure what qualification as indie they don't have? Overall I might understand that FAB dislikes their games but disliking what they do despite the net positive effect it has on whole Kickstarter community.

    Also keith too bad I didn't saw your kickstarter campaign earlier :( I totally would have donated.
  28. My issue wasn't with Double Fine not being indie enough. My issue was that I thought Kickstarter should have been limited to entities that weren't established - ie, start ups and unknowns only. I now know this was an incorrect assumption.
  29. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    Right. But what purpose would that serve, exactly? To allow Kickstarter to say "sure, you've got a cool project that you couldn't fund otherwise, but I see you've been making games for the last ten years - sorry, we can't have that"? Heck, that'd mean games like Braid or World of Goo wouldn't have been eligible for KS.
  30. I'm going to preface again that I know I was wrong with this assumption.

    The only way I can describe it was that I thought Kickstarter was similar to the soup kitchens for the homeless. Just because it's free and technically available to all, doesn't mean the high salary exec in a suit should come in and get a free meal. I'm not sure if those soup kitchens did have rules against certain people eating for free there (how would they know, anyone could just dress down).
  31. bbobjs

    bbobjs Well-Known Member

    I think Kickstarter is more like a store where you go to buy things that don't actually exist yet than a charity soup kitchen.
    TheBahn likes this.
  32. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    It's simply a website that allows a large # of people to be investors to something for very little money each with the caveat that instead of getting ownership of something, you get some non-monetary compensation.
  33. Plum

    Plum Well-Known Member

    I see it as a site where you can test for the success of a project before undertaking it. Like a market-research platform except that you can absolutely trust the results as your respondents have committed to buying the product in advance. Perfect for risky or small projects where you can't get (or don't want to tie yourself to) corporate funding.

    If you get funding then yay, full steam ahead. If you don't then you save wasting resources on something that people apparently don't want, which is arguably just as useful - go back the drawing board, work out the kinks and try again.
  34. infernovia

    infernovia Well-Known Member

    It's actually strange to me that people think this way, for I find it hard to see why the public would donate money to small/risky projects, moreover search for them regularly (which is btw why I was interested in a centralized maintained list not just for kickstarter, which is America centric, but for other funding sites as well). Now, kickstarter can create these opportunities because of the binary you met your goal everybody's money goes in or nothing goes in, but I feel that people are going to overwhelmingly have to rely on loyalty and trust and publicity to get these things funded- definitely difficult for the small guys.

    Way too binary bro. There are tons of things you want to create that you know are awesome, but you might not be able to get that funding from crowdsourcing either because you do not have the loyalty/the communication skill/lack of publicity/too new. Not to mention that basing your "market research" on just one platform is just asking for trouble.
  35. Waterd103

    Waterd103 Well-Known Member

    I saw the kickstarter of Auro, and I know that you already know it's awful, but it's so awful that I think should be stated as many times as possible, I'm willing to explain more if you need feedback. And I say this because I really want you to do well, I think your concept of games (not your definitions which are beyond awful) is pretty good. And It seems Auro would be a good game, so I was kind of annoyed and empathized with you because I feel bad you couldn't get 15k....then I saw your kickstarter.
  36. SpicyCrab

    SpicyCrab Well-Known Member

    I would have gladly supported Auro, but you gotta look at some of those pitches man, your pitch better be Slliiiiick if you want to do kick starter yo.
  37. Plum

    Plum Well-Known Member

    Because for the most part you're not simply donating money. If the project fails then you as a backer have lost absolutely nothing. If the project succeeds then you gain whatever it was that you thought was worth your money.

    Well yes, but no-one is forcing a developer onto Kickstarter - it's just a tool. If it happens to fit your requirements then why not use it and if it doesn't then no-one is stopping you from going your own way. Yes, your project is more likely to succeed if you can drum up support and get the word out to your target market but I don't see how that's any different from a typical development route. As to it being binary, yes it is - that's the whole point.

    If you have something that is super awesome but people simply refuse to fund then you really need to look at why people don't want to fund it - are you marketing it wrong? Do people not have the same passion or interest that you do? Do people just not understand? Do people not think it's worth the entry price? It doesn't matter how awesome your product is if people simply don't want it and Kickstarter is a useful platform for find out whether people want it.

    Oh, I didn't answer your last point - if developers don't have the skills to successfully market something or put together a nice video to capture the imagination then that's unfortunate but a fact of commercial life. There is only so much money in peoples' pockets so you need to persuade them that your project is better than the next because they will almost certainly be wanting that money just as much as you.
    Atma likes this.
  38. bbobjs

    bbobjs Well-Known Member

    This is only true if the project fails to achieve its funding goal. Even if funding succeeds, the project can still fail leaving backers screwed. Beyond that since in theory an individual could fund their own project, it would be fairly easy to just fraud the whole thing at the last minute (although a ~10% cut is taken between kickstarter and amazon). The result is an environment where generating trust is essential to securing backers, meaning you're not necessarily judged on the marketability of your product or even your ability to market it but rather the accountability you can provide. That's of course not to say marketing isn't an important factor but kickstarter is nothing close to a pure test of your product's perceived worth to a consumer.
  39. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Yeah I think that's a big ? in terms of Kickstarter I'm interested in seeing.

    A project like Sirlin's is pretty fool proof. The stuff exists, he just wants to offset manufacturing costs. Even if there are some issues he most likely can work around them and get Puzzle Strike out to the deserving people who funded. Plus anyone donating a very small or very large amount gets something right away, it's only that middle tier that has to wait for something to exist (and even then if they get the PnP version as well they get something right away as well).

    Meanwhile look at something like Wasteland 2. A year from now almost all the staff could quit out of frustration or hating their job, the lead designer could die in an unfortunate accident or forced to leave for personal reasons, the game's first revision could be crap putting them into a situation where they either need more funds or have to release a bad product, their servers + backup servers + dev PCS could die in a freak accident and wipe out all source code, they could be sued for some obscure IP/patent issue, or they could even just be maliciously fraudulent. There's a lot of unknowns, so it's much more of an investment or donation situation. Even on the user end in 2 years maybe you hate PC games, RPGs, or just don't have a good PC at the moment. Typically I think that's why you see a lot of the kickstarters offering early access or other goodies (like dev interactions), but still there's a big gap between kickstarter succeeding and there being an actual end product.

    Especially since the kickstarter amount can be not that significant after everything shakes out: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/...lities_of_costs_after_Kickstarter_funding.php (though as the comments point out it's more like 2/3rds of the money raised went to the game at large and it just happened that 1/3rd of that was spent on stuff like lawyers and PAX East).
  40. Plum

    Plum Well-Known Member

    Ah yes that is true - I tend to overlook that as I've yet to be burned by it. I also links in to the general sense of professionalism that the team gives - someone that has a well laid out project page and more importantly, has produced polished demo code or prototypes feels more trustworthy to me as they've clearly invested money already into their idea.

    I can't see how that connects in to your final statement though. If I judge a product to be worth the cost to me then I will back it and if enough people feel the same way then the Kickstarter will succeed.
  41. Oni

    Oni Active Member

    Plum, bbobjs refers to paying before having a product or fully working prototype, this fundraising trend often amounting to fundamentally gambling. Unless the area is very well known, taken up by very well known and very skilled persons and handled very well there's no certainty of a return of investment. Even if the money lost is small, the total money wasted is terrible. Their image is crushed because of the publicity they had to make for the money. And if a person knows how to disappear or lie low, they can fake the project for free cash. Image is nothing unless the person's expertise is evident.

    There are I'm sure plenty of good examples somewhere with success stories yet people need to be aware they can fail.
  42. Plum

    Plum Well-Known Member

    Oh ok, I can see the risk in that. I haven't myself backed any projects where some groundwork hasn't already been laid so I've not seen the pure-faith-in-the-project side of Kickstarter. Though just because a system is open to abuse doesn't mean that it can't be used well - I think backers just need to be wary and not commit anything they can't afford to lose.

    While I still support the principles of Kickstarter, I'm rather less enamoured of Kickstarter as a company after reading this article. They seem to be saying "we don't care if you're a victim, don't rock our boat":
    http://rachelmarone.com/banned-from-kickstarter-for-being-a-stalking-victim/
  43. bbobjs

    bbobjs Well-Known Member

    Kickstarter isn't a test of "Hey do you want this?" It's a test of "Hey would you want this if I made it?" That is to say, you could have an amazing idea, market it perfectly and still fail because you're unable to adequately market yourself. The fact is people don't always know what they want and often won't actually realize they want something until they actually have it; example, the iPad. On the flip side people will often think they want something they don't actually want; example, Snakes on a Plane.

    For a good 'real' world example watch or read about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. These people CLEARLY had to be shown what they needed, not simply told.

    For a theory example, imagine if a young Quentin Tarantino had attempted to use a Kickstarter like entity to fund Reservoir Dogs. A no name, with no formal training, relatively poor people skills and basically no proof of concept trying to raise 30K for a movie in an already well represented genre... there's basically NO WAY he would have reached the goal, let alone raise over 40 times the goal!

    Anyway I'm not disagreeing with you that Kickstarter can be a safe and powerful tool, I'm simply agreeing with infernovia that it's an imperfect tool and you have to know when it shouldn't be trusted or used.
  44. Plum

    Plum Well-Known Member

    Ah ok, I totally agree with you on those points. It's unfortunate that you can have the best idea in the world but if you can't communicate it to people then you're dead in the water. I think the traditional way to deal with that is to put your awesome idea on the shelf for a year or two while you build a portfolio of smaller, safer work. Or you could pitch to a venture capitalist organisation specialising in your field who should be capable of seeing the potential in your idea, though you will pay for that shortcut by giving up control.

    I should preface all of my comments here with the caveat that I am not a creative and will never find myself on that side of the fence, it's a foreign world to me. I am however a pretty typical consumer so all of my arguments are from that perspective.

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