Kickstarter - sifting through the wreckage, how did you do?

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#1
In 2013/2014 Kickstarter video game funding hit its high water mark. Seemingly scores of pitches for games were debuting weekly, video game sites were running round up articles and at times even trying to curate some of the more promising projects from the dead-in-the-water duds, and it looked like this was the start of a brave new world in video game financing. Perhaps no game better symbolised the peak and wake of a frenzy of questionable public judgement, the murky ethics of Kickstarter projects, delays and abandoned commitments, and the sheer $$$'s being thrown around than Mighty No. 9 (to say nothing about the down payment on a house the internet public gave some dude who made a potato salad). With Mighty No.9 now having been confirmed as a turd, and with that Kickstarter "bubble" now firmly in our rearview mirror let's take a moment to sift through the wreckage and see where we stand.

Did you back any games? If so, which ones? What's your scorecard of successes vs. failures vs. mixed? Are any still outstanding? Did you learn anything from the experience? Would you back any future projects?
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#3
I have to say, I came out of that smelling like roses. 2/2 with one outstanding (which I never expected to happen before 2017), and I am optimistic it will be good.





Both excellent games. I'm still waiting for my Vita version to do a full play through of the latter, but I've seen/played enough on PC to say that it nailed it. FTL added itself to the hall of my all-time favourite games, I have enjoyed the ever-loving-piss out of that game - and everyone got a free expansion to boot (along with Shovel Knight, it's the gold standard for how to deliver an indie kickstarter project).

I am still waiting on this:



Which given the experience of the team, the fact they already delivered an 'at-worst-very-solid' debut project that currently stands at a respectable 81 on Metacritic, and that all the info so far suggests even more has gone into this project (without the pressure of a next one in the wings) I am optimistic this will be a good, possibly even great, game.
 
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#4
Never backed a game

I'm sure I played games that were backed through kickstarter without knowing though. There are a few I'm looking forward too. Shantae, HoverL Revolt of Gamers, Bloodstained, Yooka-Laylee.
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#5
Just Shantae, and its looking good, so no complaints there.
Yeah, that was about as safe a bet to be completed - and at a certain standard of quality - as one could hope for. Did they really need the money though?

Kickstarter games in general are scams tho.
Many were. Or if not scams, then simply piss poor bets to ever be completed. There were a few I was rooting for to happen, but no way I was putting any money on them. They'd all exceeded funding targets, and they are all vaporware (see: Rimworld).
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#6
Never backed a game

I'm sure I played games that were backed through kickstarter without knowing though. There are a few I'm looking forward too. Shantae, HoverL Revolt of Gamers, Bloodstained, Yooka-Laylee.
You played Shovel Knight, no? It was a Kickstarter. If not - what the hell man, that game was made for you. They're still working on delivering campaign targets like the forthcoming Spectre Knight DLC.

Perhaps surprisingly, I didn't back Bloodstained. I have some reservations - starting with artstyle. I'm taking a wait-and-see on that one.
 

mattavelle1

ARMS is like breathing.......but more important
Moderator
#7
I haven't not nor would I ever back a game personally.

It seems like such a risk for my money and just so many things can go wrong in the whole process. Looking at my own business I never ask anyone while we are slow to "fund me" it just dosent seem right at all. And even when we start a job we never ask for any money on a bill until we have worked for a few weeks and the customer knows what to expect outta us and our work.

Just from the business stand point I just can't do it.
 

Koenig

The Architect
#11
I only ever backed one Kickstarter (A Hat in time), however I would have also backed Yooka Laylee and Bloodstained if I had the funds at the time. So far A hat in time is scheduled for release later this year, while Yooka Laylee and Bloodstained appear to be on track to become great games.


 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
#13
Backed:
Mighty no 9 - I lost faith not very long after backing, lost all hope after playing the demo, I don't even really want to play the full game, maybe I'll just give it away to someone that wants it more.

Some videogame history book - the book was actually pretty great, even with very low production values. There are a ton of interviews with Japanese developers, and it seems like a good book overall even though I haven't gotten far into it.

La Mulana 2 - it's looking great, no doubts from me here.

Bloodstained - it looks to be exactly what I expected, but I haven't gotten to play the demo yet.

Didn't back but played the game:
Shovel Knight - it was pretty good, beat it once and don't really want to play it again, even the dlc.
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#15
I backed Bloodstained, but that was it. Hell, I didn't even pay for my backing since it was backed on my behalf as a belated birthday gift.

Having played the demo, I have full confidence it's going to turn out awesome.

praisegrima
I'm so out of the loop I didn't even know there was a demo. I just watched it on youtube, and I have to say - it looks a lot better than I was expecting out of a UE4 platformer. Nowhere as nice as it could have been as flat 2D hand drawn backgrounds and sprites, but I am cautiously optimistic again after seeing that.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#16
The only Kickstarter I have backed was for a singer. Not naming names, but they had some indie stuff out, and this was supposed to be "I'll get to do a proper record in a professional recording studio with a professional band." And it's not that the record was bad, but it basically ended up being "pay for me to go make music with mostly friend musicians." That was the end of Kickstarter backing for me.

I thought long and hard on backing 90s Arcade Racer. I'm glad I didn't. How Kickstarter game projects evolve is too amorphous.

"Hey, it'll be out this year on these platform!"
"...OK, so next year, and on one less platform."
"...alright, so maybe next year."
"...OK, OK, OK, so it's finally gonna come out this year, but only on PC."


I don't care what sort of fledgling artist you are, but that's not how you act with other people's money.
 

BobSilencieux

Well-Known Member
#22
Never backed a kickstarter. It just seemed like a really bad idea from a consumer's standpoint - put down some money up front on a game / project that may or may not turn out to be something you're actually interested in when the product is finalised months / years down the line? Why not just stick to the tried and true method of deciding whether or not to put some money down on [buy] a finished product? Does that just make too much sense?!
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
#23
I've backed a few kickstarters: A restaurant (got my reward), 2 books (got my reward), and 2 cds (got my reward on one, and on the other, the artists screwed over all her backers and went on a trip around the world.) I'm a little gunshy now, but will still consider certain ones. Have yet to back a game. Almost backed Bloodstained, but I wasn't sure I could trust it coming out on the platforms I used.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#24
Did you back any games? If so, which ones? What's your scorecard of successes vs. failures vs. mixed? Are any still outstanding? Did you learn anything from the experience? Would you back any future projects?
I've never backed any game, but I would.

If the dev screws up, I'll consider it totally my fault or nobody's fault. I believe backing a kickstart is the same as opening a company with a partner or buying shares. Nobody forced you and it's your job to do the homework and find out if you can trust the enterprise you'd like to back. A kickstart project might fail as any start-up you invest or a business you kick off yourself or with a partner.
 

repomech

resident remnant robot relic
#25
Why not just stick to the tried and true method of deciding whether or not to put some money down on [buy] a finished product? Does that just make too much sense?!
Well, the idea was that this would allow certain smaller projects for niche games to exist that simply would not absent this line of funding - and in some instances that's certainly been the case, we never would have had the chance to buy a finished product without the crowd funding. However, in other instances it's less clear, and one has to consider that this has been seen and used as a less than scrupulous opportunity to download as much development risk onto backers as possible, or used for its value in marketing and/or proof of concept development in securing publisher funding. There's some grey area there too. Speaking of which...

I believe backing a kickstart is the same as opening a company with a partner or buying shares. Nobody forced you and it's your job to do the homework and find out if you can trust the enterprise you'd like to back. A kickstart project might fail as any start-up you invest or a business you kick off yourself or with a partner.
I agree with the analogy insofar as you should do some homework and think about what level of exposure to risk you're comfortable with. The key difference - and it's a whopper - is that when you invest in a company you have a share in any eventual returns. Videogame Kickstarters are more like a really shaky pre-pre-order, perhaps with some swag thrown in. You assume risk, you do not share in reward.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#26
I believe backing a kickstart is the same as opening a company with a partner or buying shares. Nobody forced you and it's your job to do the homework and find out if you can trust the enterprise you'd like to back. A kickstart project might fail as any start-up you invest or a business you kick off yourself or with a partner.
I agree with the analogy insofar as you should do some homework and think about what level of exposure to risk you're comfortable with. The key difference - and it's a whopper - is that when you invest in a company you have a share in any eventual returns. Videogame Kickstarters are more like a really shaky pre-pre-order, perhaps with some swag thrown in. You assume risk, you do not share in reward.
The analogy works so long as one, the project doesn't substantially morph (although not a Kickstarter, Project CARS is a key example of a sort of mission creep of game development), and two, the project starters don't sell a grand idea and then under-deliver to a nearly laughable extent (like the music Kickstarter I backed - which was a musician I had followed for awhile and felt I could trust, fwiw). The former would be like investing in a magnifying glass company that ends up using your investor money to make a giant telescope for astronomy, the latter is like investing in a carpentry company that says it's hiring highly skilled artisans only to find out they hired contractor friends.

And as you said, on top of all of that, there's the difference of no financial return on your investment. And you get a lovely dollop of the sort of flightiness you see with 90s Arcade Racer on top of it in which the Kickstarter does not treat its backers with respect it would with investors, and has fundamentally taken a substantial amount of other people's cash to treat something as a part-time passion project that they'll get around to when they feel like it.

Buuuut....I still don't feel like Kickstarter/Patreon/etc. are bad ideas. Bloodstained looks like it'll be a shining example of how it can work out. I don't think it's a coincidence that such a good potential outcome was crafted from an industry veteran, though, not a green independent...which is kinda the opposite of the ethos Kickstarter was supposed to crowd source for the average Joe and Jane.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#27
The key difference - and it's a whopper - is that when you invest in a company you have a share in any eventual returns. Videogame Kickstarters are more like a really shaky pre-pre-order, perhaps with some swag thrown in. You assume risk, you do not share in reward.
When you invest in a company, you know that you can get out with zero money, a debit or an amount of money that you share can buy.

When you invest in a kickstart project, you know that you can get out with zero money, a debit or the amount of money that the kickstart project told you so before you signed up.

It's essentially the same thing, you're very aware of how much you might end up getting as a reward.
 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#28
The analogy works so long as one, the project doesn't substantially morph (although not a Kickstarter, Project CARS is a key example of a sort of mission creep of game development),
I still see no difference. When you invest in a company, you're investing on the CEO of the company and his team. He can substantially morph the product/service the way he wants.

In the sitcom Sillycon Valley, for instance, you can see a good example. A company is sold as a company that would deliver a compression software platform. Overnight the CEO changes, then he decides to shut down the platform project and sell a compression server product.

So you have invested on the first CEO and now you've to deal with the new CEO and his new product.

and two, the project starters don't sell a grand idea and then under-deliver to a nearly laughable extent (like the music Kickstarter I backed - which was a musician I had followed for awhile and felt I could trust, fwiw). The former would be like investing in a magnifying glass company that ends up using your investor money to make a giant telescope for astronomy, the latter is like investing in a carpentry company that says it's hiring highly skilled artisans only to find out they hired contractor friends.
That happens on start-ups everyday. A start-up sell you a grand idea for a great project and shows you a lovely prototype. You give them your money. Then you find out that the guys can't develop their product because they're idiots and the prototype was fake. Company's money has been burned in 6 months. You walk way with a big debt and it's on you who trust them.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#29
I still see no difference. When you invest in a company, you're investing on the CEO of the company and his team. He can substantially morph the product/service the way he wants.

In the sitcom Sillycon Valley, for instance, you can see a good example. A company is sold as a company that would deliver a compression software platform. Overnight the CEO changes, then he decides to shut down the platform project and sell a compression server product.

So you have invested on the first CEO and now you've to deal with the new CEO and his new product.
Not much of a relevant example. Kickstarter games are not tech start-up companies (to be put in corporate trading) that plan on researching and developing various nebulous technological ideas. They're about funding a specific piece of software.
That happens on start-ups everyday. A start-up sell you a grand idea for a great project and shows you a lovely prototype. You give them your money. Then you find out that the guys can't develop their product because they're idiots and the prototype was fake. Company's money has been burned in 6 months. You walk way with a big debt and it's on you who trust them.
Sure it happens. But if you have researched and followed an artist who has made good on many promises, and they then eff up, and you insist on putting no responsibility on them for doing so, I guess that's just a different psychological reaction.
 
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Odo

Well-Known Member
#30
Not much of a relevant example. Kickstarter games are not tech start-up companies (to be put in corporate trading) that plan on researching and developing various nebulous technological ideas. They're about funding a specific piece of software.
You're not funding an specific piece of software. This way of thinking is misplaced and it's one of the reasons people loose money on kickstart.

You are funding an enterprise that employs developers, designers, musicians, artists, whose product is a piece of software. So my example is relevant. There's no difference between an start-up and a team of developers making a game. Both are enterprises.

The team you're funding promise you a 3D adventure like Zelda, but they might end up delivering a 3D adventure like Superman 64. In the end, you're funding the total limit of their expertise.



Sure it happens. But if you have researched and followed an artist who has made good on many promises, and they then eff up, and you insist on putting no responsibility on them for doing so, I guess that's just a different psychological reaction.
Although past achievements does mean when you're searching a target for your investment, it's not the only metric you need to pay attention. You are co-responsible for the fail of everything you invest. You were not forced to believe in them let alone give them your money. It was your decision and you should think twice before doing so. Past achievements is only one of the metrics you need to analyse.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#31
You're not funding an specific piece of software. This way of thinking is misplaced and it's one of the reasons people loose money on kickstart.

You are funding an enterprise that employs developers, designers, musicians, artists, whose product is a piece of software. So my example is relevant. There's no difference between an start-up and a team of developers making a game. Both are enterprises.

The team you're funding promise you a 3D adventure like Zelda, but they might end up delivering a 3D adventure like Superman 64. In the end, you're funding the total limit of their expertise.
My apologies, but this is silly. "You're not funding a game, you're funding the people to make the game" is such an obviously true statement that I don't even know why you're saying it. You still are funding them to reach one goal - make the game. You are not funding them like a tech start-up that has many nebulous technological goals for disparate applications, or that may have a CEO swap that would completely refocus the company into an entirely different industry (Kickstarter even states their projects aren't allowed to mislead; a CEO swap to refocus a company's objectives would run afoul of the very rules for making a Kickstarter; it's just not an apples to apples comparison, and it may not even be a fruit to vegetable one, either). Hence the "worst offenders"-type lists you see pop up concerning games.
Although past achievements does mean when you're searching a target for your investment, it's not the only metric you need to pay attention. You are co-responsible for the fail of everything you invest. You were not forced to believe in them let alone give them your money. It was your decision and you should think twice before doing so. Past achievements is only one of the metrics you need to analyse.
...what? Past achievement is the only metric you have to go by for how reliable someone is. Again, this isn't the stock market; you are not paying an analyst for trends to maximize your ROI. This is Kickstarter; your only "return" is the game (or album, in my case). So unless you have the keys to the DeLorean and some spare plutonium for me and Doc Brown to see exactly how the future is going to go...

 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#32
My apologies, but this is silly. "You're not funding a game, you're funding the people to make the game" is such an obviously true statement that I don't even know why you're saying it. You still are funding them to reach one goal - make the game. You are not funding them like a tech start-up that has many nebulous technological goals for disparate applications, or that may have a CEO swap that would completely refocus the company into an entirely different industry (Kickstarter even states their projects aren't allowed to mislead; a CEO swap to refocus a company's objectives would run afoul of the very rules for making a Kickstarter; it's just not an apples to apples comparison, and it may not even be a fruit to vegetable one, either). Hence the "worst offenders"-type lists you see pop up concerning games.
Ok, you fund my game: Odo's Quest.

Odo's Quest is going to be a Dragon's Dogma spiritual successor in 4k.

I'm developing the game with a bunch of genius fellas and I need 100k.

Ten months later, the 100k and half of my team is gone. I just can't pull this off and in fact I'm going to pass the project to my 17-year-old nephew. Good luck for you all and I'll keep my day job and my normal life.

The money is gone.
The team is gone.
Odo's gone.
The product are not going to come out.
Your ROI will not happen.

In the end, what's the difference between this and an start-up company bad investment?

It's the "nobody's fault" situation. The product aren't going to come out because we can't pull this off, I'm sorry if you've trusted me. It's the same with any enterprise.

Investing in kickstart is not buying a product. You're backing a project that can go wrong. You can't demand success.




...what? Past achievement is the only metric you have to go by for how reliable someone is. Again, this isn't the stock market; you are not paying an analyst for trends to maximize your ROI. This is Kickstarter; your only "return" is the game (or album, in my case). So unless you have the keys to the DeLorean and some spare plutonium for me and Doc Brown to see exactly how the future is going to go...


There aren't shares but there's the team who is making the product, the way the team manages the project, the costs, etc. Odo's Dragon's Dogma spiritual successor is not only about Odo's past achievements. It's on you to analyse everything that I have now for the project and see if it'll work.

Perhaps a musician released many brilliant albums before, but he did that with studios, labels and producers backing him. It doesn't mean that the artist will make a great album again. Maybe he's now just a depressed, drug user loonie who will just get your money and smoke it all. It's on you to analyse that or if you don't have the means to do this, just don't give him your money.
 
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