May 6, 2015 by crew
Hello, My name is Maledrakh. And I am a Kickstarterholic…
Well, it is not really a problem, I can stop any time I like. Really. Today I have only logged in once…maybe twice. I have seen Kickstarters all the way from massive successes to utter failures, been rewarded with my body weight in new games and miniatures, and seen some of my pledge money disappear faster than a lone Goblin Shaman in front of a gunline of Thunderers. All in the last few years…
Crowdfunding (aka Kickstarters) has rapidly become omnipresent on the internet. Kickstarter campaigns have funded a lot of new games and miniatures, (and computer games, movies, wallets, gadgets, potato salads, art books, music performances, you name it) in many cases raising anywhere from hundreds to thousands, to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the creators. Of course, when this kind of money can be had, some bad people turn their envious eyes upon crowdfunding, to slowly and surely draw their plans against it, bending all their will towards how to get a piece of that sweet, sweet action!
We need to acknowledge that the world turns. Crowdfunding is here to stay for good and for bad, and is something that we as gaming hobbyist consumers will need to at least know something about. In this series of articles I will be getting rather wordy about crowdfunding game and miniatures related projects through Kickstarter and similar sites. We’ll discuss what Kickstarters are and what they are not then most importantly of all; what we as backers should be aware of and take into consideration before taking the plunge and backing a crowdfunding campaign.
Kickstarters Everywhere! What Is That All About?
If you have not heard the term Kickstarter by now, you must have been living without an internet connection these last few years. But what is a Kickstarter really?
As it turns out, it is several things…
1. The Word!
Kickstarter.com is by far the largest of the crowfunding sites, and as such the word Kickstarter, or KS for short, has become a term that really means “project on a crowdfunding website”. For example, a creator “does a Kickstarter” and “Kickstarters a game”. One of the more common questions game companies get when talking about a new line, is “when will you Kickstarter it?”.
For many backers, “Kickstartering” (backing crowdfunding campaigns and being active in the communities that spring to life in the comments sections of said campaigns) has become a major pasttime, even a hobby in itself. Not in any way an addiction. I can stop anytime I want. Sure I can.
2. The Sites!
Kickstarter.com and other crowdfunding sites such as indiegogo.com have revolutionized how stuff gets made, or rather: paid for. Many game-related projects have managed to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding (some have even surpassed the million dollar mark, a few have made over three million!), and have added oodles of new games and big, giant heaps of plastic and metal crack to many hobbyists’ collections and retail store shelves across the world. All by the magic of getting many smallish contributions from a lot of people!
3. The Funding!
In the olden days, someone who wanted to make a game and/or miniatures, would have to fund it through the traditional means: such as bank loans, nest egg savings and scratch card lotteries. Then, often in massive debt, they would have to gamble on whether the public buys enough of their game to make the money back, usually without having enough funds to launch and market the game properly, ensuring its early demise and personal bankruptcy.
In addition with the current economy, banks are not very forthcoming in giving loans to anyone with big dreams but no proven track record to speak of.
Now, almost anyone (creators) can present their dream as a campaign (projects) on kickstarter.com or other crowdfunding site, and ask the general public (backers) for money (pledges) to be able to make it.
Those who choose to back the project pledge some manageable amount of money towards it and in return are promised some sort of rewards such as a copy of the game, a set of the miniatures, or whatever, depending on what the project is for. If the project reaches its minimum target level to be funded (known as a funding goal) the money is collected from the backers and most of it is given to the creator . If the funding goal is not reached, no money is collected*.
If the target is surpassed it is common for additional funding goals (known as stretch goals) to be offered. Such stretch goals usually say, “if X amount of funding is reached, we will add Y to the rewards”. Some such stretch rewards are free for all pledgers, some are so-called add-ons that need extra payment (known as increasing the pledge), further adding to the funds the creators get.
Basically, many people contribute some amount, typically in the range of 10-100 dollars to a given project. Of course, if you want everything that is to be made for a given game, especially if that game has hit many stretch goals, you might end up pledging more than a thousand.
This way, the creators can not only get their dream funded before it is made, but also gauge if the public actually wants to buy what is on offer! Win win!
Of course, this is quite a big risk to take, as there are NO GUARANTEES that anything will come of it, in which case, kiss your hard-earned mula goodbye! Consumers beware!
*some sites have alternate funding systems, such as indiegogo.com’s flexible funding, which collects the money as soon as it is pledged. You might want to check this before pledging.
4. The Power! The Passion!
Kickstarter is above all, a massively powerful marketing tool for a budding miniatures or game company. Some companies have even managed to make Kickstarting an integral part of their business model, with great and repeated success, engaging with their communities to create a massive positive buzz! (In some cases, a massive negative buzz as well!)
Others have seen, shall we say, too much success. Leading to spectacular failures! Of course, with such great power comes…well, not really any great amount of responsibility at all!
Kickstarter is something quite new in many ways and the world as a whole has not entirely come to grips with it yet. Consumer regulations do not quite cover it. We are all still in the process of figuring it out, and adapting to this new contender for our money. I am certain that we in the forseeable future will see changes to how things work, and that legislators around the world will try to regulate the phenomenon.
This is one of the things we will be looking at in the next installment in this series: The Joys of Backing, or What Kickstarter is Not!
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"We need to acknowledge that the world turns. Crowdfunding is here to stay for good and for bad..."
"Some companies have even managed to make Kickstarting an integral part of their business model with great and repeated success..."