On a recent Radio Free Nintendo, the panel was discussing the failed Red Ash Kickstarter and they mentioned how it failed because Comcept hadn't proven anything yet. Mighty No. 9 has been subject to several delays and still isn't out. The host juxtaposed this situation to Yacht Club Games and Shovel Knight. If, and when, Yacht Club Games goes back to Kickstarter, he said, they'll be sure to find much more success.
This is only natural. Why wouldn't the company return to a business model that already worked for them once? But, does it really fit the narrative that Kickstarter is necessary to get these games off the ground? Could Larian Games really not get traditional funding now that they have proof that their games can be profitable? Could they not bank some of the money they made off the first game and use it to fund the sequel? We'll likely never know, because it is almost impossible to imagine that their Kickstarter will fail and there is no reason for a developer not to take money from fans so long as they keep lining up to pay out.
Those of you who pledge to Kickstarter campaigns, are you more likely to fund games that have a track record of successful Kickstarters or are you wary to give your money to projects that might not really need it? Where do you draw the line?
I think I read somewhere that the Larian folks already had a good chunk of private funding for Divinity, and that the Kickstarter may only have been a part of it. So I don't know if they're getting rich off Divinity sales while Kickstarting a sequel.
Even if they are, I don't really care that much about whether or not the developer "needs" the money. If the game looks like something I'll want to play, and I reasonably believe it'll get finished, then I'm willing to put my money down a few years in advance. In the two years since the Shovel Knight campaign, I've backed eight different games: only Shovel Knight has been released so far of the eight, but I have no reason to suspect any of the others will be vaporware. (Every last one of them has been delayed at least a year from the target release, but I kinda figured that going in. That's just video games.)
Now, the broader Kickstarter effect of putting millions of dollars of risk onto Average Joe consumers with only a game and some merchandise as a potential reward sorta rubs me the wrong way. But on a personal level I don't really care. Maybe I'll get burned someday if something I back goes unfinished, but I've blown ten bucks on dumber things.
Also I'm not sure I agree that having a successful Kickstarter means you can easily find investors. That might be sort of true on the large scale (though I really don't know), but I have various friends who have had successful Kickstarters to the tune of say... 25-100k... and they're not exactly having people knocking down doors to invest in their next games. At that level the return on investment is so small.
Yea, that's certainly a different story from Larian who had made games for over 15 years before their first Kickstarter and raised close to a million. But with smaller projects, it also means that it's more plausible to put money from the previous project towards the next one.
I think people can't help themselves and will always back games that interest them. For most people, kickstarter is a preorder service, despite everybody claiming otherwise. People are less interested in making a game happen that would otherwise not have been funded than they are in buying a game early with other cool crap like t-shirts and junk. I would respect kickstarter much more if it were a straight donation.
@Jargon Yeah buttttttt... for a lot of small indies "success" doesn't mean making a profit so much as making enough money to get to work on games full-time and have an apartment and blah blah blah. A lot of times success just means recouping the costs put into the first game with enough left over to quit your day job.
And I'm still astonished that more people weren't up in arms over the sony/shenmue 3 fiasco. A major player leveraging nostalgia to direct fans to a kickstarter on the biggest stage of the year for a project they apparently already had plans to publish on their own platform, but they won't contribute development dollars? I thought I heard a thousand times on several podcasts that the thought of activision or any big publisher using kickstarter was expressly against the spirit of kickstarter. How is this situation different? It all drives me bonkers.
I'm 100% okay with it as long as they are still going about it as an independent studio. Crowd funding loses me once it gets shady and big publishers are acting as shadow financers. I cancelled my Shenmue pledge as soon as that Sony connection became public, and I honestly feel like Kickstarter should have shut the campaign down... perversion of the originals ideals.
As I said from the start, I believe in the potential of crowd funding with all my heart... but I believe in the possibility of corporate entities finding a way to mess it all up just as much.
I thought that you meant Kickstarters that have additional money-raising sessions for the same game (like Mighty No. 9). That's gross.
Other than that, I don't mind crowd-funding. Whether or not the game would be possible to make without the funding isn't the be-all, end-all to me. If a developer wants to have a direct relationship with its audience, and the audience is cool with it (and willing to bear whatever risk they perceive), why not eliminate the middle-man?
I agree that it gets shady when corporations also have an interest, though. And I also agree that Kickstarter itself IS somewhat of a middle-man, with several inefficiencies (money). I think their policies could stand to be improved, as well.
It's one of those things that the market will sort out. Ideally in my mind those that can make their projects happen without kickstarter would do so but that's too simplistic a viewpoint to be applied and neglects things like creators having to give up an element of control on their projects.
I do worry that kickstarter or whatever get overrun by big name kickstarters making it harder for true upstarts to get their stuff funded. I don't know if there is any actual data to support that notion though.
It's going to take consumers forcing projects to switch from Kickstarter for it to work though. And it looks like not everyone can get cash back. I wonder what it means to be accredited in this context.
That's a fascinating development. I'll definitely be interested to see how that progresses.
As for the definition of "success" post kickstarter, Samantha Kalman, developer of a game called Sentris (currently on Steam, I believe) was on the latest Giant Beastcast and defined success for her as generating as much revenue in sales as was asked for in the kickstarter. I think her goal was $50,000. If sales matched that, according to her, there would be no need for further kickstarter campaigns. What a novel concept! Clearly her goals are relatively modest, but I heartily approve of her methods and use of kickstarter.