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How Long Before the Kickstarter Bubble Bursts? 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-people-realize-they-don't-have-that-much-patience dept.
An opinion piece at Gamasutra takes a look at the recent success of Kickstarter campaigns for video game projectsDouble Fine's adventure game and a sequel to Wasteland each raised around $3 million. Hundreds of other projects have sprung up, hoping to replicate that success — but will it last? From the article: "I am convinced that Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine know how to deliver a game (mostly) on time and (mostly) on budget. Brian Fargo too. Is that true for all 314 of the current Kickstarter projects? What about the projects which get started but never finished? If publishers like LucasArts can cancel games that are almost finished or like Codemasters can pay for a game it never saw, what certainty do pledgers have that the game that they have paid for will ever see the light of day? We are still in the early days of our Kickstarter relationship, the early days of falling in love. Everything our partner does is wonderful. We gloss over the risks, we ignore the downsides, because the glory of falling in love is everything. I think we have about six months left of that period. Towards the end of this year, some Kickstarter projects are going to start slipping. Some will see their teams collapse amidst bicker recriminations. Some pledgers are going to start getting very angry."
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How Long Before the Kickstarter Bubble Bursts?

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  • by zotz (3951) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:37PM (#39921095) Homepage Journal

    Insist on Free Projects Developed in the Open

    That way, if things don't quite pan out, the assets may still be useful or someone else may be able to finish things up.

    all the best,

    drew

  • Re:No bubble. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:38PM (#39921121)

    Agreed. About the only thing I can see is someone else coming along to steal Kickstarter's thunder, but the idea behind Kickstarter isn't going anywhere in the foreseeable future. It may suffer some setbacks among the people who don't understand the difference between what Kickstarter does and making a pre-order on Amazon if there are higher-profile failures or scams, but there are many people (myself included) who are interested in funding these sorts of projects and understand the risks therein, and we're not going away. If anything, the number of people who "get it" is increasing.

  • The general funding model has been successful for at least a bit longer than Kickstarter in particular has been around, so it's not a completely new thing. Therefore I have a little more confidence in its longevity, though it could always still turn out to be a slightly longer flash in the pan, of course.

    One early proposal was John Kelsey and Bruce Schneier's Street Performer Protocol [schneier.com] (1998), describing basically the same collect-funds-until-threshold model.

    One successful effort I know of from ten years ago was Einstürzende Neubauten, a cult-popular German industrial/avant-garde band, which left their label and focused on crowdfunding starting in 2001. In 2002, they raised around $70,000 [wikipedia.org] to record an album despite using a pretty unorganized system, and repeated that several times. There have been some others since then as well before Kickstarter centralized them, such as David Lynch's effort [lynchthree.com].

  • Re:Guarantee? None. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:58PM (#39923093) Homepage

    Unless the kickstarter says so. Steve Jackson games GUARANTEES that you will get a designers edition of the Ogre Release if you pledge $100.00 That is a hard Guarantee by him.

    It's called choosing projects where there are real professionals behind and not some kid in his mom's basement who has a pipe dream that will never be. RESEARCH who is behind the kickstarter before you jump in.

  • Re:No bubble. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:07PM (#39923143) Homepage

    Not completed, but looks like it will finish: Schlock Mercenary: Capital Offensive [livingworldsgames.com]- mainly waiting on the printers for the parts to the game; artwork and design's done.

    And you could do a bit of Google-fu (http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/successful [kickstarter.com]) and see the other projects out there for yourself... ;-D

  • As an unfunded (self funded?) indie game dev Kickstarter has been on our radar for quite a while. In the course of building out our technology we're making smaller games (1st a puzzle game, then a freescrolling shooter, etc). Our plan has been to get one of the smaller games totally finished and polished up a bit, and use that as one of the perks for a donation campaign to help fund the next larger game, eg: you donate $X, and you get a free game right now while also helping fund the next. I'd feel weird just asking for a hand out with nothing of value to immediately give in exchange... I mean, you'd still have the free game in hand even if I do get hit by the bus I'm always coding in fear of. :-P

    I'm sort of shocked at all the attention Kickstarter is getting now, and yes, I do feel like we may be coming to the table a bit too late. Things will change. What's shocking to me is that people are funding IDEAS for games -- Ideas are less than a dime a dozen, I've got literally hundreds of game designs in my "tome of magic" (awaiting only my arcane finger movements to be made real). Personally, I wouldn't donate to anyone's cause until the game developers have shown at least some progress and dedication and gotten at minimum some coloured boxes flying around and doing stuff (primordial gameplay tests -- you know, prototypes to see if the game will actually be fun).

    The interesting thing is that I do see some other folks like our own team who are doing this because we love games, not because we can make a bunch of money -- That was explicitly laid out at our inception: "You *might* make a living working hard doing something you love (making games), but don't work on this project if you're doing this to get rich." So, the completion of our games don't depend on any outside funds: Grants, donations, or revenue will only help us make the games faster (we could do less non-game work). Our incentive to make games is purely because the designs are exciting to us, we love to create, and just want play them ourselves... I think projects like this have the best chances to be successful.

    I think that change is coming in the crowd funding space -- Funding ideas before ANYONE knows if they're fun to play or not is VERY odd to me. I mean, it only takes a few hours with Ogre3D, Unity, (or other free engine) to crank out a basic mechanics prototype, even for complex stuff like Portal. I think what we'll see in the future is less "I have this great idea, I just need to pay $ARTIST + $PROGRAMMERS to make it real," and more "This game idea is so fun and interesting, these level designers, programmers, artists and composers have rallied around it. Here's a sample of what we've done, and if you donate we'll get it to you faster / you'll ensure the project's future." If you can't even show me a prototype, then I doubt the seriousness. "Hey, $coder_friend, I have this idea for a game and I've made/got a few art assets, would you make a simple gameplay mock-up in some free engine so I can show the idea on Kickstarter" -- Yeah, if you can't get that to happen, I'm not sure why anyone should fund it.

    To put it another way: If you start with just an idea, and are relying on the Kickstarter funds to get the project done, then you can actually run out of money to pay the programmers, level designers, composers, and artists -- then a project will actually fail to be delivered, or you may have to cut back on the ambitious plans and do a smaller game... However, if you've got a team together like ours, and they aren't relying on funds to keep working on the project (I have a "day job" game coding is my fun, our mapper maps for fun, our composer composes for fun, ect), then even if the project runs out of money you still get the game you funded eventually.

    What I'm seeing right now is a bunch of game devs trying to catch this wave. There are lots of game devs who are still in early stages of production, or even haven't even started who wanted to wait until later to put som

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