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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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  • No bubble. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@cUMLAUTox.net minus punct> on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:29PM (#39920985)

    Might see a drop off, and a leveling off, but a bubble burst?

    That implies there's a bubble. Direct financing of projects is the future, not a fad.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      yeah as usual a shitty article title.

    • 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.

      • by zlives (2009072)

        Does any one have some info on a completed project by kick starter.
        I like the idea of kick starter. I had no problem paying for an early beta for taleworlds mount and blade. but i am wondering... are there any successful projects that can highlight this as more than idealistic.

        not trying to be a troll, just really want to know.

        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:24PM (#39921757)

          The Order of The Stick reprint drive.
          http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/599092525/the-order-of-the-stick-reprint-drive/posts [kickstarter.com]

          This may also be the first instance of the project developer (Rich Burlew) being so completely involved with the supporters as the project exceeded the initial goal.

          Flip through the updates notifications to see what he added as enticements to get to each new level. And what his progress has been on delivering on those commitments.

          100% transparency and thousands of fans eagerly awaiting delivery.

          • by glassware (195317)

            But... Rich hasn't completed his project. And Rich has a terrible history of overpromising and underperforming deliveries (i.e. comic release schedules).

            I'm sure he's being transparent, and he's a really good artist and very well intentioned. I'm just not sure he's going to be able to follow through on everything he promises.

            • The first rewards (smallest reward levels) have arrived at the backers.
              Some more of the products are finished and will be send in the next days.

              But yes, there was once again a setback. But just as with the printing of SS&DT Rich isn't to blame. And unlike the SS&DT printing he did inform us fans in a timely fashion, so he did learn from past mistakes.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                But yes, there was once again a setback. But just as with the printing of SS&DT Rich isn't to blame. And unlike the SS&DT printing he did inform us fans in a timely fashion, so he did learn from past mistakes.

                That's not how it works. You're responsible for your promises. That's why when the printer promises you it'll be done one month you plan for it to be done two months later, or something. And if you learn from past mistakes, then surely you can learn this lesson.

                • That's not how it works. You're responsible for your promises. That's why when the printer promises you it'll be done one month you plan for it to be done two months later, or something. And if you learn from past mistakes, then surely you can learn this lesson.

                  Interesting, it sounds like the business to be in is printing because then you do not have to keep your promises. Any other sweet industries where you can delay 100% without repercussion?
          • by TheGavster (774657) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:21PM (#39922309) Homepage

            I would say that OOTS is a very good example of a Kickstarter project demonstrating transparency in the face of a lot of challenges. Rich has a vast number of obligations from the drive and will probably spend the better part of a year paying them off, but keeps the backers up to date with regular announcements. I would forward something like the Fifty Dollar Follow Focus (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120229387/50-dollar-follow-focus) as an example of something that went through the whole process smoothly: People pledged, the goal was met, equipment was purchased, and the product was made and sent out.

          • by lgw (121541) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:22PM (#39922315) Journal

            I think this is the model that will survive: folks with a track record of delivering good stuff looking for funding to do something new. This gives funders both an expectation of quality, and of the history of making it on scedule (in Rich's case, well, let's just say no one will be too surprised or upset if it's very late - but that expetcation was set going in).

        • by SomePgmr (2021234)

          I've backed a number of projects, all funded projects went to completion. Only one was software related...

          http://darkskyapp.com/ [darkskyapp.com]

          Aside from that I've done a few art and electronics related ones. But I think most people see the writing on the wall... soon you'll actually be investing, not making donations with little "thank you" gifts.

        • Here [kickstarter.com] is my friends project. Super smart bunch of people. If the kickstarter bubble bursts (through a sullied reputation or scamming or whatever), another one will come along to replace it that learns from the mistakes of the past. It's a clearly good idea. Allowing small niche markets to find and fund engineering and creative talent is something that will always be desirable.
          • If the kickstarter bubble bursts (through a sullied reputation or scamming or whatever), another one will come along to replace it that learns from the mistakes of the past.

            It has already happened. Kickstarter isn't the first incarnation of the concept. Its ideological predecessor, fundable.org, went defunct due to credit card scammers using it to launder money / little success in wrapping people's heads around the concept (even though it was essentially the same as Kickstarter).

            • If the kickstarter bubble bursts (through a sullied reputation or scamming or whatever), another one will come along to replace it that learns from the mistakes of the past.

              It has already happened. Kickstarter isn't the first incarnation of the concept. Its ideological predecessor, fundable.org, went defunct due to credit card scammers using it to launder money / little success in wrapping people's heads around the concept (even though it was essentially the same as Kickstarter).

              Kickstarter already burst, but the failed projects get no press. Great example: Disapora.

              Someone actually called Diaspora a Facebook competitor [slashdot.org] way back in 2010. And..... nothing. 180,000 users as of November 2011, not exactly a facebook competitor. [wikipedia.org] And Dispora received $200,000 in June 2010, over 20 times their $10,000 goal. [kickstarter.com] That's a lot of money that could have gone to real startups with a real future, not some pie-in-the-sky facebook killer. If they couldn't get it done with $200,000, what woul

              • by makomk (752139)

                That's not even the biggest KickStarter failure. Eyez by ZionEyez [kickstarter.com] took in a cool $340,000, promised actual physical hardware in return, and hasn't delivered anything except broken promises and pictures of the development team's expensive holidays to exotic foreign paradises. There have been other less high-profile failures to deliver - Hanfree [kickstarter.com], some pen, various other things I'm forgetting...

                Even putting aside the ones that didn't deliver at all, there's delayed delivery Vere Sandals [kickstarter.com] claimed one date and th

          • the way it would burst "overnight" would be that the projects would need to start filing up like companies looking for investors.

            now it's worded legally as if it's a donation that you may receive goods for though? it's loopholing in essence. for example if facebook would IPO like that they'd get smacked by the regulators soooooo baaaaaaad... "you may or may not receive stocks".

            a lot of the successful kickstarter projects seem like they're just pre-orders with risk moved to the consumer - a regular consumer.

        • by Luthair (847766)
          I received the Tell 'em Stevedave podcast on vinyl a few weeks back: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1507616740/tell-em-steve-dave-vinyl-cast [kickstarter.com]
        • 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

        • Zombies, Run! [zombiesrungame.com] hoped to raise $12,500 from Kickstarter; they ended up with over $72,000. They have already passed version 1.0 (which works nearly flawlessly) and are constantly adding new missions and features. I actually bought an iOS device just so I wouldn't have to wait for the Android version (which is due out late May/early June). The game is fantastic - excellent premise and a lot of fun (and I've already lost almost 5kg playing it!). It's a true Kickstarter success story.

      • Ogre! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:14PM (#39921645)

        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.

        I hope it doesn't go anywhere because it is a great idea.

        http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/847271320/ogre-designers-edition [kickstarter.com]

        Kickstarter allows the developer to get in direct contact with the people who are willing to commit to his/her project. Which is GREAT in cases like the above example. Things that were abandoned long ago can be revived without having to secure millions of dollars of investment cash.

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

        by Jessified (1150003) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:58PM (#39922085)

        I think a more formal reputation system to use Kickstarter will become necessary (think Ebay).

        Similar problems happen with any online transaction. There needs to be some way to ascertain the likelihood that you will get screwed.

        Kickstarter should require verified identification for project starters, and there should be a reputation system, where people get to look at the "feedback" of previous projects (i.e. did the project live up to expectations?)

      • About the only thing I can see is someone else coming along to steal Kickstarter's thunder,

        Oh, you mean like RocketHub, IndieGoGo, PeerBackers, Eppela, Start Some Good, CoFolio, New Jelly, Quirky, ProFounder, Microventures, Crowdfunder, Chipin, Ulule, Cofundos, Buzzbnk, Biracy, Digital Garage, Sonicangel, Spot.us ... ? They haven't exactly succeeded.

        A few of those serve legitimate purposes, especially allowing payment with other tools than Amazon Payments, and allowing project starters to be from anywhere n

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:40PM (#39921155)

      Pretty much this. "Bubbles" are what happen when too many people start investing in something (homes, dot.coms), then pull out during a panic, causing a spiral of decreasing value and investors losing their shirts.

      You can't "pull out" of a Kickstarter for a loss; it's not an investor relationship. Sure, you can decide to pay them, then decide not to pay them (but only if the project is ongoing), but once the Kickstarter ends, it's done: you've paid them, they get your money, and you have to trust them to deliver the goods.

      If there's a "panic" and people start pulling out of Kickstarters know what happens? Nobody loses any money because the project doesn't get funded and the creatives just don't do the project. You can't put in $100, then decide later you don't want to do it and only get back $20. Kickstarter is the check and balance system that the dot.com era needed to prevent a bursting bubble.

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

        by jkgamer (179833) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:34PM (#39921855)

        You can't "pull out" of a Kickstarter for a loss; it's not an investor relationship. Sure, you can decide to pay them, then decide not to pay them (but only if the project is ongoing), but once the Kickstarter ends, it's done: you've paid them, they get your money, and you have to trust them to deliver the goods.

        ... You can't put in $100, then decide later you don't want to do it and only get back $20. Kickstarter is the check and balance system that the dot.com era needed to prevent a bursting bubble.

        While you and I might not see this as an investment, I suspect many people will. Yes, they may not be investing in a piece of the company, however, they are expecting to get something back for their money. (Is it possible to offer a portion of future profits through Kickstarter as a reward?) Kickstarter is a great idea, but I don't have faith that the general public will see it for what it really is, a good faith gamble that your project will come to fruition. How long before the media starts hyping it up and it gets perceived as the next big investment wave? How long before lawyers get involved and starting suing to get that $100 back when the promise isn't delivered? How long before the spammers/scammers/incompetents start loading it up with bogus projects? I may well be wrong, and truly I hope that I am, but I have to side with the overall point of the article and state that I believe this will be a short-lived fad.

        • No profits (Score:4, Informative)

          by publiclurker (952615) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:54PM (#39922037)
          All you can get out of your "investment" is what they claim they will give you. If you only give them a token amount because you just think it's nice idea, you'll only get a thank you card, or perhaps a mention on their website. For greater amounts of money, you can get an actual thing, being a copy of the game, the bracket they are planning on making, etc. For even more money, all you get is more of the same, or perhaps a new choice of colors, feedback on creating a game level, etc.
        • re: general public (Score:4, Insightful)

          by King_TJ (85913) on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:43PM (#39923001) Journal

          Well, for one thing? I think most big investors are more demanding and meticulous with their spending/investing. They're not interested in making a big cash outlay into a Kickstarter project - because they're already funding similar things using a more time-tested, traditional model; venture capital firms. They want you to come to THEM with a solid business plan in hand, and sell them on it. They don't want to spend time on a web page, poring over all the little projects people proposed to work on.

          Kickstarter is to VC what Prosper.com is to traditional bank loans. It's an alternative way to try to round up some money.

          As for lawyers? This may upset/insult some of them to say it, but basically? Lawyers are parasites -- a necessary evil in a dishonest world, perhaps. But parasites nonetheless. Eventually, they get involved in pretty much *every* business or legal transaction individuals in society can conduct. So sure, there will be lawsuits someday related to Kickstarter projects. Will it destroy the whole concept though? I don't see why it should, any more than personal injury law destroyed businesses hiring workers to perform physical labor, or any more than divorce lawyers destroyed the concept of marriage?

      • by jmerlin (1010641)
        You're looking at this solely from the perspective of investors, which in the case of housing and doctoms was partly the owners. In this case, the sole persons to be harmed by this bubble are the entrepreneurs and engineers, because we are not financial institutions funding startups. We're the people creating products at high risk in hopes of getting funding, which is relatively low-barrier-to-entry right now. When the bubble bursts and that barrier reaches the sky, those who took the risk get nailed by
    • right now kickstarter is in the idealistic phase. you give money to people you don't know with great expectations. it doesn't take many silver tongued con artists to put a dent in those expectations. then the cynicism kicks in (no pun intended)

      don't get me wrong, i love kickstarter, but this is the romance period, and after awhile people might become more jaded

      i hope not, really, i hope not. and maybe eventually we can invent extra trust building methodologies to give people more confidence when they give

      • by IICV (652597) on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:07PM (#39922725)

        right now kickstarter is in the idealistic phase. you give money to people you don't know with great expectations. it doesn't take many silver tongued con artists to put a dent in those expectations. then the cynicism kicks in (no pun intended)

        Look, I may not know these people personally - but I think Brian Fargo's [wikipedia.org] resume speaks for itself, as does Jordan Weisman's [wikipedia.org]. I may not know who Matthew Davis or Justin Ma are, but I can see (and so did the IGF) that they have a really great start [ftlgame.com] on a game. If any of them don't deliver, it's going to be because something happened and they couldn't, not because they scammed thousands of people.

        The only people who'll get bit by Kickstarter are the ones who don't do enough due dilligence on the projects they're backing; a Kickstarter with no prototype, no vision and no developer pedigree just isn't going to go anywhere.

        That's what ended up nearly happening with Nekro and the Hardcore Tactical Whatever by the way - they almost failed, because they lacked at least one of the three and the other two weren't present enough to make up for it. Nekro has a great vision, but they don't have much of a prototype and its developers just don't have the pedigree; if it wasn't for TotalBiscuit, the project probably wouldn't have happened. The Hardcore Tactical Whatever had no vision and no prototype, even though it had some of the developers of Rainbow 6 behind it.

        Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Returns, on the other hand, all have great developer pedigrees and awesome visions; it's okay that they don't have prototypes, because we all know that Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo and Jordan Weisman can come up with great games - and if they don't, it'll be because development is a bitch (and at least on Double Fine's part, it'll all be on film!)

        • by kamapuaa (555446)

          Brain Fargo's track record? In the last 20 years he's just done a crap re-make of Baldur's Gate and iPhone shovelware.

          That Wikipedia article is ridiculous, does "has found critical and commercial success with iPhone and Flash games continuing Fargo's string of hit games into a fourth decade" even imply an objective look? It's a promotional fluff piece disguised as a Wikipedia article.

        • If any of them don't deliver, it's going to be because something happened and they couldn't, not because they scammed thousands of people.

          .

          This. People must understand that when they support a kickstarter project, they're supporting a venture. Ventures sometimes fail.

          Businesses sometimes go bankrupt too. This doesn't prevent the vast majority of purchases in the business world being done on credit.

          But sure, as in any venture, you shouldn't support it if you don't think the project starters can go through wi

    • Seems Kickstarter is more like business used to be... create an idea, shop it around to get capitol to market said idea. This is just a way to show your idea to the entire internet at once, and get small (but numerous) bits of capitol instead of a lot from one (or a few) investors. It'll work great for some, and not for others - the main thing it changes is the chance to get financial backing directly from people interested, instead of having to go through a large publisher like EA.
      • Seems Kickstarter is more like business used to be... create an idea, shop it around to get capitol to market said idea.

        The difference is that the people providing the capital aren't doing it in exchange for either equity or debt stakes, they are doing it exchange for something else, usually some form of the regular product that is being funded.

        This is a really good deal for the businesses using Kickstarter, but only a good deal for funders if they have a strong emotional investment in the potential produc

        • It wouldn't take a lot of products that fail to deliver after being funded to substantially weaken the funder-side perception of it being a good deal in general.

          Yes it would, because funders aren't stupid.

          One community that has really gone amok on Kickstarter is the online board game community. It stands to reason, because we're very well organized online compared to many other hobbies, and board games are usually small, risky ventures. When Steve Jackson (of Steve Jackson Games) proposes a reprint of OGRE [kickstarter.com],

    • by Kenja (541830) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:55PM (#39921367)
      Buying pet food online is the future, not a fad!
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:00PM (#39921453)

      That implies there's a bubble. Direct financing of projects is the future, not a fad.

      Future vs. fad is irrelevant. You can't have a bubble burst because Kickstarter sponsorships aren't a tradeable commodity, so people turning off of the Kickstarter model won't burst anything. There's no market for there to be a bubble in.

      If people stop sponsoring through Kickstarter, you'll just have a reversion to people actually having to take a business plan to people who will most likely demand debt or equity stakes in the business to raise capital to launch a new consumer product business (or to expand an existing business to a new consumer product using funds other than the profit of the existing business.)

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Kickstarter isn't investment. It's giving them money in the hopes that it shows publishers there is a market for these products.

      Most Kickstarter projects will fail, quite possibly wasteland 2 will be an unmitigated disaster and fail as well. Much as the summary suggests these guys can get it on time and on budget we don't actually know that. We know they can make a product, and we know that they have a good creative vision, but it's like giving 100 bucks to a student for a painting. You're hoping that i

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

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:51PM (#39922013) Homepage

      Yeah, this premise seems biased and kind of... leading. I've seen lots of posting in the past 6 months that seems to be rooting for people to be disappointed by Kickstarter projects and for the whole Kickstarter system to fall apart. What's the deal here? Is it just someone setting themselves up to say "I told you so!" later, so that they can seem smart? Is it some kind of astroturfing?

      We've had investment firms and real-estate agents and game publishers and everyone else scamming our money for years. We keep giving them money. Game publishers put out bad games, and we waste money buying them, but that doesn't make us question whether the retail model "bubble" is going to burst. We don't say, "There are a lot of investors losing money in the stock market, and a lot of investors are getting angry. When is the stock market fad going to end?" The big difference with Kickstarter is that it's not all about giving money and control to people who are already rich and powerful.

      There isn't *that much* of a difference if I buy the latest Tim Schafer game from a major publisher and it turns out to stink, or if I fund Tim Schafer's Kickstarter campaign and get the game "for free" and the game turns out to stink. Really, there are 2 differences: (a) if the publisher makes the game first, I can read the review before I buy; and (b) in the kickstarter model, Tim Schafer probably has more creative control. Therefore, the whole thing comes down to the question, "Do I generally trust Tim Schafer to make a good game?"

      • I was going to post something along these lines...

        What's the deal here? Is it just someone setting themselves up to say "I told you so!" later, so that they can seem smart? Is it some kind of astroturfing?

        ...then saw that you already did, so was going to mod you up... only to see that I can't mod or have no mod points to mod with.

        It's a combination of "I told you so!" and news sites just wanting to drive 'bad news' in general. Bad news gets more eyes. More comments. More facebook likes. More tweets. A

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well, schafer doesn't even need to provide you with the game in the kickstarter model.

        secondly, if the game stinks so bad that it's consumer fraud(laden with malware, whatever), you've signed out of your consumer protection - which you shoudn't be able to do.

        sooner or later the model will get some global rules, which should be good since that would help with some scams. otherwise running online scams will become a free for all legally.

    • by eggstasy (458692)

      The web was always seen as the future, and here we are, after the biggest boom and bust I can remember, where some companies were 1000% overvalued. See: Gartner Hype Cycle.

      http://sembassy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/gartner-hype-cycle-2012.gif [sembassy.com]

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      Consider them a narcissistic macrodouche who hates it like they hate themselves.

    • Agreed. Mass media is optimized for getting you to watch/buy the thing, not to like it. They get the same payoff regardless of whether you passively tolerate their production or really love it. Firefly's a good example. It didn't take off, but the people that liked it really got into it. I imagine they would have funded season 2 easily if it was on Kickstarter. Maybe the fact that they're not directly responsible to anyone will lead to trouble, but I'm hoping my donation to the Wasteland project will resu
    • by grumbel (592662)

      Yep, the only problem with Kickstarter right now seems to be that it's a little to popular. After the Doublefine Adventure success a lot of other game projects jumped on the train and a lot of them are already struggling to make it to their goal, as its simply to hard to get much publicity when there are so projects. The Sherlock Holmes adventure [kickstarter.com] for example failed, even so it asked for far less money and seemed like a reasonable project. When you already have Doublefine, Larry, Wasteland, Jane Jensen and s

  • by multiben (1916126) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:32PM (#39921035)
    One of the things that makes this sort of funding different is that a vast majority of pledgers are contributing very modest sums of money. Can you really get pissed off if you lose $50 in a venture? For a lot of people this sort of funding gives them the chance to participate in something they would otherwise have never got an opportunity to be involved in. I think that what we will see is a refinement of the system and people maybe being a little more selective and those who are seeking funding becoming more professional. I do believe that in some form or another it is here to stay.
    • Can you really get pissed off if you lose $50 in a venture?

      I dunno, judging by some of the comment threads I've read on Kickstarter, there's a lot of talk about class action lawsuits on projects that seem to be going belly up. This talk is championed by people who "only" invested $50 or so, but it seems to be more of an issue of principle, or maybe just a lack of anything else going on in their lives.

    • 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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:33PM (#39921045)

    Does anyone want to start a Kickstarter project to replace Kickstarter?

  • by yerktoader (413167) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:35PM (#39921075) Homepage
    Kickstarter would never lie to us. Kickstarter wouldn't hit us or cheat. Kickstarter is complex and brooding, and sometimes it has trouble expressing it's emotions is all...

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to ice this bruise. I accidentally fell into the door.
  • 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

    • As a game dev, what I just heard was: Insist on Single Player Games! That's fine, but you want the game closed source at least initially if it's got multi-player components. Security through obscurity is the ONLY security we have. It's not about the game being insecure. With traditional security stuff you're not trying to prevent the client machine from subverting its own operations. With single player stuff, sure, fine, cheat all you want, it doesn't spoil the game for anyone else. However, EVERY expe

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        that's not true. online games can have open source and security.

        it's just that you wouldn't send anything to the players machine the player wasn't supposed to be able to seed nor would you accept any input from the player the player shouldn't be able to give to the game world - these are things which imho should be the driving factors for new online games anyways.

        sure, it makes creating bots possibly part of the game. but that just dictates that the gameplay should be harder to bot and everyone would be on

  • by Heliosphere1 (2620037) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:44PM (#39921205)
    A while ago I started developing an indie Elite-like game (yes, it runs on Linux...). I'm funding it out of my personal savings (scary...) but I've had Kickstarter recommended to me by a number of people as a funding alternative. I know very little about it. The indie oriented spirit of the place looked nice enough. I've seen other projects in the genre I'm developing that aren't as far along as mine raise significant funding on Kickstarter, but I've held off because of a few things that are unclear to me. For one, if I funded the development of my project in this way, what happens if something prevents the project from being completed? The Kickstarter info says there is no guarantee that a finished product will be produced, so nominally "nothing happens", but there are large risks involved with developing an indie game with its own custom engine from scratch. Many start, few succeed. I think I would find it quite ethically difficult to live with if I accepted people's money to make something, and for whatever reason wasn't able to complete the project to my or their satisfaction. Even if it is only a small amount from each person, I'd end up feeling pretty miserable if they paid it expecting a finished project which never came to pass. I was never able to find any info about whether a mechanism exists to return funding if projects cannot be completed.
    • Yes and No
      Since the money will already have been spent, most developers would not want to throw more money after bad even if it were right.
      But I imagine that the KSs might be able to sue the developer for damages over his breaking of the contract.

    • First, don't build a game engine.

      Second, the ethics is this: You have to make a good faith effort to achieve the goal you are getting contributions for. You have to use the contributions on things that will materially contribute to the project at hand. If you try and fail, you're ethical. If you spend the money on unrelated things or are extremely incompetent with spending ("Hey guys, I used all of your money to buy some magic beans!") then you're unethical.

      • by am 2k (217885)

        First, don't build a game engine.

        I personally don't have an issue with him building a game engine, but it should be the only project there :)

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          the world doesn't need a single game engine more that isn't coupled to a game. there's way too many of them already.

          and imaginative games tend to need the engines customized to the moon anyways. it's a lot better usually if the game and the engine are built hand in hand. the world could need another good elite clone, but not a freelancer clone you could do with for example valve's engine(there really aren't that many engines that support planets in solar systems in galaxies like frontier first encounter..).

    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      Lots of troll answers here...

      Serious answer, so that you can fulfill your promise: add a clause about the game saying "I promise to release this game to the public if funded OR if I can't for some unforseen circumstance, release all assets including source code and art into [public domain or CC or your license you want here]"

    • by Zeussy (868062) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:39PM (#39921913) Homepage
      I got my game initially crowd funded. If you are worried about something happening to you and being unable to finish a project, that just says to me: "I am not really committed". If this game is your love and your passion, the money is to help you concentrate on this passion, and you will finish it. If it is just something you like doing, it is not really enough. If your worry is about being hit by a bus, shit happens, deal with it.

      Next up, if you are serious about crowd funding, and want to get a large amount of money (i.e enough to live on for a year or 2, hire some contractors for work outside your skill set). My 2 bits of simple advice are, build a community. Crowd funding is about getting the community to help you make a game that they want (both you and your community should be wanting the same game). Don't just put it on kickstarter I hope they come. You need a community first. My second bit of advice, is if you are an unproven games developer, build some sort of vertical slice of the game, to a high standard. (E.g. a demo of just ship to ship combat, nothing more.). This is to show case you and your team (if applicable) skills, to help build trust that you can produce this game.
    • by Ocker3 (1232550)
      I'm pretty sure Kickstarter can do Rounds of funding, you could do it this way, update the goals for each round and not start a new round until you need further funds. With the right sort of rewards and the right sort of progress reports, you should be able to keep people interested and the project going without taking money for something you haven't done and/or won't do.
  • But it all depends on how big the failed projects are and how big the failure is.
    I image they are legally obliged to deliver so I imagine all/most failed projects will deliver something, if what they deliver is worth anything that will be the question.
    And of course KS could be used to scam, we have no way of kn ow if the developer has any intention of delivering.

    That is why in my opinion KS is best for known developers wanting to do bigger then normal projects, have more freedom, or to fund project that pub

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Monday May 07, 2012 @06:49PM (#39921271)

    ... projects were successful to begin with. There is a lot of negative gamer sentiment that many beloved older games and genre's stopped being produced by big publishers because the publishers deemed they were 'dead' or they just wouldn't yield the kinds of profits they want to keep shareholders happy.

    It doesn't help that many modern games have been butchered (in terms of functionality, LAN, etc) or chained to DRM and always online connections.

  • 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].

    • Kelsey and Schneier weren't the first either; libertarian economists had been advocating variants on the scheme since at least the late eighties:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assurance_contract [wikipedia.org]

      Tabarrok's dominant assurance contacts are an improvement on the concept which I think has potential, but currently there's a lot of regulation (intended for conventional investment) that makes it problematic to implement. Kickstarter has had to specify very clearly that kickstarter donations mustn't be considered inve

  • Sure there have not been any spectacular failures yet. But there are ZERO guarantee's you will get your rewards. That is pretty clear. And it will become clearer the more failures there are.

    I don't personally know of any actually failures -

    Noted point on risk MusOpen, 621% funding based on slashdot exposure.
    Funded Sept 2010 - Still has not delivered.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Musopen/record-and-release-free-music-without-copyrights?ref=live
    http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/10/09/12/1350202/or

    • Yeah, Musopen is late... but not shockingly so. Recording music takes time, especially when it's done on terms like these (an important reason for the delay was that the first orchestra backed out at the last minute).

      If it turns out Aaron has been lying to us, and there are no master tapes, then we can talk about a scandal. But I don't think that will happen.

  • Kickstarter will hit mainstream when there are numerous failed projects or several high-profile scams. The fact that most of these are weeded out by proper feedback and loop-inclusion will likely reduce the number and keep the entire crowd-funding mechanism feasible.

    Also keep an eye out for high-profile competitors run by or funded by major companies as happened to Groupon (ie, Google Offers, LivingSocial, Amazon Deals, etc). When this happens, the likelyhood for the negative events increases - that can be associated with the mechanism can reflect poorly on the canonical brand as well.

  • anyone investing in anything should know there are risks involved. Anyone who knows anything about video game development knows that the completion, let alone success, of a video game is highly unpredictable. Knowing this, most people won't get that angry or upset at a project failing although there will certainly be lots of disappointment. We also aren't talking about the kind of investment where people are dumping their life savings into it or banking their retirement on a financial return on their inv
  • I'm not sure if Kickstarter is a "bubble" that will burst. But, I do think there might be a risk of Kickstarter plateauing. I could see two major reasons why kickstarter might start to stumble in the future:

    If there start to be more projects that fail. Projects can fail for a large variety of reasons - I work in the games industry, and I've seen a lot of college-age people try to get game projects started only to have them unravel because of conflicts within the group, or someone got too busy with sch
  • by Seven_Six_Two (1045228) on Monday May 07, 2012 @07:43PM (#39921947)
    that I know of. It's called Diaspora. It's a piece of social networking software with distributed servers, and the goal is for people to be able to share without having all of their data owned perpetually by some corporation. Their site has been running the software for a while now, and I was running a node too. It's open-sourced, so those people and companies who invested are free to continue the project if they wish. I suppose that's a bit different than just funding a game, because with Diaspora, the benefits are for everyone, and don't depend on some unknown release date. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/196017994/diaspora-the-personally-controlled-do-it-all-distr [kickstarter.com]
  • Guarantee? None. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:24PM (#39922333)
    That's right. There is no guarantee that you will get anything out of a project you've pledged money to, even if they go fifty times over their minimum and they've promised you your choice of knit keyboard cozies when they roll off the machines. And you know what? That's how Kickstarter's designed. You're not buying anything-- you've made a pledge, a donation toward getting the project staffed and completed. Promises of goods are 100% on the project team to deliver-- Kickstarter is totally, completely unrelated to fulfillment in any way, shape or form... which is going to cause some squawking when the first big project fails after it's been funded. There has already been at least one fraudulent computer game project, with pledge levels lifted entirely from another project, and photographs of the developers' HQ stolen from an unrelated company, that has fortunately been eliminated by the Kickstarter staff.

    Bottom line is, Kickstarter isn't a storefront. If you're going to pledge money to a project, don't drop more on it than you're comfortable giving away to a school fundraiser, or a local charity.

    • 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.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Monday May 07, 2012 @08:53PM (#39922605)
    Learn what an economic bubble is. When you give money to a Kickstarter project you want to support, it is a donation, not an investment. There can be no bubble, as there is no market to create an inflated value on anything.
  • by Sarusa (104047) on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:23PM (#39922835)

    You may see some disappointment and realignment of expectations, but this the basic idea is such a good one that I can't see it just *pop*ing out of existence.

    Look at Paypal - they treat their customers like shit on both sides (sellers and buyers) and will randomly seize accounts in hopes they can keep some of the money, yet almost everyone still uses them because it's too damn useful.

    Perhaps people will finally realize that Kickstarter means what it says - you are GIVING money to fund a project, and any rewards are gifts the project is GIVING you but not directly for your funding (wink wink), because US law won't let you invest in anything for reward without crippling regulation.

    A little more rigor in your Kickstarter project selection might be a good thing all around, but again, it's something we 'need', so the demand will be there on both sides. I've backed several projects and so far so good, but I take some care in selection and realize it's possible I'll get nothing in return. It's a donation, and anything you get back is surprise presents!

  • Steve Jackson games, Relaunching OGRE, it seems that Slashdot current editors dont thing the biggest Geek game of all time is news.
    Shadowrun as a video game under control of the guys that designed Shadowrun and not the morons that could not design a game if they wanted to at EA or SONY. Topped 2 million and will be released DRM free.

    And a ton more.

    Kickstarter is a way for people to get things made that the morons in executive board rooms refuse to make.

    • Steve Jackson games,

      If it's Steve Jackson games, why do they need Kickstarter...they're Steeve Jackson Games. I'm beginning to think that Kickstarter is just for those who've already hit the "big time" but want to make some kind of ultra-niche vanity project that appeals to their hardcore fanbase and thusly wouldn't actually SELL in todays market, without spending their own capital.

      Relaunching OGRE, it seems that Slashdot current editors dont thing the biggest Geek game of all time is news.

      OGRE? The biggest geek game of all time? OGRE? You have got to be kidding. Even in the glory days of tabletop gaming, which are loooong gone,

  • One year, four months.

  • What, is everything a bubble that has to burst?

  • Problem 1: The funding crowd does a poor job of sorting out wishful thinkers from people who can deliver. Just going by the projects where I have actually met the principals, the crowd often gets it wrong. I have seen people with no track record and who are clearly clueless about how to execute a major project raise huge amounts of funds, and yet people with track records and savvy who don't make the funding deadline. It's really sad to look at the disasters that have been funded and the stuff with grea

  • How about a reverse kickstarter where companies would release source to their old games/programs if they get enough money?

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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