The dark side of Kickstarter

Kickstarter Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have become quite popular recently. A lot of RPG publishers and designers have adopted Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services to raise money for their products. I have backed a couple of projects on both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and overall I am quite happy how things turned out so far.

But alas where there is light there’s also darkness. Some time ago I had a post called “How not to run a Kickstarter to fund your RPG”, where I gave some examples of what I consider big no-noes. You also might have heard about the problems the people behind the upcoming iOS/Android game “Star Command”. After paying for the backer rewards and taxes they basically had not much money left to actually make the game. It looks like they managed to get back on track after all, but there’s some real risk that a badly planned crowdfunding effort might stop a project instead of actually kickstart it.

Another problem I’ve seen is that there are sometimes issues with fulfilling the promises made. What we backers often forget is that there’s always a risk involved when be back a project. If the project starter fails to fulfill his or her promises or takes the money and runs, we can’t do much about it. Especially when it comes to bonus goals things can become frustrating quickly. I know of one Kickstarter project that has ended almost a year ago where people are still waiting for the stuff promised when the bonus goals have been reached. A lack of recent updates isn’t making thing easier either.

But not getting some bonus stuff promised is not as bad as when over the year after the fundraiser has ended people are still waiting for the release of the game they helped to fund even though it was supposedly done (aside from layout and printing) when the crowdfunding started.

Of course we never know what went wrong in these cases. In most cases it’s probably not ill will of the people involved but just bad planning, personal issues or health issues that got in the way or what we would call “force majeure”. But with every Kickstarter you support there’s a certain risk that even if it meets its goals the backers might not get what they hoped for.

That’s something we should always keep in mind when putting our hard-earned money on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love the idea of crowdfunding but we have to keep in mind that there’s always risk involved. It’s not as if you have a legally binding contract with the project starter. You basically donate money to a cause with limited to no influence on the outcome.