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A Day Late and $28 Short

Alpha Colony’s (second) Kickstarter fell just below its $50,000 funding goal. The reasons why raise worthy questions about Kickstarter, and the psychology behind it, for both the creators and the backers.

When Alpha Colony’s Kickstarter ended on December 2, it was just $28 short of its $50,000 goal. Kickstarter’s terms are clear, however, and if you don’t reach the goal, all of the money disappears.

Alpha Colony was to be a modern building and trading sim with roots in gaming classic M.U.L.E.

It’s hard not to feel bad for would-be Alpha Colony developer DreamQuest Games, and wonder why the company didn’t find someone, anyone to kick in the last $28. The answer is hardly that simple. The conclusion of Alpha Colony’s second--yes, second--attempt at Kickstarting development raises serious questions about the psychology behind Kickstarter, and the policies that govern it.

“It’s a little frustrating,” said DreamQuest founder Christopher Williamson to me this week, one day after his project fell tragically short. “It’s quite ironic to get a Kotaku article now. I’m kind of like ‘It would have been really helpful to get that article a week or two ago.’ [laughs] The publicity is appreciated, but, really, too late to be of any real use. A little bummed about that.”

Even though it’s just $28 shy of what DreamQuest asked for, Kickstarter’s current policy has no flexibility for edge cases like Alpha Colony. The game didn’t meet its projected funding goal, and so DreamQuest gets none of it.

“Usually, the all-or-nothing funding model (ie: projects must earn all the funding they need or they will not gain access to any of it) works to prevent this from happening, but as it is, there is no way to reopen the project for pledges,” the company said in a statement.

Kickstarter funding tends to spike at the beginning, with excitement and dreaming at its absolute peak. This occurs again at the very end, during the dramatic race to the finish to hit the original goal or a new stretch one. Based on the day-one funding, though, it’s usually pretty easy to see how the project will match, exceed, or never touch its goal. Look at Double Fine Adventure’s funding arc, which reflects this reliable pattern on a much larger scale.

When Camoflaj sought $500,000 for its ambitious iOS project, Republique, the first day funding was poor, and the graph suggested Republique was headed for eventual disaster. An intense rallying campaign, padded by key reveals that included key Metal Gear voice actors contributing to the project, eventually turned the tide three-fourths through the campaign--much earlier than when the spike usually occurs for projects. It ended up netting an extra $55,512.

Now, take Alpha Colony’s first, failed Kickstarter, which included the M.U.L.E. license and, just liked Republique, asked for $500,000. DreamQuest managed to raise $101,472, but it was very hard to imagine it would ever hit $500,000. Williamson recognized Alpha Colony wouldn’t make it, and pulled the plug just hours before it failed.

Alpha Colony’s second Kickstarter project no longer had the M.U.L.E. license attached (instead, it was simply inspired by M.U.L.E.) and only asked for $50,000. Given it previously raised more than $100,000, this made some sense. A lack of attention the second time around, however, and mixed reaction by backers to a playable prototype, meant Alpha Colony’s second round struggled, and it wasn’t clear how it would play out.

The “why wouldn’t the developer or someone just kick in another $28?” question is all over the comments section of the now-failed Kickstarter project, and became a prevailing query on Twitter.

“I know people were posting [about that],” said Williamson. “It’s not like we were just, you know, all high and partying or something. [laughs] We were there in the final moments of the Kickstarter, watching everything happen and play out live. I had a friend who put in a last-minute pledge on our behalf to help us push over, and we just had too many people changing their bids.”

Kickstarter allows users to change the size of their pledges prior to a project’s deadline. Here's how it's outlined in the terms of service:

"Backers may increase, decrease, or cancel their pledge at any time during the fundraising campaign, except that they may not cancel or reduce their pledge if the campaign is in its final 24 hours and the cancellation or reduction would drop the campaign below its goal."

Often, users will increase their pledge to become part of another bracket of backer rewards, but Alpha Colony experienced potential players realizing the game might be a losing horse, and just pulled out. The project had not passed its goal, so it was within Kickstarter guidelines. Backers don’t lose any money for a project that fails to meet its funding goal, but this meant Williamson’s last minute plans to push the project over were for naught, due to last second shuffles from anxious backers.

When news of Alpha Colony’s Kickstarter woes spread on Twitter, several people suggested that Kickstarter could use an overtime policy for these edge cases. What if, provided a project was within a certain percentage of its funding goal within the final minutes, it received an extra 30 minutes or so for it to play out?

Williamson witnessed how this could have been helpful first-hand, with users trying to increase their pledge or contribute for the first time, and simply getting caught up in the process as time ran out. Such a policy change would include strict guidelines (an extra 30 minutes if a project’s within 1% in the last hour?), but it seems reasonable.

There has been no conversation between Kickstarter and Williamson about a change, and he has accepted his fate.

“I understand their policies are what they are,” he said. “I don’t really blame them for that. They’re doing their job, and we’re doing ours.”

My conversation with Williamson did reveal something potentially troubling.

Given Alpha Colony previously raised more than $100,000, Williamson told me he assumed it would be easy to hit that a second time around, and had scaled and budgeted his game within that range. If Alpha Colony had managed to raise $50,000, it would have just barely done so, and that came with big consequences.

“We had stretch goals all the way up to $300K, so really to build the game I wanted to build, I knew it would cost us $100K, $150K,” he said. “We came up with some last-minute matches and other ways to work around that, but I was legitimately concerned [about] a) having to drastically cut my game and make it a lot less of a game than I had envisioned it being to try being in budget or b) lose even more money on it. That wasn’t an “or,” I guess, that was an “and.” It was guaranteed I wasn’t going to make any money on it. So, in some ways, it’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise, perhaps, because, really, to do the game right, we really needed to raise more funds.”

There are two problems with this.

One, Williamson was disingenuous with his Kickstarter project, one built on inaccurate assumptions regarding his funding prospects. It ultimately proved misleading about the game he intended to (or wanted to) make. Backers were funding towards a $50,000 game they were told DreamQuest could pull this off for $50,000, and Williamson now admits that was not the case. He admits this when the project has now twice been unable to reach its funding goal, not after having access to the money and being forced to either make it work, or deliver a different game to backers.

Two, I also don’t blame Williamson for making that call. There is a murky, unpredictable psychological component to Kickstarter, and lessons from one project do not necessarily translate to another. Williamson gambled a lower funding goal would ensure Alpha Colony a funding trajectory to success. People like to back a winner, not a loser, and winners on Kickstarter are sometimes big winners. If Alpha Colony was destined to be funded, people are more likely to increase pledges, and folks on the fence might've chipped in to become part of the wave.

The line I’ve heard from more than one Kickstarter creator is to ask for roughly half as much as you want, since a successful Kickstarter is likely to sail well past its original goal, and potentially hit what you actually want or need. This is what Williamson figured would happen to Alpha Colony. He was wrong, and it makes you raise an eyebrow at any project’s original funding goal and what it means.

Take Sportsfriends, for example, which is asking for $150,000 (and by the looks of it, might not make it there). Johann Sebastian Joust is one of four games created by four different developers in four different ways that want to come together in a single package for PlayStation 3. None of the creators involved with those games have the expertise to port their games Sony’s platform, and the Kickstarter is largely about raising the exact amount of money needed to hire a programmer to do exactly that.

“I’m a little worried people will think it looks like too much,” said Joust creator Doug Wilson to me a few weeks back.

Unlike Alpha Colony, though, Sportsfriends appears to be asking for precisely what it needs, and little more. Jason Rohrer raised money for Diamond Trust of London the same way. Rohrer needed a certain amount of money to produce DS cartridges (he couldn’t disclose the exact amount because Nintendo wouldn't let him), and asked for no more. Each Kickstarter has different needs, but trust definitely plays a role in it. You don't know for sure whether a creator is asking for the "right" amount, but you have to trust you're being told some truths.

But, again, while what Williamson did was absolutely misleading, do I really blame him? Not really. It’s only weird, suspicious and a little gross because the Kickstarter didn’t make it, and Williamson actually admitted what his thinking was. Plenty of others have done the same, and had Alpha Colony made it, it wouldn't have come up.

It's something to think about.

Regardless, the future of Alpha Colony may be bright. Williamson has already heard from several individuals interested in making the game happen, and the resources spent on trying to make this one game happen, rather than focusing on the mobile board games that usually make DreamQuest money, has proved draining.

“It’s live and learn,” he said.

Same goes for the backers.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Edited by patrickklepek

When Alpha Colony’s Kickstarter ended on December 2, it was just $28 short of its $50,000 goal. Kickstarter’s terms are clear, however, and if you don’t reach the goal, all of the money disappears.

Alpha Colony was to be a modern building and trading sim with roots in gaming classic M.U.L.E.

It’s hard not to feel bad for would-be Alpha Colony developer DreamQuest Games, and wonder why the company didn’t find someone, anyone to kick in the last $28. The answer is hardly that simple. The conclusion of Alpha Colony’s second--yes, second--attempt at Kickstarting development raises serious questions about the psychology behind Kickstarter, and the policies that govern it.

“It’s a little frustrating,” said DreamQuest founder Christopher Williamson to me this week, one day after his project fell tragically short. “It’s quite ironic to get a Kotaku article now. I’m kind of like ‘It would have been really helpful to get that article a week or two ago.’ [laughs] The publicity is appreciated, but, really, too late to be of any real use. A little bummed about that.”

Even though it’s just $28 shy of what DreamQuest asked for, Kickstarter’s current policy has no flexibility for edge cases like Alpha Colony. The game didn’t meet its projected funding goal, and so DreamQuest gets none of it.

“Usually, the all-or-nothing funding model (ie: projects must earn all the funding they need or they will not gain access to any of it) works to prevent this from happening, but as it is, there is no way to reopen the project for pledges,” the company said in a statement.

Kickstarter funding tends to spike at the beginning, with excitement and dreaming at its absolute peak. This occurs again at the very end, during the dramatic race to the finish to hit the original goal or a new stretch one. Based on the day-one funding, though, it’s usually pretty easy to see how the project will match, exceed, or never touch its goal. Look at Double Fine Adventure’s funding arc, which reflects this reliable pattern on a much larger scale.

When Camoflaj sought $500,000 for its ambitious iOS project, Republique, the first day funding was poor, and the graph suggested Republique was headed for eventual disaster. An intense rallying campaign, padded by key reveals that included key Metal Gear voice actors contributing to the project, eventually turned the tide three-fourths through the campaign--much earlier than when the spike usually occurs for projects. It ended up netting an extra $55,512.

Now, take Alpha Colony’s first, failed Kickstarter, which included the M.U.L.E. license and, just liked Republique, asked for $500,000. DreamQuest managed to raise $101,472, but it was very hard to imagine it would ever hit $500,000. Williamson recognized Alpha Colony wouldn’t make it, and pulled the plug just hours before it failed.

Alpha Colony’s second Kickstarter project no longer had the M.U.L.E. license attached (instead, it was simply inspired by M.U.L.E.) and only asked for $50,000. Given it previously raised more than $100,000, this made some sense. A lack of attention the second time around, however, and mixed reaction by backers to a playable prototype, meant Alpha Colony’s second round struggled, and it wasn’t clear how it would play out.

The “why wouldn’t the developer or someone just kick in another $28?” question is all over the comments section of the now-failed Kickstarter project, and became a prevailing query on Twitter.

“I know people were posting [about that],” said Williamson. “It’s not like we were just, you know, all high and partying or something. [laughs] We were there in the final moments of the Kickstarter, watching everything happen and play out live. I had a friend who put in a last-minute pledge on our behalf to help us push over, and we just had too many people changing their bids.”

Kickstarter allows users to change the size of their pledges prior to a project’s deadline. Here's how it's outlined in the terms of service:

"Backers may increase, decrease, or cancel their pledge at any time during the fundraising campaign, except that they may not cancel or reduce their pledge if the campaign is in its final 24 hours and the cancellation or reduction would drop the campaign below its goal."

Often, users will increase their pledge to become part of another bracket of backer rewards, but Alpha Colony experienced potential players realizing the game might be a losing horse, and just pulled out. The project had not passed its goal, so it was within Kickstarter guidelines. Backers don’t lose any money for a project that fails to meet its funding goal, but this meant Williamson’s last minute plans to push the project over were for naught, due to last second shuffles from anxious backers.

When news of Alpha Colony’s Kickstarter woes spread on Twitter, several people suggested that Kickstarter could use an overtime policy for these edge cases. What if, provided a project was within a certain percentage of its funding goal within the final minutes, it received an extra 30 minutes or so for it to play out?

Williamson witnessed how this could have been helpful first-hand, with users trying to increase their pledge or contribute for the first time, and simply getting caught up in the process as time ran out. Such a policy change would include strict guidelines (an extra 30 minutes if a project’s within 1% in the last hour?), but it seems reasonable.

There has been no conversation between Kickstarter and Williamson about a change, and he has accepted his fate.

“I understand their policies are what they are,” he said. “I don’t really blame them for that. They’re doing their job, and we’re doing ours.”

My conversation with Williamson did reveal something potentially troubling.

Given Alpha Colony previously raised more than $100,000, Williamson told me he assumed it would be easy to hit that a second time around, and had scaled and budgeted his game within that range. If Alpha Colony had managed to raise $50,000, it would have just barely done so, and that came with big consequences.

“We had stretch goals all the way up to $300K, so really to build the game I wanted to build, I knew it would cost us $100K, $150K,” he said. “We came up with some last-minute matches and other ways to work around that, but I was legitimately concerned [about] a) having to drastically cut my game and make it a lot less of a game than I had envisioned it being to try being in budget or b) lose even more money on it. That wasn’t an “or,” I guess, that was an “and.” It was guaranteed I wasn’t going to make any money on it. So, in some ways, it’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise, perhaps, because, really, to do the game right, we really needed to raise more funds.”

There are two problems with this.

One, Williamson was disingenuous with his Kickstarter project, one built on inaccurate assumptions regarding his funding prospects. It ultimately proved misleading about the game he intended to (or wanted to) make. Backers were funding towards a $50,000 game they were told DreamQuest could pull this off for $50,000, and Williamson now admits that was not the case. He admits this when the project has now twice been unable to reach its funding goal, not after having access to the money and being forced to either make it work, or deliver a different game to backers.

Two, I also don’t blame Williamson for making that call. There is a murky, unpredictable psychological component to Kickstarter, and lessons from one project do not necessarily translate to another. Williamson gambled a lower funding goal would ensure Alpha Colony a funding trajectory to success. People like to back a winner, not a loser, and winners on Kickstarter are sometimes big winners. If Alpha Colony was destined to be funded, people are more likely to increase pledges, and folks on the fence might've chipped in to become part of the wave.

The line I’ve heard from more than one Kickstarter creator is to ask for roughly half as much as you want, since a successful Kickstarter is likely to sail well past its original goal, and potentially hit what you actually want or need. This is what Williamson figured would happen to Alpha Colony. He was wrong, and it makes you raise an eyebrow at any project’s original funding goal and what it means.

Take Sportsfriends, for example, which is asking for $150,000 (and by the looks of it, might not make it there). Johann Sebastian Joust is one of four games created by four different developers in four different ways that want to come together in a single package for PlayStation 3. None of the creators involved with those games have the expertise to port their games Sony’s platform, and the Kickstarter is largely about raising the exact amount of money needed to hire a programmer to do exactly that.

“I’m a little worried people will think it looks like too much,” said Joust creator Doug Wilson to me a few weeks back.

Unlike Alpha Colony, though, Sportsfriends appears to be asking for precisely what it needs, and little more. Jason Rohrer raised money for Diamond Trust of London the same way. Rohrer needed a certain amount of money to produce DS cartridges (he couldn’t disclose the exact amount because Nintendo wouldn't let him), and asked for no more. Each Kickstarter has different needs, but trust definitely plays a role in it. You don't know for sure whether a creator is asking for the "right" amount, but you have to trust you're being told some truths.

But, again, while what Williamson did was absolutely misleading, do I really blame him? Not really. It’s only weird, suspicious and a little gross because the Kickstarter didn’t make it, and Williamson actually admitted what his thinking was. Plenty of others have done the same, and had Alpha Colony made it, it wouldn't have come up.

It's something to think about.

Regardless, the future of Alpha Colony may be bright. Williamson has already heard from several individuals interested in making the game happen, and the resources spent on trying to make this one game happen, rather than focusing on the mobile board games that usually make DreamQuest money, has proved draining.

“It’s live and learn,” he said.

Same goes for the backers.

Staff
Edited by xdaknightx69

sucks

they should have donated it them self's.

Posted by G0rd0nFr33m4n

Haha $28.

Posted by morrelloman

meet goal not meant in paragraph 4. GB community editor.

Posted by PimblyCharles

If I was the developer, I would have just had a family member or friend pitch in the last $28

Posted by Elow

Why didn't the developer just make a fake account and make a $30ish payment in the last minute(s)?

Posted by afrokola

@xdaknightx69: You aren't allowed to, it'll cancel out the entire thing. However, if you had a couple of friends, you could have asked them to donate like any sane person would have.

Posted by EarlessShrimp

It's actually kind of echoing some of the emotions of Indie Game the Movie which I finally watched last night. Pretty moving stuff

Posted by patrickklepek

@morrelloman said:

meet goal not meant in paragraph 4. GB community editor.

achievement unlocked

Staff
Edited by MachoFantastico

I seriously think Kickstarter will fade away next year, developers won't trust it unless they're an established name with a fan base they can rely on to help fund the project. I don't think Kickstarter would even be a thing without Double Fine, it will be short lived but some potentially great games could come of it.

My personal hope is that the concept is developed upon, with a better understanding of the risks, because the idea of fans help funding a game so it can be designed with those fans in mind is a wonderful thing.

Fascinating read, feel for those developers.

Posted by Thoseposers

I knew when i clicked this article there would the sportsfriends thing would be brought up. i guess we should expect yet another article about that one when it fails

Posted by I_Stay_Puft

That's seriously a lot of money and dreams lost by a measly 28 bucks. So you can't post the same project twice on kickstarter? I wonder if they tweaked something minor or changed the name would that be viable as a new project?

Posted by KevinK

Did comment #1 or #4 even read the article? They had a friend who pledged what they needed to put them over the top, but when it looked like it wouldn't go through, people who had already pledged pulled their pledges back to $1 or whatever and that's what sunk them.

Posted by SuperWristBands

heh, that title was the first thing I thought of when I saw the news the other day

Posted by The_Nubster

@PimblyCharles said:

If I was the developer, I would have just had a family member or friend pitch in the last $28

The money was constantly changing and going up and down in the last few hours. Think of it like three basketball hoops which are all identical, and they're moving all over the place, and you have to make the shot from across the entire court, and you have to get it in a specific basket. Then, when you miss, someone says, "Why didn't you just make the shot?"

It's not like they were staring at the last $28 and hoping that someone would pitch it.

Edited by DigTheDoug

@xdaknightx69 said:

sucks

they should have donated it them self's.

Wow, it's like you didn't even read any of the article at all except the headline...

For all the people saying the same thing who also apparently didn't read the article:

The “why wouldn’t the developer or someone just kick in another $28?” question is all over the comments section of the now-failed Kickstarter project, and became a prevailing query on Twitter.

“I know people were posting [about that],” said Williamson. “It’s not like we were just, you know, all high and partying or something. [laughs] We were there in the final moments of the Kickstarter, watching everything happen and play out live. I had a friend who put in a last-minute pledge on our behalf to help us push over, and we just had too many people changing their bids.”

They did.

Posted by Dogma

@Elow said:

Why didn't the developer just make a fake account and make a $30ish payment in the last minute(s)?

The article clearly says that they kind of did that but they could not compensate all backers that backed out at the same time.

Posted by Morello

The biggest point is that the $50,000 they wanted (and which their outside backers would be doubling) would not have been enough to produce the game - they wanted to reach at least the $100,000 level on Kickstarter that they reached last time they tried. In essence had they reached their $50,000 target (remember they wanted $500,000 from their last Kickstarter attempt) they would have been unable to make the game - and that means that everyone who pledged would have been ripped off.

RPS had an article up about this a few days ago which is worth a read.

Posted by xite

Missing by $28 isn't the point. If you read the article the developer states that he expected over $100k from backers and $50k alone wouldn't be enough. Donating the 30 bux himself just wouldn't cut it.

Edited by CaptainFake

I've heard some reports that if you actually need [amount of money] to complete your project, raising that exact amount via Kickstarter can create a big pile of problems. Kickstarter and Amazon take their cut right away, which is something like 10% of the money you raise, so you're immediately below the actual amount of cash your project requires. And then you might find yourself owing an even bigger chunk of that amount in taxes at the end of the fiscal year.

I guess I understand the psychology-driven strategy of asking for even less money than your project actually needs, hoping that your Kickstarter will catch fire and raise money through the roof, but if the project will actually require $100,000 and you raise $50,001 and end up only being able to use $35,000 of that to complete your goals, it seems like you're basically crossing your fingers that you don't end up blatantly defrauding every person that backs your Kickstarter.

Unless I'm reading the article incorrectly, it seems like DreamQuest dodged an enormous bullet by not crossing their fundraising goal.

Posted by l3illyl3ob

The time the kickstarter ended also played a pretty big part. The funding period ended at 2am Eastern. I have to imagine that if it began and ended during prime time hours, more people would have been closely following its end and someone would have stepped up at the last second.

Posted by Dberg

Admittedly I only read the lead paragraph here, but if a project on Kickstarter is just barely at its mark by the skin of its teeth, then that kind of proves it's not popular enough. In this case, if none of the bidders could be bothered kicking in an extra 28 bucks, what does that say about the viability of the project itself?

Posted by Phatmac

This sucks. :(

Posted by mnzy
@Thoseposers said:

I knew when i clicked this article there would the sportsfriends thing would be brought up. i guess we should expect yet another article about that one when it fails

Do you have a few minutes to talk about the lord Johann Sebastian Joust?
Posted by BlazeHedgehog

The wildest thing to me is apparently this Alpha Colony guy lives right here in my town, and I don't consider it to be a very large town.

Posted by jozzy

@CaptainFake said:

I've heard some reports that if you actually need [amount of money] to complete your project, raising that exact amount via Kickstarter can create a big pile of problems. Kickstarter and Amazon take their cut right away, which is something like 10% of the money you raise, so you're immediately below the actual amount of cash your project requires. And then you might find yourself owing an even bigger chunk of that amount in taxes at the end of the fiscal year.

I guess I understand the psychology-driven strategy of asking for even less money than your project actually needs, hoping that your Kickstarter will catch fire and raise money through the roof, but if the project will actually require $100,000 and you raise $50,001 and end up only being able to use $35,000 of that to complete your goals, it seems like you're basically crossing your fingers that you don't end up blatantly defrauding every person that backs your Kickstarter.

Unless I'm reading the article incorrectly, it seems like DreamQuest dodged an enormous bullet by not crossing their fundraising goal.

They absolutely dodged a bullet, read the rockpapershotgun article (which makes this one a little redundant) where he says he is sort of relieved it didn't make it. I am pretty sure he is extremely relieved, but doesn't want to say it that strongly.

Edited by Shivoa

Imagine what people did before Kickstarter where a $100k loan could be applied for in a bank, given a developed enough corporate plan and credit history, or people could save up and live on Ramen (and the generosity of friends and family) to achieve their dream. At the end of it then the product would be worth selling and through that infinite duplication of a developed product the initial costs could be recouped (hopefully, based on ability to find a market and perceived quality).

Seems strange that Kickstarter has turned this into indies who expect to be paid 100% up front for working on a project so the backers take all of the risk for development and own none of the (infinitely duplicable) final product at the end. At some point that transfer of risk from artist to backer will poison the market to all but the most dedicated and affluent backers (except for the big pitches from known names).

Posted by lamperIIe

I'm glad I went with the tiny scope, low budget approach. Having the opportunity to complete a project hinge on the final hours of a Kickstarter campaign would kill me.

Posted by Ares42

The more I hear about Kickstarter, the more I think it's just an awful thing. You can talk about how great it is that these "public darling" projects gets done when no investor would support them, but the whole businessmodel is just so damn scummy.

Online
Posted by MatthewMeadows

@BlazeHedgehog: wow man, that's wild

Posted by Zaapp1

I think opening up the donations for another half hour is odd, because then you'll just get the same situation happening a half-hour later. It'd be better if they just said, "Okay, once the time is up, the people running the Kickstarter have 24 hours to pony up the difference themselves, no outside donations accepted."

Posted by benu302000

"But, again, while what Williamson did was absolutely misleading, do I really blame him? Not really."

I do. Seriously. The way kickstarter is meant to work is that you propose a project, and then you budget what you think it would actually take to fund it. You should be suspicious of any game on kickstarter that only wants 50k or less, unless they're very nearly finished development.

Asking for 50k, when you really need 150k sounds like you're looking for a fucking cash grab in the event that you can't make your real (secret) goal. "If I can't get the 150k, at least I'll have the 50k to... go on vacation? shove up my ass?"

Who knows? Because you're not making a game with it, or at least not the game you promised.

Not saying that Kickstarter shouldn't be risky, but we need to call out the dishonest actors when we find them, and be sure not to give them a nickel in the future.

Online
Posted by beepmachine

That sucks, but I don't think the margin of how close it is should change the fact that it simply didn't make it. The concept of asking for half of what you need sounds kind of crazy to me. If you only get that half amount, you're locked into making the game and stuck with half of what you really need. You don't get to make the game you want, and the backers get an inferior game.

The stuff you bring up about the changing and withdrawing of pledges is probably my biggest issue with kickstarter. I almost feel that you shouldn't be able to change your pledge, unless the creator changes the tiers or something.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

Kickstarter tends to make it really clear when there is a product that enough people want to justify putting work into it. If you look at Wasteland 2 or Project Eternity, there is a clearly a huge audience that misses that type of gameplay and is willing to invest to bring that back. Those genres are dead to publishers like Ubisoft, EA and Activision, because they're not going to be multi-million copy sellers. On the other hand, they will likely sell 300-500k copies beyond the Kickstarter process, and that's great for a smaller development house without a lot of overhead. Word of mouth on games like FTL and Grimlock can work wonders in the online community.

It's unfortunate that any Kickstarter fails, especially ones headed by good, hard working developers that want to make a game that people will play. Hopefully they'll have another chance and appeal to a larger group. This definitely seems interesting. It's also the first time I've seen anything about it.

Posted by Vampir

The ability to back out of a pledge seems kind of counter to the whole idea of a pledge to me.

Posted by marbleCmoney

I found the part about them only asking for half of what they thought they really needed rather insightful. They can't be the only guys doing that, and it's definitely something to think about for potential backers of other projects on Kickstarter. Nice post, Patrick.

Online
Edited by CornBREDX

Putting in an attempt a second time for this I feel there was something they failed to remember. 
 
After failing the first time, a majority of those backers will lose faith (even if they like you) that you can succeed. Most of those backers wont come back. If you don't do it the first time, it seems psychologically unsound to try again at a different amount. You aren't going to get those same people back again. 
 
As for funding goals being low and whatnot, that seems fine to them as I heard they had a potential investor who would match the amount they raised (so if they raised 50k they would get 50k on top of that from an investor or whatever). Ya, they would have amazon fees and taxes and what not but they would have still made an alright amount. Enough to make the game they want? Probably not. 
 
It feels like both times they missed the mark in a lot of ways on how to sell their project to people. There was no interest (which is why no one reported on it) and that's why it failed to reach it's goal both times. I know most gaming sites also seem uninterested in Kickstarter campaigns unless they do something amazing with it or have big names in the industry attached. 
 
In a lot of ways its still similar to pitching to a publisher, only you have to do it to a large amount of people. You have to make them want to play your game (in the case of publishers they'd have to believe people would want to play your game), and believe its worth spending money on. Just putting a project on kickstarter is no guarantee you'll raise money.

Edited by RecSpec

It's harsh, but now I kinda wish they did hit the 50k goal, just so they would have to try  
and make ends meet with it. Why would you lie about what you need for your game if you 
know it's going to make development hell for yourself and your team.

Posted by ERoBB

Yeah, I came here to say what everyone in these comments already has. I have no idea how it's possible to fall short by thirty dollars. None of the developers have friends or family that could toss in a fifty?

Posted by SiN13

I feel like a lot of the lesser know Kickstarters are only getting funded based on support from the various video game blogs posting stories to bring attention to them.

Posted by CaptainFake

@RecSpec said:

It's harsh, but now I kinda wish they did hit the 50k goal, just so they would have to try and make ends meet with it.

As much schadenfreude as we might enjoy from watching the devs reap what they've sown in that situation, I'd be more inclined to feel sorry for everyone who contributed money and ended up with nothing, or at best an inferior product.

Posted by kkotd

Some of you seriously can't read, can you? People pulled out of the project in the last minutes / seconds and some people who wanted to donate, didn't do so fast enough. In the end, the final number fell $28 short. It wasn't a case of the dev not wanting to throw in or being too cheap to fund his own game, or anything like that. At the end of the day, this was an unfortunate circumstance that showed some glaring issues with Kickstarter's policies, and how it can royally screw a dev over if people don't put their money where their mouth is. It's kinda like the Ebay auctions for Twinkies, a bunch of those $300-500 bids were done with fake accounts, probably by some kids that thought it would be funny to say they were the top bidder on the 'last box of twinkies ever', now just imagine if someone did that on Kickstarter? Casually used a paypal account or credit card to pledge $500 to a kickstarter, just to say, 'I helped the gaming industry! Derp!' and then pulled out in the last half-hour? Obviously numbers, projections, hell even the Kickstarter page was glitching out when I was watching it. At one point, it looked like they were $12 away... and then a second later were $112 away and then $48 away... It was insane that the site never said they went over. Maybe the pulling out was less nefarious than I assume and were more along the lines of what Patrick thinks, but regardless, Kickstarter needs to figure out a new way to stabilize the last 15-30mins of a projects campaign.

That said, I think DQ did dodge a bullet by not getting the funding. It would have been the end of the studio en masse. They would have felt obligated to make the game and even if it ever made it out of Alpha, the studio would have been bankrupt by the end of it. So here's to DQ, best of luck, hope you find a niche that'll get funded and make a great game when you do.

Posted by CaptainFake

@kkotd said:

Some of you seriously can't read, can you?

At least a few commenters have admitted they only read the first paragraph or two.

Missing the funding goal by $28 isn't really what this article is about. Anyone who doesn't read the rest is missing the real content.

Posted by RecSpec
@CaptainFake: It's more of a shot at Kickstarter than the developer. It started off as a good idea, but has become an elaborate form of panhandling as time passed. 
Posted by ChrisTaran

@Thoseposers said:

I knew when i clicked this article there would the sportsfriends thing would be brought up. i guess we should expect yet another article about that one when it fails

Oh, god I hope. It will be the first JS Joust article I'm happy to see.

Posted by BrianP

I don't really get why people would pull their funding when they thought it wouldn't make the total. Wouldn't you just not be charged if it didn't make it? Seems like a superfluous step.

Posted by arch4non

$28? Are you serious?

They couldn't have dropped that in themselves just to meet the deadline?

Posted by Oddy4000

Good article Patrick. It was obvious from reading the Kotaku story why he didn't push the Kickstarter over himself. He would have been stuck with fulfilling all the rewards without the money he needed to actually finish the game.

I do think you're giving this creator too much credit - He low-balled a goal to manipulate the system in a way that was deceitful to the people backing him. People shouldn't be using "less than minimum" numbers as their minimum goals.

Posted by lizzard2

Ok i'm confused now ,dosn't this mean they hade 24 hours to put in the missing ammount?

"Backers may increase, decrease, or cancel their pledge at any time during the fundraising campaign, except that they may not cancel or reduce their pledge if the campaign is in its final 24 hours and the cancellation or reduction would drop the campaign below its goal."

Posted by Devil240Z

@arch4non said:

$28? Are you serious?

They couldn't have dropped that in themselves just to meet the deadline?

DID YOU EVEN READ THE ARTICLE!!!!

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