#1 Posted by RedCream (694 posts) -

I suddenly had an epiphany during the discussions about Kickstarter on the Bombcast. Hypothetically, if someone launched a project on the Kickstarter platform and exceeded funding requirements at least five times are they obliged to make the quality of the game better? For example: FTL's goal is only $10,000 but then they received an overwhelming support from backers garnering $200,000 worth of money. Will it be unethical if they limit their game development funds at $10,000 spend another $10,000 for other expenses and keep the rest for themselves?

#2 Posted by HoboZero (214 posts) -

Bloom! You brilliant bastard!

Step 1! We find the worst idea for a game ever! A sure fire flop!

Step 2! We kickstart the crap out of it and raise a million bucks!

3! We get the worst developers and writers possible to build it!

Step 4! We release on Steam, and before you can say "War Z", Step 5! We get pulled from Steam!

Then we take the money and jet off to Rio!! Ohhhh Rio... Rio by the Sea-o....

#3 Posted by StarvingGamer (8552 posts) -

@HoboZero: Why did you have to pick the bad version?

#4 Posted by HoboZero (214 posts) -

I looked for the Zero Mostel pic but was in too much of a hurry :( For penance I will tear up my cardboard belt

#5 Posted by Ramone (2976 posts) -

I wouldn't call it unethical.

#6 Posted by Kevin_Cogneto (1168 posts) -

It's not like $180,000 is that much money. Sure, I wouldn't mind having an extra few hundred grand in my bank account, but it's hardly enough to run off and live a life of luxury in the Carribean. Hell, it's not even close to being enough to modestly retire on. If, theoretically, there's enough interest and excitement over the game you're making to raise several hundred thousand dollars, then why in the world wouldn't you invest that money in your own project? Because there's a very good chance there'll be a hell of a lot more money where that came from. Given the choice between keeping the cash for yourself and buying a Ferrari, or spending the money on the project, improving your product and increasing the value of your game, your intellectual property, and your studio multiple times over, you'd be a fool not to pursue that kind of relatively low-risk / high-reward investment, especially when it's other peoples' money. Once you start selling your game, the potential sales you could generate is going to far outstrip the money you could've run off with. Cashing a giant check and going on a spending spree is a one-time prospect. Being the sole owner of a successful business with a preexisting Kickstarter fanbase? That's million bucks.

And I know the comparison to The Producers was a joke, but seeing as Bialystok's scam hinged on hiding just how much money they'd raised so they could keep it all for themselves, and seeing as Kickstarter surfaces that number in a very public way, I don't think it's worth worrying about. You know they raised $200,000, and you know what a $200,000 game looks like. Ultimately it's up to you to keep the projects that you've backed accountable.

#7 Posted by Hunter5024 (5961 posts) -

They budget for what they want to do and if they make a lot of extra money then I guess the rest is just money in their pocket. I doubt Anita Sarkeesian will make a 150,000 dollar video series.

#8 Posted by Amafi (923 posts) -

Of course it's not unethical to keep within the original scope of the project. As long as you actually produce the game/watch/pet rock you said you would in the kickstarter, preferably on time and get the reward tiers to people who paid for them there's nothing wrong with that at all.

If a 2 man team pitches a tiny game idea and it gets overwhelming support it doesn't mean the team or the idea are well suited for that much bigger budget.

#9 Posted by Gamer_152 (14109 posts) -

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

Moderator
#10 Posted by Kevino13 (127 posts) -

It's definitely unethical, but I don't think there's a stipulation on Kickstarter that demands every dollar over the initial demand be put toward making the product better. I mean, technically they don't even "have" to deliver on the product itself due to Kickstarter's stance on the money being a donation, not a purchase.

#11 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

You mean pulling an Anita Sarkeesian?

#12 Edited by Amafi (923 posts) -

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

#13 Edited by CaLe (4052 posts) -

No. It's not your fault that many people are giving you money. You are just a victim of circumstance.

#14 Posted by Gamer_152 (14109 posts) -

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

Why is it unethical to take anyone's money and use it for something other than what you said you would? If you're a friend and ask for £20 from me to help repair your car, I give it to you, and then you go spend 90% of it on beer, you've obviously deceived me and abused my trust. Likewise if you take $180,000 of peoples' money for a project and instead spend it on yourself, I think you've done something wrong. I'm not saying it's not a difficult position to be in, but just spending all that money on yourself seems selfish and deceptive to me.

Moderator
#15 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

Anytime you give money for something that doesn't yet exist, you're taking a risk. So while it might look a bit shady to take the money and run, it's a risk that all backers take. There's nothing stopping the developer from producing the absolute minimum that their deal with Kickstarter requires. I'd like to think that most people on Kickstarter making games are doing their best to make something cool, but there's always the possibility that the project will run out of money before it's finished, etc. Normally we buy games after they're finished, so there's no real risk of this.

Unethical? I'm not sure it quite rises to that, so long as they deliver the project they promised.

That's not to mention the fact that (whatever Kickstarter itself might say) there's no way they can guarantee that a project gets delivered at all. Depending on the circumstances, that might be unethical (if there was never an intention of delivering the project) but could also just be a matter of circumstance.

#16 Posted by Amafi (923 posts) -

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

Why is it unethical to take anyone's money and use it for something other than what you said you would? If you're a friend and ask for £20 from me to help repair your car, I give it to you, and then you go spend 90% of it on beer, you've obviously deceived me and abused my trust. Likewise if you take $180,000 of peoples' money for a project and instead spend it on yourself, I think you've done something wrong. I'm not saying it's not a difficult position to be in, but just spending all that money on yourself seems selfish and deceptive to me.

Again though, if I say "I'm making a game, this is what it is, I need 5k, thx", you like the idea, you give me money for it, and enough people do that that I all of a sudden have 50k in donations, I should HAVE to make a 10x larger project all of a sudden? That's not what you gave me money for. You gave me money to complete the project I outlined in my kickstarter, not whatever project you imagine it will turn into with all that money. If I take that money and use it to get my next project off the ground then that is in no way unethical. Ridiculous.

#17 Posted by Gamer_152 (14109 posts) -

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

Why is it unethical to take anyone's money and use it for something other than what you said you would? If you're a friend and ask for £20 from me to help repair your car, I give it to you, and then you go spend 90% of it on beer, you've obviously deceived me and abused my trust. Likewise if you take $180,000 of peoples' money for a project and instead spend it on yourself, I think you've done something wrong. I'm not saying it's not a difficult position to be in, but just spending all that money on yourself seems selfish and deceptive to me.

Again though, if I say "I'm making a game, this is what it is, I need 5k, thx", you like the idea, you give me money for it, and enough people do that that I all of a sudden have 50k in donations, I should HAVE to make a 10x larger project all of a sudden? That's not what you gave me money for. You gave me money to complete the project I outlined in my kickstarter, not whatever project you imagine it will turn into with all that money. If I take that money and use it to get my next project off the ground then that is in no way unethical. Ridiculous.

Well I don't appreciate my opinions being called ridiculous, and I totally get what you're saying. Perhaps if they put that money towards a future project, that would be a fair use of the cash, if they were open with donators about where the money was going, but I'm saying taking tens of thousands of dollars of peoples' money for their personal spending doesn't seem like a great way to go. Surely you can at least see why I think this sort of thing might be immoral?

Moderator
#18 Edited by Amafi (923 posts) -

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

Why is it unethical to take anyone's money and use it for something other than what you said you would? If you're a friend and ask for £20 from me to help repair your car, I give it to you, and then you go spend 90% of it on beer, you've obviously deceived me and abused my trust. Likewise if you take $180,000 of peoples' money for a project and instead spend it on yourself, I think you've done something wrong. I'm not saying it's not a difficult position to be in, but just spending all that money on yourself seems selfish and deceptive to me.

Again though, if I say "I'm making a game, this is what it is, I need 5k, thx", you like the idea, you give me money for it, and enough people do that that I all of a sudden have 50k in donations, I should HAVE to make a 10x larger project all of a sudden? That's not what you gave me money for. You gave me money to complete the project I outlined in my kickstarter, not whatever project you imagine it will turn into with all that money. If I take that money and use it to get my next project off the ground then that is in no way unethical. Ridiculous.

Well I don't appreciate my opinions being called ridiculous, and I totally get what you're saying. Perhaps if they put that money towards a future project, that would be a fair use of the cash, if they were open with donators about where the money was going, but I'm saying taking tens of thousands of dollars of peoples' money for their personal spending doesn't seem like a great way to go. Surely you can at least see why I think this sort of thing might be immoral?

Not at all. I think if kickstarter gave the project creator a way of turning off incoming donations once the goal was reached, then maybe it would be kinda sketchy, but just kinda. If you donate to a funded kickstarter with no stretch goals it's basically a preorder. Expecting them to dramatically change the scope of the project because the original pitch was extremely popular is ridiculous.

And I imagine most people who find themselves in that kind of situation (I'm talking a dude here, not something like DFA, double fine have the staff and experience to make a much bigger thing. A dude probably does not) will have future projects in mind and will use any money they make exceeding the goals to self fund future stuff or prototype something bigger. Whatever. As long as they meet the original goals and deliver on reward tiers there's nothing immoral or unethical about delivering the product people paid for.

#19 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

Why is it unethical to take anyone's money and use it for something other than what you said you would? If you're a friend and ask for £20 from me to help repair your car, I give it to you, and then you go spend 90% of it on beer, you've obviously deceived me and abused my trust. Likewise if you take $180,000 of peoples' money for a project and instead spend it on yourself, I think you've done something wrong. I'm not saying it's not a difficult position to be in, but just spending all that money on yourself seems selfish and deceptive to me.

Again though, if I say "I'm making a game, this is what it is, I need 5k, thx", you like the idea, you give me money for it, and enough people do that that I all of a sudden have 50k in donations, I should HAVE to make a 10x larger project all of a sudden? That's not what you gave me money for. You gave me money to complete the project I outlined in my kickstarter, not whatever project you imagine it will turn into with all that money. If I take that money and use it to get my next project off the ground then that is in no way unethical. Ridiculous.

Well I don't appreciate my opinions being called ridiculous, and I totally get what you're saying. Perhaps if they put that money towards a future project, that would be a fair use of the cash, if they were open with donators about where the money was going, but I'm saying taking tens of thousands of dollars of peoples' money for their personal spending doesn't seem like a great way to go. Surely you can at least see why I think this sort of thing might be immoral?

Not at all. I think if kickstarter gave the project creator a way of turning off incoming donations once the goal was reached, then maybe it would be kinda sketchy, but just kinda. If you donate to a funded kickstarter with no stretch goals it's basically a preorder. Expecting them to dramatically change the scope of the project because the original pitch was extremely popular is ridiculous.

It's not a preorder, though. People that treat Kickstarter as a store are foolish because there's absolutely no guarantee that a project will arrive on time in the state previously pitched. It is a funding platform for people to request financial pledges to get their artistic projects off the ground, not a fucking substitute for Amazon.

Kickstarter is not a store, and people that treat it as such are idiots.

#20 Posted by Amafi (923 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

@Amafi said:

@Gamer_152 said:

Yes, I do believe soliciting peoples donations for a project and then spending almost all of them on yourself would be unethical, especially if it was that much money.

How so? As long as you get the product you donated money to get, how is that unethical?

If I have a project in mind and I think I need $50k to make it and I get a million all of a sudden, it's not a given I can just turn around and use that million on my project. That would most likely mean not meeting my release date, it would most likely mean a huge shift in direction as well as finding additional staff to complete the thing. It's not a given I can just turn around and do all those things.

Why is it unethical to take anyone's money and use it for something other than what you said you would? If you're a friend and ask for £20 from me to help repair your car, I give it to you, and then you go spend 90% of it on beer, you've obviously deceived me and abused my trust. Likewise if you take $180,000 of peoples' money for a project and instead spend it on yourself, I think you've done something wrong. I'm not saying it's not a difficult position to be in, but just spending all that money on yourself seems selfish and deceptive to me.

Again though, if I say "I'm making a game, this is what it is, I need 5k, thx", you like the idea, you give me money for it, and enough people do that that I all of a sudden have 50k in donations, I should HAVE to make a 10x larger project all of a sudden? That's not what you gave me money for. You gave me money to complete the project I outlined in my kickstarter, not whatever project you imagine it will turn into with all that money. If I take that money and use it to get my next project off the ground then that is in no way unethical. Ridiculous.

Well I don't appreciate my opinions being called ridiculous, and I totally get what you're saying. Perhaps if they put that money towards a future project, that would be a fair use of the cash, if they were open with donators about where the money was going, but I'm saying taking tens of thousands of dollars of peoples' money for their personal spending doesn't seem like a great way to go. Surely you can at least see why I think this sort of thing might be immoral?

Not at all. I think if kickstarter gave the project creator a way of turning off incoming donations once the goal was reached, then maybe it would be kinda sketchy, but just kinda. If you donate to a funded kickstarter with no stretch goals it's basically a preorder. Expecting them to dramatically change the scope of the project because the original pitch was extremely popular is ridiculous.

It's not a preorder, though. People that treat Kickstarter as a store are foolish because there's absolutely no guarantee that a project will arrive on time in the state previously pitched. It is a funding platform for people to request financial pledges to get their artistic projects off the ground, not a fucking substitute for Amazon.

Kickstarter is not a store, and people that treat it as such are idiots.

I don't disagree, only funded kickstarter I've ever put money into was DFA, and not because I thought it'd be anything other than what they said it was going to be, I just wanted the poster and the t-shirt and access to the forums/videos. Also I trust double fine to deliver. But yeah, if you're adding money to a project that has been funded 5x over, that's essentially a preorder. Expecting the scope of the original pitch to shift dramatically is foolish.

#21 Posted by feliciano182 (100 posts) -

It's a very interesting question, though I will say that people need to self-regulate themselves on this matter, if you see the donations have already passed the 10.000 $ mark, then by Allah don't donate 100 $.

#22 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@Amafi: No, it's not a preoroder. If you fund, there is absolutely not guarantee that you'll get anything. Double Fine could go out of business tomorrow and no one would be entitled to a refund because the pledges given to them were good-faith donations, not payments for preorders. It doesn't matter how much the target funding goal was exceeded. Every pledge is a donation.

#23 Posted by Amafi (923 posts) -

@Hailinel: I'm aware. What I'm saying is in the context of people paying for funded kickstarters and then saying it's immoral and unethical for the project to retain it's original scope instead of expanding to use all the funds. I said that to make the point that you're essentially buying the original pitch, not whatever project you imagine it will grow into now that they have more money to spend.

#24 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@Amafi said:

@Hailinel: I'm aware. What I'm saying is in the context of people paying for funded kickstarters and then saying it's immoral and unethical for the project to retain it's original scope instead of expanding to use all the funds. I said that to make the point that you're essentially buying the original pitch, not whatever project you imagine it will grow into now that they have more money to spend.

You're not "paying for" or "buying" anything. You're pledging. It's no different than contributing to a PBS telethon and getting a cup warmer in return.

#25 Posted by Abendlaender (2888 posts) -

That's what stretch-goals are for, right?

#26 Posted by Korolev (1725 posts) -

Kickstarter is venture funding via donations. You're essentially throwing money into a big black box and hoping something good will come out of it, with ABSOLUTELY NO LEGAL GUARANTEE THAT YOU'LL EVER GET ANYTHING. There is NO I repeat NO legally binding agreement between developers and the funders, if they did explicitly mention one. They could take the money you gave them and jet off to Hawaii, and you couldn't do a damn thing about it.

If you felt so inclined, you yourself could start a kickstarter project, ask for money and then take that money, claim that the project "fell through" despite the "best of intentions" and scuttle off to enjoy whiskey sours on a beach in Tahiti. And no one could stop you. Think about it.