By ahoodedfigure 26 Comments
I am the proud co-parent of a fine, double-headed baby, and will probably contribute some ducats to a horrifying creature that will speak of the end times. Not everyone's cut out for the role of micro-producer, and as with being a producer in any field, it's a bit of a gamble. Here are my thoughts on all of of this. Feel free to tell your own tales of faith in companies below, if you like.
My first Kickstarter contribution was to a little card game that could, before either of the above had even been heard of, and it showed me the power that this venue has for getting solid concepts and strong companies better attention for their niche designs. It's basically a way to help focus all this enthusiasm people have at a single target, and it's done in a smart way.
Any cynicism I have about this format, giving money to people before a thing is even made, is tempered by my own faith in my ability to choose companies and people with a decent track record. There are plenty of projects out there that I think deserve funding ( this looks awesome) and those who will get funded because their design or presentation is just that great, but I think Kickstarter winds up benefiting those who Brian Fargo himself called the developer in the middle, the people with projects that need more than a few folks in a tiny office to make happen.
Having seen how a BIG game company needs to worry about advertising budgets and supplying massive teams, it's easy for me to see why this venue makes more sense for stuff that's not going to make the biggest splash in the marketplace, though I don't think any big company needs to look at these niche products as an all-or-nothing affair. That's a discussion for another time, I guess.
All that said; because you're giving money to people who need to deliver (assuming they get enough. If they don't manage to meet their goal, then pfft, no loss for you), it's up to the contributors, and Kickstarter itself, to make sure these people adequately deliver on their promises. With that pressure to do well, it won't mean you'll get the perfect product you were hoping for, but you might get a pretty good approximation of what you reasonably expected. And that's probably more likely to be true if the funding level and the team match the goals of the project. So you have folks with a decent history like Brian Fargo and Tim Schafer pushing for games many of us have wanted, but egoists have declared that No One Likes (because they don't like them), finally getting a chance, not because there weren't other ways to do it, but because they're using a popular site that's easy enough to find and use.
Faith is already a huge component of this industry. We often rely on brand names to get us through when lack of full disclosure has us wondering what the end product will be (I'm still wondering how I'll feel when I reach the end of DAO), we do pre-orders as a game nears release, we get swept up in the five star reviews only to find that even journalists get swept up in the initial enthusiasm for the next blockbuster because, yeah, they're mostly gamers themselves. It's kinda scary, and pretty messed up, when faith gets put on the line, especially when it's betrayed. But at the same time, the upswing, when our faith is kept, it's pretty fucking sweet.
I'm a bit conservative for backing what look to be solid designers, but then again, I don't pretend I'm a venture capitalist, here. I'm just a micro-producer with eclectic tastes who wants to see a few cool games get made.