The Kickstarter Revolution: Could It Be Bad For Games?

In recent months, we have seen an influx of games that have been finding funding for production through something of an unusual way: fans and ordinary folks like you and I donating money to the company through the site Kickstarter. While Kickstarter isn't necessarily new (it's been around since 2008), the capabilities of this hotspot has become the hot topic of news in our world of gaming. Tim Schafer, head of Double Fine, was able to find solace in knowing that he'd get to make a new adventure game through donations. Other projects have been spawning from many different developers and places, and overall, it seems like a really cool idea: allowing people to truly vote with their dollar whether a game should be made.

However, is there a danger to be found in all of this that people just aren't seeing?

Let's take a look at the latest BioWare game and the hornet's nest it has stirred up. Many people are incredibly angered by how the game was handled, but even more than that, a large amount are miffed about the ending of the game. What if this had been a game that had been partially funded through Kickstarter? If the ending turned out to be something that people were pissed about and they expressed that opinion, what does that mean to the person who chipped in some money towards the project's funding? No one can say they don't have a right to bitch at that point - their dollars were put into the project.

It's one of the issues we have to look at: how much push and pull does the person donating some money have, and if there is none, how long will it be before people start screaming to have a say in the game's development process? Logically, no sane person would do that. They would realize that by donating, you are funding the creative juices of the development studio themselves and your "say" is strictly that you get a copy of the game and maybe a credit for it as well.

There's also the idea I presented above: partial funding. Kickstarter works great for those indie studios that are looking for money to fully fund their game, but what kind of problems would this take off the shoulders of a company like Activision or EA who are spending millions on a game? They could potentially fuel a portion of their game budget with Kickstarter money, lowering their own internal costs on the product. However, is it something they should have the right to do, and if so, how far does that go? What if the company makes a game, it sells well, and then that game begins a franchise? What stock do the people who donated money have in helping to create this franchise?

Again, no logical and sane person would think that, but are all gamers sane and logical people? If Activision said "hey, we're looking for funding towards the next Call of Duty game - it's your chance to get your name in the credits", do you honestly believe that there wouldn't be thousands of people donating to that in a heartbeat because of the novelty?

How far does it go?

I love what Kickstarter can do in order to help the development process for independent game developers. However, there are larger implications that we either aren't seeing or just don't want to notice or pay attention to.

Since Tim Schafer raised the money for his adventure game, using Kickstarter has become something of a trend. Christian Allen is seeking funding on what he is calling a "hardcore tactical shooter". Tim Schafer has spoken about the potential of using Kickstarter to help fund Psychonauts 2. Brian Fargo has aspirations to use the service to fund Wasteland 2.

It's a slippery slope that we are on. The idea of people financing games that people want is a great idea, but we also know how gamers can be when a finished product doesn't happen to meet the expectations they have. When you move the gamers from the category of "consumer" to "funding", it becomes a little more dangerous than it should be.

Some food for thought, folks. What do you guys think? Is Kickstarter helping the industry, or is it a tool that will soon be oft too abused?

Until next time, piece.

35 Comments
35 Comments
Posted by jakob187

In recent months, we have seen an influx of games that have been finding funding for production through something of an unusual way: fans and ordinary folks like you and I donating money to the company through the site Kickstarter. While Kickstarter isn't necessarily new (it's been around since 2008), the capabilities of this hotspot has become the hot topic of news in our world of gaming. Tim Schafer, head of Double Fine, was able to find solace in knowing that he'd get to make a new adventure game through donations. Other projects have been spawning from many different developers and places, and overall, it seems like a really cool idea: allowing people to truly vote with their dollar whether a game should be made.

However, is there a danger to be found in all of this that people just aren't seeing?

Let's take a look at the latest BioWare game and the hornet's nest it has stirred up. Many people are incredibly angered by how the game was handled, but even more than that, a large amount are miffed about the ending of the game. What if this had been a game that had been partially funded through Kickstarter? If the ending turned out to be something that people were pissed about and they expressed that opinion, what does that mean to the person who chipped in some money towards the project's funding? No one can say they don't have a right to bitch at that point - their dollars were put into the project.

It's one of the issues we have to look at: how much push and pull does the person donating some money have, and if there is none, how long will it be before people start screaming to have a say in the game's development process? Logically, no sane person would do that. They would realize that by donating, you are funding the creative juices of the development studio themselves and your "say" is strictly that you get a copy of the game and maybe a credit for it as well.

There's also the idea I presented above: partial funding. Kickstarter works great for those indie studios that are looking for money to fully fund their game, but what kind of problems would this take off the shoulders of a company like Activision or EA who are spending millions on a game? They could potentially fuel a portion of their game budget with Kickstarter money, lowering their own internal costs on the product. However, is it something they should have the right to do, and if so, how far does that go? What if the company makes a game, it sells well, and then that game begins a franchise? What stock do the people who donated money have in helping to create this franchise?

Again, no logical and sane person would think that, but are all gamers sane and logical people? If Activision said "hey, we're looking for funding towards the next Call of Duty game - it's your chance to get your name in the credits", do you honestly believe that there wouldn't be thousands of people donating to that in a heartbeat because of the novelty?

How far does it go?

I love what Kickstarter can do in order to help the development process for independent game developers. However, there are larger implications that we either aren't seeing or just don't want to notice or pay attention to.

Since Tim Schafer raised the money for his adventure game, using Kickstarter has become something of a trend. Christian Allen is seeking funding on what he is calling a "hardcore tactical shooter". Tim Schafer has spoken about the potential of using Kickstarter to help fund Psychonauts 2. Brian Fargo has aspirations to use the service to fund Wasteland 2.

It's a slippery slope that we are on. The idea of people financing games that people want is a great idea, but we also know how gamers can be when a finished product doesn't happen to meet the expectations they have. When you move the gamers from the category of "consumer" to "funding", it becomes a little more dangerous than it should be.

Some food for thought, folks. What do you guys think? Is Kickstarter helping the industry, or is it a tool that will soon be oft too abused?

Until next time, piece.

Posted by BrockNRolla

The only thing that matters about any of this is whether or not the final products that comes out of these projects are good.

I have complete faith that a small group of designers can fuck up a game just as badly as any large developer. I don't care who funds the games. I only care that they get made and that their quality is good. Time will tell on these projects.

Posted by Milkman

I feel like all these Kickstarter games are just upping the entitlement factor for a lot of people. What if this Double Fine game ends up being shit? The internet is going to complain that they helped fund this thing and it's not even good.

On the other hand, it would have never been made at all if it wasn't for the Kickstarter. There's going to be backlash. Maybe not for Double Fine but developers are going to abuse this Kickstarter craze and eventually, it's not going to work out.

Posted by AndrewB

Don't they make it perfectly clear before you chip in on Kickstarter that you aren't actually a shareholder, or is that just something I'm assuming? When I tossed $15 at Wasteland 2, I saw it as a gamble, and figured if it doesn't pan out, I probably won't be so optimistic about the whole Kickstarter process. But I have faith it will be just fine. The point is, I feel like I gave up the right to complain either way because of the nature of the funding. I sure hope everyone else realizes what they're getting into, as well.

Edited by whyareyoucrouchingspock

@jakob187 said:

Let's take a look at the latest BioWare game and the hornet's nest it has stirred up. Many people are incredibly angered by how the game was handled, but even more than that, a large amount are miffed about the ending of the game. What if this had been a game that had been partially funded through Kickstarter? If the ending turned out to be something that people were pissed about and they expressed that opinion, what does that mean to the person who chipped in some money towards the project's funding? No one can say they don't have a right to bitch at that point - their dollars were put into the project.

User funded games usually have direct input. And even if you aren't funding it, you are still putting money into the game even if you are buying it from a store.

In fact with kick-starter, you are paying about half the price in comparison going by what we have seen so far.

The other thing, Mass Effect is a game with tons of money thrown at it, paid off reviews (gamespot/ign/gametrailers) and huge PR. Millions of dollars. These kick-starter games aren't even asking for the amount it costs to market these games, let alone develope them.

Also Bioware suck balls and will bend over and take it from anyone if it means earning more money. They are no longer the great developer they once use to be.

Posted by MrRedwine

This is a grand experiment and we will see where it leads.

If Activision partially funds their next CoD with Kickstarter money, that would be hilarious!

Posted by seannao

It's all about belief. It's gambling, in a sense.

As for partial funding, I don't think the gaming population could hold a candle to the percentage of "backing" a huge publisher like EA would provide. They would still be more beholden to the large company if only by percentage of funding.

Posted by upwarDBound

I don't really see how it could be bad for games. If it succeeds and the end products turn out well, great. If not things will go back to the way they were.

As for publishers being able to utilize crowdsourced funding, I have to assume there are laws in place to prevent a large company from doing such a thing.

Posted by Dixavd

It seems to me that it is only really helping the more successful or well known developers. It seems to prey too much on nostalgia for people and keep older developers going off the back of games that could have been released as far back as over a decade ago while new talent gets pushed aside.

I can see bigger publishers just ignoring these big developers getting the shot at games they want through kickstarter and instead using it as leverage to hold newer more inexperienced developers back. What if big publishers add really stupid clauses in agreements like only allowing developers to join them if they can get together enough funding to build a demo - then if the publisher doesn't liek the demo then they refuse the deal and leave the small developers the shitty job of telling all the people who gave them money that unless they get a lot more then it won't get the go-ahead.

I feel like it just insentivises bigger richer developers to go to kickstarter off their own back - while in turn making publishers look at up-and-coming developers and putting bad restrictions on what they can do in return for money (As they can say: "well they didn't have to agree to the clauses, they could easily start a kickstarter page" while knowing full-well that their lack of a persona or possibly even a debut retail game means that a kickstarter page will not work for them so their only other option is to go with a publisher).

It just seems it could easily turn into developers having the make bad deals with publishers which will undoubtedly get worse, then hope they luck out enough that the publisher either pushes their game ahrd enough or it becomes and under-the-radar hit just so they get big enough to have a strong enough persona to make a kickstarter page and make a game they actually want to make. And this could even turn into something where only a select group of people are trusted by the public to be given kickstarter money and make the games they want to which in turn could massively lower the diversity we have in gaming.

It just seems like a on-the-surface good thing which will actually have drastically bad results for the entire industry.

I am very wary of this entire phenomenon.

Posted by alsnuts2

I have thought about this some since the Double Fine adventure kickstarter blew up. Ultimately, I dont think it will be a big deal no matter what devs do. The way I look at it people who are huge fans of franchises are already showing their appreciation by buying Collector Editions. Paying $100+ for a six dollar RC car, or night vision goggles that only work in daylight, or other crap that will sit in a box or on shelves. Honestly, having my name in the credits of a game I love sounds way better than all that junk. Also I would love to see a "Please Insert Special Thanks Disc" prompt at the end of a Call of Duty Game.

Where it breaks a little bit is how much it matters to the dev in question. Call of Duty sells enough coming out of the gate to make all its money with out getting any thing up front. They decide to license a CoD deck building card game and they immediately start construction on the kitchen nook on their yacht. A small guy like DF decides to make an adventure game, they cannot guarantee with any certainty the return on investment. Kickstarter allows them the oppertunity to try something.

As far as how much influance supporters should/or feel like they are entitled to that already happens. I bought ME1 and ME2 (Twice I lost my first copy) so my investment in the 3rd one is some portion of my $180. They never asked me how I think it should end. ( I have not beaten 3 yet and look forward to being ENRAGED by the ending) Now the 3rd one has ended and people already feel like they should have influance on how it wrapped up. They are wrong.

If Activision opens an official Kickstarter for some project that is on the brink. People chip in and get a game made thats great too! People get to keep their jobs, dreams get fulfilled and a big publisher makes a game they are nervous about. I call that three unqualified victories. They just need to convince consumers that they are deserving of their money.

Posted by SeriouslyNow

Accountability is never a bad thing.  The industry will only improve with more of it.  The idea that somehow Kickstarter will negatively affect the overarching nature of the user by giving more people a greater sense of false entitlement just isn't true at all.  People who pay upfront are entitled to a quality experience, just as the companies who ask for that capital are also expected to work hard for the money.  This is REAL entitlement and it's a state of being which works perfectly well when the middle man is cut out.  Ask yourselves how many times you've seen the publishers take any blame or put out any fires when things go poorly.  Not often, if ever.   And yet the game developers always get the rough end of the stick, from reviewers, from end users and ultimately from the publishers themselves who will just as quickly fire people and shut down companies rather than pay what is owed.  
 
Publishers are actually part of the reason that a sense of false entitlement exists, from paid reviews, to publication favoritism and even overblown ego-centric advertising which poorly represents the experience which a game might offer in reality.  If that aspect can be sidestepped then a lot of the miscommunication which exists as part of the advertising process will be avoided and games developers will actually have a better shot at truely representing their concepts with the unnecessary hype and confusion which often goes with the preproduction process.   Hype isn't a bad thing but it doesn't always help in conveying ideas properly and if we can get soem games developed without marketing fanfare overshadowing the details which we care about that will only aid people in making better, more researched purchases and will ultimately tone down the false sense of entitlement to some degree.

Posted by whyareyoucrouchingspock

@Dixavd said:

I am very wary of this entire phenomenon.

Don't fund it. Problem solved.

Posted by prestonhedges

It's not a revolution. Mass Effect 4 will not be funded by individual contributions.

Posted by LordXavierBritish

Kickstarter will never turn out a bad game. Since we are providing the money we are freeing the developers of the time, and sometimes even monetary, constraints they would normally be put under by a publisher, as well as various other restrictions intrinsic to using someone's money that a Kickstarter simply doesn't put on people.
 
And really, at the end of the day, I don't care if the game turns out to be not great as long as people like Double Fine and inXile keep getting to make the games they love. Nothing with that much heart in it could ever be completely terrible.

Edited by Brodehouse

@LordXavierBritish: Kickstarter absolutely will turn out a bad game, or someone will put money down and the game that comes out won't match their expectations, but that's the nature of all artistic creation. Just a matter of trust.

Kickstarter is the same as a pre-order. I pre-order games based on the concept or the developer's track record, so it's no different than funding a Kickstarter for me. It's also way better for the developer. A million people pre-ordered Mass Effect 3, and 3.5 million people bought it, but that doesn't mean BioWare got that money to make the game with. I'd rather give 60 dollars directly to the developer to build the game with than put 60 dollars down at Gamestop and watch the slices get taken off it until the devs wind up with about 14 bucks.

@SeriouslyNow: " Ask yourselves how many times you've seen the publishers take any blame or put out any fires when things go poorly." -- the publishers always take the blame, and say nothing. Because anything else would just make people more angry. There's a clear tendency in this industry to believe that all artists are geniuses and all executives are the devil's own. And that's probably true most of the time, but I'm sure the executives would love nothing more than developing products that people really want. They don't get a reward from selling things that no one wants.

I really hate that you guys can talk about paid-off reviews as if it weren't the most low thing you could accuse a reviewer of. What site do you think you're on? When you're ready to accuse someone of having no integrity with no evidence whatsoever, you should imagine that you actually had to face the person. That might make a reasonable person reconsider.

@seannao: Well, not necessarily. Like I said, Mass Effect 3 sold 3.5 million copies at 60 bucks a pop. But their budget was not 210 million dollars. What will hold the Kickstarter thing back is people that just don't trust it or don't want to do it because it's new. Remember, people weren't sure about Paypal for a long time. Facebook actually took years to become the biggest thing ever. And so far the biggest Kickstarter target has been Wasteland 2 at 900k. It'll take a while before people are ready to fund even something huge like Call of Duty direct-to-developer.

Posted by Skald

There's essentially zero cost to failure on Kickstarter. Of course there's going to be problems.

Posted by VisariLoyalist

I'm trying to think how it would be abused and yet the only games that have been uber funded are from developers that have been working with the old model for years and years. So the potential for this to actually supplant the publisher's position seems very slim. Mostly I think the issue is advertising. Same problem where the new model is still dependent on legacies built on millions of dollars of attention garnering ads and financial support by publishers. If developers move away from that eventually they will fall into obscurity that's simply the way this market works.

Posted by Dixavd

@whyareyoucrouchingspock said:

@Dixavd said:

I am very wary of this entire phenomenon.

Don't fund it. Problem solved.

There is a different between just not funding something and not helping something happen. Not saying my problems about it is still bad as it doesn't change anything. I have a problem with it and well say so - I truly think this is a problem and will put the gaming industry in a much worse position if it continues on like this - so yes obviously I won't be putting any money towards it but that isn't nearly enough.

Posted by SquirrelGOD

I think we're going to see Kickstarter being very influential for indy games for about a year. Within that time, though, someone will fuck it up. Some young developer will make promises that he can't keep, make too many delays, or make a pissy comment on Twitter and the bubble will burst. People will be more weary of dropping money on the development on a game, and then it'll only be those that have proven themselves that can still find funding through Kickstarter. It only takes one person or team to screw it up, and they're out there.

Posted by duggshammer

Someone needs to get a kickstarter going for Soldier of Fortune 3.

Posted by SeriouslyNow
@Brodehouse said:


@SeriouslyNow: " Ask yourselves how many times you've seen the publishers take any blame or put out any fires when things go poorly." -- the publishers always take the blame, and say nothing. Because anything else would just make people more angry. There's a clear tendency in this industry to believe that all artists are geniuses and all executives are the devil's own. And that's probably true most of the time, but I'm sure the executives would love nothing more than developing products that people really want. They don't get a reward from selling things that no one wants.

I really hate that you guys can talk about paid-off reviews as if it weren't the most low thing you could accuse a reviewer of. What site do you think you're on? When you're ready to accuse someone of having no integrity with no evidence whatsoever, you should imagine that you actually had to face the person. That might make a reasonable person reconsider.


The publishers NEVER take the blame. They cite poor returns and don't pay staff or don't even cite returns at all and close studios.  Infinity Ward and Team Bondi both produced award winning, high selling products and for that they were summarily screwed and these are two high profile examples, there are many many more we (well, you) never hear of.   Kickstarter avoids most of that bullshit.  I worked professionally as a games journalist from 1992-1995 for national publications (and then post games into other areas off and on until about 2002).  I speak from experience.  No, I never engaged in it, yes I was asked.  Some reviews are paid for and there and known issues with specific publications getting black balled for giving honest low ratings on specific games and it's happened many times.  I never said that all reviewers lack integrity, I never even implied that and 'you guys' is no-one specific so be specific or drop the passive aggressive rubbish.   It's nice that you have a passion for this industry but you need some experience to match it because you seem imbalanced in your perspective and you're ignoring the bad stuff that happens too.
Posted by MrMazz

This ins't a revolution though. This is 2 high profile games using a no means of funding to make a product.Both of those games are from people with a history in the industry and a bit of acult following. People for lack of a better word "trust" them not to F it up.

You won't see the next COD GOW or other AAA funded through kickstarter it takes to much money. What they have done is tapped into niche markets to supply them with a product they want.Just because they are getting press dosen't mean a Point and Click adventure and Wasteland 2 aren't going to be niche titles.

Kickstarter could be GREAT for indie games though

Edited by Brodehouse

@SeriouslyNow: I wasn't accusing you of that reviewer thing, there was about three people in this topic that brought up "positive reviews were paid for by the publisher" which is the lowest Goddamn thing anyone can say about a reviewer. There's just no way to do a double line break to start a new thought.

edit: Trust me, I hate passive aggression. I like straight up aggression.

Edited by jakob187

@alsnuts2 said:

Where it breaks a little bit is how much it matters to the dev in question. Call of Duty sells enough coming out of the gate to make all its money with out getting any thing up front. They decide to license a CoD deck building card game and they immediately start construction on the kitchen nook on their yacht. A small guy like DF decides to make an adventure game, they cannot guarantee with any certainty the return on investment. Kickstarter allows them the oppertunity to try something.

I had thought about that when writing my blog. If consumers are the ones throwing out some money for the funding of a game, it would mean that the company themselves aren't having to come up with the money and fund it themselves. It means that we have essentially given them a risk-free way to make profitability. I mean, they are already giving us a copy of the game (in most of the cases) and some other stuff. Therefore, at the day of release, it would seem like a game funded by Kickstarter money is...essentially...already a financial success.

At the same time, it's the reason I brought up something like EA or Activision using it for "partial funding". If Activision is known for anything, it's trying to cut their costs in order to maximize profitability. Look at everything about a recent Call of Duty game: reused assets, cheap paper for the cover art, "green box" with all the plastic removed, no booklet inside, cheaper quality of DVD...everything about it screams "we are trying to pull every dime out of this that we can to be rich muthafuckers". Now, take that approach a little further by saying "hey, if you donate to this Kickstarter fund to help develop the next Call of Duty game, we'll promise you a year of CoD Elite service and your name in the credits"...

Tell me that doesn't sound at all possible without a doubt in your mind and a shitty look on your face. It's quite possible. In turn, it could be bad because it then leads to companies being even shadier in their dealings with the public...and as far as I know, there's really nothing the public could do about it.

@LordXavierBritish said:

And really, at the end of the day, I don't care if the game turns out to be not great as long as people like Double Fine and inXile keep getting to make the games they love. Nothing with that much heart in it could ever be completely terrible.

I can't say that any inXile was COMPLETELY TERRIBLE, but I can say that their games have not been good. Giving $900k to a company that hasn't made an honestly solid game in a while is, personally, a little more than dicey.

At the same time, Double Fine is a company that was able to get a big budget for a game like Brutal Legend, and in turn, that money went to their head and they threw everything and the kitchen sink into it. Being a smaller company making tight knit games like Iron Brigade, Stacking, etc. is what they are best at doing, and I think Tim Schafer has realized that.

However, the point I was trying to make is that there is already a ridiculous amount of entitlement within the gaming community. We have yet to see any of these bigger projects come out of Kickstarter yet, but when they do, the sense of entitlement that gets thrown at them is going to be much bigger than anything we've seen before. What happens when that starts to outweigh what the project was about in the first place? Beyond that, what if the whole thing is a success and people look at it and say "hey, we're going to do that Kickstarter thing to fund our game"? People already complain about shovelware on any given platform. What happens when someone decides to take money from people to make a game, only to release a low quality product...then the people funding it sue because of it?

I mean, there are soooo many "what if's" in this entire thing that it's difficult to not think that Kickstarter could be bad in more ways than good. Sure, it could be a way to cut the publishers down a couple of notches from where they are by allowing studios to get direct funding from the people that want their games. At the same time, it means that it localizes game development far more than it did before, making it more difficult for a company to actually release a game beyond a specific market. I assume that Double Fine's new adventure game that was funded by Kickstarter is a PC-only title, so it means that there is only one specific market that gets the game.

Part of the reason a publisher funds a game is taking a risk, but beyond that, it's being able to reach a broad audience with your game.

I don't know. Like I said, it's a fishy situation to discuss because we haven't seen the final results of it that much. I hope all goes well for everyone, but I can see this actually leading to more negatives than positives in the long run.

@Brodehouse said:

It'll take a while before people are ready to fund even something huge like Call of Duty direct-to-developer.

I think you underestimate the power of idiots and Activision combined. Look at how many people dished out for a rushed, barely-working service like Elite.

Posted by Ubersmake

If a developer hedges all its bets on Kickstarter, and they produce a terrible game, they'll lose any goodwill from the people who funded them, and they likely won't have the funds to make another game.

For developers, Kickstarter is great for, well, kickstarting your project, and perhaps more importantly, getting your name out there. Getting that critical mass that's necessary to build up a fanbase and built up notoriety so that you can sell games and use that money to make more games. Zeboyd might be a good example of this. They used Kickstarter for the PC ports of Breath of Death and Cthulhu. Their next game is Penny Arcade Ep. 3, and that game is certainly not being funded through Kickstarter. They got the notoriety and the fanbase they needed to continue making games.

If a Kickstarter doesn't live up to expectations, that fledgling developer or project won't be in a good position to make any additional games, and for the market and consumers, that's probably a good thing.

The slippery slope that Kickstarter presents exists between developers and publishers, not between developers and consumers. Consumers have always voted with their money. Kickstarter simply changes who gets that money first. And how quickly projects rise or get shot down.

Double Fine's new adventure game is not PC-only, but it does exist for a specific market. But that specific market has been largely ignored because it isn't profitable like it was during the 90s. What Kickstarter did for Double Fine was prove that the adventure game market is still alive enough and still has enough people interested in it to warrant making another game.

If Activision wants to use Kickstarter or something like it to fund another Call of Duty, I don't have a problem with it. Do things seem shady? Yes. Is there a lot of terrible stuff that could go on regarding the consumer/publisher relationship? Very. But as I said before, consumers have the final say in whether or not something gets funded, whether it be through Kickstarter or more traditional means. If people want it, people will buy it. This is why Call of Duty is still being made. This is why year after year, EA pushes out another Madden. If you don't want it, you don't have to buy it, and Kickstarter doesn't change that at all.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

The second a bad game is completely funded through kickstarter is the second it backfires for everyone. The internet is a fickle entity and more often than not a vocal one, and while the $10 I paid towards The Banner Saga, a strategy RPG being made by ex-Bioware alumni is based on a game that is clearly already in development, was based on seeing actual footage of the game in progress, my investment in these new titles is based on faith. I put my $15 behind Wasteland 2 out of principle more than anything else, with the expectation that they would at least make an interesting amalgamation of the kinds of games I like (because as experience has proven, I can find some enjoyment out of a CRPG of questionable quality). Having Wasteland 2 be a good game is more of a bonus for me than anything else, but keep in mind that I am donating the bare minimum because I am both a cynic and a poor college student.

I think that people who donated significant amounts should be incensed if the product they invested in doesn't deliver. Do venture capitalists shrug off a bad investment without consequences? Of course not, and while we are not donating the hundreds of thousands of dollars that a VC does, there is now a communal identity that gives us as a group the same sense of entitlement.

Edited by jakob187

@Brodehouse said:

@SeriouslyNow: I wasn't accusing you of that reviewer thing, there was about three people in this topic that brought up "positive reviews were paid for by the publisher" which is the lowest Goddamn thing anyone can say about a reviewer. There's just no way to do a double line break to start a new thought.

edit: Trust me, I hate passive aggression. I like straight up aggression.

Having been in the reviews business before, I can say that there were plenty of publishers (at least when I was writing) that would pay for positive reviews, especially to lower-end sites that could beef up their GameRankings average. They aren't always paid for with money. Sometimes it's something as simple as whether the company will continue to send you review copies of their games. Personally, I was put in a position as Editor-in-Chief of the site I ran by a publisher that if we didn't give games like FIFA Street and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent scores above 8.0, we weren't going to receive any kinds of...games...

Oops...did I just implicate the second largest video game publisher in the world for...at one point (not saying that it happens now, although I'm not saying it doesn't either) bullying small independent gaming websites with little recognition for scores to beef up their overall average? I...I do believe that I just did.

By the way, I gave GoldenEye: Rogue Agent a 4.0. That game was absolute shit. We pretty much just stopped reviewing EA games based on principle alone. = D

I mean, if you want any idea that reviews can be bought, look no further than the original debacle EGM found themselves in over the Driv3r review.

So while it's a low thing to say about a reviewer, be aware that it does exist out there.

Posted by Dagbiker

I think it could be good for games, and good for game makers, but there may be some down sides for backers.

Posted by Funkydupe

@ArbitraryWater: Just the chance of playing another Wasteland game makes the risk worth taking. I think that's what a lot of people feel with regards to other projects as well.

Posted by SeriouslyNow
@ArbitraryWater said:

The second a bad game is completely funded through kickstarter is the second it backfires for everyone. The internet is a fickle entity and more often than not a vocal one, and while the $10 I paid towards The Banner Saga, a strategy RPG being made by ex-Bioware alumni is based on a game that is clearly already in development, was based on seeing actual footage of the game in progress, my investment in these new titles is based on faith. I put my $15 behind Wasteland 2 out of principle more than anything else, with the expectation that they would at least make an interesting amalgamation of the kinds of games I like (because as experience has proven, I can find some enjoyment out of a CRPG of questionable quality). Having Wasteland 2 be a good game is more of a bonus for me than anything else, but keep in mind that I am donating the bare minimum because I am both a cynic and a poor college student.

I think that people who donated significant amounts should be incensed if the product they invested in doesn't deliver. Do venture capitalists shrug off a bad investment without consequences? Of course not, and while we are not donating the hundreds of thousands of dollars that a VC does, there is now a communal identity that gives us as a group the same sense of entitlement.

Every game (and product for that matter) is transacted on faith, it's why 'in good faith' is a basic tenet of commerce law.    I think you're being overly dramatic and worrisome. 
Posted by ArbitraryWater

@SeriouslyNow: Ehhh, probably. I was pretty tired yesterday.

Posted by hermes

@LordXavierBritish: That is not accurate. If anything, kickstarter will put the developers under a different set of constraints that can be as restricted and self-entitled as publishers, but without the know-how. Also, developers are already restricted by it since the amount of money they can get is far more limited and far less abundant than from a publisher.

Other than that, I don't have a problem with kickstarter as an experiment. Of course, the next AAA game won't we founded by fans, but the possibility of this model existing as an option pulls a lot of pressure away from the publishers model and represent extra freedom to the developers, which is a good thing. The Double Fine experiment was mostly about whether they could do it, more than whether they could deliver it; which already makes it a success.

Posted by SpawnHellraiser

I'm a crowdfunding researcher so I just have to give a few points to this...

By the way, nice blog. It made me think.

With Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites/companies there are rules in place for funding ANY project. When a user funds a game, the project's owner sets what the "goodies" are when they fund the game, however, these users do not become "stakeholders" or even part of the staff. Let's say you surf around and found a blog you really like. Then you see a "donate to keep this blog running" button and since you like the blog so much or believe it has potential, you decide to donate. Do you then communicate to the editor of the blog telling them what to write, how to write it, and when to write cause you "contributed" to the blog? Of course not. You're just helping someone out. So the same applies with funding a game via crowdfunding.

People are putting too much into this. It's simply individuals who think something sounds cool enough to donate money. That's how charities work. When the charity doesn't exist anymore or you might hear news of them doing something foul, you don't go sue for your money back. You suck it up and move on. If you can't bare to be apart from your money then don't give it away.

Also, on Kickstarter specifically, one of the rules in place is a time limit. Each project has a certain time to obtain funds for the project. If they do not make the amount they signed the project up for, ALL THE MONEY that was funded goes back into the user's account. So no harm no foul.

It is true that this generation of Gamers have a lot of entitlement where it shouldn't be. I would say about this is that if you are so worried about where your money is going then I suggest you stop buying the things that give you worry. It's really simple. We all have choices. But if you choose, then don't complain about your decision too. In my case, I try not to buy launch games because I ended up buying games that weren't worth what I paid for. My solution is to wait a few months until price goes down. But you don't see me signing any petitions or complaining everyday how this game and that game sucks. It's all a "gamble".

Thanks for reading, sorry it was so long. ^_^

Posted by artgarcrunkle

@Milkman: You don't think it's OK for people to expect a thing they paid for to be good?

Posted by Milkman

@artgarcrunkle said:

@Milkman: You don't think it's OK for people to expect a thing they paid for to be good?

No, it's okay to expect that. But just like anything else there's a chance that the thing you pay for ends up being bad.