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Subject: Why Kickstarter Matters rss

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Casey Hill
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Hey everyone,

I am about half-way through my campaign for Arkon, and it has me reflecting on crowdfunding and this journey. I think there are some amazing advantages to having tools like Kickstarter in the gaming space.

On Kickstarter: To build reputation and an audience you have to playtest like mad. You have to test the game with your friends, your co-workers, the local gaming stores and eventually the not so local gaming stores. You have to get your game into the hand of reviewers, and lots of them. I find that most successful games go through a gauntlet of testing to build public trust. This scrutiny, while it can be brutal in the early stages, I think makes for high quality end products (and is customer driven).

On Kickstarter: Successful campaigns find ways to incorporate their audience. You become part of a campaign by helping to vote on art, add-ons or narrative direction. It's a powerful way to make your community a genuine part of the story.

On Kickstarter: Your audience has your direct ear. They can ask you questions, raise concerns and be involved in helping others. Again, it's an incredible opportunity for community.

On Kickstarter: The sale is not immediate. It's not one and done. You are building a relationship with your backers and you have 30 days to capture their imagination enough so they decide to stay the course.


Now, I think many people have qualms with Kickstarter, from either getting burned on campaigns that delivered late or by the quality not being up to standards. These are real and fair. Kickstarter is not perfect and with any kind of democratized system, you are going to have a lot of noise. That being said, that is where a ton of the amazing content producers and review channels come in. As a backer of projects myself, I know that reviews can help give me a sense of the game and whether it's a good fit (I think of reviews less for the overall Pro or Con, although that can be interesting, reviewers tend to be overwhelmingly positive. But their descriptions of games and how they flow can help illustrate if it's a good fit for you).

I know as a producer of a game, I genuinely love all the questions that I get about the game, the story, the dynamics etc. that let me get hands on and involved with everyone.

What do you all think of Kickstarter?

Best,

Casey

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Christoff Jordaan
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HillGamingCompany wrote:

What do you all think of Kickstarter?


I was just reading a thread about how we need a new forum dedicated to kickstarter discussions... I think they might be on to something.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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HillGamingCompany wrote:
On Kickstarter: To build reputation and an audience you have to playtest like mad. You have to test the game with your friends, your co-workers, the local gaming stores and eventually the not so local gaming stores. You have to get your game into the hand of reviewers, and lots of them. I find that most successful games go through a gauntlet of testing to build public trust. This scrutiny, while it can be brutal in the early stages, I think makes for high quality end products (and is customer driven).

So what you're saying is that the regular publishing channels are not playtesting like mad? That's a cheeky statement to make, especially when you consider whose money is on the line.

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On Kickstarter: Successful campaigns find ways to incorporate their audience. You become part of a campaign by helping to vote on art, add-ons or narrative direction. It's a powerful way to make your community a genuine part of the story.

If that is what you want, then of course Kickstarter offers some advantages in this area. But you have to be careful with 'the community': you're listening to a very limited subset of people, and that may or may not be what you intended.

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On Kickstarter: Your audience has your direct ear. They can ask you questions, raise concerns and be involved in helping others. Again, it's an incredible opportunity for community.

If a publisher has an active presence here on BGG, or is active on various social media outlets, then there really is no difference whatsoever.

Quote:
On Kickstarter: The sale is not immediate. It's not one and done. You are building a relationship with your backers and you have 30 days to capture their imagination enough so they decide to stay the course.

With regular publishing you usually get to try out a game in advance before you have to make a decision. Not so with Kickstarter, where reputation is mostly all you've got. Frankly, I prefer a playtest session. The enthusiasm of a publisher is great and all, but it needn't be my enthusiasm. I've been burnt too often—seen others get burnt too often too—because I bought a game based on a publisher's enthusiasm... which predictably evaporated the moment I got home and had to find my own way around a design.

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What do you all think of Kickstarter?

To date, leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps in another decade the crowdfunding model will begin to take off.
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Robert Bracey
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HillGamingCompany wrote:

On Kickstarter: To build reputation and an audience you have to playtest like mad. You have to test the game with your friends, your co-workers, the local gaming stores and eventually the not so local gaming stores. You have to get your game into the hand of reviewers, and lots of them. I find that most successful games go through a gauntlet of testing to build public trust. This scrutiny, while it can be brutal in the early stages, I think makes for high quality end products (and is customer driven).


Which is odd because the feature of every KS first I have played has been its lack of playtesting.
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Electric start > Kick start
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John Middleton
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I've found that most Kickstarters and especially the stretch goal addons from them, are generally play-tested much LESS than other commercial game releases.


I don't think the reviewers that crank out a review or two a week actually spend enough time with a game to fairly judge if it is good or if it really works well beyond an initial impression of whther they want to continue or not. I wouldn't even call these reviews as nothing is really final yet, maybe just a preview or game trailers.

There is also the issue of a Kickstarter just being able to cherry pick out the previews that paint their product in a good light, since it is advertising to get you to buy in the first place.


I think Kickstarter is going to start fading out of boardgames once the current fad of mini packed boxes starts to pass. Then it will be used only by small companies with a desire or vision to forge their own path, as intended.
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Wilbert Kiemeneij
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HillGamingCompany wrote:
On Kickstarter: To build reputation and an audience you have to playtest like mad. You have to test the game with your friends, your co-workers, the local gaming stores and eventually the not so local gaming stores. You have to get your game into the hand of reviewers, and lots of them. I find that most successful games go through a gauntlet of testing to build public trust. This scrutiny, while it can be brutal in the early stages, I think makes for high quality end products (and is customer driven).

There's Kickstarter games that are playtested well, and there's Kickstarter games that aren't. There's games in regular distribution channels that are and aren't playtested well. I don't see how Kickstarter helps focus on playtesting. If anything, all sales happen before independent reviews get out, so people buy before they get a chance to know whether or not a game has been properly playtested. The focus seems to be on untested stretch goals instead of properly playtested content. Now I'm not saying that all Kickstarter game are improperly tested, but I surely don't see how Kickstarter helps focus on well tested games.
HillGamingCompany wrote:
On Kickstarter: Successful campaigns find ways to incorporate their audience. You become part of a campaign by helping to vote on art, add-ons or narrative direction. It's a powerful way to make your community a genuine part of the story.

Yeah, it's a marketing tool. I don't see how that helps me. I want a game. I don't give two shits about being part of the story.
HillGamingCompany wrote:
On Kickstarter: Your audience has your direct ear. They can ask you questions, raise concerns and be involved in helping others. Again, it's an incredible opportunity for community.

This is true, and seems to be a plus. But you don't necessarily need Kickstarter to do that. Some publishers are quite active on BGG and answer a lot of questions here. Some publishers reach out here to get feedback before a game is (re)published. And also, a lot of publishers just use playtesting to get the feedback they need. But yeah, Kickstarter generates feedback that game designers can use to improve their games. Problem is, it's hard to know what feedback is useful. Most people active on Kickstarter aren't knowledgable game designers. Most people don't really know what makes a game a good. So most people cannot really tell you how to fix your game. Listening to all the feedback you get and blindly incorporating all of it would lead to a very messy game. So while Kickstarter is a place where first time designers can get a lot of feedback, most of it is feedback by people who don't know enough about the game to comment on it, and don't know enough about game design to put into words what would improve the game. So I don't see how this is better than an established publisher using regular playtesting.
HillGamingCompany wrote:
On Kickstarter: The sale is not immediate. It's not one and done. You are building a relationship with your backers and you have 30 days to capture their imagination enough so they decide to stay the course.

This, again is just a marketing argument. The customer isn't even technically a customer. If you back a game, you're not even owed a game. If the project is screwed up, that's just it. So technically, there isn't even a sale, there's just a donation, with the expectation of a reward. I fail to see how that's in my best interest.

The only positive side to me, as a customer, is that the platform makes it possible for niche games to find their audience. Some games would not be publishable through normal channels. People wishing to make these games would take a very big risk printing them in hopes of finding an audience. Kickstarter makes it possible for these kinds of games to exist without ruining people in the process. That seems to me to be the original intention of the platform. But nowadays it's used much more as a straight up marketing tool for regular publishers, or just for games that are too bad to be published somewhere else. So yeah, kickstarter's great... for publishers.
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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There is a romantic notion of Kickstarter that it paves the way for great designs that would otherwise never have come true. It's a bit like the story of chess as a game invented by one lonely man and then spread across the world by its own merits.

However, the truth is that a game (like many other things) is rarely great at the design stage but that a lot of testing and development is needed as well, something that established publishers are often better at. As a matter of fact, even chess had to be developed over centuries to become the great game we know today.

I've also backed some games but realized that most of them cannot compare with games from established publishers and kept only those that are reprints of old classics.

Don't get me wrong, the purpose of Kickstarter is commendable but this is not where I expect great games to be created.
 
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Liam
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Moved from General Gaming to Crowdfunding: Kickstarter
 
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Désirée Greverud
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monkeyhandz wrote:
Moved from General Gaming to Crowdfunding: Kickstarter

will all the anti-Kickstarter threads clogging up General Gaming be moved here as well? Or are only KS-negative threads allowed in General while positive ones get buried
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WilbertK wrote:
There's games in regular distribution channels that are and aren't playtested well.


Dunno about the Eurogamers, but you can see for yourself on BGG how many AT games have errata and/or rulebook complaints. The Rules subforums existed *long* before KS, and they're full of questions that weren't caught during playtesting. FFG, frex, has errata, complicated rules explanations, and even "must have" expansions that essentially patch gameplay problems. I've even heard that the Clix point values are determined on a spreadsheet without playtesting and Games Workshop point values are have requirements from the marketing department to sell miniatures. CCG's are infamous for their rulings. We even have entire *threads* about rulebook design, including for retail rulebooks. And some KS games were developed for *years* while a publisher needs to keep a schedule of games to publish, so that they can have new content on a regular basis, limiting the amount of time they have for game development, including playtesting. So, no, don't tell me a publisher has properly playtested a game, when I have to stop gameplay and do a search on BGG for game ruling.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Sam and Max wrote:
Dunno about the Eurogamers, but you can see for yourself on BGG how many AT games have errata and/or rulebook complaints.

I think errata and rulebook complaints are mostly two different things, to be honest. The majority of complaints deal with very specific circumstances not described well by the rule book, only requiring a bit of eludication. Genuine errors dealing with things like game balance or card misprints are quite rare.

Quote:
And some KS games were developed for *years* while a publisher needs to keep a schedule of games to publish, so that they can have new content on a regular basis, limiting the amount of time they have for game development, including playtesting.

That's some accusation there. I hope you have evidence to back it up.

Quote:
So, no, don't tell me a publisher has properly playtested a game, when I have to stop gameplay and do a search on BGG for game ruling.

Again, game rulings and playtesting are two different things. I think it neither useful nor allowed to conflate the two.
 
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Brendan Riley
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cymric wrote:
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And some KS games were developed for *years* while a publisher needs to keep a schedule of games to publish, so that they can have new content on a regular basis, limiting the amount of time they have for game development, including playtesting.

That's some accusation there. I hope you have evidence to back it up.


Which part don't you believe?

a) "Some kickstarters were developed for *years*." While some seem to pop out of nowhere, there are many that seem to be years in the making, and for some that evidence is here on BGG in the designers forum.

b) "publishers ... [have a limited] amount of time for game development." This seems self-evident as well. Every dollar spent on development is another dollar *more* the game has to make in order to help the company when it is published. The professional publisher has a market incentive to release a game that is playtested *enough* but no extra.

I really don't understand what's controversial about either of these claims. But neither helps advance, for me, the larger question of whether kickstarter games, _overall_, tend to be lower quality.

For me, the ratio tends to be about the same. There are some games on kickstarter that are _great_. There are plenty that are mediocre, and there are some that are not good at all. These same facts apply to published games.

Overall, though, I have less to go on with a kickstarter game, usually, which makes me more hesitant to back. I often haven't played any of the designer's games, don't know the company, and, as others have said previously, can't try the game out first. But kickstarter also provides avenues for weird little games that otherwise might never get published. And I'm pleased it exists.

If, as one person commented earlier, the wave crests and we stop seeing big companies use KS so much, I won't mind at all. But I think it's good for the hobby and I'm glad it's there.
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Amy (Other Amy)
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DragonsDream wrote:
monkeyhandz wrote:
Moved from General Gaming to Crowdfunding: Kickstarter

will all the anti-Kickstarter threads clogging up General Gaming be moved here as well? Or are only KS-negative threads allowed in General while positive ones get buried
I second this question. I don't understand why this thread was moved. See the tag:
https://boardgamegeek.com/tag/love_hate_and_kickstarter
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cymric wrote:
That's some accusation there. I hope you have evidence to back it up.


Gloomhaven, 7th Continent, Cthulhu Wars, Kingdom Death, and Vast, iirc.

And I do not believe that errata should exist. Borderline edge cases need to be removed from a game through proper game design and playtesting.
 
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Casey Hill
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I hear you Robert. My hope is that as the amount of Kickstarters tick up, creators are forced to show more customer proof (Playtesting feedback on BGG/open print and play/reviews) to validate the thoroughness at which the game has been developed.
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Casey Hill
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Quote:


Overall, though, I have less to go on with a kickstarter game, usually, which makes me more hesitant to back. I often haven't played any of the designer's games, don't know the company, and, as others have said previously, can't try the game out first.

If, as one person commented earlier, the wave crests and we stop seeing big companies use KS so much, I won't mind at all. But I think it's good for the hobby and I'm glad it's there.


Thanks for your thoughts on this. It is my hope more and more publishers start putting their print and play versions out there so people that want to test our the game, can validate the depth of strategy/quality.
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Rob Winslow
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Too many KS games are under-playtested steaming piles. They sell with a lot of shiny toys (like minis). I've supported quite a few KS, and very few games have been of the quality of non-KS'd games.

So, it may help folks get games published, but it definitely doesn't make for better games.
 
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Brendan Riley
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HillGamingCompany wrote:
Quote:


Overall, though, I have less to go on with a kickstarter game, usually, which makes me more hesitant to back. I often haven't played any of the designer's games, don't know the company, and, as others have said previously, can't try the game out first.

If, as one person commented earlier, the wave crests and we stop seeing big companies use KS so much, I won't mind at all. But I think it's good for the hobby and I'm glad it's there.


Thanks for your thoughts on this. It is my hope more and more publishers start putting their print and play versions out there so people that want to test our the game, can validate the depth of strategy/quality.


I would say this is already the case for many, many kickstarters. The KS gauntlet is much more competitive and professional than it was a year (or two or three) ago. The bar keeps rising.
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HillGamingCompany wrote:
On Kickstarter: The sale is not immediate. It's not one and done. You are building a relationship with your backers and you have 30 days to capture their imagination enough so they decide to stay the course.
The problem is: For the most popular KS projects, this is a lie.

For smaller, boutique designers (the folks KS was originally intended for) then perhaps there is a genuine desire to interact with backers. But in terms of the larger projects, they want the backers to each turn into little evangelizing hype factories, toddling around the internets, regurgitating factoids and trumpeting dollars and dates. Apart from that, they don't want to hear a peep from backers. By all means please do their bidding, then kindly STFU and go away. There is no "relationship" beyond money-for-product. It's a store just like Amazon, it just has longer ship times.

Where it gets even sadder, is when people do attempt to have some sort of "input" to the game, but the brainwashed drone stooges shout them down as being somehow unworthy to possess a negative opinion, in favor of more breathless shouts of TAKE MY MONEY!!!

This is why Kickstarter is a nasty mess of shyte. It's an expedient way to separate the gullible from their cash in exchange for buckets of plastic toys, all the while insisting on a happy face and constant shilling.

p.s.
Although there still are grassroots folks on KS, they are routinely ignored & marginalized in favor of the far more disgustingly crooked big boys of the plastic minis world. I feel bad for those people. You might be one of them.
 
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Wilbert Kiemeneij
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Sam and Max wrote:
WilbertK wrote:
There's games in regular distribution channels that are and aren't playtested well.


Dunno about the Eurogamers, but you can see for yourself on BGG how many AT games have errata and/or rulebook complaints. The Rules subforums existed *long* before KS, and they're full of questions that weren't caught during playtesting. FFG, frex, has errata, complicated rules explanations, and even "must have" expansions that essentially patch gameplay problems. I've even heard that the Clix point values are determined on a spreadsheet without playtesting and Games Workshop point values are have requirements from the marketing department to sell miniatures. CCG's are infamous for their rulings. We even have entire *threads* about rulebook design, including for retail rulebooks. And some KS games were developed for *years* while a publisher needs to keep a schedule of games to publish, so that they can have new content on a regular basis, limiting the amount of time they have for game development, including playtesting. So, no, don't tell me a publisher has properly playtested a game, when I have to stop gameplay and do a search on BGG for game ruling.

You point to badly tested games published through regular channels and well tested Kickstarter games. How does this refute anything I said? Do you mean to imply that there are no well tested games done by publishers? Or that there are no badly tested Kickstarter games? Or that there are more well tested Kickstarter games, relatively speaking?
 
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