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Subject: LESSONS LEARNED: Kickstarter Backlash rss

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Chris Schreiber
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Today on Richard Bliss' Game Whisperer podcast 'Funding the Dream,' his thoughtful efforts and calculations shared that November saw $281,000 raised in support for Card & Board Game projects. Thanks to the crazy success and almost hard-to-believe generosity surrounding D-Day Dice, December now has in the neighborhood of $400,000 already pledged. The pace for the month is obviously thrown off by some big projects, ...but it's only December 13th. When October was active a few months ago, I would have bet that December was going to be a slow month?

You just can't escape Kickstarter right now.

Do you listen to any podcasts about boardgaming? Nearly every podcast has something to say about Kickstarter and ads are dominated by Kickstarter projects---it's obviously a disruptive innovation that is impacting our hobby and liberating a lot of creativity and imagination. And opinions. Guess what that means? Should it surprise anyone then that as I write this post, if you go to the BGG FrontPage and click on HOT in the Forums module two of the top three posts are currently showing a bubbling up of some direct backlash aimed at Kickstarter.

I don't think we should be surprised here, at all.

And by no means am I suggesting that we marshall the Forces of the Faithful and make an effort to educate the 'haters.' In fact, I'm going to suggest we do just the opposite. This is a great time to listen. I have lurked on some of these forum posts and even though sometimes I feel I have small things to add, I didn't think that was as productive for me as it was to just intuitively collect the gist of complaints, frustrations, and criticisms and to regard them as a resource.

There's a lot to be learned, especially from people's suspicions and doubts about Kickstarter projects. For example, if you want people to take your project seriously---you'd better detail every step of a rigorous play-testing and vetting process behind your game. This too should not be a surprise given the barrier to getting projects launched has so significantly been lowered by crowdfunding possibilities. Please remember, that people clamoring for an end to a flood of crappy projects might actually just be calling for an end to all the incessant Kickstarter noise. (You don't have to understand why you're annoyed to actually be annoyed!)

And for those of you working out your pricing figures, there's a growing chorus complaining about Kickstater backers paying more for a game than a late adopter who just waits for the game to come out and then purchases it from an online discount retailer. Recently there was a really interesting discussion on BGG News about distribution and what it means when a publisher says that a game is out of print. Since you can't throw a rock and not hit an opinion or connection to how Kickstarter changes the game, Kickstarter came up again with interesting details about what it means to work with distributors and circumventing them with a Kickstarter model. We're essentially a year into the active discussion of Kickstarter, experiences are accumulating, opinions are forming, and one thing is certain: Kickstarter is challenging established behaviors within the hobby.

Prospective authors would do well to peruse these discussions where Kickstarter Backlash rears its head and to listen for recurring themes. At times these discussions are callous and bumpy, at times reasonable and thoughtful, I've even seen a single comment be both ignorant and insightful---but being exposed to the ideas feels essential:

Kickstarter: I Don't Get It

Why I don't support Kickstarter Projects

Kickstarter Aversion

Eminent Domain, Kickstarter, and You

If you have things to add to each of these discussions, feel free to engage them at the source of the discussion. If you have ideas about how to engage (or not engage) Kickstater Backlash in general, this post is a reasonable place to share your thoughts.

In general, I am cautious about entering these threads and often throw a few thumbs or tip a post here and there when I think someone is attempting to take the high road or makes a salient point that incorporates the gist of both sides. One word of caution: if you are a project author and your project is still active, I encourage you to keep everything positive---your comments represent your project and as supportive as BGG can be, it is also a demanding and semantically attentive/exhausting community.

Wow. I just looked at the active Forums posts again. Here's a new one I just saw and look forward to investigating:

Help me understand Kickstarter hate

Think about how noisy 'Kickstarter' has been lately? This is all to be expected. I've agreed with some aspects of concerns and I've done my own wrestling with how to defend the goodwill of Kickstarter balanced against my own learning experiences with supporting projects. For me, Kickstarter is a qualitatively different connection to a game and is an experience in and of itself. If we want to see those experiences continue to evolve, we need to sort through this backlash and find ways to answer and anticipate concerns in order to build greater trust with prospective backers.

Where will we be in another year?

Cheers.


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Gary Simpson

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"There is someone not talking about Apple products?"

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Love it or hate it, the more people talk about kickstarter the more it is a tangible option for crowd-publishers.
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Chris Schreiber
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Kickstarter is the Tim Tebow of the boardgame hobby; some people are in love with it and the wins, others can't stomach the way it gets things done and it offends their sensibilities.

Considering D-Day Dice just kicked some really, really long field goals on behalf of Kickstarter, we should expect some backlash right now.
 
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Michael Mindes
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Chris Schreiber wrote:
You just can't escape Kickstarter right now.

Kickstarter Backlash rears its head and to listen for recurring themes.

Where will we be in another year?


As the king of Kickstarter backlash, and one of only a handful of people to successfully fund more than one project, let me point out...

Successfully running a game publishing business only requires a couple hundred devoted fans. Having more fans and making great products is extremely helpful. The largest benefit of Kickstarter is that it is allows for almost cash flow neutral game publishing.

For example, moving forward, other than artwork I could have all publishing projects be cash flow neutral.

For example, It looks like Gryphon Games is funding all of their games on Kickstarter now. They are probably the most established publisher utilizing Kickstarter, or at least that is how it seems to me.

Chris Schreiber wrote:

Considering D-Day Dice just kicked some really, really long field goals on behalf of Kickstarter, we should expect some backlash right now.


That shouldn't having any bearing on backlash!
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James Mathe
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Predicted this over a year ago... but I'm still probably going to use it... the up front publicity and cash is just too good. So will that sour some customers to turn away from a decent game when it hits the store shelves? I doubt it. It's just another thing to rant about on BGG I think.

James
Minion Games

P.S. Mike I've funded 3 projects BTW on Kickstarter
 
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Brian Leet
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This is exactly what you'd expect from a major creative disruptive force. It is terrific for new or small publishers to open a much broader market. Larger companies have either the cash flow or existing models that do much the same thing (like GMT).

So far we have yet to see the situation where people just don't get what they paid for. Folks talk about getting burned on a bad game, but at some point a project will be funded where either a major cost shift takes place after funding or the production plan isn't adequate and the creator just plain cannot deliver, perhaps not realizing this fact until after much of the money is spent.

Right now the customers are as ignorant as the publishers about how best to assess and structure these offers. As everyone gets more experienced the expected information quality on an offer will go up.
 
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Scott Alden
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Backlash? Seems like Kickstarter is more popular than ever.
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Michael Mindes
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RPGShop wrote:
Predicted this over a year ago... but I'm still probably going to use it... the up front publicity and cash is just too good. So will that sour some customers to turn away from a decent game when it hits the store shelves? I doubt it. It's just another thing to rant about on BGG I think.

James
Minion Games

P.S. Mike I've funded 3 projects BTW on Kickstarter


James, you are one in a handful my friend, one in a handful!
 
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Chris Schreiber
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Aldie wrote:
Backlash? Seems like Kickstarter is more popular than ever.

Exactly!

But the counter-argument chatter (i.e. backlash) has increased lately too...

Chris Schreiber wrote:
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Chris Schreiber wrote:
Aldie wrote:
Backlash? Seems like Kickstarter is more popular than ever.

Exactly!

But the counter-argument chatter (i.e. backlash) has increased lately too...

Chris Schreiber wrote:


And I think the fact that some of the relatively larger publishers are now making their involvement in their own kickstarter projects *very* discrete/almost-unnamed says something as well:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/167427101/caveman-curlin...
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CW Karstens
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Kickstarter is disruptive and is creating change. There are a lot of people who fear change.

I have been attempting to read all Kickstarter articles on BGG and the growing number of them are taking significant time.
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Guillermo Hernandez
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I treat Kickstarter as a donation or grant essentially. If folks are going onto Kickstarter to purchase games with the hope of getting them at lower than retail prices, well then those folks need to grow a brain.

Or if folks don't like the game they bought, now its Kickstarter's fault? Like you've never bought a dud of a game from a major manufacturer?
Through kickstarter, you typically get more info and feedback about the game direct from the designer than you do otherwise.


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