Brook Gentlestream
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I think they understand that if they send you a free copy, you may choose not to buy one. Further, cancelling a pledge based in your negative interpretations of the prototype is no different than someone else who cancels their pledge based in watching your review.


edit: To be honest, I feel that its MUCH more of an ethical violation to give negative reviews of games that are not yet released and may yet go through changes, before they are entered into the market.
 
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Andrew McGrath
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I think it comes down to your degree of separation.

If I back a project, I'm doing it based on what I see on the page. If I had some extra information, such as a review copy, that could drastically change my opinion of the project. Do you think that constitutes a form of insider trading?

I don't.

Seeing as how you are not gaining any benefit from the success or failure of a project and are only stating your opinion (with words and money) about the project, if after gaining new knowledge that's leads you to believe the project should not be funded, I think you are completely justified in retracting your support. Especially if you use those funds to support another project more deserving of it.
 
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Bwian, just
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lordrahvin wrote:
To be honest, I feel that its MUCH more of an ethical violation to give negative reviews of games that are not yet released and may yet go through changes, before they are entered into the market.

I can see the concern. But unless the project is saying it won't deliver until nine months down the road or so, I think it's safe to go with the preview game as delivered. Any changes would either have to be playtested and incorporated into the printing schedule, which means either missing a deadline or haphazard testing. (Not that missing deadlines are uncommon, but this is yet another delay.)

I'm not a big reviewer, but thought I'd share anyway... robot

ObOnTopic: I wouldn't have expected that reviewers were automatically going to back the project, so I guess I wouldn't be bothered by a reviewer canceling any backing. (I can see asking if a negative review was coming, to address issues as soon as possible, though.) Unless you are sent the preview copies in lieu of a published copy of the game when it's done?
 
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Andrew Rowse
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With the review copies I have sent out for Zombies at your Heels, I am not expecting the recipients to back the game.

Obviously I would like them to, and am hoping that the experience of playing the game makes them decide to buy hundreds of copies for everybody they know, but their important role in the process is to let others know about the game.

From my point of view, the cost of the review copies is an investment in the campaign. The reviewers are less likely to invest if they get the product for 'free' (in reality, not free, since they provide a service in return), but they can reach many, many more people who will invest.

If the game is something the reviewer doesn't like, I do expect them to appoach the dislike in a professional manner. Statements like "this isn't my sort of game, but would appeal to..." are fine, and useful information for the community. And if they dislike the game, I would expect them to drop funding - I don't think it reflects badly on their integrity at all.
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Sam Mercer
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Well it's very interesting actually

When you review, you have to step into this zone of "not you". For the review you are "the reviewer" that has certain things to say, and others not to say.

Whereas backing: you are YOU. You may not personally like a game you review, but you wouldn't say "I dont like this style of game" as obviously as if you were talking to your gaming friends about it right? You have to weigh up the pros and the cons and all that stuff, your review is not for you, it is for the public to see - so it is your public face. This face has to deal with all sides very fairly wheras your private face (that is the one backing the kickstarter) is very prone to persuasions and changes and personal ideas and all that stuff.

Ps

Andrew, just recieved the copy of zombies at my heels, havent played yet but so far: VERY impressed - I love the little plastic holder seperately: I need to talk to you about your printers as I am shopping around for my upcoming game AtomPunk as well ¬_¬ lol

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Robert Burke
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If you don't have the money, you don't have the money. There is absolutely nothing unethical about canceling any pledge for this reason.

However, it is pretty lame to cancel a pledge for any other reason. You should be 100% sure you are going to follow through on a pledge before you make one.

It makes no difference whether you are reviewing the game or not.

Many of those who use Kickstarter are funding a dream they have been working for years on, having someone back you then pull the plug is like a kick in the stomach and seriously bad Karma. Just do your research BEFORE you pledge. And once you do pledge, keep your word.

For the record, the below is from Kickstarter's FAQ:

Can I cancel a pledge?

By pledging, you are committing to supporting that person’s project; canceling that commitment is discouraged. If you must cancel, visit the project page and click “Manage Your Pledge.” At the bottom of the next page you’ll see the “Cancel Pledge” button.






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JonnyRotten
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I sent you a private answer to this, since you asked me outside of BGG, but I think this is a good topic, so I am going to re-answer and elaborate here.

I don't back kickstarters any more unless I have done a lot of research on the game. I don't feel that games that are not THOROUGHLY playtested should even be on kickstarter. If a game doesn't have enough information about it on there, I'm out. I don't back a project unless I am 100% committed to backing it. I backed Omen because I had played it, and loved it. I back everything Sentinels of the Multiverse related because I was an early adopter, and my wife, my group, and I love the game. There are several other projects I've backed. Some good, some I've been disappointed in, but I wouldn't ever back and then pull out, unless it was for purely financial reasons.

That being said, I feel that you have an ethical obligation to report your entire feelings about any game you review. If I feel a reviewer is only giving positive reviews time after time, I usually start putting less and less weight on their reviews, or completely stop reading/watching/listening to them. You guys do a good job with the pro/con system, continue to not pull any punches.

I guess if the main concern is hurting the designers feelings, or losing them sales, then I ask this: Would you have the same reservations about a mass market game? If you are completely torn between posting a negative review, or giving it a positive spin, then I suggest politely emailing the designer and telling him that you are not going to post a review at all, and let them know your issues, as well as what you enjoyed in the game. Negative feedback is part of the process, so is positive. If a game was playtested thoroughly, there should be very few glaring negative issues.

If the concern is that you feel that you should continue to back them at some level since you got a free copy of the game, then continue to back them. But as a designer, sending out prototype copies of your game, whether to reviewers, playtesters, or game companies, is just part of the deal.

Overall, lots of good feedback here.
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Brook Gentlestream
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Don't get me wrong: I love negative reviews, and especially pro/con analysis. I just think that when it comes to a product that hasn't hit market yet and only a couple of people have access to, a reviewer shouldn't take the same license to give highly biased or negative reviews that may kill the project for everyone. Once ithits market, rip the hell out of it if you want - knowing full well that others out there may exprezs an alternate opinion. But if you know that alternate reviews can't be done yetbecause you are one of the few people who have seen the product, I think a bit more discretion, caution, and self-censorship is advised - even to the point of not doing the review at all.
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Brook Gentlestream
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For what it's worth, I will be checking out your reviews in the coming months.
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Bruce Gazdecki
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lordrahvin wrote:
For what it's worth, I will be checking out your reviews in the coming months.


Same here. I liked your reviews of Small World (my game du jour) and Quarriors. I was also hoping your review of Ticket to Ride would change my mind (I'd love to at least like the game), but alas it did not. Maybe someday....
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Paul Doherty
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Magus And Princess wrote:
My wife and I have a weekly review series here at BGG that we call "A He says, She says review". We have now reviewed 2 or 3 games during active Kickstarter campaigns and we are actively working on one or two more for campaigns that are live or going live. Recently while working on a review of Colossal Cave(which is still active so people should go check out the game and our review!) an interesting etiquette/ethics question came up.

To make a long story semi short, I went to the dentist, I got a $4,000 estimate for a few crowns and root canals(and that is with insurance and taking care of my teeth!). Immediately after we started canceling any expenses we could, including Kickstarter backing. One of the games was Colossal Cave which we were actively reviewing. The developer sent me a message and asked if we were canceling our backing because we did not like the game/if he could expect a negative review. I explained the situation, he was very understanding and a few days later we came into a little money so I rebacked the project. Before that though, we had an interesting discussion about if it was acceptable for a reviewer to cancel backing on a game or not based on their thoughts from playing the prototype.

This conversation has stayed with me and now I want the BGG Kickstarter communities thoughts. If someone backs a game and is then sent a copy of the game for review, is it bad manors and or unethical to cancel support for the game based on negative impressions from the review? The developer of Colossal Cave said he sees no reason for a reviewer to keep backing a game if you dislike it. I however felt as though while it may not be unethical, that it is bad etiquette and could reflect badly upon our integrity as reviewers. Thoughts?


I'd say if you're intending to review a Kickstarter game that you not back it at all to maintain neutrality.
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Brook Gentlestream
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Magus And Princess wrote:
Amanda and I really dislike and will probably never review Dominon. Its such a beloved game and it just does not click with either of us.

Dominion is definitely a love it or hate it game.
Although I'm in the "love it" camp, and feel its an awesome game to have in a collection, the truth is it's not one of those games that gets you excited to play it. I'm excited to play Sentinels of the Multiverse and Nature of the Beast. I can't wait for my next game of Ares Project. Dominion... eh. But I have no doubt that once the game starts, I'd have fun. I'm just not likely to suggest it or be enthusiastic if its suggested.
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Marlon de Silva
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Magus And Princess wrote:


Quote:

For the record, the below is from Kickstarter's FAQ:

Can I cancel a pledge?

By pledging, you are committing to supporting that person’s project; canceling that commitment is discouraged. If you must cancel, visit the project page and click “Manage Your Pledge.” At the bottom of the next page you’ll see the “Cancel Pledge” button.


Very good and very valid points. Just when everyone else has me set on thinking its ok to drop you point out that the TOS basically state you are entering into a contract of sorts shake



I agree that you are entering into a contract, and a decision to back a project should be researched.

I'd also like to point out that not all people who are running KS projects seem to understand this, and I've seen some designers make pretty drastic changes mid-stream or (worse still) after the project is funded. Some designers are quite stingy with the information they give out, choosing to reveal their game little by little as the funding increases.
Thankfully, this is more the exception than the norm. I guess that's the high-risk nature of KS.
I also get the feeling that as the KS phenomenon evolves, we're all getting a bit more wary of backing projects these days until we see rules etc.

It's interesting that SotM was mentioned by jgilmour; I LOVE this game, but this is one that I actually felt needed more development before it was released, at least as far as the first edition went. To be fair, the first edition was not a KS project.

But back to the original discussion: Many of the opinions so far have been from the perspective of reviewers. Let me give you the opinion of someone who eagerly consumes those reviews (including yours).

From my perspective, it comes down to honesty. I think that the really popular reviewers (yourself included) only become popular because they have integrity in their reviews, and we (consumers of those reviews) recognise that. I'm very careful about whose opinion I trust, and I put a lot of effort into finding reviewers whose tastes seem to match my own. I find your reviews particularly valuable, because you both have different tastes, and this is more representative of the people that I play with.

You are a reviewer, but you are also a consumer. If you have backed a project, I assume (because I already trust you) that you have done your research. If you get a prototype copy of this game and you really don't like it, then the game probably wasn't what you thought it was (I trust that you are able to look past non-final production values). Just because you pulled your backing, it doesn't mean that I will.

I recognise that as reviewers, your opinions carry weight and can potentially affect the success of a project, but that's the risk a designer takes when they send you a prototype. Designers have to be prepared to take the good with the bad; they are expecting us to take a risk backing their project, so they need to be willing to risk their project being held up to honest scrutiny, even if that includes having people pull out. My guess is that designers are careful about who they send their prototypes to for reviews.

Peace, Marlz.

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Bruce Gazdecki
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Magus And Princess wrote:
Bruiser419 wrote:
lordrahvin wrote:
For what it's worth, I will be checking out your reviews in the coming months.


Same here. I liked your reviews of Small World (my game du jour) and Quarriors. I was also hoping your review of Ticket to Ride would change my mind (I'd love to at least like the game), but alas it did not. Maybe someday....


Hey, glad to hear it! I love the crap out of Quarriors and ESPECIALLY Small World(god id kill for the Ipad version to be updated to include 3+ players or Underground). As for Ticket to Ride, I would say I was shocked that someone does not like it...but I think we all have a game we dislike that would shock others. Amanda and I really dislike and will probably never review Dominon. Its such a beloved game and it just does not click with either of us. I can see most of why others like it...but it just does not click with us and we feel every game plays too similarly. I know if we ever reviewed it that it would just be a big stink and not worth the headache.


Yah, I wish I could explain it. I mean, I'll play it if the others want to, but I don't get much enjoyment out of it.

And I don't care much for Dominion either.
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