Click on each picture to view the project:
As mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to highlight a few of the games I've backed on Kickstarter. This is not an advert, nor is it a review of each game, just a way to highlight the sort of things out there that you can find on Kickstarter. Watch this space for more updates as the games are released.
Click on each picture to view the project:
OK, let's talk about Kickstarter. There is a recent project that is currently getting a lot of the wrong sort of press. You probably know the story by now. Yogventures is a game that was being developed by Winterkewl based on the 'loveable' characters from the Yogscast. I have to be perfectly honest, being the time-starved saddo that I am, I'd never heard of Yogscast until this week, nevertheless I've learnt a lot about the Yogscast very quickly.
Most naively, Vale didn't spend much on contract Lawyers. One member of his team, a concept artist who created a lot of the designs featured during the Kickstarter campaign, got a better offer from Lucasarts and left with his $35,000 lump sum payment after two weeks work. Vale hadn't written in a clause outlining how an employee could legally stop working for them. This didn't sit well with the Yogscast crew, who lost faith in Vale's expertise as business manager and demanded all funds to be returned to them. Winterkewl managed to negotiate returning $150,000 back to Yogscast (more on that later) and returned to development without a main programmer. As is obvious, games development is hard enough at the best of times, the team lacking a strong programmer, limped through and eventually petered out and Yogventures was cancelled on July 17th of this year.
Anyway, lets get back to the Yogscast. Where has that $150,000 they negotiated gone? It was meant to be, to quote Kris Vale, used to "exclusively to create and ship all the physical rewards". This as well as help Winterkewl find a new lead programmer. So far the backers have not received any physical rewards and, as we know, no new programmer was found. Backers won't be getting a refund, although they have been promised a game code for a game they never wanted. Hmmm. It's all a bit of a mess. Winterkewl have been very naive, Yogscast have lost a lot of money and a lot of backers have been stung. What lessons can be learnt from this?
Backing a Kickstarter - What should you do?
1) Look at the scope of the project. How ambitious are they being? For example, in terms of video games, most experienced developers would look at what sort of budget has been set in a Kickstarter and know straight away whether it was not enough (or too much!). If the money backed rockets up, what sort of stretch goals have they set?
2) Look at the milestones they are setting. Are they achievable in the time they have proposed? Do they even have milestones set? A good Kickstarter, whether it is a video game or any other project will have set themselves short term goals. Any goals beyond the original scope of the project would then be the aforementioned stretch goals.
3) If you're coming into a project halfway through, how many updates have there been to the backers? Any Kickstarter that hasn't communicated what they are doing to their backers is either wasting a valuable resource (all feedback, positive or negative is immensely valuable) or they are hiding something.
4) Look at the rewards. If the rewards show no appreciable difference whatever you donate, even up to the $10,000 tier, either the Kickstarter has not made the effort to survey their users about what they want, or they are holding back money and giving you useless crap. This is a very difficult thing to get right and some completely honest Kickstarters are getting it horribly wrong. The rewards can make or break a kickstarter campaign. Nevertheless, look at the maximum you are willing to pay and see if the reward is something you would buy from Amazon or the high street (remember that?) for a similar amount. A good Kickstarter will always offer very good value for money as they are rewarding you for being the first to support them.
5) Think with your head, not your heart. Some campaigns seem very intoxicating, especially if it is part of a world you love so much. This may have been why Yogscast were so successful; they had a lot of very young and impetuous fans who were keen to see a cool product they really wanted. Seriously, if there was a Kickstarter for Half Life 3 - can you imagine how much it would raise? Jesus. The best thing to do is wait. Give yourself some time to think about it, if the timing works for you, leave until just before payday when you may have a few pennies left in the bank, or go for the smallest, least risky tier.
6) Look at how much they have already raised. If there is one hour to go, and the project has only got 1% of their goal - how likely is that the project will succeed? This is, of course, low risk, as your money won't be charged if the project is unsuccessful, but seriously, you've got better things to do. On the subject of being charged, remember that you will need to hold funds back to allow for any projects you've backed. This is for two reasons. Firstly, you don't want to find yourself suddenly overdrawn or lacking in funds after backing your oh, so compelling 'Deluxe Pringles Stacker presentation case' project 30 days ago and completely forgetting that money will be zinged out of your account as soon as it hits its target. Secondly, because of the first point, quite a lot of Kickstarters have issues with backers failing to pay. This is extremely frustrating, but also damaging the likelihood of a project being successful and affecting the status of other backers.
I hope this is useful. Kickstarter is still in its infancy and will continue to have problems like this. As the saying goes, 'Caveat Emptor' - let the buyer beware. Keep an eye out for a future post where I will outline some of the projects I have already backed.