Yogscast are a british duo who rose to YouTube fame with their videos of World of Warcraft and Minecraft. They became so successful (the were the first YouTube channel in the UK to reach one billion views) they formed their own YouTube network and brought in other YouTubers onto their channel. They were good at what they did, appealing to a younger audience, mainly of children under 14, and each presenter has a cutesy cartoony profile pic, in the art-style reminiscent of many a F2P mobile game. They are geared towards appealing to a younger audience of eager, naive gamers who lack the understanding of the more intricate parts of games development.
Yogscast licenced their IP to Winterkewl. In essence this means they let Winterkewl use their likenesses, resources and assets for a percentage of the eventual profits on the game. It is still unclear how much involvement the Yogscast crew have at this point. What is clear is the partnership with Winterkewl no longer exists. The updates from both Winterkewl and Yogscast have been, ahem, fairly contentious.
It seems that the development studio wasn't really a studio in the conventional sense. The apology posted on Kickstarter by lead Developer Kris Vale shows someone who has been through a lot over the past two years, including losing his wife to divorce and almost his day job. This implies that perhaps Vale's main job isn't lead developer of Winterkewl. Oops.
The apology also includes a breakdown of all the expenses during the two year development campaign, most of which seem fair enough. But once you start to pick apart the figures and examine the mistakes Vale made you can see that they don't entirely add up.
Yogventures has 13,647 backers who funded the project to the value of $567,665. The initial goal was $250,000. After Kickstarter and Amazon took their cut of the money raised, the development team were left with about $415,000. This is a woefully small amount (although still much bigger than their planned $250,000 budget) to work on a fairly ambitious project. Looking at the figures breakdown, Winterkewl have been left in debt to a tune of $100,000. This is not nice and shows how hard running a business can be. It also shows why the Yogscast chaps are a bit, let's say, miffed.
Watch the Yogventures Kickstarter pitch in the video above
Backing a Kickstarter - What should you do?
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.