Editor’s note: While I seemingly rail against Kickstarter creators in this post, I am well aware that many good people are conducting good business on Kickstarter. I also acknowledge that many projects by first-time creators get funded and made because of Kickstarter, and I know these projects might not otherwise see the light of day. Kickstarter is a valuable service to our community and many others. This article is not to attack the concept or all creators, but to shine a light on those who seemingly abuse it.
I recently ranted on and on about a very late projects on Kickstarter on the most recent episode of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast. The rant began when I heard a recent episode of the Bear Swarm podcast, where a listener mentioned in an email a very late Kickstarter project.
During that episode, several people listening on our live stream began listing in our chat many of the chronically late Kickstarter projects they’ve contributed to.
And there seems to be some misconceptions regarding Kickstarter and a backer’s expectations.
- Yes, there is risk. You are essentially funding an unfinished project with pre-sales. Because the project isn’t finished, there’s a risk it will never get finished at all. This is a real risk, and we should all be aware of it before contributing. Meliorate that risk. Look at the profile of the Kickstarter creator. Read the comments for other projects they’ve created. Are people complaining about previous projects.
- You are NOT an “investor.” Investors contribute money in exchange for part ownership in the project or company. That is their compensation for taking a risk by contributing. YOUR compensation for contributing is your backer rewards.
But with the many chronically late projects, we bear some of the blame. Kickstarter project creators — at least many of them — are trading on their good names to fund their projects. We see familiar names: names we’ve seen in the credits of books on our shelves, on the covers and on the boxes.
Many respected names in the industry turn to Kickstarter as a way to fund and gauge interest in a project. We see their names, we know their work and track record and we feel comfortable contributing.
But there’s another mechanism necessary to make this work: comments. Contributor feedback. Me must make sure our voices are heard when things go right and when things go wrong. We have the ability and responsibility when someone trades on their good name to get us to part with our money to reinforce their good reputation when we are satisfied with their conduct.
And when a creator engages in conduct that makes them undeserving of their good name, we have a right and responsibility as contributors to make our displeasure heard. To do otherwise is a disservice to future backers of these creators’ projects.
Of course, there exists a mechanism to protect those undeserving of a good name: fan boys. Express your displeasure on a popular, but very late, project, and they’ll come out of the woodwork. “Stop being negative.” “He’s doing his best.”
Don’t let these fan boys intimidate you into silence. Argue back with them. Explain that you are a customer and have rights. It is not okay for someone to take your money and never deliver on their promise. That’s what crooks do.