I realize that I’ve been looking at Kickstarter wrongly with respect to a fairly fundamental question: When does it reach steady state? When does it happen that the high-profile projects slow down, hit a nice, predictable rate, and my budget for supporting such things stops getting busted? Answer: It doesn’t.
Case in point: the promised Kickstarter campaign for the the Machine of Death game hit yesterday afternoon, achieved its US$23,000 goal in about twelve hours, and is plugging away for another month. The sheer creativity that this game will demand of its players¹ (not to mention the track records of the principals) virtually guarantees the that stretch goals (and there will be many, many stretch goals) are likewise sticky and attractive. I’m guessing somewhere between US$150-200K by the time it’s all done.
And yet, the most intriguing part has little to do with the game itself. About two thirds of the way down the project page is a paragraph that I can only call a soft launch announcement for what could be the most exciting Kickstarter-related thing of 2013:
I’ll also be working with TopatoCo’s new subsidiary, Make That Thing, which is a dedicated fulfillment agency specifically for campaigns like this. TopatoCo has a warehouse full of people who do nothing but receive pallets and ship packages all day long for over fifty of the internet’s top artists (including me, Kris, and Ryan). So they and I will be working together to ensure that all the products and rewards from this campaign will be produced and shipped to you as quickly and efficiently as possible. [emphasis original]
One of the perennial complaints about Kickstarter campaigns (and by no means is this limited to the [web]comics sphere) is the sometimes very long time it takes to fulfill pledge rewards, even once the project in question has been actually produced. A very successful project can overwhelm a creator with shipping and fulfillment for literally months, and now TopatoCo are stepping into that niche.
Nothing is known outside the walls of either current or future TopatoCo World Headquarters about Make That Thing, so I’ll be sitting down next weekend with TopatoCo VP of Asskicking Holly Rowland to ask her about it. TopatoCo has been extraordinarily careful about picking clients and not growing their business past the point that they can handle the work, but if Make That Thing is truly a subsidiary, with its own systems, procedures, and staff, and if they decide to make their services available to Kickstarter projects outside of the TopatoCo stable? Game changer. Now we know why they needed that whole damn building for themselves² — they’re on their way to become the Amazon of one-off projects.
And that was going to be all I wrote until the four jolly lads at Cyanide and Happiness took the only logical step after turning down TV money for a C&H show last month — they launched their Kickstarter about ten hours ago and are already past 25% of their base goal of US$250,000. I’m very curious how much money will be necessary to achieve their top stretch goal (it’s presently masked), which is:
The C&H guys will 4-way joust to the death
Presumably, the last survivor will get to keep the money. No bets on this one, I can think up completely plausible reasons why each of the four would be the winner of that particular deathmatch. I hope they stream it.
¹ Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assasination is going to reward those who are quick with their wits and able to jump from idea to idea with ease. The description of the project is going to act as a filter for those who will not be temperamentally inclined to excel at or enjoy this game, as it is full of dancing language, leaping from place to place in a dizzying fashion. In other words, I have to plunk down money on this sumbitch.
² And if they do become a fulfillment house for major Kickstarter projects, they’ll need to start looking for another, larger building pretty damn soon. Maybe just head back to Eastworks and take over the whole thing?