So there was a fairly big project implosion on Kickstarter last week, a guy that may have fundamentally misrepresented what the money would be used for, spent it all over about thirteen months and then told his backers they are outtalucko with respect to the rewards but that they will all get paid back, no really. This has led some to conclude that Kickstarter is fundamentally broken because people don’t exercise enough due diligence when backing projects. I both agree and disagree with this premise.
I don’t think that Kickstarter is fundamentally broken (at least not yet — its use as a second-order financial instrument is something I’m still wary of), and I think that people don’t exercise enough due diligence, at least in some communities of Kickstarter. I’ve written before about the reasonably dismal record of people campaigning to fund dead-tree comics who have no experience (writing, drawing, publishing) and figure that a promise that the story will be so awesome you guys is enough to magically produce thousands of dollars — and that comics people generally don’t buy it¹. Conversely, I’ve learned that the boardgame sector of Kickstarter is (anecdotally, at least) willing to take flyers on new, unproved talent, perhaps because importing Eurogames is so bloody expensive, getting burned for US$20 or US$25 every third or fourth campaign may still get you more product for your expenditure than you would see otherwise.
It’s possible for experienced creators with a history of making stuff to get bogged down making things and thus to see expected shipping dates slip in the face of massive production demands (especially when unexpected circumstances come into play). Frequent updates and progress reports can help soothe those situations, but I’ve heard that Mr Guy from the first ‘graf was making lots of updates that weren’t entirely truthful about the progress being made, so trust is a key factor. Creators with a history of not screwing up (or even better, limiting their projects to what they know they can deliver) and creators with relationships with proven fulfillment services ought to be just fine. Kickstarter’s only broken if its function was to facilitate doomed projects.
- Speaking of Kickstarts, one launched just yesterday for Ross Nover’s first collection of The System (with the obligatory less-than-24-hours funding success, helped by a modest US$3000 goal), and one is about to end as Maki Naro’s Sufficently Remarkable approaches its final two days. The traditional last-few-days bump is looking a little muted for Naro’s campaign, so now’s the time to get in on that if you were gonna. Me, I’m just glad that he cleared the US$30K threshold for the official Pineapple Maki Drink Contest which I am entering so hard. I made up a batch of falernum last night just to ensure I’d have enough for my drunkological experiments, and I stand ready to sacrifice pineapples to the cause. Viva!
- Hat tip to boing boing for noting that four months after he dropped some magic on us, Randall Munroe’s slow-playing comic, Time, has finally wrapped up with some 3000+ frames. You can view the whole thing in various speeds at Geekwagon. The word epic is frequently overused, but it seems appropriate in this case. Countdown to Monroe’s next uncredibly seriously large project starts … now.
¹ Seriously, I saw a pitch once for a guy that had never produced anything comicky in his life, wanted twelve grand, and you didn’t even get a print copy of the comic — a whole 20 pages worth! — until US$35 in pledge. I think he raised a total of seven bucks, on account of it was a screamingly obvious Bad Deal.