Posted by: markfender | September 18, 2013

Gatekeepers

There’s a weird phenomenon I’ve been noticing lately amongst Kickstarters.

kickstarter2Back when Kickstarter first started becoming a name in gaming circles, everyone was doing one. And they were getting funded. People were excited, both for the eventual product, but also for the chance to skip the gatekeepers of the industry.

For the longest time, if you wanted to make a product you had to get it in a store. This required a lot of money, or the support of a larger company with resources already in place. Your great game idea had to be shopped around to various other companies in the hopes that they would produce it. But these are businesses and businesses want to make money. So, when the market dropped out of adventure games, for instance, companies stopped making adventure games. If you still had a love for the genre, you were out of luck of getting your game onto store shelves.

But then there was Kickstarter! Nostalgic products like adventure games had a new life! Producers were able to find a willing audience. Lots of products that had a limited audience were able to connect with people who wanted that sort of niche product. Gone were the barriers to production. Producers were able to skip the gatekeepers and go directly to the audience. All was good.

Except, it wasn’t good. Because some of these producers weren’t able to actually produce what they said they were able to. While some realized their fault and did their best to return the money they raised, others just proved to be terrible business people and spent the money of their investors in terrible ways, producing nothing except apologies. And that made consumers wary.

Now, you don’t just have to have a fancy video on Kickstarter to get funded. Now, you need to show a production schedule, show that you’ve produced something in the past and can repeat in the future, or show that you’re made up of industry veterans who should be able to produce something. People are gunshy about giving their money to an unknown entity. They want to know that their investment will produce an actual product. The consumer has become the gatekeeper.

And that makes it difficult to achieve the stated purpose of Kickstarter. Producers now have to jump through the same hoops they had to before with trying to get a larger company to produce their product. Except they’re skipping a board and going direct to the consumer. Some of this is good (You should have a business plan) but some of this is bad. After all, what if you’re not made up of industry veterans? How can you convince people your idea is worthy of funding? We’re seeing some blowback on the idea of Kickstarter. Consumer protections are there for a reason. Established businesses have to account for these protections when they decide to bring a product to market, making these a much safer investment for consumers. But Kickstarter skips those, leaving the consumer having to make the choice about what to invest in, with nothing really to go on except a web page. Both sides are in the same position before the rise of Kickstarter – we’re just skipping store shelves.

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Responses

  1. I found that putting up some pictures of boobs helped, even through the campaign storyline explicitly stated I’ve never published a book before. Never underestimate the power of tatas.

  2. when are you going to kickstarter your skirmish game with Jumper, Matrix, wanted, and [can’t remember the fourth..]

    • Whenever I rope someone into sculpting some miniatures for said game. (The other movie was Push, btw.)

      • Ahhhh Push.

        And then there is that whole IP thing. Custom brew system? Or based off something else?

  3. Well, it’s not connected to any IPs. I made up my own setting for it and just borrowed the concepts of those movie’s action-physics. It’s a custom system as well, since I felt like there should be more “action” than is in most mini games. But it needs a lot more playtesting before it would be ready for mainstream.


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