Posted by: gschloesser | August 31, 2011

Kickstarter System – Comments

While I understand the purpose of the Kickstarter system, I remain dubious.  I realize that it is often difficult to have a major publisher agree to publish a game, particularly from a first-time designer.  However, most really good games (and, sadly, many not-so-good games) are ultimately published by an established company.  The Kickstarter system seems to be a method wherein just about anyone can get funding to self-publish one of their games.  I realize that a few established companies have used the system to gauge public interest in a particular game, but for the most part, the games being offered are by first-time designers.  I worry about how much development the game has received.  Therefore, I am hesitant to pledge money on an unknown commodity.



  1. I suspect most of the projects that succeed, this is the case. Most of the ones I’ve seen seem to fall into two categories. (Though I should mention that by no means have I spent a ton of time on Kickstarter assessing game projects.)

    There are those that are seeking relatively modest sums, either a company testing the waters/getting the final bit of capital to print a game, or first timers who have enough money for most of the print run but need just a little more or are also testing the waters. It seems like Kickstarter is a way to get a more reliable gauge of interest. It’s easy for people to say “I want it!” in a forum post. Seeing how many are willing to plunk down money in advance on Kickstarter is a lot more reliable of a number.

    More and more seem to be looking for the full cost of the project. When you start asking for $10,000+, that’s not just the print run, it’s the cost of artwork and other stuff. (Or you are looking to print too many.) Then I think you have to do what David outlines below and have a good foundation of grassroots support and interest in the game to have any hope of meeting the target. (Or you can hope you have the greatest sounding game idea ever, but the longer Kickstarter is around, the less likely that’s going to be enough
    of a hook.)

    I waffle around a lot on how I feel about Kickstarter. It is kind of odd to me when companies use it, but at the same time, I’m aware that most small board gaming companies are really just one or two person shows that got a little organized and not that removed from the guy with a game type projects. There’s an element of wanting to support the little guy and so on, but also a big concern about will the little guy be able to see this all the way through.

    This is the one that’s intriguing me right now – ttp://

    On the slow boat to China thing… I think a few years ago publishers were having the same problem. They just learned to not even guess at dates until very late in the process. I think one of the problems Kickstarter is going to start having is that long delay between when you pledge your support and when you see anything out of it.

  2. Kickstarter combines the P500, a vanity press, and Kiva.

    The p500: A way of gauging interest from customers before producing something. You may think you have a good game – and it may really be a good game – but there’s no way to know if it has an audience for it. Great games and great ideas never make it to market, or make it to market and fail for completely random reasons.Established companies do not always put out good games that are well received just because they put up all the money up front. You would have to assay how good the games from KS are compared to all games published in the traditional way.

    The vanity press: Tons of garbage that deserve to be prevented from publication or seriously edited before seeing publication end up on the street without having to go through an editorial process. The same applies, even more so, to The Game Crafter, where you don’t even have to convince anyone to buy the game before going to print. Here you’re right; you have to pitch well enough to get people to put up the money, which is better than nothing, but not really enough. After you get the money, there is all the reason to cut costs and labor. However, from what we’ve seen so far, KS companies are doing a good job, on average.

    Kiva: Some people don’t have insider connections or much money and want to raise themselves up by their bootstraps. They don’t want to produce a poor quality Game Crafter project (for the record, Game Crafter is not poor quality, but people may not know that). This provides a means for the money to come in directly, without having to give up game rights, and without having to go knocking on publishers’ doors. Remember – not every KS project is funded. It has to look great, offer value, give good rewards, and be promoted with hard work (or have a built-in fan club).

    Overall, I think, like everything else, that there is good and bad in everything. But more options is always a good thing.


  3. I’ve backed five different things on Kickstarter. Two of those have been boardgames (Eminent Domain and Über Fancy Glory to Rome). Tasty Minstrel offered access to the prototype version of Eminent Domain, and I own GtR. I agree with Greg and David. It’s hard to just blindly drop $30+ on an unproven game by an unproven designer. I knew what I was getting into with GtR, and Homesteaders proved that Tasty Minstrel had some potential. The prototype of EmDo solidified that decision.

    One thing about the system, everything takes twice as long to arrive than they estimate. It really is a slow boat from China. :-)

  4. If Kickstarter could be used by devs who were willing to show up at a lot of cons and demo their prototypes, it could be a very good thing. The web presence of KS could get the word out, then actual experience at cons and the word-of-mouth that generates could help people decide to support a good product.

  5. I agree for the current moment. If a design is sound enough, it’s not hard to find a publisher willing to commit their own money to the design.

    The next few years will be different, however. I believe that we have just experienced a Renaissance of gaming, enabled by unparallelled communication (the Internet), huge advances in printing technology, the availability of global outsourcing for materials (China), and most importantly, easy credit.

    If the market becomes diluted with substandard titles–not unlike the video game crash of 1983–the many fragmented publishers will contract, collapse, and consolidate. If that happens, kickstarting may become one of the few ways to get a solid game published.

    But for now, it’s a gimmick: one to push development costs and risk onto consumers. $73,000+ towards a blander Glory to Rome??!?

  6. I have stayed out of the KS loop. The above discussion was in 2011. It is now 2013. What does everyone think now?

  7. I have only backed one KickStarter game (Dragon Valley) and have not yet played the game. The rules and system are confusing, and repeated readings have not stirred a strong desire in me to play the game. I will eventually play it and hope my initial reaction based on the rules is incorrect.

    I have played other Kickstarter games and have enjoyed a few and disliked others. My original opinion stands.

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