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Monday, January 20, 2014

Follow Up Thoughts on Last Week's Interview - Crowdfunding and RPGs

You can read, watch and / or listen to me being interviewed over at the Gaming Ballistic Blog. We touched on a lot of topics, but the first one I feel a need to expand upon is "Crowdsourcing of RPG Products".

I don't think anyone starts a Kickstarter with the idea of screwing folks over. Really, I don't. Not even the worse of the lot, the Mike Nystuls, James Mals, Toms, Gareths, Joshuas and the rest of them went into the process thinking that a successful Kickstarter could lead to their greatest failure. They had some amazing idea that they wanted to see in print and the Kickstarter money machine was there to help them.

Which brings up a point I'm pretty sure I missed during the interview - the greater the success (especially for those that aren't coming from some sort of business background) can lead to the biggest failures. If your Kickstarter "fails to fund" - no harm, no foul. Your backers aren't out a cent (unless it's one of those "Variable Funding" deals at Indiegogo). If you fund with a bunch of stretch goals that sounded great on paper, but the reality is that they are less then feasible, both in cost and time, your extra success just screwed you over. More importantly, you screwed your backers over.

Does that mean that stretch goals should be avoided? Not at all, but the physical product should be what the base goal funds. Any extras probably should be PDF only (much like the FATE Kickstarter) unless you really know your break even numbers, and as postage increases are a variable, the less physical product you add, the less that variable will hurt you. Because it will hurt you. Especially as the project runs long - the longer you take to ship, the greater the chance a postage increase will bite you in the ass.

There ARE project creators that KNOW how to do this. They can handle stretch goals, exceptional funding success and get their projects out on time or even early. I'd never hesitate to back a project by +Greg Gillespie , +Joseph Bloch , +Zach Glazar , +Kevin Crawford or +Fred Hicks . These guys can DO. There are others that can also do, but they do so significantly late, so no shout outs to them ;)

I am wary of project creators that offer a project right after another project, before the first one is even written they are looking to fund another. I find this to be one of the biggest warning signs of someone that has been bitten by the "Kickstarter is a Gold Mine bug", and it is seen in the Nystul trifecta of failures, The Quantum RPG and Myth & Magic. I'm sure there are others, but these come to mind unbidden. Look for the signs and maybe you won't throw more money after bad.

I still feel that Kickstarter and other crowdsourced funding is an overall positive for the RPG hobby, but I fear it may have a similar result of the D20 Implosion had on 3x except this time it won't be the retailers stuck with a bunch of unsellable shit, but instead it will consumers with money tied up in RPG projects that don't deliver. Heck, already retailers complain that Kickstarter projects hurt their revenue. Money lost to Kickstarter failures wont even put playable projects into gamers hands let alone retail stores. (retail is a whole 'nother topic, what with Amazon undercutting most brick and mortar retailers on a piece by piece comparison).

Alright, enough for tonight. I'll flesh out some other stuff (blogging and such) in further posts.


  1. I know almost nothing about this, but I feel that I should. So, dorky question: how much of the money goes to paying the writer guy a salary? Is there mandatory fine print somewhere that says this? If so (or if not), why do the funders not seem to care? Or do they? To me, a Kickstarter campaign in some cases seems to be almost a marketing tool, as if to say, "I'm more than just another self-published Lulu/RPGNow product. I'm worth $15,000 (or whatever) so take me seriously." I'm not trying to be critical, only asking. Am I off base?

  2. Oakes, I wrote a little bit for the Interface Zero 2.0 KS project, 3 cents per word was the freelancer rate.

  3. What percent of money goes where is entirely up to the person (or people) running it. And as we have seen, some of them are not so good at it. There are some "major" companies that use KS now and then, but they have been in business a while and presumably know what they are doing. It's mostly the start-ups that sometimes get a bit wobbly on their feet.

    In other KS news, *a lot* of money has changed hands over there. Check this out:


    First line:

    "Over $55 million was raised for tabletop games on Kickstarter in 2013, according to an analysis by ICO Partners, a UK-based consulting firm specializing in online games."