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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Kickstarter - Inheritance (Back This RPG and Complain and You May Get Booted)



Some of you may remember Luke Crane's last Kickstarter - The Burning Wheel Codex. Well, Luke apparently ran that campaign "in character" and refunded folks who complained about the slow shipping (read the link, it is eye opening) He also responded to criticism with responses like:


Now, you might think this flies in the face of Kickstarter Community Guidelines, and maybe it does, but since Luke is the one that gets to interpret that:


Yep, you guessed it. Luke is the one to talk to to complain about - Luke.

So, now Luke has a new Kickstarter running called Inheritance. It may rock. It may suck balls. Doesn't matter one bit when this is the Ricks & Challenges:


Late? Shut up.

Package never showed up? Shut up.

Maybe your criticism was too harsh? Expect a refund. You should have shut up.

Imagine if Ken Whitman were allowed such a disclaimer. Does Luke get a pass because of his position at Kickstarte?.

Yeah, if this is the example that the Head of Games for Kickstarter sets, I'm not very hopeful for the future.

12 comments:

  1. Wow...just wow. Puts new tarnish on KS. :-|

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  2. Honestly, it is almost exactly what I would put as the disclaimer on a KS if I were to launch one.

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  3. Actually, I think it's pretty cool. "Here's your money, there's the door." is a perfectly acceptable response when a merchant is a free man. Keep in mind that it costs money to give a refund due to transaction fees, so in general you have to earn it. The linked blogger comes off as an entitled, sniveling child that can't be bothered to wait for his toys and gets mad when he isn't treated like The Little Prince that Mommy always said he was.
    To be clear, the guy's complaint is that he was *refunded in full*, which is what Whitman's backers dream of.

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  4. I know its a popular thing to knock Luke because he can be plenty abrasive but its worth mentioning that the BW kickstarter started shipping when it was supposed to, got slightly delayed due to the con season and, as of now pretty much all books were fulfilled as of mid September. Any late books were only a few weeks late. Considering most of the KS I have backed deliver a year or more later getting anyhting a few months after I Kickstarted it is incredibly fast. Is Luke abrasive yes, should people complain if a KS is a week or late when 2 people are doing the fulfillment..? Well honestly, I don't think so. The OP was acting like an ass (he basically admits that he had nothing to complain about as the project was delivering basically on time) and got shown the door with a refund.

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    1. Part of this (and I'm saying this as someone contemplating how to run my own kickstarter) is the fine art of setting expectations for delivery. As a project manager, what I would do is make my very best estimates for a realistic time for how long everything should take, and then multiply it by 1.5 and communicate that. Do you need to take a man-hour to individually pack and wrap each game for 1,500 people? Do you have a team of three? If you expect to spend five hours per day doing the packing, you should expect that it will take 100 days, and you should communicate it will take 150. If you overachieve, booyah. If two of your team come down with the flu for four days or your kids get sick, you can still meet your schedule. If it all goes to play, you over-deliver.

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  5. It takes me about 2 weeks to mail 150 packages, so 2,000 in 3 or 4 doesn't seem like a big deal.

    I understand the guy's complaint regarding abrasive artist, but tattling on him to KS just seems either lowdown or childish. Even if he is the complaints department.

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  6. I cannot agree that being "shown the door with a refund" without requesting one is an acceptable way to run a kickstarter. This is not an ordinary over-the-counter transaction; it's not equivalent to a brick-and-mortar merchant refusing to sell to a customer. What Luke Crane effectively did with these involuntary refunds was convert these funds into no-interest loans in his own favor; he kept the money from funding through project completion. That's pretty abusive; in my view it's unethical. If a kickstarter was accompanied by a written disclosure that complaints would result in funds being converted into a no-interest loan with summary refund at or near project completion, my guess is that far fewer would choose to back that project.

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  7. It isn't no-interest. It costs about 10% in fees to refund a backer, which means that you're paying to see their back. Well above market rate for business loans (about 6%, give or take), in case you were wondering. That 10% is actually a higher annual rate since he had the money for less than a year, and the fees are taken out up front. With better numbers (apparently there were exchange rates involved) and a financial calculator I could tell you exactly what it cost Mr. Crane to tell the guy to pound sand. I seriously doubt that finances were his motivation for the refunds. I do believe that Mr. Crane has a conflict of interest what with being the guy in charge of complaints about himself, and truth be told none of the Kickstarter employees should have their own Kickstarters if they wish to be taken seriously on creator compliance issues.

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    1. It is a no-interest loan from the backer’s perspective. The backer gets no more than the amount he pledged refunded regardless of how long the project's creator had his money. Whatever hit the project creator might take in fees, the backer still effectively lent his money for a time without receiving anything in return.

      I think the project creator's perspective is a bit more complicated. With respect to the fees, Kickstarter collects them upfront when the project is funded. The creator presumably eats those fees when refunding. But the fees are a known quantity and project creators presumably factor these fees (and contingencies like the percentage of refunds that might be necessary) into their pricing scheme. I'm not saying that profit was the motivation for the refunds at issue; like you, I assume financial gain was not the motive. But whether Crane really lost money in a meaningful sense in the aggregate based on however many involuntary refunds he issued would be difficult to determine. (With respect to small RPG project creators on Kickstarter I'm not sure profit is a meaningful concept; surely, they are all financial losers if the time spent in creation is priced at even the minimum wage.)

      Small business loans are not a reasonable comparison. Obtaining a small business loan requires assets for collateral, a demonstrable profit stream, or the like. I doubt the folks who are using Kickstarter to fund small-time RPGs could march into a bank and secure a bank loan at small business rates to fund their game. If they could do so, they would (because as you point out those rates are somewhat better than the Kickstarter fees).

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  8. It isn't no-interest. It costs about 10% in fees to refund a backer, which means that you're paying to see their back. Well above market rate for business loans (about 6%, give or take), in case you were wondering. That 10% is actually a higher annual rate since he had the money for less than a year, and the fees are taken out up front. With better numbers (apparently there were exchange rates involved) and a financial calculator I could tell you exactly what it cost Mr. Crane to tell the guy to pound sand. I seriously doubt that finances were his motivation for the refunds. I do believe that Mr. Crane has a conflict of interest what with being the guy in charge of complaints about himself, and truth be told none of the Kickstarter employees should have their own Kickstarters if they wish to be taken seriously on creator compliance issues.

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  9. Loved luke's games ever since I played in one of his demos at I-Con on the stony brook campus (burning wheel was super refreshing system after playing years of 3.0 dnd and i found that he stamped his books if you purchased from him in person was pretty cool).

    His last kickstarter campaign was a fucking pain in the ass to deal with (the updates sucked, his shtick was annoying as fuck and he refused to break character to answer some simple fucking questions about the kickstater was taken too far), its kinda sad he is in bed with kickstarter and really makes me question my current pledge on his current campaign.

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