Monday, February 20, 2017
Why I Put Wayward Kickstarters' Feet to the Fire
There has been some recent displeasure with my Kickstarter coverage. No, not to me directly, but others are getting flack for letting the posts be shared over sources they control. I figured it was time for an explanation as to why I make such posts and why I take such posts seriously.
Our hobby is small. Really small. If you aren't WotC or Paizo, publishing is probably a side gig for you. Profit margins are slim. That is why Print on Demand and Kickstarter are used by so many RPG publishers - it minimizes risk and maximizes profit.
Lets look at Kickstarter. For all intents and purposes, RPG publishers use it as a preorder system. I'm not going to get into the argument that you are backing a "project" and not a "product." If the publisher treats it like a preorder system, allowing them to take your money up front while knowing how many of "X" to print, thereby minimizing the risk of dead stock sitting in a spare bedroom or garage somewhere, its a preorder. Quacks like a duck and walks like a duck and looks like a duck, its a duck. Fuck the DNA results.
Few publishers hit their overly optimistic release dates on Kickstarter. Those that do, I usually highlight. Most fall within the ballpark. A few go extremely long and a select few get to the stage of "tomorrow is always a day away."
Now, as a consumer, money that has paid for product that is now years late is money that could have been spent elsewhere - such as, you guessed it - other gaming product.
How many people take the time to track these late projects? How many look into the updates and try to ascertain what is truly going on? Who pays attention to see if a certain publisher / creator has a tendency to be really late, or not release at all? Does anyone vet these projects before backing them? Does anyone take the project creators to task, when lateness becomes lies and they attack the very community that funded them?
The answer to the above is "I do" and I wish others would.
While I like to think that honesty is the base state of human beings, we all know that it does not apply to all. Sometimes, you need to shine a light to remind folks to be honest as well as show honest folks who isn't, and beware.
But, Kickstarter says you are backing an idea, not a product, and there is no guarentee you'll get anything and that is true, its what Kickstarter says. But if shining a light improves the consumers' odds, that should only be a good thing. Not every funded Kickstarter is going to deliver, but every funded Kickstarter should make the honest attempt to do so. For every Mike Nystul, who fell on the sword and admitted to being an incompetent business man (and was pretty much forgiven by the gaming community even with Kickstarters that never produced product) you have a Gareth, with his "tomorrow, next week, next month" series of promises over the last five years. Or #ConManKen, who admitted to misusing Kickstarter funds, basically ran multiple Kickstarters as a pyramid scheme that only filled his pockets and has threatened me with lawsuits and arrest. Or Kevin, who took in $1.4 million and keeps punting completion to NeverNever Land.
Kickstarter is not all Ice Cream and Bunnies. There are those that will take advantage of their backers and potential backers should be armed with all the knowledge they can get.
Keeping bad Kickstarters in the light helps ensure that future creators do their own due diligence before kicking off their latest project and are ready to succeed.
As a side note, my moderating hand is VERY light here at The Tavern. I do NOT delete comments of those that disagree with me. I don't even delete ones where I am threatened with lawsuits or arrest by federal authorities. I am more likely to moderate personal attacks between readers than anything else, and even that needs to be over the top. So, if the Gareths, Kens or Kevins of the world want to defend their actions, they won't be silenced.