Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kickstarter - Playing the "It's Not a Pre-Order" Card

"It wasn't a pre-order. You were funding a process..."

I've heard this, or a variation if it, numerous times in regards to Kickstarters. I've NEVER seen it on a page requesting funding support when a Kickstarter goes live. No, those pages look like... what's it called? Oh yeah, a pre-order page! Hey, that shit looks cool and it says it will ship in six months!

You see, Kickstarter is a "pre-order system" when project creators want YOUR money, but you were "funding a process" when folks start asking, usually after months or years after a project's due date, for THEIR stuff that they paid THEIR money for.

I've never seen an on-time Kickstarter project announce "We are shipping products from the process you funded that wasn't a pre-order."

It only comes up when there are problems with a Kickstarter, and it reminds me of someone playing a "Get Out of Jail" card in Monopoly. "Phew! Good thing Kickstarter is a process and not a pre-order, or I might be held accountable!"

If you feel a need to play the "Kickstarter is a process and not a pre-order" card, don't bother running another Kickstarter project.


If folks think I'm a pain in the ass now, just wait until the Mythus & Marigolds Monstrous Menagerie get's announced for "2e as it Was Meant to Be!" on Kickstarter in 2014...


  1. There is a good reason why (except for Venger's project) that I have stepped back from Kickstarter. Too many times getting burned. Hell, I won't even go near it to fun my own project!

    1. Man, I must just have good luck. I've received the vast majority of what I've backed in a timely fashion (sometimes late, but not horribly so, for the most part). TBF and Far West are clusterfucks, but they're anomalous clusterfucks. (Anomalous Clusterfuck, BTW, is my Gins Blossoms speed metal cover band.)

      On topic: Kickstarter is, technically, supposed to be about funding a process rather than pre-ordering, and I think there's a happy medium. I used the money my Kickstarters made to finish the books - and then I fucking shipped them.

    2. Matt, you are correct, but projects are sold to the public as if they were a pre-order. The "you funded a process line" only comes when the Kickstarter in question is failing or failed.

  2. The big difference, I'd say, is that with KS the pledges determine whether the thing in question even comes out (or comes out in full deluxe form, or whatever), whereas with the usual pre-order the production of the thing is already planned and pre-ordering is more of a convenience.

    Once the KS closes and the guy takes the money, though, he's supposed to have an obligation to make with the stuff or refund the money. He's not required to hit anything resembling the projected dates, of course (but then regular pre-orders and just normal release dates have that issue sometimes).

  3. I think it would be wise for anyone looking at a Kickstarter to think like the investor they actually are. Contact that KS creator, tell them you need their C.V. and proposal along with their business model up front, on the KS page and as open as possible. Get a credit report if possible, find out if the KS creator(s) are doing this because they are currently between jobs, or if they have other jobs which will interfere with their promises. They want my money, they need to provide this kind of information.

    I've only backed three KSs so far: the one from Troll Lord was a success and timely. The one from Legends of Dawn was late by a few months and the end product brought "disappointment" in the product to a new low. #3 is the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter, and thankfully I have known those involved with it for decades (Ken, Liz, Rick and co.) and know they can and will produce. I have the highest confidence they will succeed, but if I didn't know the authors and publisher for as long as I have, I'd probably be very worried right now.

    Okay....Kickstarter rant off!

    1. I think this is the best comment about Kser I have seen for a time. Yes you should ask for more info, even personal info like job status, marital status etc. KSer itself should be putting out templates to guide project people to provide this type of information. Even if you only invest $20 they are asking for it, so they should be prepared to answer... or don't give them your money.
      Currently the biggest annoyance I have is with rpgs that 'write' their game AFTER they get the money... surely you would write the rules and test them long before you go to fund raising for artwork or layout services...

  4. Keep note of the "buzzwords" that unsucceessful KS guys keep using...you could probably add a few. These all seem to pop up in their failed excuses:

    "Depression" (as in, they are depressed because they have lost all the money);
    "Complaining" (as in, you ungrateful bastards keep complaining about not getting your stuff);
    "Fired" (as in, they've had to fire someone that was an essential part of their team;
    "Quit" (as in, someone who was an essential part of their team has quit;
    "Intentions" (as in, their intentions have always been to get you what you paid for, but.....);
    "Progress" (as in, I have moved the pile on my desk from the top to the bottom drawer);
    "Holidays" (as in, they should have something out right after these, or how dare you suggest they should be working on this project during these);
    "Update" (as in, please leave me alone another week if I make one of these)

    There are plenty of others I'm sure...

  5. Let's just say that after Dwimmermount, I've given up completely on Kickstarter.

    1. I would urge you not to write off KS just because of a single bad experience. There really are some of us who try not to over-promise, and manage to use it how (in my opinion) it should be used.

    2. In my case, not just Dwimmermount, but about half of them.

      And in the case of the other half, I realized that I basically ended up paying twice as much for something, I would have been much better off just buying it later. In one case, I paid $40 for an 80 page book.

  6. Actually as soon as the money is collected by Kickstarter ("The Company"), who are acting as agents for the project creators in this regard, a sales contract exists between the project creators and the individual making the payment, for the provision of the stated goods and services (if no exchange is being made then there can be no contract, of course).

    Like any other implied sales contract it may be abrogated by refunding the payment in full at any time. But eventually the project creators will have to either provide the promised goods, or a full refund.

    "Eventually" can be determined by the courts, under reasonable expectations (which varies by legal jurisdiction), but all the creator usually needs to do is show continued intent to fulfill the contract to be judgement proof. Again, it depends on the court.

    However in the face of imminent legal action it is usually easier and cheaper for the supplier to simply issue a full refund (which negates the contract).

    Or declare bankruptcy, since you would be an unsecured creditor.

  7. I'd much rather 'fund' a pre-order if the project is done. Like Joseph Bloch has the writing complete and uses KS to find the art. Best way I've seen KS used.

  8. I agree. I also think that it's only a matter of time before the Kick Starter company itself has to become more involved. You can't claim to be all hands off when your taking a chunk of the funding money. "Oh this here? This is... you know, thanks money! But responsibility? Putting up things like Actual Completion Date, or a timer showing how early or late a project was or having a process in place to get money back? Can't help you son."

  9. Aside from Dwimmermount, I've only had two KS that have stalled out. First was Table Top Forge, and another was a documentary. In TTFs case, the backers got art assets we were promised, and then rolled in to Roll20. From what I understand, the IT side of TTF fell apart, but they kept us in the loop through it all.

    The documentary is still chugging along, but being told "no interviews" kinda caused a refocus of the core of it. Though guy running it is a friend, so I know he'll finish, despite his day and side jobs!


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