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Kicking it with Kickstarter

As creatives, we all know the implications of a lack of resources...Introducing Kickstarter, the first popular crowd funding platform. The platform allows creatives to pitch an idea with the aim of raising the funds to launch their project ...

As creatives, we all know the implications of a lack of resources…

You may be the greatest sculptor of your time, but without the money and resources, you may never have the chance to get your name out there. The world will remain ignorant of your brilliance. Could there possibly be a digital solution to a problem that is as old as art itself?

Meet Kickstarter

Kickstarter, the popular crowd funding platform.

Introducing Kickstarter, the first popular crowd funding platform. The platform allows creatives to pitch an idea with the aim of raising the funds to launch their project. Creators spend weeks making videos, presentations, and crafting the ‘pitch’ – a unique project page which reaches out to potential donors (named ‘pledgers’).

Unique to Kickstarter is the concept of ‘pledge rewards’, a system which encourages people to pledge by offering up unique rewards. For example, $20 may get you a digital download of the next up and coming game; $500 may get you the download, a making of DVD, and a signed poster; and $1000 may get you the download, DVD, poster, and a chance to have an in-game character that looks like you.

Since its inception, Kickstarter has helped creatives ranging from artists to musicians, designers to filmmakers, to get their projects to see the light of day. The concept of crowd funding is invaluable…

Crowd funding campaigns

Obsidian Interactive (well known for AAA game titles like Fall Out: New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Icewind Dale), recently took to the platform in an effort to raise funding for their latest project, which they named ‘Project Eternity’. A teaser site was created prior to the Kickstarter campaign being launched and on the launch date, the project was revealed with the following description:

Project Eternity is an isometric, party-based computer RPG set in a new fantasy world developed by Obsidian Entertainment.”

The intial goal was to raise a total of $1,100,000 over the course of one month, yet Obsidian’s campaign raised almost double that on the first day, and by the end of campaign, thanks to 73,986 backers, the company raised $3,986,929 for Project Eternity. To this day, the campaign proves to be one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time.

The proposed OUYA console.

One of Kickstarter’s biggest gaming successes can be seen in the OUYA; a proposed Android-powered console for hardcore gamers, that promises to blend the boundaries between console gaming and mobile/tablet gaming alike.

Part of the campaign’s success lay in the proposed open source and hackability of the console. To quote the developers:

Because OUYA is based on Android, any app developer could publish their Android app to OUYA. The possibilities are limitless, and conversations with potential partners are already underway.”

The project took Kickstarter by storm and raised over $2 million dollars on the first day and $8,596,475 in total.

The risks of pledging

Browsing through the archives, there’s plenty of evidence to show that Kickstarter has helped many creators raise funds for projects that may never otherwise have seen the light of day. Yet, as with all new social platforms, it’s also raised a considerable amount of controversy. Specifically, some negative feedback has been centered around the tech industry.

Technology takes a long time to refine and perfect. It took Apple almost nine years to develop the first iPhone (it was patented in 1999 and launched in late 2007). This slow development process conflicts with Kickstarter’s model. Kickstarter asks a pledger (if the project meets its funding goal) to  release their money, with the faith that in the near future, you’ll receive the result. But most of us aren’t that patient. Once we’ve parted ways with our hard earned money, we want to see results.

There have been several cases where backers have funded projects and have yet to see a tangible outcome. In some cases, the creators haven’t always stuck to their initial promise of reward. The ‘icase’ is a good example. The proposal for the icase was to counter some of the design issues users were experiencing with some iPhone cases, and needless to say, this idea was quickly funded. The creators of the project began asking backers to up their initial funding due to production costs and setbacks. When the product was eventually released, it did little of what the creators had said it would and proved to be a waste of money.

Bad investment?

Even after receiving funding, the development of ‘Haunts’ was put on hold due to staff turnover.

Many backers had similar feelings regarding the ‘Haunts’ video game project. The game raised over $28,000 from more than 1,200 contributors. Prior to using Kickstarter, the game owners had invested more than $42,000 into the game.

Despite receiving support and funding, the game had to be abandoned due to two of the programmers leaving the company for other job opportunities. The incident has received much criticism and the game owners have reassured the public that they won’t give up, and that the game will be released in the future. This however, remains to be seen.

The Pebble smart watch has generated the most funds ever received on Kickstarter. The watch interacts with your iPhone or Android device. The project has now been developed to the point where it has apps available for it. There’s great anticipation to see whether or not this project will be successful due to Kickstarter’s bad track record.

Kickstarter has proven to be the answer for some, and a thorn in the side for others. The platform has funded successful projects and has cost money to many backers. Kickstarter is a powerful platform which requires smart marketing, as well as social responsibility from creatives.

From a pledger’s point of view, it’s best to consider Kickstarter as you would any investment opportunity. There’s always the risk of failure, but there are also massive opportunities to have access to trends way before their time.


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