Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Kickstarter and Disgruntlement

Remember a few years back, when Kickstarter used to be the promised land? Where creators and consumers would get together in harmony and all would be right with the world, with both sides getting what they wanted? Well, just like any other vision, humanity has pretty much screwed that up. 

Now I would consider myself a fairly prolific kickstarter-er? Kickstarter? One of those nouns anyway. I've backed 50 projects in the span of 2+ years and frankly, that's a pretty fair amount considering that it's near 1 project every 2-3 weeks. However, if one were to go down my account list (link), one would notice that most of those projects were really backed in the first initial year of KS, with me backing fewer and fewer projects each year. Why is that anyway? I think part of it is a) Kickstarter fatigue, where you're just more used to kickstarting stuff, b) Kickstarters generally never quite hitting the heyday of yesteryear with its bucket of miniatures pledges, c) shipping, d) broken promises and the weasels who endorse them. 

I mean, let's look at some of the stuff I backed way in 2012. There's Dreamforge games (link), way back in Sep 2012 and was supposed to be out in Mar 2013. I just received my ONLY batch of stuff from it this year, in 2015. So let's imagine that for a moment...I paid 3 years upfront and got nothing for it until now. And even better, since I was planning on using their stuff for Wh40k but between 2013-2014, I pretty much gave up on wh40k, this made their stuff pretty much useless to me. This isn't really an experience that would endear me to KS. Then there's Robotech, estimated delivery Dec 2013. At this time, ROW still hasn't shipped while USA has had their goodies since November 2014. I mean, who doesn't love that. The ROW backers that's who -_-

I mean, these are just the outliers and not every single KS is like that and I've gotten quite a few that were on time or even before time. However, there are also the ones that are even worse. Defiance games? Ice Age Mammals (link)? Kickstarter has NO REPERCUSSIONS for those who fail to deliver on their campaign. And quite frankly, that just disturbs me. Kickstarter is willing to take a 8-10% cut of the total amount, but it's not willing to chase creators or hound them to do anything about not fulfilling their campaign. Instead, once the money has changed hands, Kickstarter is no longer responsible for anything at all. Kickstarter would like you to believe that it's helped fund so many great things but it would like you to forget that it's also helped so many con artists get away with their money while doing nothing to try and help backers recover their money. 

Part of the issue is also partly because of the culture of Kickstarting I guess, where people think it should come with a high rate of failure and that you should be happy to receive anything at all. Honestly, some people actually think like that and whenever some backers are unhappy because they haven't received anything or their product is seven months later, those same people are more than happy to pop up and tell them to stop whining, stop being entitled and that they're not obliged to deliver anything to the backers. Yeah, the backers are the ones who are entitled, not the guy who got the money to do something and never did it -_-

I mean, if you're going to go on kickstarter and create a project, then I think legally, you should be obliged to fulfill that project within a certain period. And certainly, since the individual backer has very little legal power to make much happen, Kickstarter should have some responsibility to help them pursue their . In all this time, we've heard of ONE case where a backer has successfully sued a creator, yet there are dozen of other incidents where nothing has happened. Furthermore, most of the time, backers don't know the creators personal details, or even know how to serve them a legal letter while KS has all these details. 

And ultimately, I think this attitude is what is going to kill Kickstarter; both Kickstarters nonchalance and the dismissive attitude of a certain group of backers. Very very few people like to 'gamble' on Kickstarter. People like to pledge and think they're going to receive something for their pledge. For a lot of boardgame and miniature KS, this is practically the WHOLE purpose of their pledge tiers. 

The result of this attitude is that people are just going to stop backing newcomers, which defeats the purpose of Kickstarter anyway. Why back a newcomer whose track record is unproven, stand a chance of not receiving your stuff and when you complain, get told you're entitled and that you're not entitled to receive anything? I mean, this just seems like being masochistic and asking for a kick in the balls. How many times have I seen the phrase "This was my first KS and I'll never back another again" being thrown around? Too damn many. 

As it is, KS seems to be resting on its laurels, smug in the fact that they're still the largest crowdfunding site on the internet. However, nothing stays on top forever, not even KS. 

It wouldn't take much to change KS for the better though. All people are asking for is accountability. Accountability from KS. Accountability from the creators. People want to know where their money is going. People want to be able to get stuff for their money. People would like to NOT receive projects 3 years later than expected without at least being offered a refund option. As it is right now, KS feels like they're asking you to flush your money down the toilet.  

In the end, if creators want to create something but don't actually want any responsibility, go create a damn Patreon like the other parasites.