I’ve been so swamped…Sorry about that Kickstarter You Funded

imgresI’ve been noticing a trend lately (inevitable, I guess) in the number of Kickstarter updates along these lines:

  • “Sorry I’ve been out of touch for the past few weeks…”
  • “Unfortunately, the project has turned to be more work intensive than we thought…”
  • “We asked for X, when we really needed XXX. Now we’re back asking for more.”
  • “I apologize for my inconsistency. I’m accustomed to having a publisher yelling at me, without that, I just procrastinate endlessly.”

Okay, I made the last one up, but I bet it’s true for at least a few projects. But I’m not just posting to complain about all this. After all, it’s only human to make mistakes, especially when it comes to overestimating our abilities (especially our self-discipline). Likewise, there’s no denying that, as much as we like to bash them, publishers do bring certain things to the table: forcing everyone to stick to a schedule, cutting costs at every corner, saying “NO” to things that would disrupt the schedule or the budget. Kickstarter-funded developers, of course, are still accountable, but the folks who funded them aren’t in a position to get their money back or fire them.

They can, however, and should (I think), have the opportunity to fume at the developers. I think it’d do everyone some good in these situations, in fact, for the guilty developers to make themselves available for a Skype or Hangout (or whatever), where disgruntled funders could tell’em a thing or two. In fact, these “flame sessions,” or “Come to Jesus Meetings,” or whatever you want to call them, would be promised in the Kickstarter proposal. That would almost certainly increase the pressure on the developers to live up to their promises (and keep those promises realistic in the first place). Yes, that’s right–I’m talking about Kickstarter Punishments and Humiliations:

  • We will shave our heads if we do not deliver the alpha by this deadline.
  • We will play nothing but Yanni at high volumes in our studio every day past the deadline.
  • If our CPRG does not have rats in it, we will repeatedly smash our fingers in a rat trap and stream the video live.

Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head.

5 thoughts on “I’ve been so swamped…Sorry about that Kickstarter You Funded

  1. Seth Robinson

    I agree. I think it’s time to start public shaming the more blatant cases to help scare the others into following the schedule or at least making an honest effort. The rat provision seems just a bit brutal…

    Reply
  2. Cody

    I liked Kickstarter when it came out. Then I hated it. But now I understand it.

    In the pitch videos you are treated like an angel investor – come help us bring this amazing idea to fruition and look at all of the cool things you’ll get in return. But as soon as the money changes hands there’s no such thing as investors anymore – just customers waiting for their goods – and you will be treated like scum accordingly.

    Remember Leisure Suit Larry? It’s one I’ll go to over and over as the turning point for Kickstarter. They began with the wonderful Al Lowe really begging for help from the fans. And with lots of effort and sacrifice we did it just barely! It was a huge achievement.

    And then after months of silence the company switched developers. Why? Well that was all buried in management speak. “We realized they weren’t suited…” blah blah blah. If they were being funded by traditional investors that PR speak would not have been tolerated. They only do it to us because they had already received all the money and there was zero incentive to be open and honest.

    Delays, etc, I don’t care about. I do care about information and not falling into the investor/customer switcheroo. I think I’ve lost some respect for humanity and small business in the process, but that’s the fault of these suits, and not necessarily Kickstarter itself.

    Reply
  3. ShadowTiger

    As a developer who is considering kickstarter, I would be willing to offer such things. Though, I was also planning on biweekly livestreams of progress and weekly blog updates… so maybe at that point it is not necessary. I guess the real issue is not making promises but keeping them.

    My suggestions for your list is:
    - Don’t shave until the game ships! That means everywhere ladies.
    - Walk around Pax/GDC/Other conventions with a big sign on your body (Slacker? Overpromise Underdeliver? Shame me?)
    - Send out a picture every day with your to-do list written on your hand/arm

    Reply
  4. Frank

    If you want to see some ludicrous example of Kickstarter abuse, look no further than Fortis Rex:
    First attempt failed. Second attempt succeeded. A half year later, third and fourth failed again. Fifth succeeded. Tries 3-5 were just days apart.

    Generally, I’ve been pretty lucky with my funded projects. While only one was released for real and one is in beta, I’m pretty confident in the others’ progress. I usually don’t register for backer-only forums, so I get news through Kickstarter updates, RSS/Atom feeds or videos. Before the recent videos, I was a little worried about Sui Generis, but it seems to be coming along nicely.

    Reply
  5. Soy Leche

    -Matt-

    Been a big fan of Matt Chat from the beginning, and finally decided to come by here and see what it’s like.

    In regards to Kickstarter, I think if there was some type of review or rating system it’d hold these developers accountable. And your idea, while said half jokingly, is probably a good one. Much like an investor/shareholder’s meeting for Corporations. Watch out Matt, we’ll make a businessman out of you yet!

    Reply

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