Kickstarter Musings Part 1 – First Experiences

Kickstarter1I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of Kickstarter, the most well-known crowdfunding platform, but for one reason or another never actually looked into it in much detail. However after signing up to Kickstarter last week in order to invest in a film project, I’ve now also backed four further projects all of which are video games or video game-themed. How did I end up in this situation, and more importantly what are the prospects of the games I’ve backed?

My Kickstarter experience started off with the backing of a sequel to the British comedy film ‘Mike Bassett: England Manager’ (don’t judge me, it’s a guilty pleasure!  And I’m sort of supporting the British film industry!) The project’s target of £250,000 seemed pretty high but had already garnered £50,000 after only  a few days so I pledged my £15 (which would earn me a digital download of the film, a thank you credit and numerous smaller rewards) and sat back pleased with my first Kickstarter involvement. However with nearly a month to go before the end of the Mike Bassett film project I decided to browse the site to see what else was currently live. I was just browsing I promised myself, I definitely wouldn’t invest in anything else just yet.

Elegy1The video game category seemed a good place to start, and I immediately spotted several ventures that interested me. First up was ‘Elegy for a Dead World’ by American developer Dejobaan Games, a side scrolling adventure game with some haunting visuals. However the main appeal was that it wasn’t just a game that would be played and completed – it was marketed as a game about writing fiction. The player wouldn’t just be exploring dead alien worlds, they’d be writing a journal about their adventure which could then be shared online with others or even printed into a personalised book. The pitch was unique and I knew I had to contribute. Better yet, with a week to go Dejobann Games had already reached their $48,000 target and further pledges would go towards stretch goals. I pledged my $10 (guaranteeing myself a copy of the game and my name in the credits) and decided I’d invest in a maximum of one more project.

CommAmiga1I looked back to the UK for my ‘final’ project and this time went for a book rather than a video game, although admittedly it was a book about video games. ‘Commodore Amiga: a visual Compendium’ promised a beautiful looking book showcasing the brilliant pixel art of some of my favourite games. It had already smashed its £25,000 target and still had three weeks to go. I didn’t even think twice – £25 was pledged and I was promised a copy of the book, a thank you credit and – due to several stretch-goals being reached – several extras like a soundtrack CD, bookmark and poster.  Things were going well.

HumanResources1It was at this point that I got slightly carried away. ‘Human Resources’ looked like it could be a big success – Uber Entertainment certainly thought so as they were looking for $1.4 million for their campaign. They were still a long way from their target but the premise seemed amazing – an apocalyptic real-time strategy game where gigantic, sentient machines battled the tentacled horrors of the Ancient Ones with the flesh and souls of humans functioning as the resources for both sides. The cel-shaded graphics looked amazing as well and the trailer sold me completely, I decided I’d pledge once more and this time I was prepared to spend a bit more. There was a huge variety of pledge levels to choose from with ever escalating rewards and I fixated on one of the higher levels which included all the lower rewards as well as figurines and a USB drive shaped as one of the units from the game. The pledge was a mighty $250 but I thought ‘why not?’ It seemed a great idea… until about five seconds after I’d committed my funds. What had I done?  $250 was a ridiculous amount to spend on a game – I was already cursing myself for the financial loss and swearing off Kickstarter for the forseeable future. However I lucked out, just a couple of days later (and with a week still to go) Uber Entertainment decided to cancel the project so my money was safe. With only $384,000 of their target achieved the developers had admitted early defeat, a stark warning to other projects about setting too high a goal.

BedlamWith my rash decision luckily undone I vowed I’d be more prudent with future investments. So when ‘Bedlam’ from SkyShine Games caught my eye I made sure I’d only consider the lower pledge amounts. A roguelike RPG set in a Mad Max style future wasteland I was already excited, but when the project description mentioned XCOM as an inspiration my mind was made up.  My pledge of $25 (the game, artbook, soundtrack and credit)  contributed to the $130,000 target which they were very near reaching with a couple of weeks left – and in fact the target has since been surpassed as well as their numerous stretch goals.

So with that I’m now taking a temporary breather until at least November before I support any more projects, although I can see myself pledging to far too many projects in the future. Of my four video game inspired pledges three have reached their targets (and should hopefully be available next year) while the other was cancelled but may reappear later – hopefully with a lowered expectations. (And for anyone interested the Mike Bassett fundraising project is still live for a few more weeks!) Kickstarter pages for all projects mentioned are listed below for those who’d like more information.

So have my first experimentations with Kickstarter inspired you to make any pledges of your own?  Or do you have any past involvements with Kickstarter of your own – either as a backer or through listing a project of your own? Please feel free to share your thoughts below – you don’t need to register in order to post a comment.

Kickstarter links

Mike Bassett: Interim Manager (film)

Elegy for a Dead World (video game)

Commodore Amiga: a visual compendium (book)

Human Resources (video game)

Bedlam (video game)

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One Response

  1. Martin McCluskey October 30, 2014