Publishers Accused of Trying to Exploit Kickstarter

defunctdoormat

Limp Gawd
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Nov 25, 2010
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189
Obsidian hasn't done anything I've enjoyed since Black Isle went away (except New Vegas after a few patches), but they just went up 10 points in my book for saying no to this scheme. And I'm still glad to see a site like Kickstarter around so companies can get funded by their fans. Gives a new spin to the old Interplay logo By Gamers for Gamers.
 

vortican

Limp Gawd
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May 11, 2005
Messages
146
And nobody checked out the project Obsidian has on Kickstarter? Old school RPG fans want to back that project!
 

callous

n00b
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Sep 21, 2012
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I see a real problem with donating money to a for-profit organization. The for-profit entity is obviously doing this to realize a profit down the road, while all the donators get is a game should the company get that far. They dont get a share of the profit but take 100% of the risk.

This is a shitty deal. That Obsidian article dealt with only 1 aspect of the scam. I view this kickstart program for for-profit companies as the bigger scam.

There are other issues too - if the company does manage to create a game then gives it to the donators, then those donors are very unlikely to buy another copy. They are part of the group that wont be buying the game again, and by all accounts they are the company's best target market.

The only defense of giving money to kickstart projects seems to be "it's a small amount". So why wont these same guys just throw money out on the street if that's the attitude?
 

Taco

[H]ard|Gawd
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I see a real problem with donating money to a for-profit organization. The for-profit entity is obviously doing this to realize a profit down the road, while all the donators get is a game should the company get that far. They dont get a share of the profit but take 100% of the risk.

This is a shitty deal. That Obsidian article dealt with only 1 aspect of the scam. I view this kickstart program for for-profit companies as the bigger scam.

There are other issues too - if the company does manage to create a game then gives it to the donators, then those donors are very unlikely to buy another copy. They are part of the group that wont be buying the game again, and by all accounts they are the company's best target market.

The only defense of giving money to kickstart projects seems to be "it's a small amount". So why wont these same guys just throw money out on the street if that's the attitude?

This is absolutely my problem to a T. It's been so obvious to me since I first read about this thing, but no one else agrees and/or sees it. It's like I'm in a mad house.

You should get paid back a portion of the profit based off how much you invested. Without that the risk will always outweigh the reward and it will tank. I 100% believe kickstarter is only surviving on the novelty of the idea, no way it can sustain.

I mean these guys are being giving money no strings attached, they don't need to pay any of it back, hell they can even cut and run. All that's expected out of people giving them this money is for them to make a product, and then they keep 100% of the profits from that product while pocketing any residual donations. And that's a best case scenario.

It's stupid.

/ramble
 

Taco

[H]ard|Gawd
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By the way, let's take FTL for example. Which is a fantastic game I've been playing the shit out of.

Who believes he spent 200k on that game? He was only asking for 10k. It's a 2 man team with 1 part timer. So not only does he raise an extra 190k he pockets 100% of the profits, none of it goes back to the people that dumped a truckload of money for him. Basically they were paid a salary to make the game, then they sit back and reap the profits on release.

WTF?
 

castun

2[H]4U
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I see a real problem with donating money to a for-profit organization. The for-profit entity is obviously doing this to realize a profit down the road, while all the donators get is a game should the company get that far. They dont get a share of the profit but take 100% of the risk.

This is a shitty deal. That Obsidian article dealt with only 1 aspect of the scam. I view this kickstart program for for-profit companies as the bigger scam.

I can kinda understand that. For most of us though, just getting the game (and other goodies if your donate more) is payment enough though, especially for something that's unique that wouldn't have seen the light of day otherwise. To me, that's more important than having to share .00001% of the profit with every other investor. It's just not about the money.
 

DeathPrincess

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You should get paid back a portion of the profit based off how much you invested. Without that the risk will always outweigh the reward and it will tank. I 100% believe kickstarter is only surviving on the novelty of the idea, no way it can sustain.

You aren't an investor, you're a donator. The money goes to them and there is absolutely nothing legally making them do anything, and they don't have to do anything, because it's not a loan, or an investment, or a purchase of goods, it's a gift from you, to them, nothing more.

It will only fail if peoples faith in it (the only reassurance that people have) is damaged by projects being crap, or people failing to deliver. It would only need one big project to do this and the whole thing would collapse.
 

callous

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If one is ok with donating money to a for-profit organization then so be it. If the amount was pushed up to $100 minimum I bet 99% of donors would start seeing a problem with giving money to developers so that they can get rich while talking no risk.

There is a very big disconnect with reality and common sense because the amounts are called donations or pledges and it's kept small so that people dont think much of it. Then kickstart plays games like the amounts must reach a certain dollar amount before your credit card is charged - making it sound like this is a worthwhile thing to do.

This isnt some donation one is giving to Goodwill. This is far, far from doing a good thing that benefits society. The article of publishers trying to take advantage of groups who go through kickstart is the mentality of taking full advantage of other people's stupidity or lack of common sense. It is the same mentality that groups using kickstart has when making games and keeping 100% of profits and taking 0% of the risk. Obsidian needs to look real close at themselves in the mirror because they're doing the same thing as what the publishers tried to do. I have no sympathy for either groups.
 

callous

n00b
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Sep 21, 2012
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18
And this kickstart program smells suspiciously like the scam a decade ago on the stock markets. Way back there was something called tracker stock for large companies.

The only problem was that the stock was not backed by the obligation and assets of the company and all the stock did was mirror the performance of the OTHER actual stock that formed the equity of the company. The company would get money for issuing this tracker stock and suckers who didnt know better would buy this tracker stock thinking they were buying part of the company, when in fact if a dividend got announced they would get nothing, and if the company went under they would get absolutely nothing. Im glad the SEC put a stop to that greediness.

I guess scam schemes come in many flavors, and the pattern of greed appears time and time again.
 

TomKdE

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Nov 7, 2010
Messages
11
The projects I've donated too have (so far) delievered. I donate to projects that I'd like to see made real, on the basis that without my donatation the 'shiney' I liked may not ever see the light of day.

Could I be scammed via kickstarter, yes, could I be scammed via other more normal channels of funding, yes. Investments of any kind are a risk. Manage your risk by research and applying your 'common' sense.
 

Serpent

2[H]4U
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You aren't an investor, you're a donator. The money goes to them and there is absolutely nothing legally making them do anything, and they don't have to do anything, because it's not a loan, or an investment, or a purchase of goods, it's a gift from you, to them, nothing more.

It will only fail if peoples faith in it (the only reassurance that people have) is damaged by projects being crap, or people failing to deliver. It would only need one big project to do this and the whole thing would collapse.

Not quite true... as they do offer things if you invest in them. You are getting something back, given that you donate a certain amount or more.

Now, I haven't tried looking in the project creation page, but I would think that Kickstarter makes them agree to a sort of contract. Seems silly if they don't.
 

kbrickley

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If one is ok with donating money to a for-profit organization then so be it. If the amount was pushed up to $100 minimum I bet 99% of donors would start seeing a problem with giving money to developers so that they can get rich while talking no risk.

There is a very big disconnect with reality and common sense because the amounts are called donations or pledges and it's kept small so that people dont think much of it. Then kickstart plays games like the amounts must reach a certain dollar amount before your credit card is charged - making it sound like this is a worthwhile thing to do.

This isnt some donation one is giving to Goodwill. This is far, far from doing a good thing that benefits society. The article of publishers trying to take advantage of groups who go through kickstart is the mentality of taking full advantage of other people's stupidity or lack of common sense. It is the same mentality that groups using kickstart has when making games and keeping 100% of profits and taking 0% of the risk. Obsidian needs to look real close at themselves in the mirror because they're doing the same thing as what the publishers tried to do. I have no sympathy for either groups.

I think the key question is why do you care ... KS isn't requiring you to give money to one of these projects ... these "donations" or "advance purchases" or "investments" or however you want to term them are completely voluntary ... choice is good I thought ;)

One advantage of these microfunding projects is that they allow higher risk projects to be completed. The traditional funding methods (venture capitalists, publishers, etc) are much more risk adverse. They want a guaranteed profit (usually a big one) so they will only choose projects with the best and highest mass appeal. They also have a vested interest in lock-in mechanisms like DLC, in-app-purchases, microtransactions, etc since those will guarantee high profit returns. Movie studios at least use their big profit blockbuster movies to fund some of their smaller return movies (game companies do not utilize this strategy).

Some of these KS projects are things the publishers have already declined to pursue. The microfunding mechanism allows these projects to be pursued. A lot of people buy lottery tickets and those have a much smaller chance of return than a KS project. You at least stand a good chance of getting the game you prepurchased. The game could still suck but hey that risk exists all the time. I have preordered games from publishers that suck also. Those are the breaks. C'est la Vie :cool:
 

Taco

[H]ard|Gawd
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No, they can't.

There's already been examples in this thread of people doing that.

You aren't an investor, you're a donator. The money goes to them and there is absolutely nothing legally making them do anything, and they don't have to do anything, because it's not a loan, or an investment, or a purchase of goods, it's a gift from you, to them, nothing more.

It will only fail if peoples faith in it (the only reassurance that people have) is damaged by projects being crap, or people failing to deliver. It would only need one big project to do this and the whole thing would collapse.


Risk/reward still applies, that's a human specific thing, not a donation/investment thing. Once the novelty of it's over, people won't donate for a return that's is miniscule and has a high chance of being zero. There will also be a flood of scammers. Kickstarter will eventually fail in this model.
 

Parmenides

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Investments aren't always in dollars. Investment can be putting time into some person with no monetary return, but yet you still invest in a life.

Obsidian is an established dev with a reputation at stake. Unless they got killed or something drastic, there is no risk that you might not get your game. The risk/reward ends up being an evaluation of how good the game will be. If the game turns out better than all infinity engine games (Baldur's Gate 2, Planscape, etc..) then your investment payed off in something money couldn't even buy otherwise. If the game sucks, then your investment didn't pay off. That's how kickstarter works. Smart investors only invest in someone they know can get the job done and likely done well. The opposite would be the scammers, which is investing in someone you don't know if they can get the job done.
 

Taco

[H]ard|Gawd
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Investments aren't always in dollars. Investment can be putting time into some person with no monetary return, but yet you still invest in a life.

Obsidian is an established dev with a reputation at stake. Unless they got killed or something drastic, there is no risk that you might not get your game. The risk/reward ends up being an evaluation of how good the game will be. If the game turns out better than all infinity engine games (Baldur's Gate 2, Planscape, etc..) then your investment payed off in something money couldn't even buy otherwise. If the game sucks, then your investment didn't pay off. That's how kickstarter works. Smart investors only invest in someone they know can get the job done and likely done well. The opposite would be the scammers, which is investing in someone you don't know if they can get the job done.

I would say there is plenty risk you don't get your game, or one that is not remotely fully baked. Just because they are established doesn't mean they don't suffer project management issues or funding underestimates.

Generally if you fund a product, by any means, you have some say in how and when the game is delivered. We all love to blast publishers for forcing games out the door, but that's a needed, if not perfect, dynamic.

And are the masses going to keep kickstarting after 1 or 2 games don't pay off? I don't think enough will to maintain this model. Candle is burning on both ends. On one end the donators are still buzzing and in utopia mode, 1 bad product will end that. On the other, seriously, its free money!! People will do anything to take advantage of that and cheapen the whole system.
 

Taco

[H]ard|Gawd
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And let me be clear, I am speaking about the donators as the masses. I know some of you will keep donating until the end of time. But from a view of the masses, I don't think enough will.
 

Parmenides

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I would say there is plenty risk you don't get your game, or one that is not remotely fully baked. Just because they are established doesn't mean they don't suffer project management issues or funding underestimates.

Generally if you fund a product, by any means, you have some say in how and when the game is delivered. We all love to blast publishers for forcing games out the door, but that's a needed, if not perfect, dynamic.

And are the masses going to keep kickstarting after 1 or 2 games don't pay off? I don't think enough will to maintain this model. Candle is burning on both ends. On one end the donators are still buzzing and in utopia mode, 1 bad product will end that. On the other, seriously, its free money!! People will do anything to take advantage of that and cheapen the whole system.

There's always risk, but for an experienced dev like Obsidian, it is not very likely that nothing gets out of the door. The whole studio would fold first. And of course you have to be wise in who you fund. Publishers CAN be good for certain games. But they cut out a lot of stuff that people want. There needs to be an alternative. Do you work for a publisher btw?

And the rest of your arguments are based on hypothetical. Sure, it's probable that somebody out there will fail. And it probably will be a project we don't know much about made by people we don't know much about. But you're just arguing hypothetical though which isn't helpful. It's guesswork to predict that everyone will get burned. It's also possible that KS will produce 10 really awesome games, in which the devs make sequels that are awesome. It's also possible that I ate a lizard for breakfast.
 

auspexd

Gawd
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Jan 23, 2002
Messages
806
I think some folks doth protest too much. They see people sidestepping traditional market and funding channels and they get their knickers in a bunch because they are so invested in what they have been told is the "right" way of doing things.

KS is just a middleman for microfunding. That is pretty much it. Will it fail in the future, probably... but it won't fail because people want to stop funding projects because we are a consumer culture and that "new and improved shiny thing" is always around the corner. It will fail because something will come along to take its place. Microfunding is a viable model (not necessarily the best) and as much as people want to complain and bitch about it, I'm pretty sure it's here to stay.

Personally, I like knowing that I have contributed to various projects that wouldn't otherwise get off the ground or have a difficult time in traditional channels. I consider it a donation. If I happen to get a decent product in return that is just a bonus.

It seems it is popular to call everything a scam these days: Bottled water is a scam, $5 dollar coffee is a scam, insurance is a scam, diamond prices are a scam, movie tickets are a scam... etc etc. "It's ok, grandpa. Take your meds and tell me that story again about how you walked uphill to school both ways in the snow everyday after you finished your morning paper route which earned you a shiny nickel" :)
 

Taco

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There's always risk, but for an experienced dev like Obsidian, it is not very likely that nothing gets out of the door. The whole studio would fold first. And of course you have to be wise in who you fund. Publishers CAN be good for certain games. But they cut out a lot of stuff that people want. There needs to be an alternative. Do you work for a publisher btw?

And the rest of your arguments are based on hypothetical. Sure, it's probable that somebody out there will fail. And it probably will be a project we don't know much about made by people we don't know much about. But you're just arguing hypothetical though which isn't helpful. It's guesswork to predict that everyone will get burned. It's also possible that KS will produce 10 really awesome games, in which the devs make sequels that are awesome. It's also possible that I ate a lizard for breakfast.


Ha. No I don't work for a publisher.
 

Taco

[H]ard|Gawd
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I think some folks doth protest too much. They see people sidestepping traditional market and funding channels and they get their knickers in a bunch because they are so invested in what they have been told is the "right" way of doing things.=

And, no, please. I could care less about industry standards and I'm not angry. I generally love any use of crowd sourcing.

The whole idea of kickstarter is just fatally flawed and it annoys me no one sees it :). Beyond that, I don't much care. I don't have a stake and I can't think of any way this negatively effects me. So yeah, I'm arguing just to argue. All the power to the people who made products through kickstarter that wouldn't have seen the light otherwise. Only product I've personally used that was kickstarted is FTL and it's truly a gem.
 

FearTheCow

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What exactly is "fatally flawed" about people being able to fund projects that they would like to see happen?

How the f*** is it a flaw to give people a choice?

Your a troll and nothing more.
 

Taco

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Come on man, Giving the choice isn't flawed, it doesn't hurt anyone, that's not what I'm saying. Kickstarter relies on tons of people donating. There is no way the current quantity of people is going to stay high after a handfull failed projects and scammers. In fact I'd expect some bad press from the media(justified or not) eventually that will really dissuade people.

You might be loyal enough to stick it through, most wont. It needs most.

Christ you guys are passionate, you are acting like I'm personally insulting you, it's like a cult. You cultists will stick around, but the rest won't. You aren't enough. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings :(.
 

kbrickley

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Come on man, Giving the choice isn't flawed, it doesn't hurt anyone, that's not what I'm saying. Kickstarter relies on tons of people donating. There is no way the current quantity of people is going to stay high after a handfull failed projects and scammers. In fact I'd expect some bad press from the media(justified or not) eventually that will really dissuade people.

You might be loyal enough to stick it through, most wont. It needs most.

Christ you guys are passionate, you are acting like I'm personally insulting you, it's like a cult. You cultists will stick around, but the rest won't. You aren't enough. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings :(.

Real gamers tend to be a passionate bunch ... the same as any "real" hobbyist would be ... I don't think the KS people are any more cultish than any other sort of gamers ... I tend to ignore anyone who tells me what is best for me ... I like to make those judgments for myself ... there are lots of gamers who are opposed to preorders and tell us we should never preorder (I will do it once in a while for big titles I am really interested in) ... there are plenty of gamers opposed to DRM who want to boycott every title with DRM (the only titles I boycott are titles that don't work or really suck, I don't judge my titles based on the presence or absence of DRM) ... KS isn't perfect but it is an interesting mechanism for microfunding (which is a good thing) and it will be interesting to see how it plays out ;)
 

DeathPrincess

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Not quite true... as they do offer things if you invest in them. You are getting something back, given that you donate a certain amount or more.

Now, I haven't tried looking in the project creation page, but I would think that Kickstarter makes them agree to a sort of contract. Seems silly if they don't.

You used the I word instead of the D word again! :D

Who is responsible for completing a project as promised?


It's the project creator's responsibility to complete their project. Kickstarter is not involved in the development of the projects themselves.

Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator's ability to complete their project. On Kickstarter, backers (you!) ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.

So there is nothing making them do the project. But, as you said, there is something making them fufil the rewards section:

Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

Yes. Kickstarter's Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don't. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

Buut, there isn't really any timeline specified. Even if the product is listed as a reward, as long as you get an item, it would be fufilled, regardless of quality. There would be a load ofways round it. The linked documents say it would result in "bad faith" or possible legal action, by backers, not by kickstarter. If a load of donators got screwed out of their $10 game, it's unlikely they will be taking them to court, and Kickstarter wont.
 
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