|It's a pretty darn good idea... if you're American!|
I guess I've been meaning to write something about this whole Kickstarter and Indiegogo phenomenon for sometime now. If you are unaware of what either of these two websites are I'll give you a brief overview. Currently we're in a bit of a pickle globally in terms of having investment capital for small to medium projects. Something about bankers wasting Trillions of dollars and plunging the entire western world into a recession and or depression. So what do creative sorts do when they can't get funding via the normal channels, like bank loans or investors? Well until now they had to beg, borrow or steal off of their friends and family... but Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer a very simple and clever solution to this problem. They actually offer a distributive funding model based around service provision for funding supplied. So if I say fund somebody starting a new game up, I might get a signed copy of the rulebook when it is in print or something.
This distributive method of funding has some interesting benefits for all concerned therefore:
- As it's not a pure 'investment' model or lending situation the people behind the project retain 100% creative control. If you give up a share of your company or take a loan from a bank the level of scrutiny is fat greater and pressure to change the project to make it more viable can be 'pressing'.
- There is an upfront agreement between the funder and the fundee that there is a level service or product to be provided in return for their money. This is a much simpler and open contract, in short there's a 'consideration' happening, and that keeps things nice and easy for all concerned.
- Certain creative projects are actually very difficult to pitch to investors and banks, simply because the market is 'unknown'. Kickstarter and Indiegogo change that by exposing the idea to the market and showing you and others the potential of what you are doing.
The last point in turn might actually give you greater scope to then return back to those investors and banks and say "hey, look at all this support my project got. You sure you aren't interested in investing?" Personally I think this distributive funding malarkey is a genius idea, I fully support it and if I had the money there are plenty of products I'd be endorsing financially as well. However, I've seen others who simply don't like the idea of distributive funding at all, and who seem opposed to it. I've also seen people make judgements on what is worthy of funding and what isn't.
|For non-American's there's Indiegogo.|
I'm going to use two examples that I've spotted recently, one on Indiegogo and the other on Kickstarter. The first is Mini War Games Dark Potential, which I think it is fair to say has been a rip roaring success story so far... so congratulations to them!
As you can see from their initial video they've so totally smashed their original goal with this Indiegogo campaign that it seems unreal. I for one am glad they have, because Mini War Games have done a fair old amount to promote the hobby globally via their video's and also because the game looks interesting. As far as I'm concerned there's always more space for interesting new games... even if my games room tells me there isn't, I'll just have to fit more shelving units in there, somewhere... or maybe build an extension!
It's clear this project has gotten a lot support and good will from the wider community. Why is this the case? Well I simply thought it was because the project seemed like a fun one, and that the people behind Mini War Games are just simply put really nice chaps. However, I've sort of had to reappraise whether or not that is the case because of my second example I'm going to use, which is Zombicide from Cool Mini or Not, which is up on Kickstarter, here check their video out.
I was a little surprised though to see the comments on a Beasts of War article about the project and in a few other places. The negativity surprised me for a number of reasons:
- I actually like Cool Mini of Not and what they produce.
- The logic being used by people in defence of their own anti-Zombicide on Kickstarter opinions.
I'm not saying they're wrong to have those opinions, because they're their opinions and they're more than entitled to them! They've just surprised me is all. I guess having had to work in the field of getting money into a project via investors and banks, I personally know how difficult it can be for sensible well explored projects with sound business planning to get the funding they need. I had stupidly assumed that Kickstarter and Indiegogo were simply another tool and vehicle open to us all to use. After all the model is a simple one, you either support the campaign being run on Kickstarter or Indiegogo or you don't. If you support it you get something in return, it's kind of like going into a shop and buying something... no, it's exactly like that now I think about it.
So I'm going to look at some of the arguments used and see if I can't try and understand where people are coming from. The first one for me is simply the fact that Kickstarter and Indiegogo shouldn't be for established companies. I guess Indiegogo's name doesn't help here with the word 'Indie' featuring prominently. There does appear to be a logical belief that these projects should be for start up business or projects. I guess that's where I see their main benefit too, but why should that preclude other companies who are already established from utilising these distributive funding tools? Why shouldn't Games Workshop come to the community and ask us to invest in a new idea or game? I don't think they would because of how secretive their corporate culture is, but why shouldn't they?
|Some of the really cool concept art from Dark Potential.|
The argument that they already have the money is somewhat moot to me. Many companies have the money to invest in their own R&D projects but choose to go to the market to bring further investment in to support new product development. So why should Kickstarter and Indiegogo be any different? If you didn't want to fund a project you don't have too. So for me I guess I just view these two websites as another way of receiving funding for projects. Interestingly though was the specific claim that Cool Mini or Not are big fish specifically, I guess they are in a way in our hobby big fish. But they're not as big as Games Workshop, Privateer Press or Battlefront, they're certainly not on that scale are they? Conversely aren't Mini War Gaming a fairly large online retailer? So clearly the angst wasn't just about 'who' these companies were.
So what about the projects? Here we can actually see some difference and I guess I can see the logic behind the arguments here far more clearly. The charge levied at Cool Mini or Not is that Zombiecide already exists, and that therefore why should people fund a larger initial print run? That's surely a business decision that you as a company have to take. I actually have some sympathy with this sort of stance actually, I guess what Cool Mini or Not are doing is basically using Kickstarter as an advanced pre-order service that will allow them to produce a larger print run, which in turn reduces their costs and potentially increases their profitability of the project, while potentially reducing the cost to us the consumer. This is clearly a very different use of distributive funding than Mini War Gamings Dark Potential game. Question is therefore whether or not Cool Mini or Not's use of Kickstarter in this way is valid.
|Some of the already sculpted minis for Zombiecide|
I suppose it all comes down to how you view the purpose of such distributive funding sites. I personally view them as a tool to be used pure and simple. I don't see them as having a wider cultural or social purpose like some do. For me it's a simple consideration transaction, I give you money to help your achieve whatever goal it is you want to, in return you give me something. Either you think it's worth it or you don't. I personally see no problem with how Cool Mini or Not have used Kickstarter, nor do I have any issues with Mini War Gaming using Indiegogo even though they're also a business that should have a revenue stream to potentially support their games development. I personally would've supported both if I had the dosh, but I don't. I am however genuinely interested in what other peoples take is on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo in general, not just these two projects. Peace out!