Friday, January 15, 2016

Q Attack, Round 26 - Are Kickstarter Projects Good Investments?
After two years of kickstarting projects, Tiger and Rabbit sit down to discuss the process and how well it’s worked out so far. Have they received the items promised? Was the quality as advertised? They answer these questions and more in this entry of Q Attack.


Rabbit: I’m so happy we finally got Amplitude!

Tiger: About time, I know it was delayed. When was it supposed to originally come out?

Rabbit: The Kickstarter page says July of 2015.

Tiger: *shakes head* Games on Kickstarter always get delayed. Look at Liege, we backed that in July of 2013 and it was supposed to come out in 2014. Now, it’s delayed well into 2016.

Rabbit: I know but it’s still a bummer. They definitely did not calculate how much time they needed very accurately. Shenmue 3 at least gave themselves some room with a December 2017 window.

Tiger: That’s the thing about Kickstarter projects, they aren’t like normal video game releases, you’re basically donating money to a developer in hopes that they can actually finish the project.

Rabbit: I see your point. At first I thought of it like preordering games but when you preorder, you can cancel and get your money back. Kickstarter, once a project is funded, you’re out the money no matter what. Have we ever gotten a project’s items back on time?

Tiger: Video Games Live Levels 3 and 4 did really well to keep on track. I think both were released within a few months of the estimated launch dates.

Rabbit: They produced what they advertised too. I get worried with some of these projects and the stretch goals they add.

Tiger: Like with Shenmue 3, I have a bad feeling that the game’s development will suffer because they offered so many physical rewards. Sometimes less is more.

Rabbit: What have we kickstarted so far?

Tiger: Sportsfriends was the first back in December of 2012 and I think we got it about a year later.

Rabbit: That project saw very few delays unlike the other games we’ve backed.

Tiger: Then there was Liege back in the summer of 2013. I have my doubts we will ever see a finished project.

Rabbit: VGL Live was next in August of the same year and that took half a year for us to get it. After that it was Project Phoenix and Hyper Light Drifter in September.

Tiger: After the delays of both of those projects, we decided to cut back on funding video game projects. I did however break down and fund Amplitude in 2014. Again, that game got delayed until 2016 but the wait was worth it.

Rabbit: VGL Level 4 was also backed in that year and like its predecessor, we got it within six months.

Tiger: We also backed the Doubleclicks’ new album, President Snakes, this year as well as Shenmue 3.

Rabbit: So we are three out of three with music projects and one out of six with video games.

Tiger: That’s not a great record with the video games. I think we should point out too the difference among the projects. Like how Sportsfriends was developed by an already established team and had help from Sony Santa Monica whereas Liege, Project Phoenix, and Hyper Light Drifter are from new developers.

Rabbit: It’s good to note too that in the beginning a lot of those projects only had a few people working on them. Some of the teams have expanded since then, others shrunk in size.

Tiger: I won’t say which project it was but some even took a hiatus because they got overwhelmed with the work. I almost thought they were going to just walk away with the money and never return to the project but they eventually did start working on it again.

Rabbit: That’s the big danger with Kickstarter, especially when it’s an unknown developer or creator, that they could do that. I remember hearing about some board game project that got backed and the creator used the money to move and buy a house instead of completing the project as promised.

Tiger: There are also a lot of stories about how the quality or the items received were nothing like what was advertised.

Rabbit: And then there are cool stories about how a project was funded way beyond its goal and the creator was able to do some really amazing things. Have you been happy with what we’ve received so far?

Tiger: With the music projects we’ve backed, definitely. I had no worries about Tommy Tallarico delivering on his promises. He is known in the industry and has a reputation to maintain, plus he’s a business professional who has done this before, so I knew those projects would be great. The same with the Doubleclicks, no issues backing them because they’ve had a successful Kickstarer campaign already. Actually, they ended up printing their album and getting all the rewards out a couple of months early.

Rabbit: ^claps^ That’s how you do a Kickstarter!

Tiger: The video game projects are a different story. I knew Sportsfriends would get done, which it did, and I still think we’ll see Shenmue 3 although it may be in 2020, but the other projects I have serious doubts with. Even little things, like maintaining consistent updates, are difficult for them to do.

Rabbit: Luckily, we didn’t pledge a lot of money to any of those projects.

Tiger: The money is not the issue, well it is, but I’m more upset about the integrity behind the project. If you set out to do something, you better well deliver on it. Being open and up front is something else that needs to be done. All projects will have issues and delays and creators need to be forthcoming with their backers in regards to these problems. The University of Pennsylvania did an independent study about project fulfillment and while I won't go into the numbers, it had some interesting points.

Rabbit: I hear you but with all of these projects, you are aware of the risks involved. The reason why people go to Kickstarter versus other outlets is because they need funding to have their ideas realized. You have to be careful and really know who you’re backing, but if you find the right people, you can help out some amazing ideas. And while the rewards are an awesome bonus, a lot of the time, I don’t mind putting in spare change just to see what these people can do.
Tiger: Do you think Kickstarter projects are a good investment?

Rabbit: Yes, in the right environment and with the right thinking going in. First, definitely find out who you are backing, not just the what. Second, realistically look at what you are getting and how plausible it is for the creator to succeed, if you’re looking at physical rewards. The other thing to note are the stretch goals, we brought up Shenmue 3 and its almost absurd stretch goals and rewards. With the Doubleclicks, one of their stretch goals was enough funds to buy an electric cello to make touring easier. They did a great pitch for that stretch goal, so I was more than happy to put in a little extra to help them achieve that goal.

Tiger: You just wanted the shirt reward.

Rabbit: That too. I do believe Kickstarter projects can be great investments as long as you do your due diligence as a backer. Plus, it’s fun to be a part of a project from its inception to completion.

Tiger: Well, I totally disagree with you on this one.

Rabbit: ^sticks out tongue^ Who’d have thought?

Tiger: Kickstarter projects are a terrible investment because they aren’t an investment at all. When you invest in something, you become an owner of sorts. You get returns and a piece of the project. Similar to investing in a business or stocks, you have recourse and protection when investing. Funding projects is a donation; you don’t have any protection or ability to affect the project in anyway. You are basically giving your money to help a creator with his or her project, that’s it. The rewards are bonus gifts, not something you are guaranteed. Just read Kickstarter’s FAQ, they don’t guarantee anything. The best they and the backers can do is to shame and assassinate a creator’s reputation if a project fails. It’s a great platform for creative people to find funding for their ideas but it’s also a great place for people to scam other people. Now, I don’t believe that there are a lot of scammers; I really think most failed projects tend to be just that, a project that ran into extreme difficulty, forcing the creator to fold the project. But still, if you are going to back a project, you need to remember that this isn’t an investment or preordering goods, it is a donation and once you pay the money, you aren’t getting it back.

Rabbit: It’s a good faith system and I think a lot of people really want to fulfill their obligations to backers.

Tiger: Oh, I don’t doubt people want to fulfill their obligations, I just doubt their actual ability to do so.

Rabbit: ^shocked face^ You have no faith in the human race.

Tiger: Of course not, that’s why robots will rule the world soon.

Are Kickstarter Projects Good Investments?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

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