When Kickstarter first came about in 2008, it was a great platform to fund projects that would have otherwise never come to fruition. Even if they would have existed, it prevented people from resorting to loans to gamble on their ideas, instead turning straight to prospective fans for funding. I helped fund quite a few projects ranging from bands trying to press an album to artists trying to buy supplies for paintings. It was a nice community of real people trying to get their dreams imagined. Then Double Fine Adventures happened.
It’s not as if Double Fine was the first game to ever use Kickstarter as a funding platform. I interviewed Jason Wishnov about his Kickstarter-backed XBLA indie game “Sequence” over two years ago. Double Fine was the first game to raise money in the seven-digits range, however. $3,336,371 to be exact. The industry immediately took notice. After all, why risk money to create your product when you could get it completely funded beforehand by gamers themselves? Kickstarter became littered with established titles such as Leisure Suit Larry, Class of Heroes, Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun.
Suddenly, Kickstarter was no longer a platform for individuals to fund their dreams. It simply became a shortcut for cash. These games aren’t being created by some wunderkind programmer trying to share his vision with his world, but veterans of the industry. Independent, perhaps, but established nonetheless.
Inspiring projects from individuals are being drowned out by proffesional projects or by amateurs who think they can cash in on the trend. Kickstarter has become less of a dream-starter and more of a place for game companies to cut potential losses or simple ego-gloryifing.
Like all bubbles, the Kickstarter one is bound to burst. Gamers are going to develop apathy about future projects when they realize that they aren’t helping a cause for a game that wouldn’t have otherwise existed, but simply doing super early pre-orders. By buying games before they exist, you’re simply letting developers off the hook. There’s not going to be an urgency to create the best possible product when you’ve already made back your entire budget. When you have millions on the line, you’re going to attempt to make the best game possible, but when gamers have pledged to purchase your game regardless of the quality, there won’t be as much effort and passion going into the game.
Hopefully, gamers backlash sooner than later before this ridiculous influx of Kickstarter projects suffocates all the dreamers and ruins the platform.
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