The Kickstarter Trifailecta

Shitty Kickstarters are dropping like flies, and just I can’t keep up. Three failed just today, so rather than skipping some or making three separate posts, here’s a special Kickstarter fail hat trick.

Chris Crawford Doesn’t Understand Why You Don’t See His Genius

Balance of the Planet. To sum up: Chris Crawford wants to make a game that isn’t fun, and have you pay for the cost of giving it away for free.

I hope that sentence melted your brain. But you shouldn’t worry, because Chris Crawford has made games before, and given lectures and written books on game design. He also founded the Game Developer’s Conference. So he obviously doesn’t have the money to make a game.

“To finish everything up, and provide web service for 5 years, I figure I’ll need $150,000.”

Well thanks, Chris, that made it sound very scientific. But why the fuck would you pay for 5 years of web service in advance? Give it a year to see if anyone gives a shit, and take donations to keep it running – web hosting doesn’t cost that much.

“It’s a serious game. So it’s not going to be as much fun to play as your favorite game of ‘If It Moves, Blast It’.”

Selling a game on the basis that it isn’t fun. Genius. This doesn’t just speak to the absurdity of the game itself, but of Crawford’s entire view of game design. At least now I know that I don’t have to read any of his books if I want to be a decent game designer, because he thinks that learning and fun are mutually exclusive. Learning is fun, and only the presentation of the material can change that. Granted, it’s not easy to make an educational game fun, but who the fuck is going to donate to you if you’ve preemptively decided not to try?

“We could sell it, and over the long run make more money, but we’d rather take less money and get many more people benefiting from it.”

What a crock of shit. How many people are going to buy a game that isn’t fun just so they learn something about the environment? This utter failure of a Kickstarter should tell you that no one is interested in that, so I don’t see how you would be making very much money by selling it.

Finally, Crawford plans to release the game as a standalone product on the Mac App Store following the failure of his Kickstarter. Maybe he should have added that to his video pitch: “But for $150,000 less, people will still be able to play this game on their MacBooks.”

And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.

Evgeniy Can’t Even Get Decent Kickstarter Wingmen

Evgeniy Kolpakov made a Kickstarter for his game “Inner Dream” back in April. It failed. Miserably. He only reached $238 of his curiously-specific $11,111 goal. While I enjoy its uniqueness, and think it absolutely should be made, I don’t see how it would cost thousands of dollars to make. And Evgeniy apparently doesn’t feel like saying. It’s an easy way to set up your Kickstarter for failure: make it seem like you don’t have a good reason for the money you’re asking people to donate.

So what does Evgeniy do after this failure? He finds the only thing that gamers are more tired of seeing than Kickstarters: indie bundles. Put the two together, and you have the Kickstarter Indie Bundle.

It’s a marvel, is it not? After asking for just over $11,000 for his game alone, $45,000 is supposed to be split between nine developers. Remove the Kickstarter fee and the cost of rewards, and you’ve probably got a few thousand dollars per developer. And who knows how many people are on each of these teams – we could be down to Lunchables money on a per-person basis. So what’s the point?

I think some of these games are neat, and I particularly like the concept behind Enola. But Enola itself had a failed Indiegogo campaign. Did it stop the development? Of course not; these guys genuinely just want to make games – and of course ideally make a living from that. That’s totally understandable, and even admirable – if you do it by making games that are good enough that people buy them. Make a living off of your games, not your promises.

The bottom line here, Evgeniy, is that you don’t want to wait to finish your game to make money from it, but your game alone couldn’t pull the interest. So you gathered a bunch of developers, hoping that at least one would be appealing enough to carry the rest and make the goal. But you failed at that, too. Stop wasting your time with Kickstarters and just finish your fucking game.

And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.

3D Attack Games Are A Bunch of Skeevy Fucks

I’m not sugar-coating this one: I want to punch these guys right in their stupid faces. I’m used to indie devs lying about the money they “need” to finish their games, but this is way fucking beyond.

There may be a universe in which it costs $50,000 to make a 2D game with a free engine. But we don’t live in that universe. So what is the money for?

“Four Unity Licenses with support for 2 devices, android and iOS already come to $20,000”

$18,000 actually. But more to the point, you don’t need Unity Pro unless you’re making over $100,000. And if you get to that point, you can fucking afford it without a Kickstarter. And even then, only one of you needs to be able to export the game to the supported devices – you’re essentially tossing in an extra $9,000 for no extra functionality whatsoever.

“Purchase hardware for testing (we want to support a wide range of devices, not everyone can afford a top end iPad!)”

You’re absolutely right, but then WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?

You’re saying you need the money for things that you clearly show you already have in your pitch video – it also shows Android tablets being used. It’s sad enough that you found over 1,000 people too stupid to realize that, but at least you failed to actually get that money.

And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.

But wait, there’s more! 3D Attack Games isn’t done panhandling you yet – they’re now on Indiegogo. Why? Because they won’t need to reach their goal to get whatever funds were pledged by the end of the campaign. Think about that for a minute: they could have less than they “need” to finish the game, but still squeeze that bit out of the morons who pledged. This is a fucking abomination, and it’s a tragedy that they’re already going to get over $1,000.

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6 thoughts on “The Kickstarter Trifailecta

  1. I’ve been focusing on the kickstarter’s that I feel are awesome in my blog posts, but the opposite is every bit as entertaining. I’d love to see a post from you about the main reasons (in your opinion) that kickstarter’s fail, along with an example project or two apiece.

    I think picking some day 1 kickstarter’s and hypothesizing how largely they will fail (and then tracking them,) would be equally entertaining.

    • davidgaames says:

      Thanks for the great response! I love your ideas, and will definitely be trying them out. There are a few particularly egregious Kickstarters to get out of the way first. 😉

      I’d also be interested to see your blog – your website link just goes to Gmail. I tried to look for other Kickstarter-focued blogs, but honestly, I’ve no idea how to properly use WordPress other than to post. I think it’s far more difficult to find worthwhile Kickstarters, so it’s good that there are people focusing on that. I try to focus on *why* some Kickstarters aren’t worthwhile, to give some warning signs before people throw their money at someone’s pipe dream.

  2. Well, by all means. Continue to find good examples of bad projects. Perhaps someone will be able to pull the common threads out of your many headed hydra of failure. My blog is at caffeineforge.com. By all means – take a look – I would welcome your well written feedback.

  3. Brian McDonald says:

    The 3D Attack Games yahoos have conned folks out of over five grand so far on their Indiegogo drive. I’ve pretty much decided that Indiegogo is where people go who’ve either failed on Kickstarter, or just aren’t qualified for Kickstarter.

    That “Balance of the Planet” game, though…I have never seen such a pretentious load of horseshit. I looked through some of his updates, and he compares his game to the early days of film, where people were just too stupid to realize that it could be used for Art. Never mind that the game sounds about as much fun as a C-Span Congressional Session Simulator.

    I expect to see “Vengance” on Indiegogo in 18 days. Well, the KS project ends in 17 days, and they might take a day or two off. Call it three weeks.

    I know David W said he’d forwarded this on to you when I mentioned it to him, but it bears repeating in full. Their Risks section:

    “The primary challenge that we face with the completion of our game Vengeance is the lack of a feeling of urgency for many of our team members. While we, as management, have expressed that we want this game’s demo, and the full game to be completed by a certain time; our team members don’t really feel the urgency in it. With us getting our project funded on kickstarter, this will create the urgency needed as now there will be more then just the management that want this game to be completed on time. We are prepared to push our team to its limits if need be in order to ensure they understand the need for this sense of urgency.”

    So, basically, their developers don’t care and are lazy, and they, the devoted, beleaguered managers, want to throw our money at them to whip up a frenzy of excitement. Oh yeah, sounds legit. Then again, this is their second attempt, and they’re hardly further along than they were in July, so maybe they’re onto something about the lazy developers. Somehow their business needs also went down from $250000 in the first drive to $33000 in the second. Maybe they’re onto something there, too, because they’ve already more than doubled that first attempt, with sixty whole dollars. I figure by the time this gets to Indiegogo, they might manage to pocket a low three figures easy. By someone’s very generous definition of “easy”.

  4. […] “Macs, laptops, tablets, phones and development tools”. We’re not going to have a repeat of 3D Attack Games, are we? How do you not own any of the necessary devices to make the game you’ve been sitting […]

  5. […] weren’t trying to entertain, but to present a deep experience. It’s the same logic that Chris Crawford used with his “educational game”. It wasn’t supposed to be fun, because it was […]

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