Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kickstarter: Potential and Problems

Tavis asked an interesting question last time around. So interesting I thought it would make an interesting post.

"For my own education, Joe, what's the benefit to you of picking things up through Kickstarter rather than waiting until they're at Games Plus and you can be sure they suit your interest at that moment? There might not be one overarching answer to that, but I'd find your roundups even more useful if you made this explicit in each case."

Maybe next month, when going over what's late and what's here, I'll talk about the specifics but here are a few things that get me personally interested in a Kickstarter.

1. Price Point: While its great that several Kickstarters have some sort of retail program, that aspect will continue to fall under scrutiny I'm sure. Especially as Kickstarters are late. It's one thing to tag a person for $100, it's another to tag a store for $1,000.

But in speaking of Price point, the consumer usually gets a decent discount, or at the least, gets a PDF copy of the book. In some instances, that PDF copy may cover multiple systems. These are value added things. In other cases, shipping is free. Even if the item may not be stocked in a FLSG, like Games Plus, and I order directly from the company, I'd pay shipping fees. Some Kickstarters take that fee onto themselves. Again, value added.

But, and here's the dreaded but, time is money. If your project is going to be six months late, saving 10%-30% really isn't saving anything as I could have used that money somewhere else.

2. It's Not Going To Be Available. Tavis mentions Games Plus. This is one of the best hobby stores, if not the best, I've ever been to. Fairly knowledgeable staff. Friendly, gaming space, special orders, massively wide selection. But they still can't stock everything and somethings they can't get hold of. 1650, a miniature Kickstarter I mentioned, would be a good example of something they don't normally stock. One Kickstarter I was thinking of backing, Spherewars, falls into the same category. Red Box Games comes and goes.

When speaking of Red Box Games, his distribution is not consistent throughout the 'Net. In some places, it's strong. In others, sell offs have already occurred. When popularity hits, they stock again.

Doing a Kickstarter allows one to get in on the ground floor of a thing and to purchase items that may not be available.

For me, those are the two primary things.

3. Exclusive Items: Way down on the list, the exclusive item! For miniatures, this is especially true. Sculpts that you're just not going to get anywhere else hit my 'collector' brain.

Now I know that isn't what other people do though. From my experience in talking with people who back projects, they tend to fall into a more 'community' style backing.

For example, King For A Day and Midgard Tales, both allow a fair amount of user interaction with the content. For some people, this is immense value added. They get to be a part of something. They get to work with professional designers. They get to feel that they've added to the material and that other members of the community can enjoy that. Same is true of Dwimmermount for a long time. James was running actual adventurers for people with the material. That's a hell of a community!

Time for the ass hat.

I don't care about that. I want the final finished product as polished as if it were coming out of a professional game company. Yeah, I'm leaving myself wide open to failure there as lord knows my bookshelves are packed with "see page XX." Thank you White Wolf and AEG for the memories.

In terms of potential problems, for me, that part is about the money. Eden, Otherworld Adventurers, Freebooter, and other companies have done successful Kickstarters and I didn't back them because my funds were tied up in other Kickstarters. So for backing Red Box and getting nothing, I could've backed Eden and received my rule books and miniatures. For backing It Came From the Stars and having no book on that end, I could have backed Spears of the Dawn.

Remember Kickstarter makers, when you're late, you've not only delaying the fulfillment of your initial obligations, you've potentially taken money from someone else whose better than you and whose next Kickstarter may get that money you got first time around. Why back a company again that failed to deliver when hey, here's another company with a similar niche product that did meet their goals?

And in terms of that money, let's say I didn't back other Kickstarters with those funds. The amount of projects I've backed is probably in the thousands of dollars. Way too much in a more serious tone he said but at the same time, those are all dollars I'm not spending on existing products and not spending in a local game store.

As a company, I guess I'd ask Tavis, and other publishers, when people raise the red flag about the FLSG situation, which is already under assault from Amazon, which is already under assault from electronic books, both PDF and now e-books, and under assault from a still, at least in America, fairly weak economy, by, for the most part, taking the FLSG out of the distribution chain, how much are you effecting the gaming industry as opposed to the gaming community? Every physical product sold outside the distribution chain is one less purchase from the FLSG.

I remember post year 2000 there were a ton of new game companies doing PDF and other formats. I remember 'professionals' moaning and weeping bitter black tears about the "lower cost of entry" to the "business."

What the hell happened to those innovators eh? They discovered Kickstarter and realized that money does help eh?

Anyway, my primary reasons for doing Kickstarters are pretty base and simple and when they're late, they are sucking the air out of the room. In this case, my wallet. Hard to make an impulse purchase if you've backed something else that you 'hope' will show up.