Matt’s Mind – How Kickstarter Could Ruin Video Games

Matt’s Mind – How Kickstarter Could Ruin Video Games

Kickstarter could very well ruin gaming as we know it… And we’re to blame.

Until relatively recently, Kickstarter.com was unbeknownst to the majority of the gaming world. Sure it had funded a few projects here and there but ever since Tim Schafer and Double Fine decided to use the website to help fund an upcoming project, Kickstarter has become more and more popular with smaller developers looking to fund their games. And now it has the potential to ruin the gaming industry.

Kickstarter is a website where anyone can post an idea for a project they have (whether it be an artwork, a video game, a music album or anything else) and people who like that idea can donate funds. Quite often, bonuses will be offered for anyone who donates. For example, donating $10 to an upcoming music album may get you a copy of that album, donating $50 may get you a limited edition LP and so on.

On paper, Kickstarter seems like a great idea, but so does communism. Issues, for the gaming industry, start to arise with the bonuses that potential donate-ees can acquire. Almost all of the gaming projects on Kickstarter promise donators a copy of the game, usually for around $10, and this is where we start to fall into a vicious cycle of self-destruction. People who care about the game are going to donate to the project. Those people are going to get a copy of the game. Upon the game’s release that game is going to sell relatively few copies as everyone who is interested will already own the game. Essentially a developer already knows how many copies they are going to sell as they have already sold them.

With that knowledge, a company is no longer accountable to the consumer. No longer do developers have to strive to make their game the best it can possibly be. No longer do they need to do anything innovate. No longer do they need to find new ways to engage players. By the time development starts they already know (for the most part) how well their game has sold.

More problems come into play when projects start to become amazingly successful. A few months ago Tim Schafer and Double Fine started looking for funding for an upcoming game. Their goal was $400 000. They raised over $3 000 000. The studio had planned for a game that would cost them roughly $400 000 to develop. What happens with that extra 2.6 million? I’m not implying that Tim Schafer, or any other developer, is unscrupulous but a question of morality comes into play with that huge amount of extra money. Will the studio decide to revamp their entire idea and make a $3 million game? They could, but then that’s not the project people donated to in the first place and not what they were promised. Wasteland 2 also saw similar success exceeding its donation goal by almost a million dollars.

My final qualm comes with Kickstarter itself. From all the information I could find, there is no way to guarantee what happens to those donations once a project’s goal is met. It hasn’t happened on a huge scale yet (knock on wood) but, it isn’t outside the realm of possible for anyone to go onto Kickstarter, create a project that will be immensely popular and then take that money and disappear like a thief in the night.

If we want to preserve the industry developers need to stick to the traditional method of developing a game and then attempting to sell it at a profit.

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