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[Column] General: Crowdfunding

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,649MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In his latest column for MMORPG.com, industry insider Matt Miller takes a look at the latest fad in game development: Crowdfunding. See what Matt thinks before heading to the comments to add your voice to the conversation.

For the uninitiated, the way Kickstarter works is this: a project goes out and asks for a certain dollar amount in order to achieve a goal. Usually that goal is “deliver the product”, and by pledging (backing) a specific amount, you are usually gifted the product upon release. Higher amount pledges get more “rewards” as well. When the campaign is over (it only runs for a limited time), then your payment method goes through immediately and then Kickstarter takes their cut and delivers the rest of the money to the developer. If the campaign fails to make their funding goal in the time allotted, no one is charged, and the developer gets no money. (Indiegogo operates a little differently from what I understand).

Read more of Matt Miller's Crowdfunding.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • mmobootsymmobootsy RotterdamPosts: 48Member

    My other hobby is boardgaming, and especially Kickstarter is now widely used by boardgame publishers, even the larger, more established ones. Most projects seem to turn out alright, though I know of a number (from friends) that still have to deliver their product, 6 - 12 months after funding. I myself have not participated in any, because I still think the whole prospect is tenuous. Of course it could mean waiting longer (and without some additional benefits like better components) for a game to be available, but at least I know what I'm buying and I know that I will actually get it. Pricing so far hasn't made the proposition any more attractive: once out at large, the Kickstarted board games are almost never more expensive then when backed.

    With MMOs, another aspect comes into play: the product could be years away from appearing, if it does at all. Talk about tenuous. Of course, proponents will argue that without backing the product wouldn't be made at all. Well, personally I feel there is enough to choose from already, whether it be boardgames or MMOs. And the incentives to back an MMO are all virtual (early access, in-game gear)... They can't (I imagine) promise things like life-time memberships and such, when the payment model isn't known yet.

    To me, with regards to MMOs especially, putting money into a project that is years away from appearing (if at all), is being unrealistic. So much can happen in the meantime, and besides the project failing, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the MMO backed is the MMO produced.

    I suspect, where Kickstarter has been and is a great success for board games, it will have trouble finding the funding needed for MMOs. If not, I will be happy to wait for a few years to try your game once it is actually produced and published. In the meantime I will be playing a handful of the many excellent MMOs available today.

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  • KeilaniKeilani AntwerpPosts: 17Member

    I have never pledged on a Kickstarter so far nor am I actually planning on doing so. I find it a bit too risky to put my money into an mmo, seeing it in beta state and then shutting down because it was too buggy and too much work was needed to fix it. I prefer waiting for the final product before I decide to invest my money in it.

  • CaldrinCaldrin CwmbranPosts: 4,533Member Uncommon

    Crowd funding is prob the best thing to happen to PC game since steam..

    Yes you will not 100% fund an MMO on there if your planning on spending millions in development, but you will make enough cash to start development and then maybe run another kickstarter campaign to get more cash.

    They have a choice of either getting some real investors to back them or gain more cash from crowd funding.. either way the devs will still have a shit ton more control over the game than if they went to AAA publisher.

    I am already playing a fews games that got funded on kickstarter and they are some of the better games I have played in recent years.

     

    Also thinking about it of all the upcoming MMORPGs the only ones I am really looking forward to other than EQN are all crowd funded.

     

    So for me I think Crowd funding is the best thing to happen to PC gaming for a long time and I am happy to support games that I want to play. Dont get me wrong I dont go crazy.. i usually stick to the average price of a game so say around £30, thats not somthing i will miss realyl and at the end of it i could get to play somthing that I actually want to play and not another wow clone.

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by SBFord

    Kickstarter takes their cut and delivers the rest of the money to the developer.

    ...who marches directly into the nearest Ferrari dealship and drives away in a brand new sports car, laughing.

    Damn skeptics, stop that!

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,192Member Uncommon

    Pretty good way to scam people too, if you are just making up a project.  Better have an idea who the people are behind the funding before you invest any money in it, just a matter of time before someone does a big scam.

    I have not seen anything yet worth funding yet except perhaps Star Citizen.  Most of the other kickstarters are just throwing money away, you won't see a decent product come out of them.

  • Shadowguy64Shadowguy64 Rohnert Park, CAPosts: 848Member

    Crowdfunding seems to be a way to push the risk of loss off of the developer and onto the funders.

     

    Imagine if Curt Schilling's company had used crowdfunding instead. Curt would still have his fortune and the crowd would be shit out of luck.

     

    I have participated on ONE Kickstarter, Star Citizen, but I will not participate in any others. I am not a venture capitalist, a bank to give interest free loans, or a philanthropist.

  • MMODesignerMMODesigner Guest Columnist Foster City, CAPosts: 7Member

    Kickstarter goes through good effort to ensure that the products and companies are actually trying to deliver on their products. It looks bad for KS to have high-visibility products vanish off the face of the Earth once funding is secured.

  • AlverantAlverant Wheaton, ILPosts: 533Member Uncommon
    It can't fund an MMO so I'm skeptical about trying to use it for that purpose. I'll gladly fund a music album or book if I like what it is going to be. But I only support up to the point where I'll get a physical copy of what I'm funding.
  • KhalathwyrKhalathwyr Denton, TXPosts: 3,138Member

    Gotta love articles that present information half arsed. The first PFO KS was solely for the tech demo so that GW could secure some other investors. None of that money was used toward the making the game. If you kept up with the blogs, seeing as the most recent one talks about where the money went, you'd know that and wouldn't misrepresent.

     

    The second KS was for funds to make the game and anything over the goal would be toward adding more features and getting the game done faster.

     

    I agree that people need to learn to read and to read the fine print. KS is indeed pre-ordering if you pay attention to what project you are backing and at what level you back. The only issue is that the number of folks out there you just come running to the sound of a cattle call and who plug in their card information before reading anything way outnumbers the rest of us with common sense. Thus they they have a louder voice when in their perception they have been "screwed", "ripped off" or "scammed".

     

    Indeed they have, but not by the entity/company they think. #lookinthemirror

    "Many nights, my friend... Many nights I've put a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're alright..."

    Kickstarter 2 / Naysayers 0

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    For an mmo I feel its terrible. Using it as nothing but a marketing tool is terrible. Its a great service that is being continually misused.
  • CaldrinCaldrin CwmbranPosts: 4,533Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Livnthedream
    For an mmo I feel its terrible. Using it as nothing but a marketing tool is terrible. Its a great service that is being continually misused.

    How is it being mis-used?

     

    The games I ahve backed on there are all games that I want to see get made, without funding they would not get made.

    They dont have the option to go to AAA publishers as all they want to make is the next WOW clone and we all know how good that has been for the MMORPG industry over the years since wow released.

    Kickstarter is not only the best thing to happen to PC gamnig for a long time but also the best thing to ever happen to the MMORPG industry. Hell its even kicked SOE into looking at making EQN a sandbox game..

    Because of Kickstarter I am now interested in the future of MMORPGs again..

     

     

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    Originally posted by Caldrin

    How is it being mis-used?

     The games I ahve backed on there are all games that I want to see get made, without funding they would not get made.

    Because many of the highest grossing titles had no need to go to Kickstarter. Do you honestly believe that Torment, or Project Eternity or Shroud of the Avatar actually needed crowdfunding? Do you honestly believe that they just could not get enough outside support? Seriously?

    They dont have the option to go to AAA publishers as all they want to make is the next WOW clone and we all know how good that has been for the MMORPG industry over the years since wow released.

    False, because there has been no "wowclones".  You can make an argument for cookie cutter mmo, but a clone is nowhere close to the same thing. Even then, the games that are coming out of Kickstarter are nowhere close to AAA quality. They cannot come up with enough money to do it. These games cost WAY more than you can reasonably secure from Kickstarter.

    Kickstarter is not only the best thing to happen to PC gamnig for a long time but also the best thing to ever happen to the MMORPG industry. Hell its even kicked SOE into looking at making EQN a sandbox game..

    Because of Kickstarter I am now interested in the future of MMORPGs again..

    I would love to see your source that Kickstarter is what made SOE change what EqN is going to be. Even without that I do not deny that Kickstarter is the only way for certain games to be funded. I even support Kickstarter being an avenue for such games. Its the other companies using kickstarter for what amounts to free money and marketing that bothers me. Garriot has no place on there, neither do fully fledged studios. Even Jacobs is an iffy case. Considering just how close he came to failing his Kickstarter its no surprise he had to go there for his funding. While I am looking forward to see what he can do with the game, I am going to be very surprised if it enjoyes any type of actual success.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,676Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Caldrin

    So for me I think Crowd funding is the best thing to happen to PC gaming for a long time and I am happy to support games that I want to play. Dont get me wrong I dont go crazy.. i usually stick to the average price of a game so say around £30, thats not somthing i will miss realyl and at the end of it i could get to play somthing that I actually want to play and not another wow clone.

    Singleplayer games? Sure.

    MMOs? What success stories (successfully releasing, not just successfully getting your money) do we have in MMOs from KS? I'm interested in what you are basing that statement on.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • DamianoVDamianoV Apple Valley, MNPosts: 12Member

    I personally think crowdfunding could be an interesting tool for MMO developers.  Expecting a AAA game to be fully funded this way is unrealistic, of course.  However, to generate some data points showing investors that there is interest in whatever design concept is being put forward it is nearly invaluable, IMO.  Also, "boutique" games and experimental designs conceivably could be able to gain some footholds in this way, an outcome nearly impossible to see happening via more traditional funding routes.

    I have pledged to a handful of efforts related to MMOs so far on Kickstarter, some of which funded, some of which missed their goal.  As for what rewards I find enticing, the probability of eventual success is just too low, IMO, for any promised rewards to be all that interesting... I'm just looking to encourage some experimentation.  Anything that looks like it might not have me feeling like I've already played it a thousand times within 5 minutes of first logging in, for example.  (It helps being fortunate enough in my situation that throwing a hundred bucks or so at something interesting every couple months isn't a major imposition.)

     

    Blogging semi-regularly at http://damianov.wordpress.com

  • BetaguyBetaguy Halifax, NSPosts: 2,590Member
    Originally posted by SBFord

    In his latest column for MMORPG.com, industry insider Matt Miller takes a look at the latest fad in game development: Crowdfunding. See what Matt thinks before heading to the comments to add your voice to the conversation.

    For the uninitiated, the way Kickstarter works is this: a project goes out and asks for a certain dollar amount in order to achieve a goal. Usually that goal is “deliver the product”, and by pledging (backing) a specific amount, you are usually gifted the product upon release. Higher amount pledges get more “rewards” as well. When the campaign is over (it only runs for a limited time), then your payment method goes through immediately and then Kickstarter takes their cut and delivers the rest of the money to the developer. If the campaign fails to make their funding goal in the time allotted, no one is charged, and the developer gets no money. (Indiegogo operates a little differently from what I understand).

    Read more of Matt Miller's Crowdfunding.

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     I consider it no better than a bum standing out in front of the liqure store asking for change.  It is the new way of "Internet bumming" in my opinion.

    image

  • CaldrinCaldrin CwmbranPosts: 4,533Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by Caldrin

    So for me I think Crowd funding is the best thing to happen to PC gaming for a long time and I am happy to support games that I want to play. Dont get me wrong I dont go crazy.. i usually stick to the average price of a game so say around £30, thats not somthing i will miss realyl and at the end of it i could get to play somthing that I actually want to play and not another wow clone.

    Singleplayer games? Sure.

    MMOs? What success stories (successfully releasing, not just successfully getting your money) do we have in MMOs from KS? I'm interested in what you are basing that statement on.

     

    Of course we have none yet.. Kickstarter is still pretty new and only recently have MMOS been funded on there... it takes years to make an MMO its not instant.

     

    Also at the end of the day no one is forcing people to fund games, its a choice people can make for themselves.

     

    Myself I am happy to throw £30 towards a game that I like the sound of and would really want to play.

  • CaldrinCaldrin CwmbranPosts: 4,533Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Livnthedream
    Originally posted by Caldrin

    How is it being mis-used?

     The games I ahve backed on there are all games that I want to see get made, without funding they would not get made.

    Because many of the highest grossing titles had no need to go to Kickstarter. Do you honestly believe that Torment, or Project Eternity or Shroud of the Avatar actually needed crowdfunding? Do you honestly believe that they just could not get enough outside support? Seriously?

    I dont know too much about Torment or Eternity, but Shroud of the avatar is a new project by a new company that did not have any major AAA publishers backnig them.. so yes without kickstarter they prob would not have made the game unless they could ahve fonud funding from a big publisher..

    They dont have the option to go to AAA publishers as all they want to make is the next WOW clone and we all know how good that has been for the MMORPG industry over the years since wow released.

    False, because there has been no "wowclones".  You can make an argument for cookie cutter mmo, but a clone is nowhere close to the same thing. Even then, the games that are coming out of Kickstarter are nowhere close to AAA quality. They cannot come up with enough money to do it. These games cost WAY more than you can reasonably secure from Kickstarter.

    The games I have backed and have got have been pretty high quality games and I ahve been happy with them. Also nearly all MMOS since wow have been trying to copy it as clsoe as possible and we all know that.. msot people are bored as hell of these cookie cutter/clone MMOs. So they cant come up with the kind of money to match AAA games? Check out Star Citizen it just hit $10m fround crowd funding. It also does not need to cost 10s of millions ot make an MMORPG. Most people with projects on kickstarter are passionate about making their game and have already put a shit ton of their own time into it.

    Kickstarter is not only the best thing to happen to PC gamnig for a long time but also the best thing to ever happen to the MMORPG industry. Hell its even kicked SOE into looking at making EQN a sandbox game..

    Because of Kickstarter I am now interested in the future of MMORPGs again..

    I would love to see your source that Kickstarter is what made SOE change what EqN is going to be. Even without that I do not deny that Kickstarter is the only way for certain games to be funded. I even support Kickstarter being an avenue for such games. Its the other companies using kickstarter for what amounts to free money and marketing that bothers me. Garriot has no place on there, neither do fully fledged studios. Even Jacobs is an iffy case. Considering just how close he came to failing his Kickstarter its no surprise he had to go there for his funding. While I am looking forward to see what he can do with the game, I am going to be very surprised if it enjoyes any type of actual success.

    Of course that is my own opinion about SOE but basically we have a spat of MMORPGs get funded on kickstarter, all of them Sandbox type MMORPGs.. loads of polls and stuff on different forums with people saying they want a sandbox game over a themepark.. then all of a sudden SOE announce EQN is gonig to be a sandbox game.. sure i could be wrong but still.
     
    Sure Garriot is loaded and I am sure he put some of his own cash into the game but it still needed more cash for it to go into full development. he is not a multi billion $ company.
    I do agree with you on that big $ billion companies have no place trying to get funded on kickstarter.
     
     

     

  • dontadowdontadow Detroit, MIPosts: 1,044Member Uncommon
    I had a rant about this the other day. It is getting misused. There are people posting and asking folk to pay for their vacations and all sorts of luxiaries under the guys of being ap ublisher or writer. 
  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,222Member Uncommon

    Great article Matt.

    "A few MMOs have been funded on Kickstarter, but even a record setting Kickstarter campaign won’t be enough to fully fund an MMO."

    Thanks for stating that.  I keep getting shot down when I bring this up.  A recent successful mmo KS campaign didn't explain how they actually planned on fully funding the project.

    I have supported on KS project for a game (Planet Explorers) because I'm willing to take a risk.  It is moving along pretty well and I think it will see the light of day.  One thing that was key for me to even consider funding was that they had a working alpha build of the game.  While not a guarantee it at least assured me they had already put some serious effort into the project.

    I've also early funded an indie MMO (City of Steam), not through KS, but through their own site.  I won't do that again and I am less likely to ever fund an indie MMO again.  Late in the project, after the funding drive was over, the developer changed the direction of the game dramatically towards a much more conventional and rote design.  I wouldn't have funded the game as it stands now.

    The lesson learned here, is that even if your game does see the light of day, it may not be anything like what you "bought into".  Even though that wasn't a KS campaign the premise holds true for KS games too.

    Another thing I found out about KS is that the Paypal campaign, if they offer it, opens up reward tiers that were previously unavailable and exclusive.  For the Planet Explorers KS I would have waited and paid through PayPal to get a reward tier I really wanted compared to what I ended up with.

    Just like traditional payment models are evolving, I also think crowdfunding will change as it matures.

  • AkumawraithAkumawraith Fort wayne, INPosts: 335Member Common

    As Caldren mentioned above about Star Citizen exceeding the $10 million mark in crowd funding. It started as a kick starter by a well known game designer  that had a massive impact in the PC gaming genre back in the early 90's. Chris Roberts to some is a legend who has a history of making games players want and delivers such.

     

    Now I know what many will say... Chris who? Yeah Ive heard that exactly as typed.... Its sad really. Alot of the gamers today dont even know the men and even some women who gave them the ability to play the games they are now playing. Hell, Chris Roberts is the one that set the path to the level of graphics we have in gaming today. He was unsatisfied with what he saw being made for PC, so he did something about it. Wing Commander and its sister games sold millions.

     

    Chris Roberts would later go on to produce movies... Punisher and a few others that really didnt stay in the minds of people long... However Chris never turned his eyes away from gaming. When he came back and announced he would be making Star Citizen a MMOFPS(Massively Multi-Player Online First person Simulator in this case) The players flocked to him.

     

    By the end of the initial kick starter Star Citizen had earned about 6 million dollars. 6 months or so later its hit 10 million.  The developers and Chris communicate directly with the players, invite them to the offices, have live streams, a weekly update video, and are planning a 24 hour live stream for players to learn new things about the game, ask questions and get answers.

     

    I have played MMO's for going on 11 years and have to say that Star Citizen may be the biggest winner in the area of crowd funding to date. I only hope more game developers follow in the future not for what money they can make but what they can make for the players. The era of publishers cutting content for profit may finally be at an end.

     

    At the least lets hope it ends Electronic Arts stupidity.

     

    Played: UO, LotR, WoW, SWG, DDO, AoC, EVE, Warhammer, TF2, EQ2, SWTOR, TSW, CSS, KF, L4D, AoW, WoT

    Playing: The Secret World until Citadel of Sorcery goes into Alpha testing.

    Tired of: Linear quest games, dailies, and dumbed down games

    Anticipating:Citadel of Sorcery

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    Originally posted by Caldrin

    I dont know too much about Torment or Eternity, but Shroud of the avatar is a new project by a new company that did not have any major AAA publishers backnig them.. so yes without kickstarter they prob would not have made the game unless they could ahve fonud funding from a big publisher..

    New company and new project is meaningless. Gariotts name opens doors. If he wanted the money he would have gotten it. Certainly more than he has received from Kickstarter. Perhaps before spending your money to fund things you should actually take a look at how the business works. There is not much worse than an ignorant consumer in my mind.

    The games I have backed and have got have been pretty high quality games and I ahve been happy with them. Also nearly all MMOS since wow have been trying to copy it as clsoe as possible and we all know that.. msot people are bored as hell of these cookie cutter/clone MMOs. So they cant come up with the kind of money to match AAA games? Check out Star Citizen it just hit $10m fround crowd funding. It also does not need to cost 10s of millions ot make an MMORPG. Most people with projects on kickstarter are passionate about making their game and have already put a shit ton of their own time into it.

    Most? Where are your numbers for that? Cause the metrics certainly do not back it. Also, you are most certainly wrong about "copying". You do not reinvent the wheel for the sake of reinventing the wheel. By your standards Nissan and Ford make the same vehicles.

    Of course that is my own opinion about SOE but basically we have a spat of MMORPGs get funded on kickstarter, all of them Sandbox type MMORPGs.. loads of polls and stuff on different forums with people saying they want a sandbox game over a themepark.. then all of a sudden SOE announce EQN is gonig to be a sandbox game.. sure i could be wrong but still.

    LOLWUT! Stop buying into hype trains. Let me guess you took the Pathfinder Online hype video to heart that only sandboxes grow subs too right? ROFL.

    Sure Garriot is loaded and I am sure he put some of his own cash into the game but it still needed more cash for it to go into full development. he is not a multi billion $ company. I do agree with you on that big $ billion companies have no place trying to get funded on kickstarter.

    Has nothing to do with "Billions". It would be a hell of a long stretch to say he could not get access to the cash. He sure has investment opportunities. God knows he has enough friends in high places to make it happen if he wanted. The entire problem with the budget is good people are expensive. Even running a super tight ship there will be mistakes and delays. Its how game production works. For the types of budgets they are talking about, with all of this "new tech" means the game is going to be content light at best. Graphics are going to take a hit. The game will not have the marketing to hit big markets. Its almost setting yourself up to fail. There is a reason why most AAA mmo's have a 4-6 year production cycle and a cost of $50-100m.

    I implore you, LEARN ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SPENDING YOUR MONEY ON.

  • DrakephireDrakephire Fontana, CAPosts: 445Member Uncommon
    I like the idea of Kickstarter and crowdsource funding...what I rather dislike is when well-established, even wealthy, companies use it when they could be funding ventures themselves. Crowd sourcing should be the purview of creative people who can't get funding or venture capital elsewhere...those people who are trying to be innovative.
  • DamonVileDamonVile Vancouver, BCPosts: 4,818Member

    It's going to remain the greatest thing ever until one of these people walks off with millions of peoples money. Till it actually happens people will always defend it because they think it's the answer to creating the magical mmo of their dreams.

    I'm not saying any of the people who have used KS are going to do it but you don't collect millions of dollars from people's good will without attracting the telavangalists of the world.

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,769Member Uncommon

    "Even though the product is essentially crowd funded, the developer will still have major stakeholders who wish to have a larger say in the final product than the dude who pledged $25 to get into the beta."

    This is what a lot of players do not realise. They think KS is independent of major investors and so will no be pushed down the WoW route. Think again.

  • Four0SixFour0Six Missoula, MTPosts: 1,181Member Uncommon

    I think crowd funding is great.....with caveats.

    1. I think it is great for helping small projects. Or to push a project out the door. My "other" hobby is tabletop wargaming, and I have seen several successful projects funded through KS. These projects had books already written and minis sculpted. They just needed funding for initial printing and casting.

    2.I don't like to see projects try to get full funding through KS. There is a HUGE difference between an "idea" and a "ready to go project".

    3. I like to see when a company just needs to get an expensive piece of new equipment to further their advancement. This could probably go with #2.

    4.Crowdfunding seems like the ultimate pre-purchase to me, and I'm not into that....

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