Kickstarter has been around since April 28, 2009 but I wasn’t introduced to it until the summer of 2012 when my dad sent out an e-mail to the family asking for people to back his project. The project was a film titled “Staged II” about a student film maker taking her estranged brothers on a road trip to find out what happened to her family on 9/11/01. This film among other projects where funded in the earlier days of Kickstarter. Back then goals were lower, people were starting to add stretch goals and projects were easier to find because there were fewer options to choose from.
There are many amazing projects on the site now with creative concepts, great graphics and lots of heart. I personally focus on funding table top games. It’s what interests me the most. But why back Kickstarter projects versus going on Amazon and buying an already made game? Easy, that game or project may not come into reality without your support. If you’ve ever heard the term “starving artist” you would know that most creatives don’t have a lot of money. Kickstarter is a way for their project to get funding without taking away from their savings or getting a loan. Now anyone can try and have their projects become a reality without breaking the bank.
Another plus on the consumer side of Kickstarter is you get an amazing product before anyone else. You get to add your input into the design through commenting. Plus, Kickstarter projects tend to be a better bang for your buck. If you were to find the same game at Walmart it would be more expensive plus it may not include the stretch goals like better card stock, new characters, pieces, box, etc.
On the flip side, the game typically hasn’t been produced yet, so you’ll expect it in a few months rather then in 2 days like with Amazon. You also run the risk that the product won’t hit their funding goal. In the case of my friend Austin’s game Mutated we were unable to successfully fund it. This was a shame because it was a great social deduction game with interesting illustrations. Thankfully, your credit card is only charged if they successfully fund their campaign. That way you don’t have to worry about getting your money back. If it’s a good product but didn’t get the numbers they will likely try again.
You might wonder what happens if the product funds, your card is charged but nothing arrives the month they said as an estimated delivery day. You also haven’t received any e-mails from the publisher. If this does happen, they will refund you. A great example of this was Erik Chevalier who ran a campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City. It funded June 6, 2012 thanks to 1,246 backers pledging around $75 a person to reach $122,874 which was past the goal. This project was estimated to be delivered November 2012 but no one heard from Erik until July 2013 when he wrote that he would not be able to complete the order. He would have to slowly work to refund everyone over time.
I’m not telling you this story to scare you away from backing a project, just informing you. There really isn’t any risk to Kickstarter. You either don’t spend the money if it doesn’t fund or you get a great product a few months later. Personally, I back Kickstarter projects because I want to build a community, get a great game, know I helped some make their dream a reality and to learn how to successfully set up my own campaign. If you have a great product but don’t have the funding, try using Kickstarter. I may back it!