The Wargamer

26 May 2017

Editorial: Is Kickstarter good for Wargames?

The Editor muses

Published on 9 MAR 2014 3:28am by Wargamer Staff
  1. business and industry, background / research material

Over the last couple of years Kickstarter (and similar crowdfunding sites) has been the trendy way of raising money for various projects large and small. The big success stories hit the headlines, as does the occasional alleged fraud, but we don’t tend to hear about the failures or when things go a bit wrong. So it got me thinking, whilst Kickstarter has most definitely been very attractive, and at times successful, for groups who connect strongly through online methods (I came across this quote for example: Geek-culture offerings, for instance, tend to be disproportionately successful.”), is it actually a good way to go about funding a Wargame? I think some of the advantages are obvious, so I won’t cover them, but what about potential disadvantages? 

I’m not going to claim to have done any degree level analysis – heck, it’s been some random Google-ing if I’m being honest – but one thing seems fairly clear: More than half of all Kickstarter projects fail. OK, that statistic (let’s assume its accurate) hides a multitude of reasons why projects fail, however, it does raise one obvious question – If you set up a Kickstarter are you just setting yourself, and your product, up for failure? With all the success stories hitting the headlines, but little said about the failures, there must be a high risk that anyone starting out on the Kickstarter route will have unrealistic expectations of the outcome. If it does fail the effect of this on the developer, and the “brand name” of their project, could damage any future projects, or even a subsequent attempt to bring their current project to market through other means. The taint of failure lingers a long time – is it worth the risk? Also, how would failure affect you, the developer? I came across this quote from a game developer whose project failed to get the funding desired: “Kickstarter not working out has been a big reflection point. We really did expect it to work. When it didn’t it kind of blew our world to pieces. We are just kind of sitting here with the bits.” 

So, let’s assume you decide to go down the crowdfunding route. As noted it is a very crowded (sorry) market. Wargames are just part of the gaming sector of crowdfunding and there are lots of those, even if they are a minority of projects looking for funding. So how to you get you get your project noticed? Now as a small/indie developer this question is going to apply at every step of your way, but if you’re pinning your hopes on getting funding this way you’re piling on extra work for yourself/selves. Again, is it worth it, or would you be better of ploughing the more traditional route of beavering away quietly and concentrating on promoting your product when its closer to release – or indeed looking for a publisher to take a lot of the load? 

What about the workload? When you’re going to be getting money from a large number of people, you have to deal with their questions, their concerns and their expectations. This quote, from the same person as the one above, illustrates: “Running a Kickstarter campaign is way more work than anyone ever advertises. Tom and I worked nonstop from about two months before the campaign started and then 12-15 hour days through the campaign answering emails from people thinking about backing us and posing questions, thanking backers, being on forums and talking to journalists. I felt like I was going around selling The Realm door to door. At the end that’s where we are at.” Wargames are, typically, developed by small teams or individuals on a part-time basis – can these people deal with the extra work a Kickstarter may well bring them? 

OK, so there are a few potential disadvantages to Kickstarter. There may be more, but this is just a short piece not a business study article. Do the advanatges and possibilities of crowdfunding outweigh the disadvantages? Drop us a line on the forum

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