Kickstarter done right – Kind of a review

Howdy readers

I do plan on getting to another game review next week. But this popped up on my radar and I wanted to chat about it for a little bit.

Just about everyone has heard about Kickstarter and some of the variants that had popped up in order to establish not only if a product has value, but to enable publishers and artists to raise capital without issuing stock or taking out a bank loan. It is a great idea really. And as long as everyone knows that they are making an investment, just like playing the stock market, and that you stand a chance of loosing everything you have put in, you will be ok.

It wasnt always like that though. Years ago the terms of service in Kickstarter were that if you put money in you got something. And if the person starting the kickstarter could not get you what you had put money in for then you needed to get something else. There were a lot of things that happened that changed that but one will forever stick in my mind. Palladium Books and their Robotech RPG Tactics. They have been raked over the coals for this by thousands of people so I am only going to highlight. They raised almost 1.5 million dollars to get this game off the ground, and in the end they fulfilled about 30% of what they promised on. Their communication was poor and they did not monitor their own Kickstarter page well to respond to concerns and questions. Basically they did everything they could wrong and pissed off tons of fans. I have a feeling this contributed to them loosing the license for Robotech but no one has ever said in a concrete manner that this is true.

So lets talk about someone that is doing it right.

Right now there is a kickstarter going on for BattleTech Clan Invasion by Catalyst Games. Now then for those of you who chase my links you are going to notice that I actually put a link in for the kickstarter. I dont do that sort of thing often. In this case I think it is the right thing to do. The reason is the same sort of fan outpouring is happening with this BattleTech kickstarter that happened with Robotech. The initial funding goal of 30k was hit in under seven minutes. At the moment that I am typing this there are 27 days to go and they have hit over 830k. They have been adding stretch goal after stretch goal to the kickstarter. And it just keeps going. So watching this to see if Catalyst can pull off something that shredded another publishers reputation and fanbase will be interesting.

Some of the key differences you can see right from the git go…

  • Catalyst made sure right off the bat that they told everyone that as the stretch goals mounted they may need more time to manufacture everything. That they would need to ship in waves. And that there was no way they could estimate shipping before they even knew what the total volume of materials would be in the main box, let alone the add ins.
  • Catalyst made sure that their estimated shipping dates were in the future. That little estimated date under the listing for each pledge level… yeah that one… I have been so ready to pledge to kickstarters and seen a estimated ship date of a month out and then reached out to the publisher only to be told that no that is not the ship date, and when I send them a screen shot of their kickstarter they freak.
  • Catalyst is making most of their stretch goals really minor overall. yes some of them add in a good number of added miniatures. But most of them are adding copies of digital fiction. PDF files of maps. Backgrounds of art. A pair of dice. These are not huge outputs of effort or time in most cases as many of the digital materials already exist. And having previously set the expectation that shipping dates can change and that they would need to ship in waves, the larger stretch goals do not seem so challenging.
  • Catalyst is making an effort to make multiple updates a day on their website, on social media and in the kickstarter itself about how the stretch goals are impacting what they are doing, and they are so appreciative of the fans that they cannot stop thanking them. If they maintain even a semblance of that level of communication when the funds have been raised, they will put the breaks on so many potential problems.

They are currently giving the impression that they have learned well from the mistakes of others. Now we just need to see if they follow through. I honestly recommend taking a look at this kickstarter, even if you have no interest in the game, or no desire to support the effort. Partly to see how I feel a large kickstarter effort should be run. The simple truth is that even though there seems to be a large difference already between Catalyst and the Palladium kickstarters there is no way of telling if the positives will stay, or if this may be another game companies chance to fall in the eyes of their fans and supporters. So yeah… drama 😉 It may be like a soap opera with tactical mecha miniatures… so does that make it an anime….

Anyway… as usual think for yourself, discover for your self and have fun out there folks…

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many heat sinks I can sink in synch… sink… 😛

 

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