In developing Eliot’s Perfect 10 on MMO Kickstarters last week, he and I had a discussion revolving around #4 — specifically, we felt we needed to spell out what exactly Kickstarter was meant to do and who exactly was meant to use it. But we couldn’t. The answers are a Catch 22.
See, most people seem to have this vision that Kickstarter is meant for indies, some dudes in a garage making a Thing, or maybe an unaffiliated mad scientist toiling away in her lab on a Project. These folks are unknowns who are sticking it to the man, avoiding investors and publishers, doing it their own way, letting their Idea take flight with a bit of financial help from some friends on the internet.
But when an unknown visionary or programmer shows up on Kickstarter with an MMORPG idea and asks for money, we all basically laugh. Gameplay vids or GTFO, we say, nevermind that the very nature of development for the kinds of games we want to see demands a significant amount of money before it can ever get to the “gameplay vids” stage.
Compounding that problem is that when a known gaming personality with history in the genre, a big bank account, and plenty of industry contacts rolls onto Kickstarter with a new pitch — and gameplay vids — gamers insist that developer has no business being on Kickstarter. He’s not indie. She has too much money. He should get a real publisher, stop trying to milk fans, and leave crowdfunding to the people who really “need” it.
So basically, if you don’t already have money, don’t bother. And if you do have money, also don’t bother. That’s the mixed message we’re sending. I’ll concede, for the sake of argument, that it might not be the same people making both claims; after all, big-budget MMOs do fund on Kickstarter, at least one big one per year for the last few years. But I’d still like to know what you folks think: Whom do you think Kickstarter is really for?