The Daily Grind: Do you feel crowdfunded MMOs ‘owe’ you something?

    
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No top guns here.

My husband and I were chatting about the whole Chris-Roberts-is-fed-up-with-trolls-and-date-estimates-that-everyone-knows-aren’t-going-to-stick thing from last week when he said something that struck me. “It reminds me of how people harangue George R. R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) about his next book,” he observed. “They believe he owes them something for being his loyal fans,” which you’ll recall once prompted famed author Neil Gaiman to declare, “George Martin is not your bitch.”

The difference, of course, is that George R. R. Martin can do whatever the heck he wants while he rolls around in his well-earned piles of money because his books aren’t crowdfunded. He quite literally doesn’t owe us anything, even if people who’ve been his fans for multiple decades might feel otherwise.

Crowfunded MMOs like Star Citizen aren’t quite in that position. Technically, you knew when your credit card number hit the screen that yours was a donation toward an idea. Some of the games we Kickstart? They fail. Or they drift in limbo. Or they don’t meet the vision. They aren’t all Path of Exile and Elite Dangerous is what I’m saying. But when those campaigns masquerade as pre-orders, people can be left with the idea that, well, they’re owed what they think they paid for.

Do you feel the MMO you’ve crowdfunded owe you something? Or are you content knowing you donated toward a vision of a better genre?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Grave Knight

Depends on the project. Some projects just fail and with them the consequence of failure. Some projects don’t release even though they could, focusing instead adding one more feature asking for more money to fund the feature. They don’t rely on future updates, they don’t rely on DLC expansions, instead they believe their game has to be absolutely prefect when it’s released.

(Star Citizen, I’m talking about Star Citizen. The game should have released two years ago but didn’t because the asshole in charge just wants one more feature instead of doing what a pro would and wrap everything up and release, than add new stuff afterwards.)

zaphod6502
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zaphod6502

Almost all the features Chris Roberts added to Star Citizen were scoped in the original design documents and Kickstarter goals. As for calling Chris Roberts an asshole that is a low blow from someone behind a keyboard. You wouldn’t be saying that to his face. Commenting is easy, designing and producing a game is hard.

Perfect example is the latest fuss over the face capture technology. This was being scoped when the original Eric “Wingman” Peterson was still with CIG many years ago. But of course people are lazy or have selective memories because it is trendy to bash on Star Citizen.

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AGx-07_162

I don’t contribute to these types of projects but I’d expect, at the very least, everything that was promised when you asked me for my money. A typical investor can be more forgiving about what the final product ends up being because they are only interested in the ROI. Crowdfunders don’t get any financial return on their investment, just the game and if the game isn’t what they were expecting then that’s reason to be upset. For me, I’d say, don’t promise things you can’t deliver on.

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PhoenixDfire

So far I’ve help to Kickstart three nostalgia projects. Elite: Dangerous, Star Citizen and Chaos Reborn. Elite Dangerous and Chaos reborn promised extra bonus and extra access to the development with higher pledge levels. I just backed Star Citizen for a remake of Wing Commander and maybe Privateer later.

Now after four years, Elite: Dangerous fulfilled most of it’s promises. There have been wobbles, i.e. the offline mode which was never in the original pitch anyway and David Braben wishes that they had either a) never promised it or b) let the community know a lot earlier that it wasn’t possible, but I wanted an updated version of 1984’s Elite and we’ve got that. People complain that it’s not deep enough for them but to be honest, it’s only as deep as you make it. Do they still owe me anything, yes. They owe me all the up and coming DLC but that’s it.

Chaos Reborn, from the guy who wrote the original X-Com : Jullian Gallop, turned out to be a nice surprise. Turn based, magic like arena game with a game world around it. Still play it from time to time.

Star Citizen, Yes, they still owe me for Squadron 42 and a Basic Star Citizen Account (my rewards for the initial pledge). I did not back the game for fps mechanics. I’ve effectively given up and consider the pledge lost. Maybe, I’ll get something in the future but any enthusiasm I had for the project has lapsed a long time ago.

When you compare the two space projects. It did seem that there was a little bit of upmanship during the Kickstarter campaign. Elite had procedural system generation, that suddenly appeared as a Star Citizen stretch goal. Elite had future plans for multi-crew and maybe fps walking around ships and stations (year 3 or 4 of the project) and then it seemed that appeared as a stretch goal and I knew that it was going to be a very long time before I saw anything from SC.

What it doesn’t allow me to do is tell the devs how they should design and write the game? Yes, I joined at DDF level at Elite Dangerous where any suggestions I made were considered by the design team during the initial development (considered not implemented) and we were supposed to get ‘God Like’ powers (which have yet to appear) but I know that the final call is Frontier’s.

Same with SC, my pledge only entitles me to what was promised, as long as they deliver, I have no grounds to complain. Even though I don’t agree with their development path.

If I wanted influence, over the way devs, designed and worked, I would have been better off putting that extra money into shares for the company (kind of wishing I did four years ago, if you’ve been following FDevs Share price).

It was the same for the original Occulas. People pledged and got their headsets. They had no control over the fact that Facebook got Occulas, the kickstarter was only for the headset.

zaphod6502
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zaphod6502

CIG decided to add procedural planets because their German studio stated they could easily add them to go the game as was proven two years ago. There was also immense pressure from the Star Citizen community to add planetary landings.

As for upmanship that is totally false. Both project leads strongly supported each other and CIG even made an announcement on their front page encouraging Citizens to support the Elite Dangerous project. Chris has publicly stated he supports the space sim genre and all projects related to that.

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Paarthurnax Dragonhearth

For me personally no … I don’t give any of them any $ …. they don’t deserve it, I ain’t paying for mmos with mechanics from 1999 and graphics from 2005 …… Also most of them suck …. will probably die after ‘release’ in a few months anyway ….. But have phun throwing $ at the screen …. Some Devs live off of sheep ! ….

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Robert Mann

The very nature of crowdfunding, unless you are promised a stake in things, is that you are hoping to get a better product by buying in early. The only thing you are owed is the product, in whatever state it ends up in.

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Witches

I would, that’s why i didn’t crowdfund it.

A game of this scope would never be the fastest thing to produce, and claiming Chris Roberts said he could isn’t an excuse, you should know the reasonable production timeframe for this kind of thing, and if you don’t you probably should think better about the way you spend your money.

I would never crowdfund an MMO, even if this game had been made in record time and was the first game ever without bugs, the minute there’s a balance patch people will be asking for their money back.

oldandgrumpy
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Kickstarter Donor
oldandgrumpy

I used to do crowd funding of MMO’s but I stopped a while ago. My first crowd funded MMO was in 2012 and I have funded half a dozen or so, my experience with these has been on the whole poor.

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TotalCowage .

How have you managed to write this article without referring to the Terms and Conditions of Kickstarter?

It’s not even a debatable question. Project development is allowed to drift… but specific rewards ARE commitments and are expected to be honoured. You can’t say “I’ll give you a balloon if you fund to X level”, and then deny the existence of balloons. The T&C states;

they offer to return any remaining funds to backers who have not received their reward (in proportion to the amounts pledged), or else explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form.

The reality though is that far too many weasel out of doing this by either spending all the money and saying “Tough, it’s all gone”, or use the massively complex reward system to say “Ahh but how do you know exactly how much you should receive for part of that pledge level?” or even just redefine a reward like “Future episodes!” to be a single page and call that an “Episode”.

Worse, Kickstarter genuinely doesn’t bother enforcing their own T&C, instead saying “we expect the individual and the project to work it out between them.”

When Shroud of the Avatar stated that Episode 2 would require a second Kickstarter to fund, otherwise they wouldn’t start development, even though Episodes 2-5 were rewards already paid for in the first one, I contacted KS about this clear violation of the rules, and was simply told to bring it up with Portalarium.

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Sorenthaz

That’s because the moment it’s funded it’s no longer Kickstarter’s responsibility or desire to care about it. They get a cut of the money, after all, so they don’t really give a care once they get their money.

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A Dad Supreme

“THE DAILY GRIND: DO YOU FEEL CROWDFUNDED MMOS ‘OWE’ YOU SOMETHING?”
======
Yes.

The game that they promised.

Not “we tried and here’s the result” or “sorry, we just couldn’t get ‘er done”.

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Bannex

If it’s your money and your company, feel free to put out whatever product you want. If you go to a crowd funding site and promise a product in return for the money needed to fund it them you’d better deliver.

I am unsure why there needs to be any discussion beyond this.

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yoh_sl

No, they don’t owe me anything.
It’s an investment, and like any investment, there is the possibility that it will go south.
I may get my monies worth if they game comes out, but there is always the risk that it may not, or not live up to my expectations. That’s life. It doesn’t owe you anything.

Therefor you should be careful who you invest money in.
Fortunately everything I’ve invested in has either panned out well, or is well on it’s way to doing so. Usually because I trust the people who are making it, namely because they already have a background of excellence.
Trust but verified.

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Bannex

This mentality is why crowdfunding devolved into cash grab junk.

You are part of the problem.

Without standards and the expectation of quality we just perpetuate an exploitative “developing” culture.

zaphod6502
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zaphod6502

People should only crowd fund with eyes wide open. They need to realise they are not “investing”. All they are doing is donating to someone else’s dream. If they donate large amounts of money to a Kickstarter or a project they should not start complaining if said project fails. No one forced them to hand this money over.