Is Kickstarter Becoming Unstable?

Is Kickstarter Becoming Unstable?

I always used to say that all it would take was one high profile Kickstarter to completely fail and the whole crowdfunding model will start to crumble.

Well, I was wrong, because several high-profile Kickstarters have started to fail and people still want to throw their money at new projects, so that is reassuring. Still, I have to wonder whether or not Kickstarter is starting to reach a point where it has become slightly unstable.

Peter Molyneux has been the subject of some scandal recently, with his Godus project taking quite a long time to implement its promised multiplayer mode. This has lead to a humongous influx of bad press, including a couple comments from the winner of Molyneux’s Curiosity Cube project, who supposedly was going to get a cut of the profits. Godus , by the way, was funded via Kickstarter.

Then there is The Stomping Land , a dinosaur themed survival game. The Stomping Land raised $114,000 on Kickstarter and made its way on to Steam Early Access. It has now been a year since the last Kickstarter update on the project went live, and the developer has gone totally silent.

Code Hero was supposed to be a game that teaches you how to make games. It raised $170,000 three years ago and has produced absolutely no product whatsoever. Haunts: The Manse Macabre earned $28,000, which was apparently far less than the programmer actually needed, and the project hasn’t moved forward at all. Bacillus earned $4,000, which doesn’t seem like a lot but was well over its $1,500 goal, and no product has been delivered.

Is Kickstarter Becoming Unstable?

It’s easy to think of many of these products as scams, but that’s not entirely the case most of the time, these projects simply did not have enough money to get off the ground.

This is partially because people who open Kickstarters usually don’t know how much to ask for. Their Kickstarter earnings need to pay for not only the cost of development, but Kickstarter’s fees, the cost to produce and ship all the Kickstarter rewards, the cost to publish and ship the game itself, and much, much, much, more. For people who are launching Kickstarters as their last hope to see a dream project off the ground when they have little of their own money to devote to it, this is practically a death sentence. With none of their own money to support the project when funds dry up, these projects are dead in the water. If you ever see a Kickstarter project asking for very little money, money you could probably come up with yourself in a month or two, this is probably the case.

But there’s also a problem with the very structure of Kickstarter. Even if you know exactly how much your project is going to cost, simply asking for it pretty much guarantees you aren’t going to get funded. Kickstarters that ask for a lot of money from the start end up making up less money than Kickstarters that ask for less money and have stretch goals. As a result, many Kickstarter projects are actually calculated under their actual funding needs in the hopes that they will overshoot their goal in order to reach it. Normally this isn’t a problem because if the project looks like it’s not going to be funded, the creator can just cancel it. However, if a project ends up in the awkward situation of getting enough to be funded according to its Kickstarter, but not enough to actually be funded, then the creator is beholden to attempt to complete the project on less than adequate funds. As a result, many of these projects don’t come to pass.

The big question I want to ask is, will there be a point at which we come to not trust Kickstarter? If you add up all the money lost from Kickstarter projects that weren’t delivered on, we are talking about millions of dollars of loss. Still, Kickstarter has been responsible for a lot of great projects getting off the ground as well, so it’s not all bad. It’s just risky.

What do you think? Is Kickstarter becoming unstable? Will people continue to trust in it even after so many projects have under-delivered? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

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