About Kickstarters

I’ve seen a lot of pissing and moaning about kickstarters coming in lately.
I don’t care. Why?

I don’t pre-fund things that aren’t already made unless I get something out of it right away. Every kicker I’ve invested in has already paid off in spades. The first question I ask myself when I see a Kickstarter is, “Would I still be happy if this is delivered a year or more late” and the second is, “What if it’s never delivered at all – how much will I get out of this if it fails?”  Yes, I’m a whore. But I’m also investing in things that pay off for me right now. And I assume most of these will be late. For fuck’s sake, professionals can’t even deliver a video game on-time 90% of the time.

Let’s take a look at some of the ones I’ve funded:
Towers Two (and by extension the other adventures in the funding blitz) $175 (by far my largest drop, and about 2.5% of the total cash raised)
Payback thus far:
Backstage passes, free tickets to a GWAR concert I was already going to. $60-100
2 T-shirts, posters, etc. $40
Free hard copy of module T-1 and the Ready Ref Sheets $20-100+ (someone else was running a side-promotion of which I took advantage)

Still not delivered:
5 modules, print and PDF (the 4 that funded, plus a separate one that Jim’s writing) – Orphone, Broodmother, Towers Two, Horror among Thieves. ~$100
Sandbox by a Judges’ Guild veteran ~$20-25

Total payoff:
At least $240, of which I’ve already arguably received more than my money’s worth.

Grindhouse Edition hardback $30
Payback thus far:
Jack over shit.
Still not delivered:
Adventure module by Ken Hite, Print/PDF ~$20
Hardback of the rules: ~$30
Total Payoff:
~$50, plus getting the rules proofread and reissued in a format I prefer.

Better Than Any Man $30
Payback thus far:
Pdfs of several things I’ve wanted to buy anyway, coming out to about $40
Not yet delivered:
Print copies of Another Shitty Adventure and BTAM, pdf copies of all 5 side adventures, and another reward pdf
Total payoff:
At least $50 already. Plus the post about its cover, which has made me laugh harder than most professional comedians have ever done.

Total return on my investments: $200+ cash-in-hand for $235 laid out; potential return is as much as $500. The things I got are ones that I likely wouldn’t have been able to justify buying for months, if at all.  To be brutally honest, even if one or more of these projects fail, I’m still going to be happy I spent that money.
Furthermore, Jim Raggi has already delivered on crowdfunded projects, and the quality of his work is impeccable. He has a reputation for dealing fairly and swiftly with his artists, who are themselves veterans. It’s damned likely I’ll get what I’m “actually” paying for, and it will be worth it.

The reason I didn’t drop dosh on Dwimmermount, by contrast, is that I’d already seen James M. crack up under pressure on his own blog. But if I had, I already knew that he’s got a habit (as most of us do) of taking three times as long to do something as he thinks he needs. James M. has produced a small offering, which was decent but not overwhelming – and produced later than he estimated. He’s dealing with professional artists, some of whom aren’t doing much pro work these days – but has little reputation with them as an employer. Notice, too, that all the rewards at reasonable funding levels are things that aren’t made yet. Each adds even more time to the process of getting it out the door; expansions, which add more time onto the development process, and increasingly deluxe presentations of the core item, which delay and balkanize its production. I had no reason other than my personal affection for the man to give him money, especially since most of that material is going to be freely available if the product ever gets published at all.

It sounds a little sociopathic, perhaps, but in the end Kickstarting something is investing in it; all investing is a gamble. Don’t play a sucker’s game when there’s something around the corner with better odds. Research your investment, and make damned sure that you can afford to lose the money. If you’re spending thirty bucks, remember that that’ll get you a module or two or a supplement book, or half of a rulebook in hardcopy right now from your LGS, who could probably use the cash…

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