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The Failures of Kickstarter.

You are probably familiar with Kickstarter, the site where people with an idea can share it and try to finance it through crowdsourcing. Every Kickstarter campaign asks for a sum of money, which is a pledge goal they have to reach before the campaign finishes. If the goal is reached or exceeded, the project will get the funds. If the goal is not reached, all pledges are returned to the backers.

So far I’ve backed 16 successful projects on Kickstarter, all of them in the games category. Some of these projects have been massive money printers for the creators, like Planetary Annihilation, which raised USD 2,229,344, and Torment: Tides of Numenera, with USD 4,188,927 from 74,405 backers. Kickstarter’s greatest success story, regardless of category, is perhaps Pebble, a smartwatch company that not only raised USD 10,266,845 and went on to become a well known brand name, but also arguably kickstarted (pun very much intended) the smartwatch craze we’re seeing these days.

Wow.

You can probably see why Kickstarter seems like such a great place to raise money for what – at least in someones head – sounds like a fantastic idea. But while a few Kickstarter campaigns are immensely successful, the majority of them fail to meet the pledge goal before the time runs out – and some of these campaigns fall so flat on their face, it must really hurt for the people starting them. At the time of writing, there are 8 campaigns in the games category that will finish within the next 48 hours and have failed to raise a single dollar so far. Nil. Zip. Nada. Some of them have been running for almost 60 days.

Ouch.

Let’s have a look at a couple of the campaigns and try to figure out why they crash and burn this hard.

Sproogle

With 9 hours to go and 0 dollars pledged of their USD 30,000 goal, it’s a pretty good chance Sproogle, “an alien adventurer from out of this world!”, will never see the light of day – at least not through Kickstarter funding.

The campaign page contains almost no information at all, except for an elevator pitch and two “screenshots”. A quick Google image search reveals that the screenshots are more or less ripped straight off of a Unity art pack. The campaign creator does inform any potential pledgers that they will use the money from the campaign to purchase “a handful of gaming software” and the art pack in question might of course be a piece of software they plan to buy. But to me “a handful of gaming software” sounds like they plan to buy a shitload of other games instead.

The biggest problem with this campaign, however – if you discard the fact that there is absolutely no original content in sight and that the creator has no prior video game creating experience to refer to – is the pledge levels the creator has decided to use. You have a choice of either spending USD 4000 or USD 8000 on this project. For four grand, you get Sproogle for free (or, in reality, the four thousand you spent) and every other game that the Pyro Gaming company will ever release. Or, if you have 8000 dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you’ll get the chance to create your own character in the game. It doesn’t say that the awards from the 4000 level is included, though, so be prepared to pay for Sproogle when it’s release and every other game that the Pyro Gaming company will ever release. Which will be none, they will be far to busy in court where they are sued over trademark infringement by the other Pyro gaming company.

COD: Ghosts 48hr Live Stream

Meet Dustin. He is a 27 year old student who loves to play video games. Now he wants you to pay him to play Call of Duty: Ghosts for 48 hours straight on his Xbox One.

For the low-low price of only USD 100 you will receive a random CoD: Ghosts merchandise item, which he will ship anywhere in the US. Maybe he’ll send you the sassy CoD: Ghosts dog tag, which retails at around USD 5. What a bargain. Dustin doesn’t mention that he will be streaming his 48 hour Cod endeavor so you can get to actually watch him play, you just have to take his word for it.

But mind you, he will go through fire and ice to play for 48 hours and “will force myself to complete the task no matter what it takes.” According to himself, he has selected a game that “can be very repetitive and very frustrating” and will fight “sleep deprivation, boredom, restlessness, hallucinations, etc” to achieve his goal. Might I recommend another game that is not repetitive, boring and frustrating instead? That would make the 48 hours a lot of pleasant for everyone.

The USD 1000 Dustin is hoping to raise is for a noble cause, though. According to his Kickstarter bio, he recently became a father and he will use the money to move into his wife’s home to be with his family. So the cause is good, but a better idea to rise the money might have been to get a part time job or something similar.

Dustin is doing the same pledge level error as Sproogle. The only possible pledge you can make to Dustin’s CoD project is 100 dollars. Who in their right mind is prepared to pay some guy they have never heard of USD 100 to maybe play a video game? Not a single person, it seems.

The kidcade

Imagine a large, air conditioned, sound proof sphere sitting in your living room. It’s got room for three adults, three monitors, a surround sound system and three game consoles of your choice. Come to think of it, the sphere is probably the size of your living room.

The KIDKADE (it’s not clear from the campaign if it’s with a K or a C as both variations are used) is the “next big thing in home entertainment” and the brainchild of Ronnie from Florida. Ronnie is living with his wife and five children, so I can imagine he feels the need for a sound proof room to retreat to every now and then.

While the previous campaigns seems to me like feeble and somewhat pathetic attempts at suckering a few people of their hard earned cash, Ronnie’s campaign looks like a honest one that sadly falls flat on its face due to terrible execution. He writes most text in ALL CAPS. His campaign blurb is cut off in the middle of a sentence. His video pitch is a one minute piece where he is sitting in his bedroom, reading from a piece of paper while some poor person is trying to get some sleep in the bed behind him. Kudos to Ronnie for making a video pitch, though, the rest of the campaigns did not. The other video Ronnie has decided to add is a 17 minute long video from Florida’s EPCOT center. In the “risks and challenges” section of the campaign, Ronnie states that “there are no risk factors known.”

Oh, I don’t know, this project does give the feeling of being a little shaky and perhaps not that well thought through. Sectioning off and sound proofing a small part of a room might be a less complicated way to get a little free time from the kids.

Sports Day (Fans playing with Pros)

For our last project of the day, we’ll move to Canada. Have you ever wanted to play hockey, baseball, football, tennis, soccer, volley or pretty much every other sport known to man with professional athletes? That’s something David has always wanted and know he wants to realize his dream trough Sports Day and Kickstarter.

David is not using Kickstarter to raise money for his big event, he is using it to get publicity and attract sponsors, professional teams, professional athletes and everything else he needs to organize Sports Day. The total pledge goal of his project is 5 (five) Canadian dollars and unless the exchange rate for Canadian dollars has change a lot since I last visited the country, I very much doubt this event will go ahead as planned (23rd and 24th of August, 2014). So far, the campaign has raised a total of nothing, despite the fact that David is selling VIP tickets for CAD 1 (one). The same amount will also give you “Freedom To Do something : – Joy to do some Facebook/Facebook Page!!! – Joy to share on Twitter!!! – Joy to call your City Deputy!!! – Joy to think about All kind of Sponsors!!!” Who wouldn’t pay a dollar for that? Maybe they are saving up for the CAD 5 award, “Freedom to work for us during Sports Day Event!! It could be your future job!” Or maybe not.

To be honest, I don’t think David has a clue how Kickstarter works. Another pledge reward is “The goal is not just Money, but to attract : – Sponsors – Sports Brand – Pro Team – Pros – Marketing and promotion – Fans”, which isn’t a reward at all. Also, all of the updates posted to the project looks like random notes. Like this one: “Sports Day 7.0 : Soft Drink Trial : (New Flavors Test) (Gatorade, Powerade, Red Bull, Guru, Ice Tea, New Soft Drink experience) + Yogurt Test!!!” And all of the comments on the campaign is creator David repeating what he wrote in the updates.

There will be no Sports Day on the 23rd and 24th of August in Jarry Park, Montreal, Canada. I guarantee it.

Final words

This has been a short lesson in how not to create and run Kickstarter campaigns. There are a few common denominators here: For every campaign creator, it’s their first Kickstarter project. Neither of them have backed any other Kickstarter projects. Are they all scams? Some might be, but it’s quite possible none of them are.

I realize that all this might have come out a bit harsh. But you can’t just lob out an idea you spent 10 minutes coming up with out there and expect people to throw their money at you. Or even if you have thought about your idea for ages, that isn’t a guarantee you’ll raise any money either. All campaigns I have pledged to have posted continuous updates throughout the funding period, answered comments and generally spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into a well thought through campaign. And even then, many of them fail. Kickstarter is a lot of hard work. Thinking anything else is a sure recipe for failure.

The four other projects that will most likely end without a single dollar pledged are Loki Minecraft Animation, Footy Screamers Super League, Kata-Pong and The Nest. There are a lot of doomed-to-fail campaigns like these on Kickstarter. There are so many, in fact, it’s hard to filter them out to find the real gems. And the guy who managed to raise over USD 50,000 to make potato salad is probably not going to make things any better.

So, will you pay me 5000 bucks so I can to move my own lawn for 48 hours straight? I’ll send you a sample of the grass when I’m done. Limited to Icelandic residents. Kickstarter campaign coming soon!

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