Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kickstarter Malaise?

Jump back two years and the Kickstarter revolution in Wargaming is in full swing. Like the Stockmarket in the 80's , anything can get funded. You've just got to have an idea.

Back now to today and reality bites. We are facing a totally different market. The air has gone out of the tyres...and some. Rather than its purpose funding small producers that can't get traditional funding to bring their product to market, the Wargaming Kickstarters are dominated by established players using the avenue as a pre-order mechanism.

So what caused this "evolution"?

Well generally you can isolate the problems into the following areas:

  • Hobbyists not businessmen or manufacturers
  • Unrealistic stretch goals which overinflated projects
  • Access to cost-effective producers which sometimes meant international (think China), something they were ill-equiped to undertake
  • Over-optimistic timelines
  • Capability to deal with financial inflow appropriately
  • Scale - usually too big for their expertise.

For some it has been learning experience that has seem them emerge stronger. For others I expect a death knell - if not actually, then certainly reputationally or because they are now exhausted - in terms of future manufacturing.


Personally I've been lucky in terms of the projects I've backed:

  • Tablescapes (SWM) - delivered 12 months late but a superior product. Eighteen months on I'm still waiting display board
  • Darklands (Mierce) - involved in first project and one of later ones. Good delivery. However now use it as pre-order tool
  • Creature Caster - now approaching a year late. Will deliver but case book study for being seduced by stretch goals.
  • Games & Gears - brushes. On time no drama.
  • Dead zone (Mantic) - terrain package on time. Like Mierce use KS for pre-orders
  • Miniature Terrain Scenery - just finished. June 2015 deadline. I'm optimistic given scale.
The one I've been burnt on is Custom Dice Lab which was going to create bespoke dice. Guy raised $70,000 and bought laser cutter and dice but hasn't been heard of for three months. Now 9 months overdue....I'm not expecting to see much for my $37.

The key lesson is to look at the "success" of the campaign. You don't want them to fall victim to that success. For me something like Miniature Terrain Scenery is what I'm looking for in a new venture. Sufficient money to deliver but not too much that they have to rework scale.


As always, Caveat Emptor.

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