I'm not one of those ostensibly 'ironic' reality TV viewers who apologise for their foible in a loud, obvious and infuriatingly disingenuous manner for the purposes of making themselves appear more interesting by railing against public opinion. I just gain enjoyment from watching other people's lives unfold from a safe distance. I am, if you will, a voyeur.
To that end, I have watched with some interest as control of RPG, Boardgame and Wargame design is passed slowly yet surely into the hands of the fickle consumer. I refer, of course, to Kickstarter.
|This was probably unnecessary.|
Like me, you may have initially laboured under the misapprehension that Kickstarter was a funding platform used exclusively for game development, (In my defence, I was first exposed to it via Tabletop Gaming News and only later explored the site to any great extent). However, Kickstarter offers the potential to advertise and fund a wide range of creative projects in a variety of media. The medium that I will be focussing on, however, is Boardgames and Wargames.
I'd like to take a balanced view of Kickstarter's benefit to our hobby, rather than offering an ill-informed, choleric opinion on the matter either way.
Reduced risk and barriers to entry for new/small companies -
Small companies looking to launch their game, or figure range often face an inordinate level of financial risk. Many can't afford to conduct widespread marketing; opting instead to gauge opinion in a more informal manner via forums and blogs. Considering the cost of even a small casting run - assuming that sculpting and mastering are conducted in house - there still exists the possibility of being landed with 2000 blisters of a miniature that nobody wants.
Using Kickstarter eliminates risk for small businesses to the greater extent. If you have a concept with artwork and preferably a few sculpts, then the public will vote with their debit or credit card. If they don't like it, then they don't buy it and you don't waste time producing something that nobody wants.
Kickstarter actively encourages project leaders to create exclusive rewards for their backers. In the case of two projects which I followed with interest - those being 'Sedition Wars' and 'Zombicide' - there were a phenomenal amount of exclusive goodies on offer.
Gamers get new stuff more quickly -
Small companies like Redbox games, Mantic, (believe it or not, they are apparently a tiny wee company despite the big shadow that they cast) and Avatars of War started up through a combination of hard work, skill and direct experience working in the industry. To date they have each produced an incredibly wide range of miniatures in relation to the scale of their operations , but Kickstarter has given them the opportunity to fund new projects and ideas by providing capital without the vast sales figures - justifiably - enjoyed by Games Workshop.
No risk for backers -
Financial constraints aside, ignorance of this was the reason why I - in my uninformed, lazy, herd mentality - failed to back the Zombicide Kickstarter. Here's a quote direct from the horse's mouth:
To the best of my knowledge - and I actively invite you to correct me if I'm wrong - none of the wargames, or boardgames funded to date on Kickstarter are available on general release at the time of writing. To that end, I can only watch and hope that unlike the X Factor there will be no tantalising, albeit shameful relish in watching reality intrude. I have no desire to feel that oft-times jarring moment of guilty pleasure at the realisation that another's aspirations are incompatible with their abilities; often accompanied by the gentle tinkling of shattering dreams...