Rant – Kickstarter (you have been warned!)

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Yesterday Cool Mini or Not (CMoN) launched their 6th kickstarter (KS) project. Zombicide: Season 2. And it’s kinda got me narked.

To me, kickstarter is their to help get companies up and running, give them a good shot of investment money without having to go begging to the banks, with the horrible interest terms that go with that. It’s gamers helping companies get off the ground, bring more games to the community that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

CMoN have finished 5 kickstarters already, and combined they have received pledges totalling $3.3… 3 million dollars in one year, for 5 games half of which, as far as I know, have yet to ship. In 2 days Zombiecide: Season 2 sits at $481,177, so expect another $1 or more to actually make that $4+ million in one year. Impressive.

So who loses out in all this? Well not CMoN, they are reaping in the cash. This of course assumes they have their production and shipping costs factored correctly.

The purchaser doesn’t either really, they seem to get boat loads of product for their cash, provided they don’t mind waiting 6 months to see them of course.

KS and the transaction processing companies are laughing all the way to the bank too. 5% each for being the middle man? Nice if you can get it.

So who is losing out? Well as far as I can tell its the LGS and the distributor. If I go for a big KS pledge that’s my hobby money spent for a couple of months, so I won’t be buying stuff from my local store . And what happens when I get my kickstarter delivered? Well as they seem to come packed with so many options I’ll be spending time building and playing them, so again I won’t be buying other games from my LGS at that point either.

If I were an LGS I’m between a rock and hard place. Lets say I’ve got zombiecide on my shelf, are gamers that missed out on the first KS going to pick that up or are they going to pledge to Zombiecide: 2, and get on that KS model gravy train? I know what I’d do if I were them. So do they stock ZC:2 when that hits? Or will CMoN just kick wave 3?

I pledged into Relic Knights, but only at the two starter level. I was expecting it to move to a traditional games release schedule, allowing me to pick up stuff over time. But will any LGS stock them? Knowing that another KS is likely round the corner? Why risk it unless you have a very engaged local group that will push it to other players, until Relic Knights: 2 hits KS of course.

I do also wonder if the one massive hit release is going to sustain a game. I guess we will know the answer to that by May 2014. Relic Knights should have been in gamers hands for a year then. If it’s getting regular play, LGS’s are stocking it and there is a tournament scene of some kind then it has. If not then 3,459+ people have another dead game to play.

To me KS is both a good and bad thing. Good that we are seeing games and models that otherwise we wouldn’t, and choice is never a bad thing. Bad in that it is changing the way we buy games, and if that hurts LGS’s we may begin to lose that vital community gaming space. In the UK we may not feel it so hard on a day to day basis, as we have clubs. But for medium sized events, 30 – 50 people, it will become hard as clubs normally don’t have the space, and hiring space for that number becomes expensive.

The Zombiecide:2 KS even says it’s 90% done. So this is really just a pre-order campaign. To me they could have sunk some of the profit from the $3.3 million into this, and release it to the LGS’s to sell on, giving them a much needed boost. Kick-starting the same game twice just smacks of greed to me.

And finally, I’m glad 4 times as many people have backed the death star as opposed to the rebel alliance x-wing KS. Lets crush those ewok loving hippies 🙂

  1. JohnOSpencer says:

    I totally agree with what you said. Our store had this exact problem with Dreadball. They couldn’t sell enough to warrant stocking it, as so many people had gotten it all through the kickstarter. As a result, an area that seems like it would be great for Dreadball (we always had a large Bloodbowl crowd) has almost no one playing, because the store isn’t stocking it.

    I really hope that Soda Pop doesn’t kickstarter anymore Relic Knights, i’d really like it to see some play at my FLGS. It doesn’t seem like they will, as they haven’t moved SDE to kickstarter.

  2. Phil says:

    Reblogged this on The Shell Case and commented:
    It seems only fair to look at the other side of Kickstarter. And a point of view I, generally, share.

  3. An here lies my problem with trying to set up using KickStart. I know I have the game but once it sells through kickstats is that actually going to be it? Will it sell through the local stores, will it sell through my own store. How will it do becasue if 1000 people buy it on kickstart and though I’d continue to expand the games and the range through these routes would the game be dead in the water after it got released?

  4. Project Good says:

    Agree totally, plus on a personal note I prefer to buy stuff off the shelves, than via the inter web – and this does indeed reduce my chances of coming across something and going ‘oooh shiny’ as we all do. When I done Games Expo with GtB lots of people assumed that I was kick-started, which pissed me off a bit as it’s entirely self-funded, and people seemed a bit taken back by that. Money where your mouth is, right? 😉

  5. Zweischneid says:

    Good post. Good points.

    One thing to keep in mind though is that the 5% Kickstarter takes is very, very cheap.

    Ebay takes like .. um.. 10 to 12% of even my old junk I sell through them.

    For a regular old-fashioned online-store, paypal and credit card companies will easily take 5% of every transaction, often more (which would include the “old” CMON online-store).

    GW regular-items (i.e. your basic tac-Marine squad) go to re-sellers at some 40% discount to allow them to sell them at a profit (minus, of course, their overheads and whatever the payment-companies get).

    Kickstarter is not only offering a very appealing platform. They are also by and large cheaper than other sales-channels.

  6. Tim says:

    My FLGS couldn’t keep zombicide on the shelf it was selling so fast. So I guess it depends on the game. And believe it or not, not everyone uses kickstarter. But I do see your point

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