Back in 2011 when Obama was still president, and half of America thought they were living in some ultra-utopia, a once great city now had the standard of living equivalent to a fucking third world country. I’m talkin’ bout Detroit! Once great, Motor City’s new major export was murder, rape, robbery, assault, theft, and arson. Mayor Dave Bing, seeing a crisis on his hands, desperately reached out to Twitterverse for suggestions on how to save Detroit from becoming Aleppo. A highly creative fellow tweeted that they should build a statue of Robocop, a fucking awesome idea for tourism, because if I’m going to be pistol whipped for my wallet at least make it in front of a statue of Robocop! In true Detroit tradition Mayor D-Bing shot down the suggestion as it was clearly preposterous and resumed his far more rational strategy in making Detroit the largest U.S. city to claim bankruptcy (spoiler alert: he succeeded).
Then something magical happened. D-Bing didn’t realize the legacy of Robocop was not to be trifled with. The idea of enshrining the robot cop rockin’ a semi-automatic Glock went viral and a Kickstarter was launched to make it a reality. No money making scheme, no hidden agenda. Geek culture enthusiasts just wanted to see something awesome! Not only did the Robocop Kickstarter reach its goal but it railroaded past its original proposed target. The people wanted to see this happen as it was an idea only in their wildest dreams. This was a major win and a testament to the potential of Kickstarter powered by a passionate community. A Robocop statue for the people by the people.
Then some numb nuts thought hey this is a great way to start a business risk free! People give us money so we can make shit and not owe them anything! OUYA anyone?
With our development of Dirty Chinese Restaurant, I’ve always been haggled to launch a fucking Kickstarter. I always give them the same answer: fuck you and fuck taking people’s money on the promise of a good game. They can pay me when I have a great game for them to play (I fucking sure hope they buy it).
Now I know some purists for the platform are going to pick up their pitchforks and come after me and all I have to say is come at me bro. I’ve got my reasons for not taking the Kickstarter route and you’re going to have to take it with a grain of salt starshine. Sure, there have been successful Kickstarters for games but I personally feel professional begging is a pack of shit.
In the Beginning We Had Nothing
That’s right you heard correctly. In the beginning all we had was a seed of an idea. Shit ain’t going to grow if you don’t water it and don’t expect to get that water from your neighbour because you asked politely….also substitute ‘water’ with ‘$10,000’…..and substitute ‘asked’ with ‘demanded’……..oh and change ‘politely’ to ‘like a pretentious asshole’. Anyone can have an idea but it doesn’t mean it’s foolproof just because you magically thought of it. I knew that an idea alone and approaching people with hat in hand was a pussy way of making a game.
Games evolve, grow, and change as you develop it; no different than a child. Sure you can start thinking okay Jerry will be born and we will put him in the best schools, teach him the best morals, and make sure he is University educated making him the next president of the United State…….AH SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! With all that parental scheming little Jerry is more likely to grow up as a dipshit cyborg, protesting the government to build that Lobster Empathy Centre (yes those numbfucks at PETA want this) until he realizes he’s more of a parasite on society which he remedies by putting a shotgun to his mouth.
Don’t forget Kickstarter robs you of creative freedom as once you launch it, you cannot change what you’re developing. This is especially bad if the game you’re making isn’t working out and needs major alterations. Drastic changes can seem like you’re pulling a fraud on your loyal backers. It’s called false advertising and if your loyal patrons see you altering your promise, your twitter feed will flood with the hate just like the toilet after you foolishly took on three Taco Bell meals.
Logical Conclusion: No one is going to give me money just because I self-proclaim that my ideas are good, and those ideas may have to change. No one likes a bait and switch.
No Handouts, Please
Asking for money because you idiotically believe you’re incredibly talented is a pack of moose shit…. it’s a Canadian term so think bullshit covered in maple syrup. My parents always taught me shame in asking good honest people for their hard earned cash for flimsy fuck reasons, and it’s a good lesson. Only selfish assholes think people should give them something for nothing on the pretense that they feel they’re entitled to success.
While building Dirty Chinese Restaurant I never expected anything from anyone because I literally had no money to pay them with. While recruiting my team I registered our business as a corporation and legally divided the shares of the company %25 to each holder. I implemented the we play together therefore we win together strategy. This way, and in only this way, can teamwork and motivation be ensured as we were all united under a common goal. It’s called fucking sacrifice and if you do it it’ll put some fucking hair on your chest……. unless your female… don’t do that its fucking gross. No sacrificing for the ladies, stay hairless girls!
Logical Conclusion: Succeeding in asking people for their money without giving them anything tangible doesn’t make me a game developer. It either makes me a great promoter or an even greater con artist…and girls should wax consistently.
A False Sense of Security
Money not earned makes people incredibly irresponsible with it as they will lose sight of its value. If their newfound fortune was so easy to get the first time it should be no different next time, right? Money coming in is finite, especially when you utilize the same tactics to get it. More specifically just asking for it is using IOU’s. No one is going to back up your Kickstarter a second time when people find out you blew all the cash on hookers and blow.
The other issue is a successful Kickstarter fools you into thinking you’re making a great game. I’ll let you in on a little secret because I like yah…. YOU’RE DEAD FUCKING WRONG!!! People are supporting an idea that they think is interesting and may be worth their money. You’ve only succeeded in suckering them into giving you capital based off a pitch. You do not have a good game yet, but the caveat that most developers believe is they do.
As much as I don’t like to admit it I actually like pressure. The pressure to produce something with scarce resources forces me to think differently. It helps me make better use of my time, focus on what’s important, and conjure up creative solutions. Pressure also takes me out of my comfort zone increasing my self-confidence, gaining new perspectives, and becoming an ultimate badass in the eyes of others (trust me on that one, you’ll have great stories to tell). And nothing gets your head out of your ass faster than pressure. Not even the most expensive lube on the market.
Logical Conclusion: When something of value is given to me it strips me of the drive and passion to earn it, robbing me of the personal growth I would have otherwise achieved.
The Rewards on Kickstarter Are Garbage
Here’s where the fan meets the shit. Clearly if I have no money then clearly I have nothing to give you. I also have no street cred so how can I offer you memorabilia? But that doesn’t stop delusional morons from offering puke ass rewards such as these:
A Copy of the Game: Gee golly Wally that’s fantastic! Instead of buying a tangible game today and playing it I can buy a theoretical game and wait five years to play it. Don’t forget it may or may not play like a slab of monkey AIDS!
Autographed Memorabilia: I don’t know who the fuck you are and I’m pretty sure your name in ink is worth less than 35 cents. I could write a shitty signature on a cocktail napkin and pretend I was you.
Design A Level/Character/Boss: You get confused there for a second JP Morgan? I’m not the game designer. I’m the fucking idiot giving you money to make a game I’m ASSuming is going to be the bees knees. If I’m dumbtarded enough to think that, why in the blue hell would you let my retarded fingers fuck up your future masterpiece?
Dinner with the Director: Unless you’re 5’8”, blonde, and 135lbs I don’t want to have fucking dinner with you. Why would you offer this?! Are you short on friends?!!
A Copy of the Script: Why the fuck would I want that?! To read what I already played?! What if I’m illiterate bitch??!!!!
Artwork Book of the Game: You mean the free shit you post everyday on Twitter to promote your IP? Now I get to look at it in book form for cash? Take my fucking money right now!!!
A Free Mug: A Fuck You……that’s pretty much what it says when you have to pay $75 bucks for it.
Your Name in the Credits Screen: Because if it turns out like garbage no one will see your name you paid $50 bucks for. And if it’s a success no one who plays it talks about how fucking mind blasting the credits screen was when your name appeared……which you paid $50 bucks for.
Yes, yes I understand some of these rewards may be worth something if the game is a success but right now it’s not. It’s just an idea in formulation. And it’s a shame that some developers are delusional enough to believe they are providing value by giving you worthless merchandise. Give me an awesome game, not worthless paperweights!
Logical Conclusion: Rewards are meaningless if they don’t have any monetary or sentimental value attached to them. They also would make it appear as I was perceiving my audience as fucking gullible and stupid.
The Hype Machine Is a Very Fickle One
I remember when Sam Jackson took on the role police officer #54895 for the movie Snakes on a Plane. When the internet found out the title and titular star, a shit tornado of awesome pursued. However, that was January of that year, eight months before release. Sadly, when August rolled around, the hype train was long gone from the station. Why? Because for those eight months people were jumping all over the internet painting a movie where Sam Jackson is stepping on snakes and yelling Motherfucker every two seconds. It didn’t take long for this hilarious idea of an action movie to get old.
I find Kickstarter to have a similar feel. When an amazing looking game is trying to hit a Kickstarter goal they hype the crap out of it. People pay and when the goal is achieved it feels like the event is over. When they try to market near launch one or two years later, most developers fall into their own hubris believing that their fans are still eagerly waiting for their glorious IP to launch. Chances are most have forgotten or moved on and those that do remember don’t have that same feeling during the grand Kickstarter campaign. The novelty has worn off them.
Let me paint with the brush this way. When a movie is hyped to maximum overdrive it’s usually a couple of weeks before the opening weekend. Sure they have a trailer or two throughout the year but that’s just to stoke the flames before the big event. After the movie comes out and 80% of people who were planning to watch it do, the hype machine begins to wind down.
Logical Conclusion: Hype will die down before the game is even released. Its best to strike while the iron is hot and throw the grandest marketing campaign to sell your game on release. Don’t waste limited time and attention on trying to sell an excuse for people to fund your production.
I Didn’t Have the Network
I have zero street cred with the gaming community and I have zero games made. No one will believe in me. I’m also not popular and I don’t have any friends…but those stories are reserved for my psychiatrist.
Logical Conclusion: Don’t write about anything that you only tell your psychiatrist (Phew…. almost fell into that trap a paragraph ago).
Conclusion – Kickstarter is Not for Me
You triggered yet? Ah relax snowflake, it’s not all bad. I don’t dislike Kickstarter because I think its some perverted legal way of cheating. I dislike Kickstarter because I’m taking without giving and it says a lot about our shit millennial entitlement culture. In any business you have an obligation to your investors when you borrow. With Kickstarter you literally take the money and give the finger. The game doesn’t even have to be good! True art and success comes from pain and strife; not panhandling like a selfish bitch. You want people to part ways with their cash into your bank account? Well looking at it that way makes you selfish and fucking stupid. Provide real fucking value and give them something for their hard earned cash.
I think Kickstarter is great for people making art for culture or backing up a humanitarian cause; not starting a business. This mentality of ‘support me because I’m special and I want to make games’ is literally destroying the industry because you’re not creating what people want. You’re creating because of your insatiable urge to knight yourself the coveted title of Game Developer. It’s great to be inspired by your days of playing SNES Zelda, but building a Zelda clone isn’t innovative. Copying and pasting…er…. ahem…. designing a runner to get your feet wet and charging $7.99 for it doesn’t add value to the app store. And if I see another generic JRPG with blue and pink haired adolescent whiners I’m going to throw up rainbows upon rainbows upon rainbows (I ate 12 pounds of Skittles for lunch). The more cheap indie garbage that comes out, the more saturated the game industry is with shit. The rise of the indie game developers was supposed to save the industry from AAA mediocrity not add to it!
Money is out there if you search for it. Venture capitalists, government business grants, angel investors, etc. will give you the capital you need to get your production off the ground. But there’s a catch! You better have a great product to begin with. The give me money because I’m me mentality has got to go as the game market is exactly as the title describes it: a market! And as a free market people will exchange money for goods and services that they deem valuable. This entices game developers to create original and entertaining experiences which benefits gamers and the industry overall.