Kickstarter projects

Continuing the discussion from How did you discover Thimbleweed Park?:

Regarding video game projects on Kickstarter I’d differentiate between team sizes:

  • Bigger companies having a reasonable team size (e.g. DFA) but also being able to put more funding (internal and external) into it. Or fail spectacularly if they can’t.
  • Then there are smaller sized teams (like TWP) which are IMHO most likely to fail on Kickstarter. They may be able to secure additional external funding but if it’s not enough the team may break apart eventually and the project can never be finished (including legal problems [IP] etc.).
  • And then there are projects whose core teams only consists of one, two people. After the funded money is gone they may take ages to finish, but those people often pour their heart and soul into the project, so their owner(s) will keep working on it for a long time, e.g. during their spare time having another job.

I’d put Space Venture into the 3rd category. According to some comments I’ve read from them they didn’t even really touch the money, but reserving it for 3rd parties (like voice recordings, music, physical rewards etc.).

I have not backed many projects but when I did it, it was to really support an idea that I liked, more than to get a product, hoping for the production team to reach the goal. Also, I’ve always invested small amounts of money, never more than 50 or 60 USD.

At least one time I have not selected any reward, because I wasn’t really interested into using the product but I thought that it would have been useful to others and deserved to be realized.

So, when someone fails to delivery, I’m sorry for them, not much for myself. From my point of view, we (me, them and the other backers) tried to make it real and at least in my case I fund a project knowing that some of them are promoted by people who could make wrong choices. I’m OK with that: as long as they made a mistake but they were transparent and honest, I’m still glad I supported the project. Failing is part of life and I’m sure that most people will learn from the negative experience and do better the next time.

It would be troubling if my perception of Kickstarter was different. Some people perceive that platform as a way to pre-order products and this mindset makes them believe that they have a right to receive the reward they asked for, while instead it’s important to realize that this form of crowdfunding is an explosive mix between a form of charity and a form of gambling.

DFA was a bit of a mess, from a management point of view, but I got one of the most interesting documentaries about game design and development. Negative events can have also positive consequences.

TWP has been flawlessly managed, from my point of view, but it’s also a rarity among similar Kickstarter projects.

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I wouldn’t support a project if I don’t see a realistic chance they could succeed in making the final product. I don’t think it would help them having the burden of a succeeded Kickstarter campaign but can’t finish their project in some acceptable way.

But there a lot of reasons projects can fail and unless it was malicious or a scam backers need to deal with this situation or Kickstarter wasn’t the right place for them in the first place.

This may be selfish but the longer it took the more documentary was there I could watch, I was happy.
But now I have to find time to watch it again, remastered and non-spoiler-free :slight_smile:

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On one hand it’s true that backing a Kickstarter project is just that, helping making something a reality. On the other hand, people is actually risking their money for free. I’ll explain myself: if the project doesn’t work they loose their money, which is fine since there’s always risk with investments… But if it does, the creators may have a huge financial success but the investors will see no interests being return.

I’m not saying that’s the way it should be. The reality of kickstarter projects is amazing because in reality people is giving their money for free in exchange of the happiness of a product being developed… Which sounds like something that would never work, as an online encyclopedia that regular people write and contribute to :wink:

I can’t think of one Kickstarter game project where this was true.

Both Gary and I worked for two years and barely got paid. We’re both deep in the hole compared to “just having jobs”. It’s the same for everyone I know who’s done a Kickstarter, even the “successful” ones. We raised an additional $500K through private investors, and we are not even close to paying that back, when we do, we’ll be lucky to make enough to make the whole project a personal financial lost for us.

I know no one who’s done a Kickstarter where this isn’t also true.

We’re not complaining. We knew what we were signing up for, but don’t assume indie developers doing Kickstarters are making money. There is always the anomaly, but it’s so rare that your time and money would have been better spent on lottery tickets.

Here is an Interesting article on Steam sales for titles released in the last month.


I know at least one which is super successful (rightly): Shovel Knight (of course it’s the exception)

Oh no, you guys sounded much more optimistic on the last podcast :frowning:
We need a strong tail!

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Well, I try to be selective and of course I avoid at any cost projects created by people who don’t seem to have enough experience to reach the production goal, but I also realize that I have zero ways to know for certain if a project will deliver something, so I’m aware of this intrinsic risk and I accept it. If the project interests me and if the creators seem people with a bit of experience in their field, I back it and just hope that “shit doesn’t happen”.

I’m interested in watching the non-spoiler-free version too. It was an interesting journey that showed me how they handled both the positive and the negative sides of the project. :slight_smile:

You are right and that’s why I described this model as a form of “charity” more than a form of real investment. Within this model, not getting a final product is unfortunate but acceptable.

There are exception to this crowdfunding model though, for example fig, in which the backers can get a share of the profit if the game is successful enough.

I’m sorry to hear this. I knew that sales weren’t enough (I did something similar to what that Gamasutra author did) but I assumed that in the medium/long term the project would have reached the break-even. I always thought about it as something similar to a marathon, not to a sprint race.

At the risk of sounding cynical, I think that this community of backers and people who liked the game should be considered an important asset that could help you to reach a wider audience, if “used” correctly (I apologize for the term “used”, I’m the first one who doesn’t like it). Maybe not necessarily for this specific game but at least for your other future projects.

Let us know if we can help.


Isn’t the article biased? I mean, the word “at least” in the charts means A LOT more than meets the eye.

I wasn’t saying this had been the case of TWP, just that companies like Kickstarter (despite being awesome what they’ve created) hide on purpose the difference between crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding.

Still, I think for the particular case of TWP the model used is the right one. This raises two questions:
a) To backers: would you have preferred to pay $100 instead of $25 and, eventually, being able to get your investment + gains if the project was a financial success?
b) To @RonGilbert: would you have preferred to raise twice as much money but not have complete freedom, since at the end of the day, there’s a swarm of investors whose primary interest is to get the game to sell rather than the game to be the pitched idea?

To be honest I’m more inclined towards the current model: giving the team financial security to create the game they feel it’s right.

It’s very sad to hear that… I really hope that the strategy for the upcoming mobile releases works very well financially… There’s lots of people who don’t touch a computer but for work. In the meantime, I’ve already gifted the game to 2 relatives via GOG.

Best of luck!

Personally, no. I’m not interested in making money, that’s not the goal of my hobbies. And, in any case, I don’t think that it would be possible to make a significant quantity of money.

I back this kind of projects because I like them and I’m interested to help the people who are working on them. If I get a reward for my help, even better.

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  • Broken Age. They made a lot of money but used it not wisely.
  • Star Citizen
  • Elite


  • Exploding Kittens
  • Bears vs Babies (or was it Babies vs Bears?)

That’s a difficult question: I’ve paid a lot of money for TWP already (far more than $100). I would invest in an adventure game (like in your suggestion) only if I like the story or if I am involved in the creating process.

But it’s an interesting idea. :slight_smile:

Since ktzar and Ron were not talking about the money raised on Kickstarter but about the money made selling the product after the Kickstarter, do you have any figures about how much money DoubleFine did after the Kickstarter campaign?

Sure? Cite:

@ktzar talked about losing money in the Kickstarter (too).

Anyway, if you only look at the money, Broken Age was a financial success: After the Kickstarter they had enough money to produce the game. A lot of people bought it after it came out. So they should have a profit. (And don’t tell me that the production of the final Broken Age game costs 3 million dollars…)

That’s one think I don’t understand: Why haven’t you asked on Kickstarter for enough/more money? I have watched that several times: Game developers tend to asking for less money on Kickstarter than they actually need.

You (and other developers on Kickstarter) are experienced game developers. So you know how long you work on a project like TWP. And you know how much money you need per month (for food, rent, …). So it should be easy to calculate what you need to produce the game. Add some money on top (because all creative game projects are delayed :wink: ). Then put that sum on Kickstarter.


Hmm… I’m quite sure about that. The “losing money” part was referring to the subject of the previous sentence, the backers.

Maybe we have a different definition of “financial success”, that to me means “profits”, not revenues. There were no such profits:

Broken Age to break even for Double Fine

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I wonder if TWP could have chosen some cheaper graphic style. I’m thinking of Ultima 7 or something isometric. Ok, we wouldn’t have had those astonishing vista locations. But if it had cost half the money, it might have been worth it.

That’s why I wrote: “If you only look at the money”. For DF it wasn’t a success - but only because they hadn’t spend the money wisely. They had earned over 3 million dollars (if I remember correctly). 3 million dollars! And in the second part of the game they recycled some locations. I don’t know what they have made with the money but with the sales after the release I consider it as a financial success.