12 November 2016


I was talking to a good friend recently about backing new games on Kickstarter. He brought up an interesting point. He described the criteria he uses to decide which projects to back. The way he described his approach, he would back games from new producers who looked like they have the potential to become something noteworthy. If it's a producer's first game, he's willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Subsequent projects will be judged on how he felt about the first project.

But one thing he said that was really interesting was that he won't back projects from big companies.

This is of particular interest to me, as I watch people going crazy for the new game from The Oatmeal. The game is called Bears vs Babies, and is currently sitting at nearly 25,000% funded.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Bears vs Babies is a bad game. I'm not even saying that the previous game, Exploding Kittens, was a bad game. I've played it, and enjoyed it, and am not averse to playing it again.

What I am saying is that people are going insane over this game. With a goal of $10,000, they're already at nearly $2.5 million with five days left to go. Yet from what I can see, the backers of this project will get exactly two things that will not be offered to people who did not back it: a single promo card and some officially branded Bears vs Babies condoms.

And given how well the previous game Exploding Kittens did, I find it hard to believe that they need to crowdfund their new game.

Contrast this with the project Conspire. This is a storytelling game in which players keep their roles hidden from one another as they tell a story together about conflicting loyalties. It looks like it follows in the great tradition of Fiasco and similar games. It's the third project from Cherry Picked Games. Their first two projects were (barely) successful games; the first was a roleplaying game called Catalyst set in the modern world, in which characters must fight off a demonic invasion from Hell. The second is a party game called Drink.

All three of these look like good projects. And this is a new company, a small company, and there's really no way they can get these games published without the support of their fans. But at this moment, they are just under $1,500 short of their $10,000 goal, with only 21 hours to go.

This is despite the fact that they have some really good backer levels. Some higher ones allow fans to influence the art in the rulebook. So there's some good reasons to back this project instead of waiting for the game to be published to buy a copy. But because the company, and the games they've created so far, are so unknown, they don't get the support that games like Bears vs Babies do.

It's like the old YouTube celebrity phenomenon. People have a limited amount of attention to give out, and aren't likely to go looking for new channels to support. There can only be one Freddie Wong or Lindsey Stirling. Even if there are other creators out there, they're so likely to be overshadowed by the people that get all the attention that they probably won't be able to continue doing what they want to do.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: be more discriminating in the projects you back. Try to look to see if the company (or the individual) who's proposed the project really needs crowdfunding support. Will you get something as a backer that you wouldn't get if you waited to purchase the game once it's published? Has the project already been funded, indicating that you don't need to back it to get it?

Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about lately. What are your thoughts? How do you decide which projects to back? Leave your ideas in the comments. I will see you here next week. Until then,

Game on!

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