It should come as no surprise to anyone that Kickstarter is rapidly becoming ensconced as a key component to many new RPG projects. The ability to raise funds without recourse to traditional pre-order systems (although many people feel, not without some justification, that some Kickstarters are just that) or bank financing is a huge boon and has yielded some great stuff. Heck, I’ve used it twice myself to raise funds for Adventures Dark and Deep™.
However, it’s not without its pitfalls.
As we’ve seen quite a few times over the last year or so, gaming projects that are funded through Kickstarter have a pretty crappy record when it comes to delivering rewards on time, and that record is starting to give a lot of people pause when it comes to funding projects through Kickstarter at all. I see these problems stemming from a variety of causes:
Problem: Underestimating the amount of work left. This is huge, and is caused by starting the real writing of a game after the Kickstarter campaign has ended. Don’t do this! If you’re doing an RPG, at least have the rules written before you ask for money to get it in print. If you feel you deserve to be paid for your writing before a single book has hit the shelves, you might want to consider submitting freelance work for an established publisher, rather than self-publishing.
Problem: Getting distracted. I’m starting to see this more and more; a Kickstarter really takes off, and the game designer starts throwing in all sorts of tangential bonus rewards. Mugs, computer programs, Minecraft servers, conventions that a dozen people will realistically be able to attend, etc. None of these things are really connected to the actual project, and end up being enormous distractions because the game designer fools himself into thinking that the Kickstarter supporters actually pledged their money to get a some iPhone or Android app, rather than the dungeon that was at the top of the page.
Problem: Underestimating costs. I’ve heard horror stories about people who forgot to include shipping in their calculations, or who offered a bonus stretch goal that ended up costing more than what they raised in the campaign to begin with. Some even need to do a second Kickstarter campaign to pay for the extras in the first one!