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When Kickstarter Projects Go Missing 86

On Friday, we posted about Kickstarter's new rules of engagement, including some new rules under which some of the most popular Kickstarter projects to date might never have surfaced. But what about ones that make it to the site, then disappear? Wired takes a look at what happens to those Kickstarter projects that for one reason or another get yanked from the site. (DMCA complaints apparently are often that one reason.)
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When Kickstarter Projects Go Missing

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  • by GeneralTurgidson ( 2464452 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @02:13PM (#41429631)
    Call me a scrooge, but the idea of donating money to projects that will eventually charge you to purchase the product they produce seems ridiculous to me. On top of that, there is no guarantee that the project you donate to will see the light of day. Honestly, can someone tell me why this is such an appealing option?
  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @02:13PM (#41429637) Homepage Journal
    Forgive me, but I'm pretty sure that if we didn't have the DMCA, the safe harbour provisions would be unnecessary. I don't think it can be called a "godsend" just because infrastructure providers are protected from being harassed.
  • by supersloshy ( 1273442 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @02:20PM (#41429697)

    Nearly every project I've seen gives you a copy of said product for pledging a certain amount. Also, have you heard of the term "investing" before?

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xacid ( 560407 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @02:30PM (#41429767) Journal

    Don't like it? Submit your own story. Vote for submitted stories. Contribute instead of being a fuming leech.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @02:52PM (#41429879)

    Escrow is an interesting idea, but not really relevant to what Kickstarter is doing - i.e. making the projects possible in the first place. Having money in escrow doesn't help you fund tooling and production of physical goods, nor keep your bills paid and/or hire outside resources while pursuing artistic endeavors. All it does is provide incentive to finish the project, which in the absence of ability is utterly useless.

    And there is a major difference between art/design projects and physical products - for physical products there is an immense amount of time, labor, and expense involved in going from working prototype to mass-produced product. Art projects on the other hand incur almost all of their costs during creating - the "prototype" basically *is* the final product in the case of pure digital goods, and even things like physical books have a large and streamlined industry already in place to convert your digital version into a run of physical products with minimal difficulties - one book is basically identical to another except for minor details like dimensions, material types, and what's printed on the pages.

    That said, for something like a book or other product where investment costs are minimal I think contributing to a Kickstarter project is rather ridiculous - practically every author on the planet manages to write on their own dime and gets paid if/when they sell copies. Proven authors may have the option of getting an advance from a publisher, but the bulk of their payment still only comes after the project has been completed. If that model is good enough for Shakespear, Dr. Seus, and everyone in between you've got to ask why project X is so special.

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @03:14PM (#41430065) Homepage Journal

    Kickstarter actually started out as a way to fund arts projects. Like somebody wanting to create a sculpture, do a fancy mural, put on a play, even make a low-budget movie. These are all things that will probably never make back their costs and have traditionally depended on the generosity of donors. These have traditionally been people with deep pockets — businesses looking to generate goodwill, rich people who've gone philanthropist — but with the whole online crowd-whatever phenomenon, there's no reason ordinary people can't do this too.

    Like you, I'm bothered by the fact that Kickstarter is now dominated by startups who use it to get seed capital. There's something just plain messed up about a for-profit business that might well make its founders rich starting out by passing the hat. Still, I'm forced to admit that some intriguing projects (Pebble, Ouya, and even the much-maligned Orbit []) might never have gone anywhere without the generosity of "backers". I guess there's nothing really wrong with it, as long as people understand that the money they're offering is a gift, not a purchase or investment.

    But to answer your question: this is one of those weird online enthusiasms, like that Korean guy with the weird dance moves. My favorite example is this Halaal restaurant I used to live near [] which for no obvious reason has hundreds of 5-star reviews on Yelp. Now this is a decent restaurant, the food is OK, and the staff is very hospitable to everybody who comes in. But they seem very confused by all the non-Muslims trooping through the door. Why pay extra to eat Halaal [] if your religious beliefs don't require it?

    Yelp is full of stuff like this, and let's not forget the bus monitor whose bullying incident earned her almost $700K []. Very silly, but not that big a deal, except maybe for the potential fraud.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @01:05AM (#41433651)

    Rather than financial return. There may be some financial aspect to it as well, you figure "I can get the game for $20 now rather than $50 when it comes out," but it is largely creative.

    The projects I've backed on Kickstarter (all video games) have been because I want to see the game made. They are games that are otherwise not likely to be made. They are games I want to see though. So my money help allow them to exist, I get creative return on my investment.

    Now is there risk? Of course, as with all investments. There is a risk people won't deliver. Most of the games I've back I'm pretty confident will deliver, they have small game studios behind them. However there's a couple of smaller ones. There is a risk they won't be able to deliver.

    Also there's a risk that if they do deliver, you won't like what they do. I'm quite sure I'm going to dislike at least one of the games I've backed. Bound to happen, I've bought plenty of commercial games I didn't like. Again, it is a risk I have to be willing to take.

    That's what people need to understand. Yes there's a risk with KS. You just have to decide if you are ok with that risk. Why do it? Well to get something you otherwise might not be able to.

    In terms of games Wasteland 2 would be a pretty famous example. I really want that, I love that kind of game. The creator, Brian Fargo, already tried to get a publisher to back it. Guy is a game industry veteran, he knows the deal. However nobody was interested. Well, I (and others) backed it on KS because we want to see it. If we didn't back it, it wasn't going to happen.

    It allows for more niche things to get funded. A publisher may say "Well this looks like something very few people would buy, so we won't fund it, even with a low budget." People on Kickstarter say "I don't give a shit, I'm not getting financial returns, I want it that's all that matters." So more niche products can get some funding.

    Also when a project is backed 100% by people with no financial stake, it allows things to be done differently. For example all the games I've backed have pledged a no-DRM version (and the one that has launched has delivered a no-DRM version). They don't have to worry about it since there isn't a publisher to make happy, or a bank loan to pay. The backers got their game, they have nothing more they owe anyone.

    So it isn't The One True Way(tm), or how everything will be done in the future or something like that. But it is cool for some things. You just have to be ok with risk. You have to accept that yes, there's a risk when you back a project. As with ANY investment, don't go in for more than you are willing to lose, and understand your potential gains are creative, not financial.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.