What is crowdfunding? While it is a new word to our lexicon the concept has been around throughout history; supporting the publishing of books, plays, or even music. Yet today when you say crowdfunding you think of the various internet platforms used to spawn all manner of projects, support personal/private causes, and find new ways to get investors involved. These are hugely successful online platforms that raised over thirty-four billion US dollars were generated worldwide in 2015 alone.
There are three very well known crowdfunding platforms currently out there:
The first two of these focus on raising funds for products from technology, clothing, video games, board games, comics, etc. Just about anything someone might want to produce and need capital to do so can be championed. While the other is typically used to raise funds for personal or social causes whether for the burial of a loved one, fund raising for a organizational trip, or even plastic surgery for ones self.
Why would someone use crowdfunding?
Well if you have an idea that you would like to see come into existence without a lot of risk you might consider crowdfunding over traditional and more costly avenues like a bank or investors. You could also keep you company and earnings to yourself, whatever those may be after fulfillment.
The other reason is you may have a need to raise capital to pay for something you cannot afford or ask for help with an unexpected financial burden. Some may consider this begging but when your between a rock and a hard place you may not have a choice, and let’s hope you or no one you know ever has to find out how that feels.
Why would someone support crowdfunding?
There may be many reasons why someone would give money to a crowdfunding project or cause, but they all boil down to: cause they want too.
Whether you believe in the cause someone is collecting for or you want to participate and own some device or item you give with the feeling of being involved with something. Because not all crowdfunding results in a tangible item this is the chief reason people do it. Although most still expect something for their money if they are supporting production of some item or goods. Often production crowdfunding results in items at reduce prices than when they are released at retail, however you may have to wait a long period of time to receive a finished product. Therein lies the risk of crowdfunding.
The risk with crowdfunding is that the cause you have supported isn’t genuine. Whether it is the guy trying to raise money for his kid’s soccer team when he doesn’t have a kid or the company making the latest smart device that never delivers. Both forms of crowdfunding have risks such as these and many more, so before you give someone your money evaluate the crowdfunding request carefully and look for red flags that could mean some is just trying to take you money.
A few red flags to consider:
- The Request is made by a new account for a large sum without any previous history.
- The Request is deeply personal and has few details, pleading without reason.
- The Request is made by an account that already has several requests that have gone unfulfilled (items/goods) or have no reports on what happened to the funds raised (donations/collections).
- The item/good that is being produce seems impossible or is presented completely as a concept.
- The amount they want to raise seems higher than the item/good or purpose they are raising it for.
You should always evaluate any offer that you might be interested in but the best advice is if you cannot afford it should probably pass. Crowdfunding is not meant to be an investment or way to buy items/goods it is a way to share your extra income with those that, hopefully, need it and can put it to good use. In some cases you do receive something for your effort in other cases you may not. This is because with any of the crowdfunding platforms presented here, there is zero guarantee of receiving anything for your money.
How does this apply to gaming? Well there have been some crowdfunded gaming related projects that been either amazing or some hot garbage. So let’s take a look at some gaming crowdfunded winners and losers.
We discussed this lovely title previously and feel that it is definitely a winner. From the price point, product delivery, and communication this project was a backing success. Not to mention the game is a mega-hit and completely fun to play!
Divinity: Original Sin II
This was the introduction of a project that was ambitious and obviously a bit of a passion project. Finished and delivered the game is a smash hit and available on every platform promised. An example of an experienced developer getting it right.
Another over-hyped game by Peter Molyneux it was to feature a multiplayer world across all platforms. What arrived was a micro-transaction freemium mobile game and a half-dead PC release.
Raising over $2 million dollars in 2012 via Kickstarter it has gone on to sell or crowdfund privately via it’s website another $250 as of December 2019. This title has promised and promised and promised delivery of a massive universe with interactive game play and robust space combat! Only it has missed and continues to miss every release date and deadline set by the developer.
My own experience
I have participated in numerous GoFundMe pledges for friends, family, and strangers. I don’t consider not receiving anything for those pledges a detractor and in most of the causes they presented updates, news, and appreciation of the funding that made me happy to have participated. Meanwhile I have used Kickstarter for a total of 26 different projects. Out of those 26 projects only 2 have left me with a bad experience.
One was a game from a French company that has been over five years in development and still continues to promote ‘pre-orders’. All contact with the company is ignored and my requests have gone unfulfilled. Every once in a while I make the rounds and email them and taunt their Facebook page to no avail. It also appears that the development studio’s website has disappeared altogether, a bad sign indeed.
The second actually turned out to be my fault. I backed at a pledge level different than the one I thought I had. Totally got what I had pledged for so really that’s my fault having incorrect expectations. So I guess I’ve only have 1 in 26 projects go unfulfilled to date, I don’t think it will stop me from crowdfunding something in the future merely make me more cautious of what I do intend to fund.