Editorial: Kickstart My Early Access

Because your money could just vanish.

Don’t Kickstart or preorder games. Wait until an informed decision can be made.

These days it has never been easier for a would be developer to find financial backing to make their dream game – providing other people can see the potential in the project. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo exist to bring budding ideas to fruition, but has the proliferation of crowd-sourced fundraising begun to reach its limit? There are many more projects wanting cash now than when these sites first launched, but has the pool of money they draw from expanded at the same rate?

As gamers, many of the Kickstarter projects we know best are in the gaming category. Torment: Tides of Numenera, Project Eternity and Wasteland 2 are titles we have heard many times due to their success with crowd funding. Each time one of these companies dip their toes into the money pool that is Kickstarter, other projects lose out. Large projects like Torment are able to suck up over $4 million of financing because they are developed by well known teams or respected individuals. It is when titles like these draw more than four times the funding they need that smaller titles like Death Inc. are not even able to make half the amount of money the need. Our own overlord Lusipurr summed up the problem very well:

Once upon a time, the rich would donate money to the poor. Now the rich come to me and ask me to donate money to them.

When these large teams visit Kickstarter, they come equipped with all the information they would have needed to provide to investment companies to fund their games through traditional routes. So why do they not use the traditional methods to finance a game? Maybe it because, at least in the gaming section, Kickstarter has become a means of selling pre-orders directly to the consumer. Even if a project is funded, there is no guarantee that the game will arrive on time – if ever. Once a company obtains money through Kickstarter they can do what they like with it, that is why the position of the site has always been that Kickstarter is evil.

Wait for the price to come down before even thinking about purchasing this.

Games like Planetary Annihilation charge a premium for fan feedback.

Games like Minecraft and Prison Architect have brought in money early on by selling a playable game early on in its creation. These early alphas are charged at a low price that rises as more features are added to the game, topping out when the game is ‘complete’. These games often continue to receive updates, though the price no longer rises. When Steam introduced Early Access this trend looked to continue, as when a game got a full release its price would rise. Steam’s Early Access information does say that a game can charge more for early access, though so far only Planetary Annihilation has chosen to do so. The game followed its Kickstarter reward tiers, pricing the alpha at a whopping £67($90).

A game can be shaped by the feedback of fans, especially when a small amount feel privileged because they paid a premium to play the game in an unfinished state. Bugs will show up in these early builds, but how many of the early adopters are willing to report them if they decide that the only reason they paid extra for a game is to play it before anyone else? Maybe they do report the bugs and demand the developers listen to them because of all the money they gave to the project. A lower price point for early access makes a people want to invest in a game early before the price rises, and once they are invested they will often want to help the game mature.

As gamers we have become used to games getting released in an unfinished state while developers attempt to patch out bugs. Early Access is different as we are aware that this is what we are signing up for when we purchase a game in early development. A high cost to purchase a game prevents smaller sites (like Lusipurr.com) from providing information to its readership that could potentially bring in enough people to offset the cost of lowering the price of a game. Then again, the price is based on a Kickstarter reward tier and Kickstarter is evil.

Have you considered funding a project on Kickstarter? Would you consider buy early access to a game, and how much would you pay? Let me know in the comments!

5 comments on “Editorial: Kickstart My Early Access”

  1. When these large teams visit Kickstarter, they come equipped with all the information they would have needed to provide to investment companies to fund their games through traditional routes.

    Except for the ones who think that it is double fine to not bother making the effort!

  2. Between the two models, I think the Minecraft model has the right of it. The biggest thing it offers is the benefit for us hipsters to say things like “Yeaah….I supported Mount and Blade back when the Dark Knights rode the fields of Calradia.”

  3. You need to post all the details of how PunchBeginner works before we can support it. How is it different?

    I like Lusipurr’s quote a lot. It is artistic and very relevant.

    I noticed a statistic on RocketHub.com. I don’t remember the exact number but it basically said that a very large percentage of people who do crowd-funding do it again later. I do not care for this statistic. I will admit that I used RocketHub to fund the physical release of my album but I feel right in doing so because I am exactly the intended customer for a website like that. I’m just one person with a vision for an album and no real way to pay for it. I toiled for over a week about whether or not I should crowd fund it because I agree overall with the Lusipurr.com official stance on the topic. In the end I did it but I promised myself (and the donators) that I would never do it again afterwards because you are supposed to use it to kickstart, not kickcontinue. The whole point is that you need help to start a career and after it is started, it is up to you to keep it going. So I plan to use the sales from my first album to help me fund the next one. If I can’t keep my business afloat without asking for donations, then I am not running my business correctly.

  4. I saw the Early Access price for Planetary Annihilation and my jaw dropped. Games like Minecraft, Prison Architect, and Kerbal Space Program reward early adopters with lower prices, but Planetary Annihilation seems to punish them by charging nearly double what current PC games cost. What will the developers tell the early adopters when the full version is released at the typical $50 price point? Haha, we can’t believe you paid that much for this shit?

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