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View Full Version : Is distributed patronage is fundamentally unfair to the customer?



Internet
16-10-2012, 02:20 PM
Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are huge right now, and will probably grow in the future, but do you think they're fundamentally unfair to customers? In this model you're paying for a preorder of a product that doesn't exist yet. It's far better for developers, but is that a good thing?


Personally I think it is a good thing, because the balance of the system is at least moving away from those who have money (publishers / investors) and moving to those who are actually making something. It just needs greater customer protection.

agentorange
16-10-2012, 02:35 PM
I think it will be beneficial in the long term. One of the things people seem to underrate is that the developers are able to keep the IP they create through Kickstarter; that means all the money (or at least a large portion, they still have to pay box manufactures and distributors etc) that would normally end up in the publishers hand after the fact, now goes to the developer, allowing them to become more self-sufficient. That's the way I look at it at least. I look at it more as an investment, than a "donation" or pre-order.

NathanH
16-10-2012, 02:41 PM
I'm not sure I'd say it is unfair, but it is a transaction that's going to be fundamentally harder to customers to assess, for two reasons. First you have the uncertainty: you don't know whether the project's going to be completed or what it's going to look like when it's completed, and your legal rights don't appear to be as tight as for purchases from retailers. People don't deal particularly well with uncertainty, so this is going to make it harder to reach a rational decision. The second problem is that backing one of these projects can be seen only partially as a transaction and partially as supporting a developer. I'd counsel everyone to view it only as a transaction, but people won't listen to that counsel. So you have a more subtle relationship with the developer than "I give money and you give me this game". More subtle things are harder to analyze correctly.

So in conclusion I would say that it's much harder for the consumer to estimate how much a kickstarter project is worth to them than it is to estimate how much a completed game is worth. That's not unfair, to me, but it is at least something to think about.

Sparkasaurusmex
16-10-2012, 03:04 PM
Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are huge right now, and will probably grow in the future, but do you think they're fundamentally unfair to customers? In this model you're paying for a preorder of a product that doesn't exist yet. It's far better for developers, but is that a good thing?
It's important to note that people "preordering" on KS aren't customers, but benefactors. The customers come later, when the game is released for sale.

I believe publishers and the vg industry before KS was fundamentally unfair to customers, crowd sourcing is a breath of fresh air.

SanguineAngel
16-10-2012, 03:04 PM
I would say it's less that you're buying a game and more that you are supporting the developer (frequently in place of a publisher). Most kickstarters I have seen even have a very low pledge level with no game as a reward but generally a badge on the forums (or forum access at all) for instance.

So what you're paying for with your money is literally the development of the game. The game that you are to receive at the end of the development is nothing more than a reward & "thank you" for your support and is stated up front in order to encourage your support in the first instance.

That Kickstarter actually attempts to enforce a policy whereby any promised rewards must be supplied takes away some of the gamble, although obviously the quality of the final product is still going to be up in the air until it arrives.

Ultimately, you should be pledging support to a KS project because you like the sound of it, have faith in the developer or are willing to take a gamble on it being great and to express your direct support for that developer & the stated goals of the project and are happy to contribute your own money to see the project come to fruition.

NathanH
16-10-2012, 03:16 PM
I disagree with the "support" justification because in practice unless you are pledging a reasonable proportion of the total fund or the game is only just going to get over the mark, then you have not really supported the project in any tangible way: your sudden disappearance would change nothing. To me, a kickstarter pledge is just a gamble in which you pay money to receive some uncertain reward. This is just like buying a game, except the uncertainty is higher.

Sparkasaurusmex
16-10-2012, 03:24 PM
That's the basic idea of KS, though, Nathan. Every penny adds up. If they just wanted VCs spending mass amounts there would be no use for KS.

MoLAoS
16-10-2012, 03:43 PM
The main value of kickstarter is the opportunity to get new quality niche games that a publisher wouldn't be willing to back.

Its somewhat ironic to me that people are voicing the same complaints that publishers likely make as to why they refuse to support uncertain properties. At the same time said people often whine that publishers won't support niche or innovative games.

Internet
16-10-2012, 04:01 PM
I disagree with the "support" justification because in practice unless you are pledging a reasonable proportion of the total fund or the game is only just going to get over the mark, then you have not really supported the project in any tangible way: your sudden disappearance would change nothing. To me, a kickstarter pledge is just a gamble in which you pay money to receive some uncertain reward. This is just like buying a game, except the uncertainty is higher.

I think the support justification is fine self-justification if a customer is paying more than industry average for the game, because that money is a quantifiable example of how their goodwill and willingness to support the developer. At most of the higher tiers the reward is disproportionate to the cost, so I don't think it's unfair for the customer to say that they're supporting the developer.

However, the vast majority of customers stay inside the industry standard price for a collector's edition, with the appropriate rewards. Almost 60k of Obsidian's 68k backers are at the $65 tiers and below. So for the vast majority of pledgers, it functions like a preorder, even if emotions driving it are different.

Of course this is muddied by a project like Obsidian's, with extensive add-ons, so it's more like you're buying goods.

Xercies
16-10-2012, 06:51 PM
I think people are using kickstarter mostly for pre-orders and thats probably why your getting all these nostalgia things happenning people want these games people will pre-order these games so some old developers are exploiting this a little bit which kind of goes against what kickstarter really is for.

SirKicksalot
16-10-2012, 06:56 PM
I contributed to kickstarters like the Andy Whitfield documentary just because it made me feel good.

LTK
16-10-2012, 07:39 PM
I think people are using kickstarter mostly for pre-orders and thats probably why your getting all these nostalgia things happenning people want these games people will pre-order these games so some old developers are exploiting this a little bit which kind of goes against what kickstarter really is for.
What is Kickstarter really for, then? Pure altruism?

Nalano
16-10-2012, 07:44 PM
It's a risk. And it's an uninsured risk.

Once you take that into account, feel free to throw your money away on Kickstarter projects.

vinraith
16-10-2012, 07:53 PM
It's a risk. And it's an uninsured risk.

Once you take that into account, feel free to throw your money away on Kickstarter projects.

Well, that's better put that what I was about to say, so I'll just second it. The phrase "sucker's bet" comes to mind.

Harlander
16-10-2012, 08:06 PM
Were you trying to trigger Betteridge's Law of Headlines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines) with this thread title?

Internet
16-10-2012, 08:22 PM
Were you trying to trigger Betteridge's Law of Headlines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines) with this thread title?
Forum discussions aren't newspaper articles and a question isn't a rant. I'm honestly interested in what other people think about distributed patronage, because it's a complicated idea with a unique set of problems. It has great potential for good, but, many gamers have a lot of disposable income, think consumption is valuable in and of itself, and are massively prone to hype. So kickstarter could become an exploitative tool to overcharge for games and deliver less.

Are its positive and negative potentials equal? On the one hand, there's a strong and credible argument that crowds are generally smarter (and better at risk assessment) than individuals. On the other, there's the Ouya.

Faldrath
16-10-2012, 08:53 PM
I think you'll find there are several reasons for people to back things on Kickstarter, and some of them not quite as obvious. Take my case: I see the projects I've backed (Wasteland and Eternity) more as a kind of personal redress. I'm Brazilian, and during the 90s it was quite hard to find legally published games here (and even when you could find them, most of them were published by dodgy, small companies that died by the dozens every year, so I really have no idea whether they paid the authors properly or not).

So for me Kickstarter is a convenient way to repay the authors of the games I loved, and help them make more games. I personally wouldn't be too upset if the projects I backed never materialized - I know the widespread consequences would probably be pretty bad, but in my particular case, I'm just glad I found a way to give them money for all they gave me in the past. If they do give me more in the future, all the better.

arathain
16-10-2012, 08:59 PM
I don't think crowdfunding sites are inherently unfair. They are what they are. Whether this is really going to work and stay around as a sustainable funding model depends largely on something currently unknowable- what's in peoples' heads. We aware folk here at RPS know that one gives money to a Kickstarter in order to support a product that we'd like to see exist. It's not a pre-purchase, and it comes with the risk that you may not like the results of the project, or it may never come to anything.

The big test is going to involve the first few high profile failures. When some of those famous names, those million dollar projects, come to nothing, folks' sense of entitlement is going to kick in really fast, and its not clear what's really going to happen next. If enough shrug and eat the loss then the model has legs. If more contributors choose instead to either rasise a stink or to never fund anything again then the model will either become niche or fade altogether.

deano2099
16-10-2012, 09:04 PM
I disagree with the "support" justification because in practice unless you are pledging a reasonable proportion of the total fund or the game is only just going to get over the mark, then you have not really supported the project in any tangible way: your sudden disappearance would change nothing.

It depends when you pledge. Most of these arguments against it are perfectly valid if you're pledging after a game has reached the pledge level. At that point it really is throwing your money away at something non-existent. But before that, your pledge could have a big effect on if the game gets made or not. 'Stretch goals' muddy the concept here, and I'm hugely uncomfortable with them as a thing.


It's a risk. And it's an uninsured risk.

Once you take that into account, feel free to throw your money away on Kickstarter projects.

It's an investment in my future enjoyment. Like all investments, it may or may not pay off in the long term, and it's down to me to make sensible investments: be they low-risk ones or higher-risk ones with bigger rewards.

TillEulenspiegel
16-10-2012, 10:29 PM
It's a risk. And it's an uninsured risk.

Once you take that into account, feel free to throw your money away on preorders.
I honestly don't see any difference. I wasted a bunch of money on preorders of terrible games in years past.

With Kickstarter, you're funding a game that otherwise would not have been made. Otherwise, it's functionally identical to a preorder.

LTK
16-10-2012, 10:50 PM
The difference is, when you pre-order a game, the only thing that is uncertain is its quality. If you pre-order a game, its very existence is an uncertainty. You can throw your money at a game project, but you can't be sure you ever get to play it.

There are a few exceptions, yes, but most of the games you can pre-order have already been made.

gundato
16-10-2012, 10:58 PM
The difference between a KS and a pre-order is that there is no guarantee that what you get will be playable or remotely close to what was promised. I don't know what "precautions" KS instituted, but all that boils down to is "We ran out of money/interest, here is an alpha. It technically has everything, it just doesn't really work"

That's why people need to STOP viewing KS as a pre-ordering system or storefront. It is simply a way to fund the development of a project in exchange for potential returns in the form of a product.

Also, it never ceases to annoy me when people start dictating what the philosophy of KS is or what a KS project "should be".

KS, and all crowd-sourcing, is simply an alternative revenue stream. THAT IS IT. A project will look toward crowd-sourcing if, for whatever reason, they would prefer not to utilize traditional sources of funding. Maybe because they don't think it could get funded by a publisher/major investor (the various point and click KSes). Maybe because they want to be independent of a publisher for a project (Obsidian's project(s), Penny Arcade's KS). Or maybe just because they would like to try something new/lessen the risk (probably most of them from established developers/studios :p). It does not matter what the contents are.

Kadayi
16-10-2012, 11:11 PM
I believe publishers and the vg industry before KS was fundamentally unfair to customers

Unfair? Game prices have been static for years, and the overall quality and production values have increased exponentially.

I think KS is great (I've backed eternity) because it's encouraging projects that have an audience, but might not necessarily make much financial sense to a large publisher like an EA or Ubisoft who are looking for larger market space. On that subject I'm quite interested to see how XCOM does on the consoles. In many ways if it does well it might seed the idea of more isometric turn based projects with some of the bigger publishers.

deano2099
16-10-2012, 11:16 PM
The difference is, when you pre-order a game, the only thing that is uncertain is its quality. If you pre-order a game, its very existence is an uncertainty.

Given that it's basically impossible to sell on PC games now, I'm not sure what the difference between 'shit game' and 'no game' is in terms of what I get out of it?

Nalano
17-10-2012, 12:43 AM
I honestly don't see any difference. I wasted a bunch of money on preorders of terrible games in years past.

With Kickstarter, you're funding a game that otherwise would not have been made. Otherwise, it's functionally identical to a preorder.

When you pre-order a game and it doesn't come out, you have a right to demand your money back.

When you kickstart a game and it's never released, you just lost your money.

Internet
17-10-2012, 02:06 AM
And it's closed, right now kickstarter has $3.986m and the last update for paypal was $140,099. So unless they get a ton of charge failures, it's well over $4m.

soldant
17-10-2012, 02:33 AM
That's why people need to STOP viewing KS as a pre-ordering system or storefront. It is simply a way to fund the development of a project in exchange for potential returns in the form of a product.
I know we don't agree on a lot of things regarding Kickstarter, but I do agree on this. By and large in my opinion people are treating Kickstarter primarily as a pre-order system. Nobody (well, few people) want to back the lowest tier, because they want the game when it's finished. Plenty of others want beta access. They pay accordingly. Devs know this and they're ultimately running their Kickstarter pages as advertising and as a storefront.

Which is one of my issues with Kickstarter - it's a big financial risk reducer if they play their cards right. Most people will be paying to pre-order the game, which can run between $20 to $40 depending on the project (particularly the big projects), even more will pay for beta which can run even higher. They can pull in big amounts of crash purely on a promise, to the point where some of them won't even need to invest any of their own money into development from that point forward. If the game doesn't sell, they're in a much better financial position than if they'd sunk their own money into it. That said, the other danger is that everyone who wanted the game "bought" it during the Kickstarter, and few post-release sales happen, which would be bad if they went through all their Kickstarter money.


In any event though Kickstarter isn't really unfair to customers. It's like Minecraft - I paid for the alpha based on what Notch was saying. Did I get what I wanted? No, not really. I wanted the survival mode to be a bit more dangerous, as opposed to being able to defeat everything with a dirt wall and some torches. But that's the risk that I undertook when I effectively funded Minecraft's development. Kickstarters are no different. Until a bigger, well-known project fails to deliver on expectations (and it will happen, for certain) the assumption will be that Kickstarters that are funded will deliver. When that failure turns up, things will start to normalise.

agentorange
17-10-2012, 04:44 AM
Which is one of my issues with Kickstarter - it's a big financial risk reducer if they play their cards right. Most people will be paying to pre-order the game, which can run between $20 to $40 depending on the project (particularly the big projects), even more will pay for beta which can run even higher. They can pull in big amounts of crash purely on a promise, to the point where some of them won't even need to invest any of their own money into development from that point forward. If the game doesn't sell, they're in a much better financial position than if they'd sunk their own money into it. That said, the other danger is that everyone who wanted the game "bought" it during the Kickstarter, and few post-release sales happen, which would be bad if they went through all their Kickstarter money.


Why do you take issue with this? This is how investing in a project in every other medium works: very few directors have the money to completely fund their own films, and painters, graphic designer, etc often are often commissioned to create a work of art - in neither case is there any guarantees that the end result is going to satisfy every person, or pessimistically any person, who put money into it. As I said earlier it's an investment, and any investment is akin to a gamble. Or you can even look at it as patronage, on a massive, distributed scale. We want a certain work of art (that's what I'm going to call it, but let's not have the thread descend into one of those silly art arguments) and we are paying Obsidian, which we can look at as an individual, to create it. I can only see it as beneficial that we are putting them into a much better financial position.

soldant
17-10-2012, 05:59 AM
This is how investing in a project in every other medium works: very few directors have the money to completely fund their own films, and painters, graphic designer, etc often are often commissioned to create a work of art - in neither case is there any guarantees that the end result is going to satisfy every person, or pessimistically any person, who put money into it.
Because those developers are held accountable by their publisher, or whoever, and if they fail (by which I mean nothing gets released in the agreed state) then there are repercussions. If a Kickstarter project fails because the devs just got sick of making the game, or something happens such that the final project never gets released, what happens? Do you take them to court? Is there a contract behind the scenes? It's a question worth asking. I'd like to see a lot more accountability and transparency with Kickstarter, particularly for failing projects.

In regards to projects which don't outright fail, but just fail to meet expectations, of course people assume the risk that what they funded isn't what they wanted. But it doesn't seem right to me that the dev can get away with assuming little (or none) of the financial risk in turning out a crap game. All users can really do is bitch about their failure and drag their reputation down, but we're remarkably big on second chances for indie devs. But not for big companies - a single screw up is derided and dragged up every five minutes.

agentorange
17-10-2012, 07:06 AM
Because those developers are held accountable by their publisher, or whoever, and if they fail (by which I mean nothing gets released in the agreed state) then there are repercussions. If a Kickstarter project fails because the devs just got sick of making the game, or something happens such that the final project never gets released, what happens? Do you take them to court? Is there a contract behind the scenes? It's a question worth asking. I'd like to see a lot more accountability and transparency with Kickstarter, particularly for failing projects.

In regards to projects which don't outright fail, but just fail to meet expectations, of course people assume the risk that what they funded isn't what they wanted. But it doesn't seem right to me that the dev can get away with assuming little (or none) of the financial risk in turning out a crap game. All users can really do is bitch about their failure and drag their reputation down, but we're remarkably big on second chances for indie devs. But not for big companies - a single screw up is derided and dragged up every five minutes.

I agree, somewhat, but I think where our views conflict is that I wouldn't put the fault on the developers for failing to turn out a product. Only in the moral sense would I see them accountable, in that they promised to make something and failed to, in the same way that I might promise to pay someone back for lunch and never do so. The title of the topic is whether it is "unfair", and it's not, because nowhere on the kickstarter page does it mention an absolute guarantee that the product will be finished or that we will get our money back in the case of a failure - if that were so, then it would be unfair and the developers should be held financially responsible. I invested quite a lot of money into Project Eternity, solely based on my faith that Obsidian will deliver the game that I hope they will; if they don't, well, I was a fucking idiot for dumping a bunch of money into what amounts to a pitch by a confidence man.

You're also discounting the fact that there can indeed be indirect financial repercussions; a development house that fails to deliver on a product after receiving millions of dollars to fund it, is going to gain some notoriety as being untrustworthy, by both informed consumers and publishers.

So yeah, is it "right" for a developer to fuck up and not deliver? Of course not. But that's not any grounds for financial responsibility.

Also my argument is really centered on kickstarters by developers who already have some reputation (Double Fine, InXile, Obsidian); personally I have yet to invest in any kickstarters by indie developers.

deano2099
17-10-2012, 08:20 AM
They can pull in big amounts of crash purely on a promise, to the point where some of them won't even need to invest any of their own money into development from that point forward.

A lot of developers don't have their own money to invest in the first place.

biz
17-10-2012, 08:21 AM
there's a reason nobody gives developers 300% of their estimated budget up front in any business

when a developer gets lazy and unproductive because there's no pressure to deliver anything, it's entirely the consumer's fault :)

when they're making a game from their own savings, then they have an actual incentive to work

soldant
17-10-2012, 08:53 AM
The title of the topic is whether it is "unfair", and it's not, because nowhere on the kickstarter page does it mention an absolute guarantee that the product will be finished or that we will get our money back in the case of a failure - if that were so, then it would be unfair and the developers should be held financially responsible.
Which is my point - there's no accountability in Kickstarter. If they turn out a crap game, albeit a finished one, or one that doesn't meet expectations, that's just bad luck and a risk that we all take. I pitched in for Planetary Annihilation, but there's a chance it could turn out to be total balls. I accept that risk.

But surely you'd agree (not from a black-and-white legal perspective) that it's a bit absurd for people who, for the most part, are acting as pre-order customers (even if that's not how Kickstarter is supposed to work) to assume the bulk of the risk if the dev turns out to be crap at management and blows through all their cash, or decides to skip town. You can apply legal absolutes if you like, but none of that actually targets the core problems of Kickstarter. It has a very big social aspect which relies on the gaming community for funding. Just because there's no formal contract drawn up that says that money should be returned or whatever if the dev turns out to be a con-man, doesn't mean that the idea shouldn't be open up to debate nor the implications questioned. The fact that such a potential exists really undermines confidence in the system, and all it will take is one failure for people to become concerned.


You're also discounting the fact that there can indeed be indirect financial repercussions...
I actually did mention that fact, and by way of response said that for indie devs at least (not DoubleFine etc) people are remarkably willing to give them a second chance. Plenty of indie devs have released crap or done things which we would crucify a larger developer for, yet they still earn praise and people will still give them another shot.


Also my argument is really centered on kickstarters by developers who already have some reputation (Double Fine, InXile, Obsidian); personally I have yet to invest in any kickstarters by indie developers.
Fair enough, those ones are really too big to fail (at the risk of tempting fate) in that they're unlikely to deliver their games at all.


A lot of developers don't have their own money to invest in the first place.
Which is part of what Kickstarter wanted to resolve, except now we're seeing indie devs transferring the bulk of the risk onto their customers.


when they're making a game from their own savings, then they have an actual incentive to work
Heh, that's quotable ;)

SanguineAngel
17-10-2012, 09:50 AM
This isn't the place for some sort of anti-realist discussion. The fact of the matter is that KS is designed as a Funding Platform. It is not a shop and it is certainly not a revenue stream. A revenue stream is income from normal business practices - in this case selling games. Anyone contributing to a project on Kickstarter is doing nothing more than funding the development of that project.

Certainly, KS projects tend to incorporate some excellent incentives, such as a copy of the final product but it is still a funding model. Whether the "Backers" believe otherwise is really irrelevant (and their own fault for not reading apparently ANYTHING on the website) - Kickstarter is very clear about it's purpose & your responsibility and risk while each project in my experience tends to be very upfront about the stage of development it is at and why they need the money or what the money will be used for. The money you contribute on kickstarter is not profit. Money contributed over the target amount is ALSO not profit - it is an increased budget for development.

We don't really know the specifics of how a kickstarter holds projects to accountability in the event that they do not deliver on their promises and "rewards" although it is stated on their website that developers must sign legally binding Terms which can be used to hold them to their promises or seek recompense if undelivered.

I would say that yes, crowd funding seems fair to me. People who have a genuine wish to see the product developed are free to choose to back and at any amount they feel comfortable with. Unlike a publishing house, they do not have to pony over a huge lump sum and take the entire risk upon themselves as the cost (& risk) is spread across many individuals. If, for some reason, the project fails to meet its targets, the losses suffered are individually less substantial and backers (collectively or individually) are able to pursue recompense legally.

b0rsuk
17-10-2012, 10:52 AM
Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are huge right now, and will probably grow in the future, but do you think they're fundamentally unfair to customers? In this model you're paying for a preorder of a product that doesn't exist yet. It's far better for developers, but is that a good thing?

It's not "paying for a product that doesn't exist yet" that's potentially unfair. What ultimately matters is, "will it be as good as it seems". If we phrase it like that, I think it's not worse than the usual Big Publisher scenario.

You don't know how it plays either way. Big publishers have abandoned the notion of demos, and you have movie-like trailers (not gameplay videos) and critic reviews to rely on. We know how trustworthy they are. Additionally, most of the time games developed for Big Publishers are obscured by a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Developers of Brink, Warlock, Might&Magic: Heroes VI received a lot of flak because gamers had issues with their work long after release, yet no developer would speak up.

Another thing that matters for me, related to NDA's, is confirmation of a Linux version of the game. With Kickstarter projects we typically know about Linux/Mac versions (or lack of them) very early. In contrast, developers serving Big Publishers would remain silent or say "maybe later".

deano2099
17-10-2012, 12:51 PM
Money contributed over the target amount is ALSO not profit - it is an increased budget for development.


For games this tends to be the case, as 'stretch goals' are introduced to encourage further funding. But it's not how the system was designed. The only reason funding remains open after you hit the target is because (other than it making KS more money) people often want to buy the incentives after the project is funded.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with keeping any money over the target and spending it on gin. As long as you don't claim to be doing otherwise. Of course, if Obsidian did that, they wouldn't have got near 3 million because there'd be no real reason to back it. And of course, if you're thinking long-term, spending more on development is often the best use of that money.

But games have a flexible budget, lots of other KS projects don't. If I'm a songwriter trying to raise money for a week of studio time to record a new album, what am I going to do with a bunch of extra money? The studio is all I need, extra time isn't going to help as I've only got a week's worth of finished songs to record.

Kadayi
17-10-2012, 01:25 PM
Which is my point - there's no accountability in Kickstarter. If they turn out a crap game, albeit a finished one, or one that doesn't meet expectations, that's just bad luck and a risk that we all take. I pitched in for Planetary Annihilation, but there's a chance it could turn out to be total balls. I accept that risk.

If Obsidian didn't think they could deliver Eternity on the original KS then they wouldn't have pitched it in the first place. They might not be risking anything financially if they failed to deliver on Eternity, but the one demographic whom you can't afford to piss off as a developer are your hardcore evangelist types (the people who sell your game through word of mouth to other casual gamers) because they will publically burn you at any given opportunity if you fuck them over (See ME3 ending for the prime example of losing your audience).

Even with the extra money I doubt the entire Obsidian team working on this full time to the detriment of anything else they might have on the go from 3rd parties (such as the Southpark game). The extra revenue they generated is certainly going to allow them to throw more resources at the project and enrich it, but even if they'd only hit target it's fair to say that they already had established a production & resource schedule for the title.

gundato
17-10-2012, 01:51 PM
If Obsidian didn't think they could deliver Eternity on the original KS then they wouldn't have pitched it in the first place. They might not be risking anything financially if they failed to deliver on Eternity, but the one demographic whom you can't afford to piss off as a developer are your hardcore evangelist types (the people who sell your game through word of mouth to other casual gamers) because they will publically burn you at any given opportunity if you fuck them over (See ME3 ending for the prime example of losing your audience).

Even with the extra money I doubt the entire Obsidian team working on this full time to the detriment of anything else they might have on the go from 3rd parties (such as the Southpark game). The extra revenue they generated is certainly going to allow them to throw more resources at the project and enrich it, but even if they'd only hit target it's fair to say that they already had established a production & resource schedule for the title.

Actually, Obsidian have proved time and again that the "hardcore evangelist types" are willing to let them slide on screw-up after screw-up

I don't think Obsidian have bad intentions and I do think they believe they can make a quality game. But I also think they thought they could make KOTOR 2 and Alpha Protocol (among others).

I donated to the KS (ended up doing 77 to get an expansion and a guide) and I fully expect to enjoy what I get. At least, up until I find the parts they screwed up horribly. But at the same time, I am wary that Obsidian might be the first to lead the wave of "I didn't get what I was promised" reactions.

Kadayi
17-10-2012, 01:57 PM
Actually, Obsidian have proved time and again that the "hardcore evangelist types" are willing to let them slide on screw-up after screw-up.

We're not talking about screwing up, we're talking about not delivering. You think they guys who went $500+ in would give them a pass if they failed to actually deliver a game? I doubt it.

gundato
17-10-2012, 02:04 PM
We're not talking about screwing up, we're talking about not delivering. You think they guys who went $500+ in would give them a pass if they failed to actually deliver a game? I doubt it.

New Vegas managed to be buggier than Fallout 3 (a true accomplishment :p) and the reviewers who acknowledged that got blasted. I think even the 500+ guys would probably try to justify it as something like "Obsidian were pressured by the big evil corporations to stop working on this title because it made them look bad!"

But here's the thing: "Deliver" is a vague term. If Project Zomboid were a KS project and they released the alpha from before The Great Theft, that would count as delivering. It would just be complete garbage that is not what anyone asked for. All Obsidian has to do is say "We ran out of money, here is the beta" and they are golden.

Kadayi
17-10-2012, 02:12 PM
But here's the thing: "Deliver" is a vague term.

Not in my dictionary. It means shipping a finished playable product.

Shiting out a turd that sinks to the bottom does them no good as a company, least of all for building a franchise they can work on and grow. So why would they cut their nose to spite their face? I'm not seeing it.

gundato
17-10-2012, 02:23 PM
Not in my dictionary. It means shipping a finished playable product.

Shiting out a turd that sinks to the bottom does them as a company no good, least of all building a franchise they can work on and grow. So why would they cut their nose to spite their face? I'm not seeing it.

Because of a horribly mismanaged project with weak leadership more focused on ideas than execution?

I am not saying Obsidian are going to say "Ooh, money. Screw you guys!". What I am saying is that they have a long track record of not being able to meet deadlines/budgets and poorly planning out how to approach a project. Sometimes it results in a stellar first half and a missing second half (KOTOR 2), the same but with really clunky gameplay (Alpha Protocol), or just an insanely buggy game that doesn't do too much (NWN2 before MOTB made it awesome :p).

So fast forward: They have used up their budget (that IS questionable, mainly because they have four freaking million dollars :p), they have already delayed the game once or twice, and they just briefly lock down whatever they didn't finish and release (like with KOTOR 2). Maybe that first part is REALLY polished (KOTOR 2) or you can see the signs of some really amazing ideas (Alpha Protocol), but as a whole it is a flop. They "delivered", but they didn't deliver a quality product.

And sadly, I think people will still defend them and jump down people's throats for daring to question how it happened. Mainly because that is what keeps happening.
And it really sucks. Because I honestly believe that if Obsidian had gotten blasted on their earlier titles, it would be them and not CD Projekt Red who are in position to take the title of "King of RPGs that aren't Open World" from the remains of Bioware. And as much as I love The Witcher (1 and 2), those aren't "RPGs" and are instead "Gorgeously interactive and entertaining stories in the context of an action game". Obsidian makes "RPGs".

SanguineAngel
17-10-2012, 02:51 PM
New Vegas managed to be buggier than Fallout 3 (a true accomplishment :p) and the reviewers who acknowledged that got blasted. I think even the 500+ guys would probably try to justify it as something like "Obsidian were pressured by the big evil corporations to stop working on this title because it made them look bad!"

But here's the thing: "Deliver" is a vague term. If Project Zomboid were a KS project and they released the alpha from before The Great Theft, that would count as delivering. It would just be complete garbage that is not what anyone asked for. All Obsidian has to do is say "We ran out of money, here is the beta" and they are golden.

The delivery needs to meet the specifications of their pitch on the Kickstarter page - IE the promises they made to the backers to garner support.

Project Eternity, as an example, has been quite exhaustive in the content objectives and in specifying what they intend to include. If they fail to delivery on those promises (the stretch goals included) then they would be breaching their Terms of Use and open to legal action from backers.

A project that lacks details & specifics would be far more open to interpretation and could potentially result in a sub par product. However, a suspiciously vague pitch would likely not garner enough backers to hit any substantial target in the first place.

Kadayi
17-10-2012, 03:01 PM
I think it's important to deal with what is, rather than trade in fear. It's easy to presume that the past informs the future, but I don't think we should take it as a given.

Internet
17-10-2012, 03:21 PM
Because of a horribly mismanaged project with weak leadership more focused on ideas than execution?

I am not saying Obsidian are going to say "Ooh, money. Screw you guys!". What I am saying is that they have a long track record of not being able to meet deadlines/budgets and poorly planning out how to approach a project. Sometimes it results in a stellar first half and a missing second half (KOTOR 2), the same but with really clunky gameplay (Alpha Protocol), or just an insanely buggy game that doesn't do too much (NWN2 before MOTB made it awesome :p).

So fast forward: They have used up their budget (that IS questionable, mainly because they have four freaking million dollars :p), they have already delayed the game once or twice, and they just briefly lock down whatever they didn't finish and release (like with KOTOR 2). Maybe that first part is REALLY polished (KOTOR 2) or you can see the signs of some really amazing ideas (Alpha Protocol), but as a whole it is a flop. They "delivered", but they didn't deliver a quality product.

And sadly, I think people will still defend them and jump down people's throats for daring to question how it happened. Mainly because that is what keeps happening.
And it really sucks. Because I honestly believe that if Obsidian had gotten blasted on their earlier titles, it would be them and not CD Projekt Red who are in position to take the title of "King of RPGs that aren't Open World" from the remains of Bioware. And as much as I love The Witcher (1 and 2), those aren't "RPGs" and are instead "Gorgeously interactive and entertaining stories in the context of an action game". Obsidian makes "RPGs".

I would say that their production has been getting better and more even as the studio has gotten more established. More importantly to me, they have a history of supporting most of their games fairly well resulting in a far better end product than you see on release day.

Also, lemme point out that they've given themselves far more time than Kotor 2, and the leads have far more established roles and there's less turmoil between them than in AP. I could be wrong, but I think that JE Sawyer, Chris Avellone, and Brian Mitsoda were all leading that game at separate times. Now we JE heading gameplay (it seems like Tim is more of an advisor/programmer), Chris heading the writers, and an established head of art. That stability will probably be far better at making a game.

Most importantly though, I'm not worried about Kickstarter producing a bad product. That risk is even inherent in preorders. Kickstarter needs greater protection from people not even making a reasonable attempt to deliver what they promised that clearly cannot do what was pitched. I think the new guidelines (must be a prototype not a mockup) are a very good step in that direction.

Internet
17-10-2012, 03:37 PM
It's not "paying for a product that doesn't exist yet" that's potentially unfair. What ultimately matters is, "will it be as good as it seems". If we phrase it like that, I think it's not worse than the usual Big Publisher scenario.

You don't know how it plays either way. Big publishers have abandoned the notion of demos, and you have movie-like trailers (not gameplay videos) and critic reviews to rely on. We know how trustworthy they are. Additionally, most of the time games developed for Big Publishers are obscured by a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Developers of Brink, Warlock, Might&Magic: Heroes VI received a lot of flak because gamers had issues with their work long after release, yet no developer would speak up.

Another thing that matters for me, related to NDA's, is confirmation of a Linux version of the game. With Kickstarter projects we typically know about Linux/Mac versions (or lack of them) very early. In contrast, developers serving Big Publishers would remain silent or say "maybe later".

The problem is that in this case there isn't a "seems" which would imply limited information from an existing product; it's will it be as good or have all the features the pitcher promises? Also, will it exist? In this case there's a definite risk of product never being made, which kickstarter needs to provide clearer guidelines about repercussions in the case of fraud.

Also, I don't think preorders are a particularly good business model either, and if using Kickstarter becomes a habitual trend, then presumably a far larger portion of purchases become preorders.

deano2099
17-10-2012, 06:10 PM
I am not saying Obsidian are going to say "Ooh, money. Screw you guys!". What I am saying is that they have a long track record of not being able to meet deadlines/budgets and poorly planning out how to approach a project. Sometimes it results in a stellar first half and a missing second half (KOTOR 2), the same but with really clunky gameplay (Alpha Protocol), or just an insanely buggy game that doesn't do too much (NWN2 before MOTB made it awesome :p).

I'll be far more disappointed if Obsidian turn out a polished game that doesn't do anything new or interesting than if they turn out a flawed, buggy game that does something amazing. Obviously I'd rather have both but the metrics for how each individual would measure Obsidian 'failing to deliver' is going to vary.

deano2099
17-10-2012, 06:16 PM
And generally developers don't have the money up-front to make games either. That's why they use publishers. Generally developers aren't taking a risk with their own money, the publisher is. So the publisher has to guess what the audience wants, and they'll generally guess say "there's no market for a BG-style isometric RPG" and there's no way to prove that otherwise until someone makes one, so that's a risk that publishers won't take.

For everyone saying "I'm not backing game X because it looks interesting but I'm not sure I won't just lose my money and end up with nothing" that's perfectly fair. But you need to recognise it's that exact same logic on a larger scale which is why publishers don't take risks either. Why risk your money on new, different or weird stuff when CoD 27 is a far more certain bet?

gundato
17-10-2012, 06:34 PM
Oh yeah, I definitely suspect that after the first wave of flops, KS is going to become just another source of revenue. Publishers will still only support "the last big thing" for safety. "Gamers" will support established names and maybe certain niche genres (or even the "last big thing").

But most people don't understand how investment or companies work and continue to argue "Producers keep making CoD games because they are stupid and nobody wants CoD" and seem to ignore that the games sell like hotcakes. They may have no innovation whatsoever, but they are safe bets.

biz
17-10-2012, 07:20 PM
there is a reason why developer bonuses are tied to things like metacritic scores or sales. it's not an ideal situation, but at least there is some attempt at letting the quality of a product determine how much money they get

kickstarter is about the quality of a pitch. the quality of the product is icing on the cake because even if it sucks, they walk away without any loss, especially if they asked for how much money they needed and then got more. people will soon realize that making a good trailer is a hell of a lot easier than making a good game.

Kadayi
17-10-2012, 07:24 PM
kickstarter is about the quality of a pitch. the quality of the product is icing on the cake because even if it sucks, they walk away without any loss, especially if they asked for how much money they needed and then got more. people will soon realize that making a good trailer is a hell of a lot easier than making a good game.

There's no profit in burning people. Sure there's the immediacy of gain, but you're fucking yourself over in an industry where grudges are remembered.

Internet
17-10-2012, 07:27 PM
And generally developers don't have the money up-front to make games either. That's why they use publishers. Generally developers aren't taking a risk with their own money, the publisher is. So the publisher has to guess what the audience wants, and they'll generally guess say "there's no market for a BG-style isometric RPG" and there's no way to prove that otherwise until someone makes one, so that's a risk that publishers won't take.

For everyone saying "I'm not backing game X because it looks interesting but I'm not sure I won't just lose my money and end up with nothing" that's perfectly fair. But you need to recognise it's that exact same logic on a larger scale which is why publishers don't take risks either. Why risk your money on new, different or weird stuff when CoD 27 is a far more certain bet?

I wrote a several paragraph long reply, but I think the crucial difference between wary publishers and wary backers is this: publishers don't just need a good product, they need a game to make a large profit. If a game breaks even it is considered a failure because of the concept of opportunity cost. (There's some data to suggest Alpha Protocol was in this situation) Cautious backers just want a good game.

The metrics for success are entirely different, which means that the decisions aren't the same at all.

For the record, there are four kickstarter games I wish I had funded, but didn't / don't have the money.

gundato
17-10-2012, 07:28 PM
there is a reason why developer bonuses are tied to things like metacritic scores or sales. it's not an ideal situation, but at least there is some attempt at letting the quality of a product determine how much money they get

kickstarter is about the quality of a pitch. the quality of the product is icing on the cake because even if it sucks, they walk away without any loss, especially if they asked for how much money they needed and then got more. people will soon realize that making a good trailer is a hell of a lot easier than making a good game.
Yeah. As good of an argument as Sessler makes against metacritic (look it up, one of the things that makes me actually like the guy), it is really the only choice.

Sales: Too many variables, and the current trends to have super-sales makes that arguable
"General community feel": ANd how do you quantify that?

I think that metacritic, in theory, is a good idea. You just need to make it something "reputable" reviewers can opt in to. Don't take the reviews of the guy who uses a full 10 point scale and compare it to the usual 3-point scale (7-10). And a more complex algorithm (one that takes into account reviewer tastes, if only based on genre) would be nice. Weight a flight sim guru's score more on MS Flight Sim 2042, but almost ignore it on CoD 50.

deano2099
17-10-2012, 08:26 PM
there is a reason why developer bonuses are tied to things like metacritic scores or sales. it's not an ideal situation, but at least there is some attempt at letting the quality of a product determine how much money they get

It's the same with Kickstarter. The bonus is depenedent upon the quality of the game because the bonus is the profit you make from selling it. The bonus is, or should be, just that: a bonus. The bulk of the money you get upfront from the publisher, just like Kickstarter. Developers do not have to pay back that money to the publisher if the game flops.

Finicky
17-10-2012, 08:55 PM
It's a good thing, it cuts out the middle man (publishers) and removes a layer of conflict of interests between the gamer and the developer (again, publishers).

More money (percentage wise, for those with reading comprehension problems) from the gamer's pocket goes to the devs, which should again reflect in the quality of the game.

This is humanity and the 21st century we are talking about though, it's only a matter of time until kickstarter will be abused like an old crack whore with self esteem issues.
I bet that within 6 months there will be publishers trying to start their own 'crowdfunding' websites.

And as you stated, the glorified preorder has already reared its ugly head.

If nothing else it'll cause publishers to have to step up their game up a bit (right now they still take advantage of developers in the same way the music industry publishers took advantage of bands until recently) and adjust their hustle to give drop some more crumbs for those who actually create the content and provide the talent.

biz
17-10-2012, 09:45 PM
it would probably be better with conditional funding (i.e. get some of your money back if you dislike the game, for whatever reason), but only after some deadline. that way the developer has an actual incentive to make a quality product. even if 100% of people want their money back, the game should be good enough to pay for its development. it should be more like a loan, and less like a handout. if the game is complete trash, you may not get money back, but the developer isn't going to profit much from it either.

Hypernetic
17-10-2012, 10:41 PM
There's no profit in burning people. Sure there's the immediacy of gain, but you're fucking yourself over in an industry where grudges are remembered.

You act like a bad game has never been released before. The financial success of a game also has very little to do with the quality/fun factor of the game.

The thing about a lot of bad games is that the developers don't usually think the game is bad. They can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak. Diablo 3 is a pretty good example, it has high production values and the team worked hard on it, but at the end of the day they really didn't capture what people loved about the Diablo franchise or ARPGs in general.

deano2099
17-10-2012, 10:47 PM
that way the developer has an actual incentive to make a quality product.

There is that incentive though. Because Kickstarter isn't the only way you make the game available. You sell it afterwards. It's the carrot rather than the stick, but it's still an incentive.

Xercies
17-10-2012, 10:52 PM
i don't get why people are just assuming that all these developers are nasty business people that will take your money and do a runner, it depresses me to think so many people think this. The wonderful thing i think about kickstarter is that it gives a bit less walls between developer and consumer not more, how many videos did double fine do and community they fostered around it. I have problems that it really isn't doing innovation its just a walled garden where the nostalgists like to go but I like to think that will change a little bit when people get a bit bored about the nth famous past game developer making a sequel of there famous past game.

Sorry Richard Garriot

Internet
17-10-2012, 10:58 PM
it would probably be better with conditional funding (i.e. get some of your money back if you dislike the game, for whatever reason), but only after some deadline. that way the developer has an actual incentive to make a quality product. even if 100% of people want their money back, the game should be good enough to pay for its development. it should be more like a loan, and less like a handout. if the game is complete trash, you may not get money back, but the developer isn't going to profit much from it either.

That might not be different from the actual milestone process publishers use, where a dev says they'll meet these goals by these dates, and can chose to withdraw funding if they don't meet them. Say a graduated system where backers could choose to take back 70% of their money once the game was 30% complete.

There are a few with that:
Stretch goals would force developers to alter the timeline, which might necessitate changes in milestone from the individual pitch.
It would require the crowd funding platforms to higher significantly more staff as oversight, which would mean they would have to take a greater percent of the cut.
Developers would hate it, and some developers are already skipping kickstarter in favor of their own site (which is bad for a whole host of reasons).
A lot of the steps of game creation could bore or dishearten the backers, causing them to prematurely pull the funding, imperiling the project. For instance, Alphas are supposed to look ugly as hell.
Backers/customers could abuse the system to get the game, and then say they dislike to get some money back.


It's a thorny problem. Crowding-funding is a great concept, and kickstarter is an elegant implementation, but there will always be problems around the edges.

Internet
17-10-2012, 11:23 PM
i don't get why people are just assuming that all these developers are nasty business people that will take your money and do a runner, it depresses me to think so many people think this. The wonderful thing i think about kickstarter is that it gives a bit less walls between developer and consumer not more, how many videos did double fine do and community they fostered around it. I have problems that it really isn't doing innovation its just a walled garden where the nostalgists like to go but I like to think that will change a little bit when people get a bit bored about the nth famous past game developer making a sequel of there famous past game.

Sorry Richard Garriot

It's doing scads of innovation, like Clang! However, developers are already using misleading tactics (the Ouya), desperately changing in pitch to get money (Camoflaj), promising the stars and the moon (Shaker), and removing the scant consumer protections kickstarter has (Indiegogo, Chris Roberts).

Also, it will only take but so long for publishers to start kickstarters, or to use "crowd-funding."

I love the idea. I'm fascinated by it and I think it's doing a lot of good. I also think it can be improved.

Kadayi
18-10-2012, 12:47 AM
You act like a bad game has never been released before. The financial success of a game also has very little to do with the quality/fun factor of the game.

Take a moment and read what people are saying. They're not talking about them releasing a 'bad' game. They're talking about them not making a game at all. Different thing entirely. Now it's perfectly possible that Obsidian might smoke that $4 million on a high roller trip to Vegas come the weekend, however I doubt they're likely to do it unless earning the enmity and scorn of both the gaming public and press is really what they want to achieve. Will Eternity turn out to be the greatest RPG since PS:T? Hard to say tbh. Certainly obsidian have a wealth of talent at their disposal, but they do also have a record of not quite hitting the high notes, although (as stated in an earlier post) I don't think we can with any degree of certainty assume the past equals the future. Personally I didn't think there was anything mechanistically wrong with AP (it functioned as intended), it was simply a case that the hacking mini-game was ill conceived.

TillEulenspiegel
18-10-2012, 12:59 AM
promising the stars and the moon (Shaker)
That's quite possibly the worst example you could've picked. Shaker promises virtually nothing except an "old-school RPG".

Project Eternity, on the other hand, might become an example of overpromising if they haven't worked out the budget on their stretch goals properly. A crafting system, a player stronghold, a huge extra city, etc. It's a lot more work.

agentorange
18-10-2012, 01:43 AM
If these developers were just after money, it would actually be a lot easier to go the standard publisher route; when you get hired by a publisher you are almost always insured to get a salary, commision, and so on, regardless of how well the end product actually sells (only the publisher benefits directly from high sales). If a project is done through Kickstarter there is still the huge risk of the end product not selling very well. They may have security in regards to the budget for making the game, but they still need to turn a profit. I think that is some proof that these developers are going through Kickstarter because they want to make these games, and I'd rather have that as my insurance than any sort of legally binding contract.

Hypernetic
18-10-2012, 02:16 AM
Take a moment and read what people are saying. They're not talking about them releasing a 'bad' game. They're talking about them not making a game at all. Different thing entirely. Now it's perfectly possible that Obsidian might smoke that $4 million on a high roller trip to Vegas come the weekend, however I doubt they're likely to do it unless earning the enmity and scorn of both the gaming public and press is really what they want to achieve. Will Eternity turn out to be the greatest RPG since PS:T? Hard to say tbh. Certainly obsidian have a wealth of talent at their disposal, but they do also have a record of not quite hitting the high notes, although (as stated in an earlier post) I don't think we can with any degree of certainty assume the past equals the future. Personally I didn't think there was anything mechanistically wrong with AP (it functioned as intended), it was simply a case that the hacking mini-game was ill conceived.

http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/accountability-on-kickstarter

If they don't make a game at all you can sue them and get your money back. They are legally obligated to refund anyone who doesn't get what was promised when they backed the project.

Internet
18-10-2012, 02:17 AM
That's quite possibly the worst example you could've picked. Shaker promises virtually nothing except an "old-school RPG".

Project Eternity, on the other hand, might become an example of overpromising if they haven't worked out the budget on their stretch goals properly. A crafting system, a player stronghold, a huge extra city, etc. It's a lot more work.

Shaker promises two RPGs with completely different aesthetics, six party member combat, an "epic story", and Linux and phone support for $2.1m.

Xerophyte
18-10-2012, 02:48 AM
http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/accountability-on-kickstarter

If they don't make a game at all you can sue them and get your money back. They are legally obligated to refund anyone who doesn't get what was promised when they backed the project.

Those Twelve Guys You Gave Money To On The Kickstarters are probably more likely to go bankrupt than any of the more common retailers from whom people pre-order games. Also, the costs and effort involved on my end in jumping through whatever hoops are required when suing an american video game developer versus having my Steam pre-order money back on account of the game not getting released are quite dissimilar. I haven't spent more than 2 hours wage on a Kickstarter yet, I imagine any lawsuit would take more of my time than that and therefore be a poor investment on my end. In short, "but you can sue!" isn't all that much of an argument.

Due to all of that I well understand why anyone would skip the Kickstarter malarkey and just buy games the usual way. What I don't get is why some of those people are so upset about some other people giving money on Kickstarter. I've got enough money to give some of it to Brian Fargo on the off chance he'll make me a nice Wasteland sequel. I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head and telling them to give their money to Brian Fargo and my decision is not the first step on the road to dissolving the customer-retailer contract, heralding a dystopian future in which Brian Fargo holds all video games hostage in his Kickstarter-funded video-games-and-Scorpitrons bunker. If you think that giving money to Brian Fargo is a poor idea that will not result in a neat Wasteland sequel because, let's face it, Bard's Tale and Hunted were kind of naff, then keep calm and carry on. The Earth will still spin on its axis, you can still buy video games through your favorite retail channel and nothing in your monotonous, dreary and drudge-like existence needs ever change. Except the constant accumulation of video games, which I guess helps a bit with the drudgery. Not sure where I was going with that, to be honest.

Hypernetic
18-10-2012, 03:28 AM
Those Twelve Guys You Gave Money To On The Kickstarters are probably more likely to go bankrupt than any of the more common retailers from whom people pre-order games. Also, the costs and effort involved on my end in jumping through whatever hoops are required when suing an american video game developer versus having my Steam pre-order money back on account of the game not getting released are quite dissimilar. I haven't spent more than 2 hours wage on a Kickstarter yet, I imagine any lawsuit would take more of my time than that and therefore be a poor investment on my end. In short, "but you can sue!" isn't all that much of an argument.

Due to all of that I well understand why anyone would skip the Kickstarter malarkey and just buy games the usual way. What I don't get is why some of those people are so upset about some other people giving money on Kickstarter. I've got enough money to give some of it to Brian Fargo on the off chance he'll make me a nice Wasteland sequel. I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head and telling them to give their money to Brian Fargo and my decision is not the first step on the road to dissolving the customer-retailer contract, heralding a dystopian future in which Brian Fargo holds all video games hostage in his Kickstarter-funded video-games-and-Scorpitrons bunker. If you think that giving money to Brian Fargo is a poor idea that will not result in a neat Wasteland sequel because, let's face it, Bard's Tale and Hunted were kind of naff, then keep calm and carry on. The Earth will still spin on its axis, you can still buy video games through your favorite retail channel and nothing in your monotonous, dreary and drudge-like existence needs ever change. Except the constant accumulation of video games, which I guess helps a bit with the drudgery. Not sure where I was going with that, to be honest.

Yes, but they are legally obligated. The odds of you needing to actually hire an attorney and go to court are slim to nil. Causing a fuss through an email or two would likely be enough to get your refund, they don't want to hire attorneys either.

This would also be a situation for a class action lawsuit. If a few thousand+ people are affected by a kick starter project failing and don't get refunds a lawyer would take up the case as a class action lawsuit, requiring very little input from you other than proving that you backed the project to the attorney.

I'm not sure how filing for bankruptcy would affect this, some debts are "forgiven" and others aren't. I don't know if Kickstarter funding even counts as a debt or how that would be handled. Perhaps if anyone around here is an accountant they might know. Come to think of it, I wonder how it works for taxes, does it count as income?