Let’s face it, crowdfunding is a mixed bag. On one hand, you end up with such a fantastic product that you wonder what you ever did without the use of crowdfunding. Yet, on the other hand, you run into issues that a certain recent game release and many others. Yep, that’s crowdfunding in a nutshell, or like Forst Gump says, it’s a box of chocolates. But let’s take a look at this and see why crowdfunding can be so good yet so bad at the same time. In my case, I’ve backed over 25 projects on Kickstarter alone and I’m still waiting on even an update on 7 of them, so I feel your pain.
Two of the biggest names in crowdfunding, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo, have a lot of stake in this game. Thanks to both of them we’ve gotten more than our money’s worth. Some great examples are both of the Divinity Sin: Original Sin titles, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Pillars of Eternity, Elite: Dangerous, just to name a few. Of those games I mentioned, every one of that has gone on to be mega successful titles. Without Kickstarter, we would never have gotten those games. Then again, there is a huge list of stinkers on there as well as titles that are just stuck in limbo that has past their original release date and the companies behind them have yet to provide an update. It’s enough to make the casual person to swear off crowdfunding for good. I should know, especially since several of my friends and co-workers look at me very strangely whenever I bring up the word crowdfunding.
That said, I feel that both Kickstarter and Indiegogo are getting a bad rap due to all this mess. Most people seem to forget that both of those websites are merely the starting point for the projects that are asking for some funding assistance. Once the project is on the way and it meets it’s funding deadline, it’s out of their virtual hands and into the hands of the companies that you donated your money to. So once you’ve given your money up, what happens?
Traditionally the company would have had a somewhat decent business plan for everyone who gave them money and it should have been listed or at least detailed to an extent on their crowdfunding page. If it wasn’t, why the hell did you even give them money for? But for the sake of argument here, let’s assume that they did.
What happens next or what is supposed to happen next.
Congrats, their product is funded! Now, what? Well if they know what they’re doing, they’ll either be hard at work starting their project or continuing on if the crowdfunding was to help them finish their product. But before that happens, they need to communicate to everyone who donated to the cause. In this instance, from the moment they start, hit an achievement point, run into an issue or are finished, they need to communicate. The lack of interaction with backers of their project is a sure way to make everyone upset. How are we supposed to know what’s going on? For all we know, you took the money and ran with it.
Setup a website out of Kickstarter or Indiegogo or a mailing list, give us a way to reach you and a way for you to reach out to us. Make a comment section or a forum that you actively monitor, talk with us. Tell us how it’s going or how happy you are to be doing this project, especially since for many this ends up being a dream project for them. Provide us weekly or at the very least, monthly updates and include pictures of videos of the work being done. Being able to see the progress of a project that we helped back is super important for us. Don’t be afraid to show it off in the state that it is in, as something is better than nothing.
And for the love of GOD, don’t hire someone to run your interaction with the backers who has an agenda of their own. There’s nothing that will put a hole in even the most solid business plan if you have something basically sabotaging your campaign. If we have some potty mouth soiled person being toxic to even one backer, there’s an issue and it needs to be addressed sooner than later. Remember, this is the internet! One slip up travels to thousands of people in a heartbeat and that’s the last thing you need. Especially if you need more funding after the initial crowdfunding drive is over.
There’s a lot of other pieces that are involved with having a successful crowdfunding campaign, but sadly even the most basic parts are often forgotten. This ends up turning the community against the company, the crowdfunding service platform and well the outcome usually isn’t pretty. But there are ways to fix that, many of which I explained above. The only question is, are you willing to put your dollar on the line for a campaign who can’t even do that?
I know I did in the past, however, that’s now over. I don’t have a disposable income and I’m willing to bet that you don’t either. We have to be smarter when it comes to these things and if a project looks super fantastic awesome interesting, but persons responsible couldn’t even take a moment to add some sort of community outreach or even a way to contact then, the perhaps we should start ignoring those sorts of campaigns.
I know I will for now on, maybe you should as well.