Bloodstained isn’t a story of the little guy triumphing over big publishers, it’s the story of a campaign that had millions of dollars of funding before the Kickstarter began and the help of multiple companies handling the logistics of the campaign. They asked for $500,000 to prove a point, not fund a game. The issue is that campaigns like that cause members of the community to believe that $500,000 is all you need to create large-scale experiences.
When you ask for half a million when you really need $5 million it becomes impossible for games with realistic budgets to survive. It’s not that people don’t understand what a game costs, it’s more that Kickstarter is actively distorting people’s understanding of a sane budget. The ecosystem is being poisoned for projects that need to raise their actual, workable budget for a game.
There are two kinds of project operators on Kickstarter and other similar crowdfunding services.
The first, and what I believe to be the majority of projects, is everyone who actually is in their theoretical or actual basement toiling away. It’s here that you find the projects to mock that will never successfully achieve their funding goal alongside game developers who actually need the funding in order to start and complete their project.
The problem group is the minority. They’re so successful at crowdfunding they blow past their initial goals and quadruple them in hours. They have already started the work and have invested significant resources into producing a compelling pitch video with supporting concept art to demonstrate their potential for success. They can summon significant external financial backing at the conclusion of a crowdfunding campaign which existed only as a representative measure of the potential market to sell the finished product into. If it fails to generate enough funding or fails during production, who cares? They’ll walk away relatively unscathed and might even finish the project with the external investment they already had lined up or move on to another.
Both kinds of crowdfunding projects have succeeded and failed beyond everyone’s wildest expectations and this has lead some people to declare crowdfunding as a whole either an enormous success or terrible failure. All of the declarations ignore the continued successes and failures of both kinds of project that occur after the declaration has been made. Even this article isn’t immune to sudden declaration syndrome. The opener is:
We all know the Kickstarter bubble is bursting.
The difference between Katie Chironis’ declaration and the others is that she is right. The majority of projects can’t compare with crowdfunding goals as low as Bloodstained‘s $500,000.
Why would anyone running a project who is otherwise wealthy or has external financial backing do the right thing and set their goals appropriately when the wrong thing is working out so well for them?
There are enough fans of Castlevania out there that the Kickstarter project for Bloodstained is at about $2.5 million. Of which Kickstarter is already set to make $125,000 at their 5% fee. The payment processor will get about the same cut of that $2.5 million if the funding level doesn’t change by the time the campaign ends.
Why would Kickstarter’s crowdfunding change when they made $1,016,900 for hosting another project webpage, the Pebble Time, with an unrealistic goal, external funding, and an already complete project ready to go to market?
If Kickstarter’s bubble doesn’t burst for truly independent project operators, it will be because Kickstarter changes to properly support them by focusing on those who aren’t succeeding at finding funding and shipping complete projects instead of passing the blame entirely onto project operators.
If that happens, Kickstarter might actually earn some of their cut.