I love the possibilities Tim Shaffer's Double Fine opened with Kickstarter, and they have the potential to give us great games we wouldn't otherwise get. We soon had another industry luminary Kicktstart
another project, one I myself pledged to, and all was right with the world.
However, it seems hardly a day goes by now without a new game being kickstarted (the latest being Grim Dawn
, a game that has already been in development for two years) and I fear the rush to capitalize on the Kickstarter craze may potentially ruin a great thing.
For one thing, the Kickstarter market is a tiny market. There is a reason why those game are relying on Kickstarter: because they aren't mass-market friendly. If we have dozens of games vying for a limited amount of dollars, most will likely fail and developers might conclude Kickstater no longer works.
Then there is the matter of trust. We can't lose sight that Kickstarter is largely an honor-based system. Kickstarter doesn't audit pledge recipients and we have no way of knowing how our money is being used. There is no guarantee a developer won't use half our pledge money to buy a house or simply vanish with the pledge money altogether. We trust that big names like Shaffer and Brian Fargo won't do that, but it's only a matter of time until someone does, especially if fans get carried away and start backing projects indiscriminately.
And let's not forget that we won't see anything out of those efforts until at least the end of the year, and expectations are high, perhaps unrealistically high. I get the feeling at least some people are hoping that, freed from the shackles of the publishers, developers will inevitably make great games, but let's face it: on any given field, most efforts are average, some are bad and only a few are truly great, and there is no reason to believe it will be any different with Kickstarter. What happens when people enthusiastically give 2 million dollars to fund their dream game and end up disappointed with the final product?
In short, I think Kickstarter is a godsend to our industry and the trail Double Fine blazed can truly lead to great things, but only if everyone, gamers and developers alike, does their part to make sure it is not squandered.