The public opinion on crowdfunding is divisive, at best. Some people are completely against it and oppose it wholesale. I don’t agree with these people, but I can understand where they are coming from. There are several high profile cases of crowdfunding that are big ol’ blights on the platform. Mighty No. 9, a game that had a 4 million dollar budget, and yet looked like a game made on a significantly smaller budget. Comcept put the cart in front of the horse by planning merchandising and spin off projects well before the game was anywhere near done. They had issues with poor social media presence, tone deaf advertising, and several delays. And it was a big deal. Game sites reported on the Kickstarter, helping it get more and more attention, and therefore more money pledged to the campaign. It became so big, so well known, that it’s failure really hurt crowdfunding as a platform altogether.
Which is a shame, because for every Mighty No. 9 there’s a Shovel Knight, A Hat in Time, Hollow Knight, Night in the Woods, and Hyper Light Drifter, just to name a few. I can’t in good conscience say that the good outweighs the bad here, I honestly can’t. But I just want to point out that not every campaign is as unrealistically ambitious or poorly managed as projects like Mighty No. 9. It only takes a little bit of research into the people asking for money for you to decide whether or not they are trustworthy enough to pledge. And it’s important to remember that for lots of these people, crowd funding is the only real option to make their projects a reality. Especially without some big publisher interfering and altering their vision.
Sure, there will still be some campaign creators that offer overly ambitious projects with unrealistic expectations and a profound misunderstanding of what their project will need. But there are also plenty that set realistic goals and have a good idea of what they are doing and what they need to do it. And neither mindsets guarantee success or failure. Either type of project can end up falling through. Crowd funding is not without these risks and even though I’ve been very lucky in that so far none of the projects I have backed have fallen through, I by no means believe that that means that it’s not a problem. And one that understandably makes people hesitant to jump in.
This blog is not meant to sway you one way or the other. I’m not going to tell you that crowdfunding is “perfectly fine” or “complete garbage”. I’m just here to share my own experiences, in the hopes it sheds some light onto why I personally enjoy and back crowdfunding as a platform.
Also, very important, I wrote this over a pretty long period of time. So the “flow” of this blog is kind of janky. I apologize for that.
Yooka Laylee - The project suffered delays, that’s no secret, but all in all I’m okay with how it was handled. The game came out, I got it, I played it, it was okay. About what I expected. I didn’t finish it. I lost interest at a certain point and decided I’d had my $30 worth. But graphically it was very nice, I enjoyed the general atmosphere and most of the humor. The music was okay, not terribly interesting, but decent enough. Gameplay-wise, the game was solid, if a bit repetitive. Overall, the game is competent. It’s a solid game and well worth the price of admission. It didn’t blow me away, but I wasn’t expecting it to. I understand those who were underwhelmed, I think that most, if not all, the complaints against the game are understandable. Personally though, I think the game is average. Not good, not bad.
Fantastic Storytelling - Haven’t played it yet (at least not with others). Apparently out of all my friends I’m the only one that thinks this was a cool idea. Granted I also backed this back when I watched more of the creator Mike Jeavons’ videos, so I might have backed it more out of being a “fan”. As for the product, the cards are well made, the game is complete, box is nice. It’s a bit disappointing that the promised first expansion was cut to separate the base game into a SFW base game with a NSFW expansion, but it is what it is. Part of my reward was to receive a card from the original prototype deck signed by Jeavons. I got the objectively best card “a penis”.
Joking Hazard - Why I backed this was obvious. I like Cyanide and Happiness and I like Cards Against Humanity. Combining them (more or less) is pretty much guaranteed to pique my interest. The game arrived in a fairly timely fashion. The box arrived with no dents or dings. All cards present and accounted for. Well made. All in all the quality of the product itself was great. And honestly, I’ve had a lot of fun with the game since. Played it after work with some co-workers a few times, as well as a few times with friends. Had fun every time. Also got a second set that I gave to one of my best friends as a birthday gift. He likes it too, so that’s a cool bonus. Also while not technically about the Kickstarter campaign I have to also give the C&H team credit for the expansion packs that have come out post-campaign. They are great additions to a great game.
Overseers - Full disclosure: I have not had the opportunity to play this with anyone yet. It’s a role-playing card game and I don’t know anyone that wants to play it with me. Which is okay, I mostly backed it because I thought it was a cool idea and that the art was cool. Overall the quality on this is great too. Cards are printed well, the “coins” are pretty good, the box is great. I sprang for card protectors that worked great and were easy to slip the cards into. The only disappointment was the metal coin, which had some quality issues. The design was a bit too complex for the metal printing process apparently. To be fair though the creators did warn backers of this and offered us the chance to change the metal coin to a wooden one. I stuck with metal since the regular game that anyone can buy now comes with the wooden one. I wanted the metal coin since it was unique to the Kickstarter version. Even if it is a bit ugly.
OATH Anthology - Let’s just get this out of the way. The book is good. It’s what was promised, well made, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. However, I’ve decided not to back this person’s future projects because it took over 2 years to get the book. Delays are one thing. They’re understandable and happen even to professionals. But this wasn’t delayed in the traditional sense. The books were done, printed and ready to go for over a year before most backers got a copy. The creator chose to take them to conventions to sell them before ensuring that backers got their rewards. For over a year. That’s bullshit. This was one of the first projects I backed, and between when I backed it and when I got it, I backed several other projects that I got before it. The time it took for me to get my reward is inexcusable in this situation. Especially when you consider she put random customers at conventions as a higher priority over backers, without whom, the book would not have even been printed.
Menage-a-3 Volume 6 - Got 3 books with this one. One from the Ma3 series, and one each from other Pixie Trix series. Books were pretty good, although the lettering is real small since the books are manga volume size, so it can be hard to read. Got postcards and posters as well, those were good quality. Enjoyed collecting them. In addition to those as my base reward I also got some add ons, some were free as they unlocked, some I had to pay extra for. Got a Keychain which was okay, some stickers that are cool, a button set that was well done, a Pixie Trix tote bag which is well made and quite handy, a figurine of the character Didi which I added on despite her being one of my least favorite characters because I didn’t want to “miss out”, and some neat little phone charms that will never be used for their intended purpose. The creators also released digital bonus comics as bonus stretch goals that were okay (although they took forever to come out). Overall, I am happy with all the stuff I got from this one. Although I should not it took almost an entire year to get my stuff. The creators have acknowledged that they did not fully account for how much work they made for themselves. I got my rewards just a few weeks before the campaign for the next volume launched. This series is NSFW in case you hadn't noticed, so keep that in mind if you decide to check it out.
Menage-a-3 Volume 7 - Base rewards essentially the same as volume 6. Next volume of the Ma3 series and two other new volumes, postcards, and posters. Quality for them was pretty much the same too. As for additional add ons, this time I got: a magnet set, a floaty pen, a few more posters, a lanyard, some guitar picks, a new figure of the character Zii who I liked better at the time, and a plushy of the main character Gary. All the add ons were decent enough that I don’t regret any of them. This one came a bit faster, but still was close to a year later.
Menage-a-3 Volume 8 - This one came out around the time that I was no longer a massive fan of the series. The creators started to have issues with updates, they abandoned one of the spin offs that contained my favorite character in the Ma3verse, and most of the characters started to become annoying as it became obvious the creators had no intention of them actually growing as characters. Still I pledged, because at this point I may as well keep completing my collection. This one started about two years after the last one (they fell behind schedule due to aforementioned updating issues). There were some odd choices in this campaign like a body pillowcase add on that cost $55 CAD. Note that was for just a pillowcase, no pillow included. A new figurine for a character from one of their comics I don’t really like (so I didn’t get it). A zombie one off comic (ugh) from people that already struggle with the series they have. A new ongoing series, again from people that struggle to update series they already have. I have received my rewards from this since I started writing. What I got was of good quality, same as the last two. Didn’t get anything too interesting this time, just the books (signed), posters, postcards, some stickers, a bookmark, and a pin. In my opinion, the Pixie Trix Comics team really dropped the ball with their series and this campaign. What they delivered was good quality, but they proved that they don’t learn lessons as they chose to bog themselves down with more side projects despite the fact that they can barely deliver what they have already undertaken. I will likely still pledge to the next campaign, but not with the excitement I did with the first one.
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls - I learned of this campaign though the Menage-a-3 comic. The artist Giselle Lagace did the cover for the Kickstarter version of the book (not the same as the one above) and contributed a section to the book. I thought the idea, an anthology of stories and comics from women within the industries that we commonly see as “geeky” or “nerdy”, was very cool and I wanted to help make it reality. I contributed enough to meet the “Platinum Funder” status, which basically means my name is listed in the book at the beginning. Which is neat for me. As for the book, I liked it quite a bit. There’s some very cool stories in there, and I enjoyed reading them. The book is also very nice looking. Just really high quality. I don’t remember how quickly it came out, it’s been a while, but I do believe it came out in a timely fashion. I didn’t get much in terms of rewards, just the book (physically and digitally), a bookplate, an art print, and a post card in addition to the Platinum Funder status. But it’s all very good quality so I was very happy with this project.
Agents of the Realm Volume 1 - I got into this webcomic by discovering the Kickstarter campaign. I stumbled onto it, thought it looked intriguing and ended up binge reading the comic that day. And afterward I pledged to the campaign. Just so you know, the comic is a magical girl story with the twist of the magical girls being college students rather than kids or high school teens. It’s darker than most magical girl stories and the cast is fairly diverse and interesting. The project had a couple of hitches, but came out pretty quickly and the book itself is pretty good quality. I also got an art print, but I’m not a fan of it. It wasn’t a bad quality print or anything, but there were two available, they were sent randomly, and I got the one I didn’t want. Which I personally think is a pretty bad way to go about that sort of thing. Over all, my experience with this campaign was positive.
Blindsprings Volume 1 - I discovered the Blindsprings webcomic very early on, and followed the comic for a long time. When the creator announced the Kickstarter I made room in my budget for it. The book got delayed quite a bit, it took well over a year to finally receive it. But I’ll give the creator, Kadi Fedoruk a pass since this was her first time bringing something to print and she was open and honest about the delays. I can forgive project creators that keep people posted on how things are going. For rewards I got a hardcover copy of the book (which suffered a little damage to the cover in transit), some nice post cards, a sticker sheet, some neat bookmarks, two keychains (which sadly were pretty crappy, nice artwork but they had little knicks all over them), and a really cool poster that I really need to frame soon. In the end I’m okay with how things turned out, though I am a little bummed the keychains weren’t better.
Flipside Book 8 - I first discovered the Flipside webcomic when I was just jumping around looking for new webcomics to read. I began reading it and ended up liking it quite a bit. Interestingly enough I discovered the Kickstarter campaign for volume 8 in print accidentally. Was looking through new projects and there it was. Through that campaign I snagged volumes 1-9 (the campaign had a reward tier that included volume 9 as well). The books came to me surprisingly fast, I think it only took a couple of months. The books were of fine quality. And the story, while not super original, is a very solid fantasy story. I was very happy with this campaign since the creator, Brion Foulke, kept pledges updated quite well and got the books printed and shipped in a very timely manner.
Carbon Grey Omnibus - Another campaign that suffered no delays (as far as I recall) and arrived much earlier than I expected. I had an interest in the Carbon Grey series for a while, but for some reason just kind of kept putting off jumping in. So seeing a campaign for the Omnibus was fantastic luck. The book is of great quality, very nice softcover. I also got an art book which is very nice as well, some art prints (also nice), a soundtrack (which I have not listened to yet), a statue of the main character (very good), a “Nendoroid” style figure of the main character (really like this one, good quality), and a pack of “trading” cards (they’re okay, I guess). Over all I was very satisfied with the results of this campaign. It’s very cool to see the entire comic collected in a neat little collection and all the extra stuff was icing on the cake.
Chester 5000: Isabelle and George - Like Flipside, I happened upon the Chester 5000 webcomic just by looking for webcomics. I liked it quite a bit and so when I saw a campaign for the second volume I jumped on it. Through that campaign I got both books, a signed bookplate, a sticker sheet, a nice little tote bag, and a cute little pin. The comic itself is very cool, it has no dialogue. Sort of like a silent film, but in comic form. It’s also NSFW, so keep that in mind before checking it out The books came out pretty quickly, I don’t remember any delays. The creator, Jess Fink, also kept pledges update fairly well.
4-Panel Life: The Book - I found out about this webcomic, yet again, through Kickstarter. I saw the campaign, it intrigued me, so I checked out the comic. I liked it well enough to back the campaign, although I was a bit wary due to the sheer amount of stretch goals the creator Jen Jen Rose had on the campaign page. However, most of them weren’t reached. So far I’ve only received part of my rewards. Specifically, just the book. I still have to receive the post cards, pin set, charm, and two t-shirts. However, she has been honest about that, stating that getting the rest of the rewards made up and shipped was taking far longer than the book so she shipped the books out first. So the rest is coming, as far as I know. I’m fairly confident she will come through. But I should note it is still possible she could fall through.
Viewpoint - Awesome art book by the artist, Lorenzo Ceccotti. Another campaign I stumbled on, found intriguing, and ended up backing. My rewards came pretty quickly and Cecotti kept backers updated well. The rewards I got were all of exceptional quality. The book was in good shape (and quite cool), the Golem graphic novel was great, the t-shirt I got is very cool and of good quality, the postcards and art portfolio are awesome and I plan on framing most if not all of them. The book is listed as “Volume A”, so I assume that a “Volume B” may be coming in the future. If so, I will gladly back it as well, if applicable. I am very happy to have backed this project.
The Meek Volume 1 - Again. I spent a lot of time looking for new webcomics. I like them. The Meek is an interesting one. Seriously go read it. Although be warned, it contains some NSFW content (specifically boobs). The creator, Der-Shing Helmer, communicates with the readers quite often and she also communicate with her backers too. We were kept up-to-date on a regular basis and the project suffered no significant delays. From this campaign I got the book (hardcover in good condition and very nice quality), a lovely pin, a print pack (post card sized), an actual postcard (like one you could actually mail), and some digital wallpapers. All in all this was a very nice campaign with great results and I eagerly await the campaign for Volume 2 and Volume 1 of her other comic Mare Internum (which you should also check out, really it’s awesome).
Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us: A Johnny Wander Omnibus - You know the story already. I was looking for webcomics and happened upon Johnny Wander. A sort of biographical graphic diary comic about the creators Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsch and their friends/family. I really liked the comic and had planned on getting the collected volumes for a while. Luckily before I did the campaign for the Omnibus came out. I backed it, getting two copies of the book (a retail copy and a special slipcase version that’s signed and very cool), a plushie of the MAW (a creepy crow with a human mouth in it’s belly which is sort of the artists’ mascot), copies of their other books: Cuttings and Lucky Penny (which by the way was one of my Books of the Month), a pin of their cat Cricket, a bookplate, and my name “in the book” (there’s a QR code that links to the list of backers). I’m very happy with this, as the books came in a reasonable time with no delays to speak of. Everything I got was of high quality. Which is to be expected as this campaign was not their first. I love everything I’ve seen Hirsch and Ota do, so I expect to be in on any future projects they pursue.
Adv3nture Hoodie - Impulse backing at it’s finest. Besides one of my sleeves having an error (sewed a left hand cuff onto the right arm) I love this hoodie. Super comfy, lots of pocket space, looks nice. Very warm. I mostly backed it because I wanted the hoodie and the campaign was the cheapest way to get it ($89 through the campaign and $139 afterwards). Unfortunately this campaign hit some snags. The original manufacturer allegedly made some shoddy hoodies, so the project creator had to find a new one. This led to a pretty steep delay. As it was, the hoodies shipped out well after hoodie weather, making quite a few backers unhappy. I was fairly indifferent, but I understand why others were upset. This was also followed by a lack of communication and a slightly dismissive tone from the creators towards criticism. I’m still happy with my hoodie, defective sleeve and all, but I probably would think twice before backing one of their projects again.
The Unreceived (As of the time of publishing):
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - I’m not even a big Castlevania fan. Much like Yooka-Laylee I mostly backed this to show support for the genre, rather than the game it was specifically paying homage to. However, just because I’m not a major Castlevania fan doesn’t mean I don’t like the games. And I trust Igarashi since he has quite a bit of experience in the industry and the campaign had realistic goals and aspirations. I’m to receive a physical copy of the game, Kickstarter exclusive content, a keychain, a pin, a soundtrack CD, a booklet (I believe it’s supposed to be like an old school manual), a special slipcase, and a button as well as my name in the credits. The game should be coming this year, and all the footage of it I’ve seen is more or less what I felt was promised. The game looks to be coming along nicely, and so I expect it to be good, though not “mind blowing”.
Indivisible - I am so glad this got funded. It was close there for a while. This is the only thing I’ve crowd funded via Indiegogo. During the campaign I told everyone about it, desperately trying to get any extra exposure that I could. I even dropped a tip to Destructoid when the campaign hit the halfway mark and extended its campaign’s time limit. I still have the game’s proof of concept demo on my PS4, which is pretty neat. The developers, which made Skullgirls, were set to shut down if this project failed, so I’m very happy it succeeded. Indivisible was by far one of, if not the most transparent crowdfunding campaigns ever. Lab Zero was very honest about how much they needed, where the money was going, and how long it was going to take. The rewards I signed up for were the game (physical and digital), a plushie, the Kickstarter exclusive alt colors for the protagonist, the physical soundtrack, a digital art compendium, a t-shirt, and my name in the credits. I’m excited to see the game come out. I remember checking in on the campaign throughout its existence and biting my nails hoping it succeeded. I am glad it did.
ChaosLife: The First Book - I came across this comic on the same quest for webcomics I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog. It’s about the artist and their partner, A. Stiffler and K. Copeland respectively. It’s mostly autobiographical, but sometimes does some other stuff. The artist, Stiffler, is agender and the comic deals with lots of LGBTQ+ themes. It has helped me understand the LGBTQ+ community a lot. The campaign has seen some delays, mostly due to K. Copeland having some health issues (though apparently things are much better now, thank goodness) and the loss of one of their cats. Obviously I don’t begrudge them the delays at all. Personal things happen and I’m just happy they are doing better. And they’ve been fairly good at explaining why the delays happened. For rewards I am supposed to get the book, a tote bag, digital wallpaper, a copy of their other book Lesbians 101, and a button pack. Last I remember hearing the book is still coming along nicely. Hope to see it at my door soon.
Samurai Grandpa - Another campaign I stumbled on. I backed it because I thought the concept was novel, the creators appeared reliable, and I wanted it. The last update, which was not long ago said the books were ready to go. Which means I should have the book in my hands fairly soon. As for the rewards I’m to get, there’s the book, an original chapter card, a t-shirt, my name in the book, an original sketch in the book, and a water color commission from one of the artists.
Go Get a Roomie Books 1-2 - Go Get a Roomie is my favorite webcomic. It’s a bit hard to describe but it’s essentially a romance story about a hippie girl and a sleep obsessed girl who start a friendship that slowly turns into something more. It’s very cool and I love it. Unfortunately I discovered it AFTER the Kickstarter campaign for the first collected volume. Luckily I managed to get a copy of volume 1 during a sale, and got in on volume 2’s campaign. It is still a ways of until I get anything, but I pledged a pretty high amount. The rewards I’m supposed to receive are a softcover copy of volume 2, some charms, a bookplate, post cards, an original strip (one of the original physical strips of the comic), and a cameo in the comic. If you decide to check it out (and you should) please note that it can get NSFW at times.
Offhand: A Johnny Wander Collection - I pledged to this campaign largely because of the people behind it. They’re the same people behind a campaign I had previously pledged, to (Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us: A Johnny Wander Omnibus) and they have a good track record with these sorts of things. Plus I really like the comics they make. This one was particularly interesting since it’s about one of the creators, Yuko Ota, and her struggle with trying to relearn drawing with her non-dominant hand after learning she has a condition that means she can’t use her dominant hand anymore. I sprang for a high-ish tier that comes with a lenticular cover. It’s still pretty soon after I made my pledge but I have faith that the creators will pull it off without any major hitches. They have done this before, and they always do good by their backers.
I’ll end this blog with this: I enjoy crowdfunding. Granted I’ve had a (mostly) positive experience with it. But I’ve received some very cool things by pledging, some I am very glad to have. And some other things that were created through crowdfunding, but I didn’t pledge to, have become things that I love too. My Mighty Mug comes to mind. Crowdfunding is by no means a perfect platform. There are risks associated with the process. Which is why I advocate doing research on the people involved with the project before pledging any money. And understanding that a pledge isn’t a pre-order or an investment. It’s a donation. One that comes with the promise of a reward, but no guarantee or obligation to fulfill. It’s up to each individual to decide whether the risk is worth it or not. For me, it has been. For some others though, it might not be. And that’s okay. Just remember that writing off the platform entirely isn’t fair. You don’t have to get involved, but please don’t treat those that do harshly.