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Op Ed

Thanks nin.

The PA Report - How Valve “devalued” video games, and why that’s great news for developers and players.
Those seem to be wise words, and gamers are increasingly sensitive to the price of the games they play, but when you look at the data you see that Valve has done something magical: The company has found a way to charge less, and earn more. This isn’t a purely selfish move, as developers also praise the pricing structure of these sales. The issue of game pricing is much more complex, and mysterious, than most are willing to admit.

Wired.com - We Don't Need Game Publishers, Hardware Makers or Retailers.
But something critical has changed. While publishers, retailers and hardware makers might still be adding value, they are no longer required. Using the miracle of the internet, game creators can make videogames — good ones! — and sell them to game players without any involvement from traditional publishers, retailers or hardware makers. And when creators don’t have to put their work through the gauntlet of middlemen, with everybody down the line taking their cut of the profits, they can sell those games much more cheaply.

The PA Report - The ugly side of Kickstarter- the risks in backing game dev campaigns are greater than you think.
Of those projects that do manage to ship, some will be good games and some will be awful, with most winding up somewhere in the middle. This is the reality of game development in the real world, and projects funded by Kickstarter are no different. The unfortunate truth is that many backers of game projects are buying the ability to wait 18 months to play a mediocre game.

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29. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:29 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:23:
First of, the Big Three in the Kickstarters right now (Double Fine, Fargo and Weisman),

I don't think anyone's concerned about those three. All three have released games before. They know what it takes, they know they have the ability, and we know all of this.

It's the other games people are worried about. That Tactical Shooter is a good one. That Cop Warfare game linked to in the article is another excellent one to point out.


I still say those types of games won't be able to get six figures very often going forward. Those are the high risk low reward projects. Wasteland 2 was low risk high reward. If Chris Roberts were to say "give me $2 million and I'll give Wing Commander 2012!" it would be low risk high reward.

And maybe that's what Kickstarter will evolve into for games - famous, proven names making new games free from constraints of people expecting more from them than good games. The unknowns and unprovens won't get much attention or notice and will have to find ways to become names first, which means they have to be less ambitious out the gate, which is probably for the best as ambition is often what kills first projects - people try to bite off more than they can chew.
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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28. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 11:24 Beamer
 
Wowbagger_TIP wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:19:
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:11:
You're risking $15 per project. Let's say you back 5 projects one month and 3 don't come out, or come out poorly. That's $45 you wasted. Had you simply waited you could have judged the product at completion, rather than at pitch, and saved yourself that money.
No, had you waited (and others done the same), the project would not get funded and there would be no game.


That's not really true. Had I not put a dime into Shadow Run or Wasteland 2 they'd still be equally likely to be there waiting for me in a year or whatever.
Collectively yes, the project may not get funded, but there's no shortage of good games out there - I have dozens in Steam that I bought for $5 and have yet to play. Yes, the two I just pointed out have pedigree, but that Tactical FPS also got funded, with money coming from people here. I could live easily without that. I still haven't played Mount & Blade, which looks awesome and was only $5.

Getting Wasteland 2 is awesome. Most Kickstarter games won't be Wasteland 2, they'll be Bob's Cool Idea & CGI Reel. Plenty of people get their cool ideas onto Steam for $5 without me having to pay before a single line of code is written.
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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27. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:23 Creston
 
InBlack wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 07:24:
What about accountability? What happens if a 2 million Kickstarter project fails? All the cash is spent on office accesories, salaries, outsourcing but the end result is Duke Nukemish failure?? Who is responsible? I dont know....I would like to see cool projects come out of it but too much of it smells like a damn con.

Basically no one can guarantee that any of what is promised ever gets done. You are putting up capital and someone else will either reap the rewards (and you will get your game) or fail miserably (you will get nothing) without any repercussions.

When people put up their own money, there is an imperative to succeed. With someone else's money there is also an imperative, but when there is no accountability and the money doesnt have to be paid back.....

I don't agree that there is no accountability. First of, the Big Three in the Kickstarters right now (Double Fine, Fargo and Weisman), are doing frequent updates, and Double Fine is even doing an entire documentary on how the process is going.

Now, there is no strict accountability in the sense that nobody is sitting there making sure they reached this or that milestone, but these are also experienced studios that will likely work MUCH better without some jackass publisher whining that he wants to see the feature his 4 year old daughter loves so much working by next Friday.

If one of these guys fails to deliver on their game, they will earn an absolute SHITLOAD of bad word of mouth and hatred, to the point where I can see it'd be hard for them to ever get a good game going again.

And, again, I think people drastically underestimate how liberating it is for these guys to be able to make the game they WANT to make, without some cunt publisher interfering. These guys want to make this game, and want to make it awesome, just as much as we want them to.

All that said, if a project fails, then yes, everyone is out of their money. And said developer is likely done making games, because they'll never get another dime in kickstart funds, and even publishers might be wary of doing business with them, since they blew through a lot of money without anything to show for it.

So there is accountability, but not necessarily monetary accountability. Fargo, Schafer and Weisman are held accountable by their reputation.

I might be wrong, but I think all three teams will deliver fine games.

Creston

This comment was edited on Apr 19, 2012, 11:33.
 
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26. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:21 Beamer
 
I think Kickstarter kind of relates to being a bubble if you mean the original dot-com bubble. People are throwing lots of money to hopes, dreams and good pitches.


After a few explosions the bar to get money will be higher. Have a great CGI video? Fantastic, whatever. Show me your business plan. Show me why you need $150k, or why you need ONLY $150k. Show me your timelines and your milestones. Show me a prototype. Show me how and where you plan to manufacture. Show me your experience and why I should believe you'll be able to do this.

Cool videos and flowery language won't be enough. But for people that demonstrate ability as well as a cool idea money will still be there.
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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25. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 11:19 Wowbagger_TIP
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:11:
You're risking $15 per project. Let's say you back 5 projects one month and 3 don't come out, or come out poorly. That's $45 you wasted. Had you simply waited you could have judged the product at completion, rather than at pitch, and saved yourself that money.
No, had you waited (and others done the same), the project would not get funded and there would be no game.

Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:11:
People will realize quickly that the risk of a product not coming out if they don't fund it isn't always worth the reward of what they get for their money, and they'll get stingy.
Maybe so. Maybe funders will start demanding more information and accountability up front. The process could certainly change and become more rigorous, I'm not arguing that. That may be a good thing.
 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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24. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:17 Creston
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 05:08:
A bubble is when people put money in and expect returns before anyone that ever put money in got ever an return.

Also a LOT of people put more than 15$ in.....

by the way, why do Americans put the $ before the number? Are you not reading symbols literal? When say 15 dollars I type 15$ ! You would not normally say dollars 15 ... would you?

Makes no sense. so 15$ it is ;p

We also have awesome things like Quarts, Gallons, Yards, Feet, Inches, Pounds etc, all of which adhere to no mathematical system known to man.

Not sure that the Kickstarter industry qualifies as a bubble, as it's breaking completely new ground. Everyone could see the housing industry was in a bubble, because in the space of ten years, houses doubled and tripled in "value."

Nobody knows what to expect from the Kickstarter business, so it's impossible to say whether what it's doing now is unsustainable, especially since it's not really related to each other. Yes, a lot of games are getting funding now, but they're not really connected to each other. If each of these games comes through, how could it possibly be a bubble?

I would assume most people are judging the risk before they put money into it. We have to remember that even though we're seeing all these huge amounts of money, when compared to the overall size of the game-playing market, it's really not even a drop in the well.

I feel good about Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Returns. I think both teams will finish their game and make it what their backers expect. Some of these others... yeah, not so much.

Creston
 
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23. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 11:11 Beamer
 
You're risking $15 per project. Let's say you back 5 projects one month and 3 don't come out, or come out poorly. That's $45 you wasted. Had you simply waited you could have judged the product at completion, rather than at pitch, and saved yourself that money.

People will realize quickly that the risk of a product not coming out if they don't fund it isn't always worth the reward of what they get for their money, and they'll get stingy.

Here's a good article on it all:
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/03/12/kickstarters-mission-creep/
This deals more with products than games. Products are much harder to get out than games (games you just need to design, products you need to manufacture) and products cost more (paying $150 for a watch that either never comes out or doesn't live up to the pitch hurts much, much more than $15 for a game.) Still, while I think games are safer, people are going to spend less on it than they do now. Maybe, though, more people will be spending something.


As for that Valve lowering prices piece - it is great for everyone. Look at, say, Rayman Origins. Great game, but not worth $60. Many of my friends played it at my place and then purchased it, but did it for $20-$30. The game hit that point quickly and stayed there. For some games being at $60 for a few weeks is huge, but for others it just pushes them away.
I've argued that people see cheap titles as budget titles, but seeing my friends' reactions to RO I realize that the days of $20 budget titles have long since disappeared and that stigma isn't there as much, if at all.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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22. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 10:07 Prez
 
Wow that gem of yours deserves to be in the annals of stupidity for this forum.

Sepharo's intelligence on this forum is pretty well established; that of a rude, obnoxious 7-post "suspect"? Not so much.

He's exactly right. If you give 15 bucks to a kickstart project without understanding that no game may result, you still risk nothing more than $15. If you risk significantly more without understanding exactly the nature of the project you are donating to, then perhaps you should be a little wiser and more cautious before you start throwing your money around. That a game may end up failing miserably or being a disastrous turd is a risk with any game, not just a kickstart project.
 
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- Mahatma Gandhi
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21. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 07:28 eRe4s3r
 
Notice how Kickstarter dances around this particular issue for as long as they exist. In some Interview the even said that they don't really want to handle the accountability problem because they hope they never have to. Apparently Kickstarter owners think nobody will cheat the system.

This is nothing more than a donation with a "hope" attached you that you "may" get what you "donated" for. If you know this then all is fine. But it is not a pre-order and it is not a sale. It is also not an Investment. Nobody controls where the money goes. And really, how would Kickstarter control this short of doing Milestone targets, payout plans, accounting control and so on? And you can bet that they'll never do that. Because then THEY would become accountable for failures.
 
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20. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 07:24 InBlack
 
What about accountability? What happens if a 2 million Kickstarter project fails? All the cash is spent on office accesories, salaries, outsourcing but the end result is Duke Nukemish failure?? Who is responsible? I dont know....I would like to see cool projects come out of it but too much of it smells like a damn con.

Basically no one can guarantee that any of what is promised ever gets done. You are putting up capital and someone else will either reap the rewards (and you will get your game) or fail miserably (you will get nothing) without any repercussions.

When people put up their own money, there is an imperative to succeed. With someone else's money there is also an imperative, but when there is no accountability and the money doesnt have to be paid back.....
 
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I have a nifty blue line!
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19. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 07:11 briktal
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 05:08:
A bubble is when people put money in and expect returns before anyone that ever put money in got ever an return.

Also a LOT of people put more than 15$ in.....

by the way, why do Americans put the $ before the number? Are you not reading symbols literal? When say 15 dollars I type 15$ ! You would not normally say dollars 15 ... would you?

Makes no sense. so 15$ it is ;p

I don't know, blame England for that?

One of my concerns is with the "revival" Kickstarters, because game developers seem to age poorly.
 
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18. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 07:05 Dev
 
The Half Elf wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 03:02:
Here is my only issue with Kickstarters.

Not one has been released yet.
Not true, kickstarter has been around for years. I even have a board game that started from kickstarter. Just because the smaller video game projects that have been previously kickstarted and released haven't crossed your radar, doesn't mean "NOT ONE HAS BEEN RELEASED YET"
IMAPC wrote on Apr 18, 2012, 23:34:
that article is not meant for you. It's meant for the many backers who don't understand that they may never receive a game despite their financial contribution.
I've gone over repeatedly in these threads about how the kickstarter process weeds out most bad projects. Of the ones that are left, most backers WILL get a game. It may be a sucky game, but most of the successful projects WILL deliver something.
 
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17. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 05:08 eRe4s3r
 
A bubble is when people put money in and expect returns before anyone that ever put money in got ever an return.

Also a LOT of people put more than 15$ in.....

by the way, why do Americans put the $ before the number? Are you not reading symbols literal? When say 15 dollars I type 15$ ! You would not normally say dollars 15 ... would you?

Makes no sense. so 15$ it is ;p
 
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16. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 04:05 killer_roach
 
Wowbagger_TIP wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 03:36:
People keep talking about a Kickstarter bubble. I still don't understand how it is a bubble.

The two rules of bubbles, as a finance friend explained them to me:

Bubbles are inherently unstable. What goes up must come down.
Bubbles are inherently insane. They may go up far more before coming down.

At the scale in which they are occurring at present, I don't think they're yet necessarily unstable, which would make the insane part moot.

If we start seeing Kickstarter projects amount to a non-trivial portion of game spending, say, up to a 5-10% level, then maybe we can talk about their instability.

(Personally, I think these Kickstarter projects, in some ways, are really doing what I've been arguing for in terms of game pricing for a long time, but I'll leave that for another time. Only so much econ nerd stuff for one post, you know.)
 
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15. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 03:46 Jerykk
 
Wowbagger_TIP wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 03:36:
People keep talking about a Kickstarter bubble. I still don't understand how it is a bubble. You have all sorts of different kinds of projects with a large variety of goals for the money they're asking for. Sure, some won't deliver. Some won't even hit their funding goal. How is that a bubble? If you want to see something happen, and you take a chance on funding it, then you should understand your risk. The risks aren't hidden here. This isn't like the housing bubble where people were taking out ridiculous loans that they could never pay back. This is people kicking in $15 bucks for something they think would be cool. If it fails, so be it. Be more discerning in your decisions next time, or don't if you aren't gonna miss that $15.

You're assuming that everyone is only putting $15 into it. The many people who are investing more are naturally expecting more. If the high-profile Kickstarters like Wasteland 2, DFA and Shadowrun don't deliver, people will lose faith and be far less likely to part with their money in the future. I've put $30 or more into the above Kickstarters and given the total amount of funding they've received (in addition to the creative freedom they hold), I'm expecting good games. If the games end up sucking, you can rest assured that I won't be giving anyone money until I see the final product.
 
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14. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 03:36 Wowbagger_TIP
 
People keep talking about a Kickstarter bubble. I still don't understand how it is a bubble. You have all sorts of different kinds of projects with a large variety of goals for the money they're asking for. Sure, some won't deliver. Some won't even hit their funding goal. How is that a bubble? If you want to see something happen, and you take a chance on funding it, then you should understand your risk. The risks aren't hidden here. This isn't like the housing bubble where people were taking out ridiculous loans that they could never pay back. This is people kicking in $15 bucks for something they think would be cool. If it fails, so be it. Be more discerning in your decisions next time, or don't if you aren't gonna miss that $15.  
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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13. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 03:02 The Half Elf
 
Here is my only issue with Kickstarters.

Not one has been released yet. I'm all for going back to the garage days of Origin, Id Software, Bullfrog, etc, but I am VERY leery of this Kickstarter bubble that has formed.
There are plenty of small independent dev's out there making GREAT games without kickstarters.

I'd love to be on the side of optimism, but until 1 or 2 of the big kickstarters actually get released, I'm not celebrating yet.
 
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12. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 02:22 eRe4s3r
 
I would think many never even get to publishers, but you can be assured that idiot publishers contribute to the bad statistics but only very marginally, Publishers USUALLY don't cancel projects mid-way, unless the project to turns out to be really shit or its management decision.... That said, I have no idea what the statistics is for publisher funded games. I really only it for Indy games. For every Indy game you see reach playable Alpha there are 19 others that never got so far - we could have a lot more Indy games if they would train in schools how to handle money and how to properly plan a project...

But yeah, I don't really understand what a crowd sourced game has to do on PAX. If you make a good game after crowd-funding it the hype will spread without such pointless nonsense. Because happy backers are backers that talk nicely about your game when it's out!

Also the cost for running a stand on pax with screen and game stations + 2 guys is 10000$ so PAX is entirely out of the question for Indy devs. Whoever goes there is NOT a new fresh Indy. But rather an fully established indy developer.

New developers with no developed game on the belt should not be there.

By the way, most tiers go with 30$ for music/poster/t-shirt which is absurdly low priced.

At that price point, they get maybe 10$ for actual development. 15$ simply copy buyers might even net them more money instead. So pricing your tiers properly seems to be a hard lesson to learn here, maybe Kickstarter should start giving some help to the developers? They should know it best, after all
 
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11. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 01:56 Cutter
 
IMAPC wrote on Apr 18, 2012, 23:34:
Sepharo wrote on Apr 18, 2012, 21:17:
No, they're not. I think I risked $15... in fact I know it.
Wow that gem of yours deserves to be in the annals of stupidity for this forum.

Genius, the meaning of risk to which the author of that article is referring is the chance or probability of failure for a Kickstarter project. And, he's absolutely right. The risk that the backers' money will not result in a game much less the one that was promised or one that is worth playing is a lot greater than most backers realize for the many reasons given in the article.

If you personally are willing to throw away your money on the low probability that a game will result, then that article is not meant for you. It's meant for the many backers who don't understand that they may never receive a game despite their financial contribution.

First off, get on some meds and calm the fuck down, sport. And no, the risk is exactly what someone puts into it. Own any stocks or bonds? Ever cross the street? Everthing in life is a risk. Read that last sentence repeatedly untill it sinks in. Got it? Not to mention the fact that this is all just starting, and yet, that asshole is already claiming most projects will fail or are doomed to mediocrity. Well, maybe he'll be kind enough to supply us all with the winning numbers to the next mega-lottery seeing as he posseses such clairvoyance. So if any gems around here belong in the annals of stupidty you should take a look at what you just wrote and try thinking before you post next time.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 00:35 Creston
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Apr 18, 2012, 23:41:
I wonder how many people know that 95% of all started game projects fail to even produce a release?

And how many of that 95% fail because an idiot publisher fucks things up?

Theres thousands of Indy projects that fail because they run out of money, have no skill or planning etc. So if anything Kickstarter at least allows them to *maybe* finish the game to get skill and planning etc...

Right. It's a much bigger risk backing a completely new team versus a group like Fargo's or Weisman's, who have (even in their current iteration) released a lot of games, and have been in the business for yonks.

If you back some new guys, you get to see them blow 20% of their entire kickstart budget on a trip to fucking PAX East and some iPads.

So in that regard, I think Kickstarter does something good. The problem is Kickstarter is still US centric and it needs to get International ASAP. I even think Kickstarter should start to actually handle posters and t-shirts because this is the kind of stuff that can KILL 20k $ projects instantly. T-Shirts are cheap, shipping 600 of them is not.

But again, the $15 backers usually don't get a t-shirt or a booklet or whatever. Those are rewards for the higher tiers. If they didn't do rewards for the higher tiers, everyone would just pay $15. Instead they get people to pay $35 or $50. For that extra 20 or 35 bucks, they can afford to spend 10 bucks on some swag and 5 bucks on shipping, and still come out with MORE money than they would have had had that backer only paid $15.

As for it going international, there's probably a ton of international regulations that Kickstarter would run afoul of, not to mention the really tricky swamp that's international income taxes, etc. Probably much easier to keep it all in the US (even if backers can be international, the taxes still get paid here.)

Creston
 
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