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The Devil's Advocate: When Kickstarter Works...

Column By Victor Barreiro Jr. on January 18, 2013

When a Kickstarter project fails, everyone seems to be okay with it, and nothing more is said about the occurrence other than, perhaps, “What a shame!” When a Kickstarter actually works though, the things you earnestly say in the past about a project can come back to haunt you. Being haunted by words I said last year is not going to help me sleep soundly, so I’ve taken today’s Devil’s Advocate and turned it into an exorcism ground.

Looking Less Awesome

I’ve written about Kickstarter and MMORPGs twice before, and I figured I wasn’t going to need to dive into this topic again so soon, but then I happened to notice something on the MMORPG.com forums that made me remember my earlier writings.

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On November 30, MMORPG.com put up my Devil’s Advocate piece called “Pausing Before Pledging.” In it, I discussed that if Greed Monger wanted to “earn the trust of people beyond initial funding, it must provide substantive proof that it can deliver.”

A number of forum posts, collated into one archival thread, kind of brings forth the idea that some things might be too good to be true.

To sort of sum up the threads, what happened is that certain doubts and essential questions were raised about the feasibility of the current set of plans laid out for Greed Monger. Jason Appleton, the executive producer, did not react in a manner that one would call respectful. Either he was evasive about answering legitimate questions regarding the MMO or was hostile (in a number of ways) towards people who called out noteworthy concerns regarding the game’s future or Appleton’s actions online.

He also made sure to note that he was done with all other forums aside from the Greed Monger one, which doesn’t seem like the most feasible PR move for a small outfit hoping to build an MMO.

The actions and decisions of the executive producer are seemingly interfering with the goodwill garnered by the very ambition of the game itself. That does not bode well for any of the game’s backers, even though some of them might not want to admit it.

Goblins Moving Forward

Pathfinder Online looks to be more stable direction-wise than Greed Monger, though it just barely squeezed through the US$1-M it needed to earn funding. Still, it has the backing of an RPG publisher (Paizo) and a number of inventive world builders like Ed Greenwood and Frank Mentzer. It also looks like it’s being careful with timeline dates, which would be bad if delayed, and reasonable with what it wants to serve up as incentives, which Paizo can help provide.

Cassandra Khaw has a well-timed article up on Pathfinder Online’s feasibility as a project (linked below) which basically states my case for me. The best thing I have to say about Pathfinder Online that hasn’t yet been said is that I’ve not heard much bad press about it. People are not as enthused about this MMO as I’d expected, but it’s garnered enough good will in me, at least, to warrant a pledge from my writing earnings.

The annoying thing about this little tidbit of information I’m sharing with you? I have no guarantees that my pledge will amount to anything.

Kickstarter Washes Its Hands

During my time reading up on the Greed Monger side of this write-up, I stumbled upon a blogpost by Lady Euphei from the forums about Kickstarter’s role in all of this.

They wash their hands of us after getting potential backers and projects together, for lack of a better term.  This email excerpt came from Kickstarter and was published by Lady Euphei on her blog:

While Kickstarter is the platform for this agreement, we are not a part of it. Kickstarter itself cannot force the creator to fulfill rewards, offer refunds, or communicate with backers (though we encourage them to do so). It’s the creator’s responsibility to complete their project as promised.

While there are still methods to take legal action against the project creators, that’s a rare last resort, and one that doesn’t help any if a project backer just runs. While I don’t think Greed Monger’s devs and Pathfinder Online’s devs will make a run for it, it does sort of make obvious the tenuous nature of Kickstarting anything.

Anyone who wants to invest in a Kickstarter project or MMO better make sure their chances of getting a return on their investment is possible, or you could end up losing out. Or perhaps, you could end up gaining a very valuable life lesson out of the whole ordeal.

You can follow Victor Barreiro Jr. on Twitter at @iamstillwater. 


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The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Advocate is an opportunity for the oft-shunned and little discussed “Other Side of the Story” to be heard, promoting open discussion on a heavily contested subject.
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