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Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs Speaks to Crowd-Funding

Posted by SBFord Wednesday February 12 2014 at 7:18PM
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There is no question that 2013 was the Year of KickStarter, the year that crowd-based funding fueled the imaginations of both developers and the fans themselves. What started off slowly in 2012 became a juggernaut of funding opportunities, developers clamoring to get their projects noticed and funded. It has been an exciting time, but one that hasn't escaped the growing pains from which any new enterprise suffers.

In a post over at the Camelot Unchained site, industry veteran Mark Jacobs wrote a fascinating list of thoughts that all crowd-sourced project developers should keep in mind. His thoughts came as project after project continues to gather funds long after the initial campaign has ended and, as a result, new and bigger sounding "stretch goals" are added.

Jacobs wrote:

In recent months the game industry has seen the power and importance of crowd funding explode as Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen has continued its meteoric rise. Other crowdfunded games, including our own Camelot Unchained™, have also continued to raise additional funding after the close of their initial crowdfunding period. While this is a good thing for the developer in terms of having additional cash at hand, this cash generally comes with strings attached. One of these strings is, of course, in the form of players’ heightened expectations for the game with the additional content that was unlocked through stretch goals. Stretch goals are, in theory, generally a good thing for both players and developers. Players hope to get a deeper and richer game for their new and/or ongoing donations. Developers get more funding and usually have to grow the team to meet the demands of the expanded scope of the game.

From this point, a cautionary tale in the form of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) principle was laid out in an easy to read list:

  1. Add stretch goals that meet the stated needs of backers and that improve the game.
  2. Don't "over-promise" what can be done simply to raise extra funds.
  3. Don't add stretch goals that simultaneously require additional staff before making sure qualified individuals can be found.
  4. Create a sequential list of goals that build on one another.
  5. Adding more goals simply because more money is coming in isn't always necessary.
  6. Remember that not everything can be fit in for launch.
  7. Remember to make a great game.
As the idea of fans funding titles they are most interested in and want to see come to fruition outside of the traditional development cycle grows, it is incumbent on both sides of the process to ensure that realistic expectations are maintained at all times. 

It is likely that we will see more articles like this one from Mark Jacobs crop up on the scene as the earliest titles begin to reach release and an examination of the entire process, start to finish, begins. For our money, we're glad that the discussion is starting early, that the responsibilities of both sides of the crowd-funding aisle are talking about what works, what doesn't and how things can change for the better in the future.
What about you? Have you backed any KickStarter projects? What do you think of Mark Jacobs' words? let us know in the comments.