I’ve never had to write a column about something I couldn’t talk about before. I’m not quite sure how to go about doing it. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal and a very interesting concept but one that can’t be spoken of, at least not off site. I could reach out to Artcraft to ask them about it but they can’t answer any of my questions!
It’s refreshing that in 2016 words still have some power. I’m jesting. I can talk about it off site but Artcraft (developers of Crowfall) can’t. I guess that gives me more power over their offering than anyone at Artcraft! That realization is kind of exhilarating! What a strange world we live in.
Enough playing around, I’m talking about what many gamers once thought Kickstarter was, investing in a company and having stock in that company. It seems like a natural evolution from Kickstarter to MicroVentures but due to things like SEC regulations Artcraft can’t speak about it anywhere but at this link I graciously included for you.
A bit of background about why you are able, if you so desire, to invest in Artcraft Entertainment. Once upon a time long long ago U.S. law prohibited unaccredited investors (people that make less than $200,000 a year with a net worth below $1 million) from investing in private companies in exchange for equity. In an effort to encourage people to take the risk and start a company (and considering the popularity of crowd funding) the law was changed. What was once exclusively for wealthy people has become an option for almost everyone. Why was this necessary? Because the creation of new companies is an important ingredient in the pound cake that is the US economy.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, what was meant well stumbled and fell short. Due to the amount of regulation (aka the hoops people have to jump through) the juice isn’t always worth the squeeze, that is unless you are a company with a decent amount of infrastructure built up. Enter Artcraft Entertainment. While the regulations might be too much for a new guy, for experienced people like Gordon and J. Todd (Artcraft’s owners) they were likely a splash in the pond.
Editor’s note, considering current events I have to wonder if the amount of regulation won’t soon be reduced effectively making this change do what it was supposed to in the first place, make it easier to Joe Americans to start their new businesses. A system made for Joe Americans that is too complex for them to utilize is broken.
At its core this concept appears just as risky as Kickstarter but with room for gain beyond your purchase and a higher price for entry-$100. With Kickstarter, you are pre-ordering a product. With MicroVentures you are buying stock in a company. In Artcraft’s case you also get a product (Crowfall) and the rewards associated with your investor tier. Glancing at the “detailed perks” on the investor page those rewards are reminiscent to Kickstarter tiers.
If I buy a pile of Artcraft stock and Crowfall flops and bankrupts the company my investment is gone and my money with it. On the other hand, if Crowfall succeeds there is room to see a return. Your amount is based how much stock you bought and on one of three options; the board electing to pay dividends, Artcraft being acquired by a bigger company or Artcraft doing an initial public offering (IPO).
This is not to be confused with investing in the stock market. This is more like giving someone money to help get their business off the ground with them promising to pay you back and some if they ever make it big. The likely hood of that happening is something you must gauge based on the research you do. It’s your wager.
On a personal level this all seems kind of, surreal. Then again, I suppose this is another logical step in the evolution of “pay-to” in gaming. I’ve tried to invest in investing but I can’t stay invested. In the MMORPGs I’ve played I found success on the auctions but without an avatar I can’t will myself to stick with stock. Maybe I should Kickstart a UI that does just that? Full pvp full loot stock? I think EVE and Wall Street already beat me to that…
Going forward it will be interesting to see if companies like Kickstarter adapt with this concept. I’m still sort of in awe. I’ve lived long enough to see a company offer me stock that comes with a game and other in game perks. I can honestly say I never imagined typing that and its far too soon to have an opinion on if this is a good thing or a bad thing. As Tom Hanks playing Charlie Wilson once said, “we’ll see”.
My current conclusion is, if you missed the Kickstarter but plan to buy a Crowfall package for $100 or more this option might be slightly more appealing (and the same risk) as buying one from the Artcraft store. Now we just need to convince them to roll all our Kickstarter purchase into Artcraft stock so we the people own Artcraft! Our first order of business could be breaking a pool que in half, dropping it on the floor then telling J. Todd, Gordon and Doggett we only have room for one of them…Sigh, unfortunately, it doesn’t give me that kind of power but a fella can dream, can’t he?