philryuh

The Woes of Kickstarters and Auditing

Kickstarter reminds me a bit of the Nintendo Switch. I love that it opens up the market for fresh new talent and creative designs from people who would've never had the courage to act on their ideas. At the same time, it also floods the market with lots of "interesting" games with minimum effort/investment that can seem like a shot at making quick cash. Another similarity is that there doesn't seem to be all that much regulation of which games make the pass, as both of these companies are profiting either way from the flow of new campaigns/releases. This isn't something that bothers me to any degree though, because it's easy to say no to these types of games and walk away.

The problem I have is with individuals/companies with very little transparency, and when shady business practices seem to occur again and again (example: https://www.boardgameatlas.com/forum/mw6sPrjmty/golden-bell-studios-turn-unbrokens-kickstarter-into-a-youtube-comment-section).

So my question is:

  • Do you think it's feasible to have some sort of auditing system for Kickstarters?
  • Would it be something you'd like to see on Board Game Atlas?
  • What are some minimum requirements that would give you the confidence to back a game?

5 points by philryuh - updated 8 days ago | 7 comments | report

BenjaminK 9 days ago | 2 points

That's an interesting consideration. I think there could be some sort of auditing system for Kickstarter. There are a lot of red flags to watch out for in a campaign, and those might be able to be targeted/automated into somme sort of system. However, Kickstarter is also for the entrepreneur who has a brilliant idea but lacks the funds to accomplish it. Not having final art won't be a complete "no" from me for that reason. There are similar things that are different in the board game world of KS as compared to other areas of the platform. 

I think the norm should be for potential backers to be informed. See a publisher with poor track record? Be hesitant to back (I won't say "don't back" because there are so many possible variables here). No gameplay video, or no third-party reviews? That could be a problem. To me, KS board games don't have to be in their final form, and playthrough videos and other content don't necessarily need to be 100% professional (but please still try). A smartphone is good enough these days to make a high-quality video, for example.

I wrote those above points as a response to your question about confidence in backing a game. If the KS page did show everything in final form and good quality video and other content, that would certainly help, but it's not the be-all-end-all of what will give me confidence to back a game. I think it's a case by case basis. I don't back as much as a lot of people, but I do follow a heap of campaigns, so I've seen what works, what doesn't, and what kind of campaign to watch out for. While I think an auditing system would be fantastic, a little homework on the part of the would-be backer could also go a long way.

philryuh 8 days ago | 1 point

Those are great insights. My current thoughts are that any sort of "auditing" system would try to address at least these two things: (1) encourage transparency in business practices and (2) set an expectation of minimum requirements that will give confidence to potential backers.

Anything outside of that, as you've said, really needs lots of judgment call from the potential backers to do their due homework. I like a lot of the ideas you mentioned and I agree that any sort of audit would be mostly to inform the backer of any potential dangers, and that's it. Even in the case of recent problems with some of the publishers, a quick google search would've saved a lot of headache, and I think that kind of quick, readily available info would be useful for everyone.

BenjaminK 8 days ago | 1 point

Agreed. I think that having a quick look at some pertinent information can be really helpful, for both long-time backers and newcomers to the Kickstarter scene. And I suppose you could always add to it as time goes on and as thee community realizes what other information would be helpful. I think it's a great idea and look forward to its implementation! 

Skurvy5 9 days ago | 2 points

I’ve never backed anything on Kickstarter. I don’t know if I ever will either. My disposable income is not significant enough to spend money on something that might be good especially if it takes 1-2 years to finally ship. At this point in my relationship with the hobby I’d rather carefully curate my purchase and have total understanding of where the game will fit into my collection. 

All that said, it would be interesting to read an article or two about kickstarter. 

philryuh 9 days ago | 1 point

I can relate xD I have a very limited budget for board games and I only got into the hobby late. So many great games out there already so I'm not looking to back a game anytime soon.

With all of the drama that happened over Golden Bells and people trying to figure out whether the publisher on a KS they want to back is trustworthy or not, I think it would be cool for us to help out in the decision-making process :)

nealkfrank 9 days ago | 2 points

I am very intrigued by this! It is on my bucket list to fund a Kickstarter game, but everything I have seen is either not my taste or I am sketched out. It would be cool to see a guide...or an atlas...to what companies to trust and what types of games are out there. 

philryuh 9 days ago | 1 point

Just gotta think of some useful info that a backer needs to know to trust the company/individual. One obvious one is whether who the publisher is has been disclosed :|