Kickstarting a game: Part I: the Backer.

Since Kickstarter has launched, literally hundreds of games have been successfully crowdfunded and delivered to backers. While delays are still rather common, it happens less and less often that backers are left with no reward in the end. Yet, it does happen, and here’s what you can do to minimize your chance of wasting your money.

As backers, we’re getting used to how solid Kickstarter creators are these days. Simply put, if you’re pledging for a game, you receive the game. While it may be different from what you expected in terms of gameplay or overall experience, complete no-shows are something we tend to marginalize. This makes stumbling upon a project which does not deliver in the end all the more painful.

Losing a few dozen or a hundred bucks is probably not a tragedy, but it is never pleasant, even for those of us who have a lot of disposable income. With that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you determine if a Kickstarter you’re looking at will end up with a game on your table – or a gaping hole in your wallet.

The Research

Many companies that operate using Kickstarter know what they are doing, which makes them fully capable of handling complex projects. Look at CMON: they are constantly and irritatingly late, but no matter how much plastic and cardboard goodness they promise, they can deliver, and they have a track record to prove this.

The guys who made this are rarely on time, but you an be sure they will deliver.

Yet, you may not know this, so the first time you look at a project (no matter how big or small) from a company or person you know nothing of, scratch that itchy trigger finger, and go do your homework. Board Game Geek is a perfect place to start from, but plain old Google can also be your friend.

If you find that the creator had already crowdfunded their game via a different platform five years prior, and their backers are still in the wind (probably with pitchforks and torches), you’ll know that you should probably invest your money into something else.

The Creator

Finding out that the project creator is (almost or completely) a scammer is a definite giveaway, but sometimes you’ll find next to nothing related to gaming. Still if the people you’re planning to give your money to actually exist on the internet, or even are a part of the board game hobby, that is always a good sign.

On the other hand, if you see that the creators are playing it fast and loose with ethics pretty much anywhere, you’ll also know what to do. And if for some reason you think they will be dishonest with everyone but their backers, then you will probably find yourself in the company of those still waiting for the infamous HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Edition.

Those who believed that the creators of this game will deliver have been waitin for four years now…

Also, if the HeroQuest thing does not ring a bell, than follow the link above, but also research that project on your own. You’ll get a splendid example of what should be alarming when it comes to project creators, as well as a bit of exercise before you need to do the research on your own.

The Project

This probably should have been point one, but at least for some, it is quite obvious: take a good look at the whole project. See if effort has been put into making it. Is there at least some actual art? Do the creators show their faces or at least give you their names?

You can tell a lot about the whole process of designing, manufacturing and delivering your game by how a Kickstarter project is organized and then taken care of. If all the information you need is readily available – or if you can get it within hours from the moment you ask your questions in the comments or in a private message, then you’re probably working with people being serious about making (and delivering!) a game.

And now a shameless plug: we deliver, and we do it on time. Check us out!

On the other hand, if something rubs you the wrong way, that’s reason enough to move on. There are literally thousands of games made every year, and if the one you’re looking at now is for any reason suspicious, you’ll probably find a safer way to spend your money.

Did I help? Do you have your own ways of determining if a Kickstarter will deliver? Or perhaps you’ve already learned a harsh lesson, and you are ready to share your wisdom? If you answered yes to any of these questions, don’t be a stranger and talk to us!

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