Kickstander: Kickstarter Isn’t A Store Unless You Are An American (McGee)

Little Red Riding Hood meeting the Big Bad Wolf when he's dressed as Grandma

Sometimes one thing dresses up like another thing to hide its true intent.

Kickstarter isn’t a store, or so the site tells you. But that doesn’t stop it being used as one, as this odd example shows.

Akaneiro: Demon Hunters was successfully kickstarted to the tune of a bit over US$204k on February 3 of this year, just beating its target of US$200k. Another data point – Akaneiro: Demon Hunters launched as a free-to-play title for the PC on January 31.

Yes, this was a game that launched before its Kickstarter completed. How did Spicy Horse Games, headed up by the distinctively named American McGee, achieve this incredible feat?

He used Kickstarter like a store. ‘Kicklaunching‘ was the term American McGee used, saying that having a Kickstarter on a 99% finished game gave the title “a real boost to awareness and engagement”. The Kickstarter rewards offered a lot of in-game items, but they also merchandise and titles that the studio already had available. Look through the reward levels – a rough count comes up with 39 different backer reward options – and look at what was on offer. Here’s a brief screenshot that shows off some of this:

A list of backer rewards that show for $60 you get Alice: Madness returns for a range of platforms, plus some Akaneiro in-game items.

Buy a video game from Spicy Horse at full price and get bonus items in their newest game for free!

McGee has already announced that Akaneiro was 100% complete and shipping in January regardless of Kickstarter success. In many ways this Kickstarter was all about the promotion of a new title and getting access to the equivalent of pre-order funds through selling existing merchandise / items that only a studio like Spicy Horse could offer. Yes, the money would go into further development of the title, but it was post-launch development – Spicy Horse didn’t need a kickstart here because they would launch Akanerio before the funds would even become available. Surely post-launch development could (should?) have been funded by revenue earned when the game had gone live?

What adds to the issue here is that this game is a F2P title – if a player was interested in Akaneiro, they didn’t have to put any money down to play it. But things certainly got more attractive if they could get a full title for $60 and any extra Akanerio items thrown in as an added bonus.

Not a store? Sure looks like one to me.

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