Although the bloom isn’t off the rose, Kickstarter took a bit of a hit in the last seven days:
- The fake Kobe Beef jerky Kickstarter that was minutes away from being successful and receiving $120k+ in backer funds. It seems that those behind this fraud over-reached a bit when naming where they’d been, making it easy to contact those food festivals and find out that they hadn’t, plus promising to show tasting footage. If they’d managed to keep things contained for a bit longer, they would have made off with the money. (I do love that link for how it talks about “the crowd” for uncovering the fraud, but then points out how instrumental a documentary team was for digging deeper while ignoring the fact that “the crowd” also fell for scam.)
- The “dating and seduction” (or “forceful and creepy”, depending on your views) guide that Kickstarter thought was icky, but let it continue until it was successfully funded, then issued an apology about not pulling the product offline. With Kickstarter changing its policies around accepting seduction guides, this exact thing won’t repeat itself, but it did raise the question (again) about how Kickstarter supposedly vets the projects before openning them up to the crowd to throw money at.
- One of Kickstarter’s big success stories, the OUYA, made it onto retail shelves (if you can find it, that is). However, a significant portion of the original backers still haven’t received their consoles, which they were “guaranteed” to get before the OUYA became available at retail. OUYA is blaming its distribution partner DHL for the delays. So your
chequeconsole is in the mail. Trust us.
The first event shows that fraud is very possible on the Kickstarter platform. Go after the right mix of hopes and ambition, provide just enough breadcrumbs (not too many though!) and you could receive a substantial amount of money from backers. Sure, you’ll have to deal with the consequences / hide your tracks, but the longer you can string people along the more time you’ll have to exit with the money.
The second event shows how community policing can fail: when there is a sizable enough community who wants something that is questionable and the iffy bits are hidden, it’s very easy to get through. I don’t personally believe Kickstarter telling the ‘community’ (as if there is one monolithic entity of backers who all do the same things) to police itself is fair when Kickstarter pockets the money for the use of their platform.
And finally the third is a lesson in how being amazed at something being crowdfunded actually means very little at all when it comes to delivery. Crowdfunding may just end up meaning that a company gets your money for much, much longer than they would before they deliver your rewards, if they actually deliver them at all.
Kickstarter / crowdfunding will continue to attract attention from the gaming sites as it is cheap / easy content and fits neatly into the ‘previews’ category of those sites. It also fits nicely with the cheap gaming / indie vibe that a vocal portion of games culture seem to be focusing on right now. But some of the nasty bits of reality are starting to creep up. And we’re still yet to see the collapse of a really big crowdfunded project.
For example, if Star Citizen collapsed or fails to deliver, the repercussions would be epic.