It’s happened again; a funded Kickstarter campaign that has failed to deliver. With an initial goal of $35k, The Forking Path raised over $122k from 1,246 backers in June of 2012 for their game, The Doom that Came to Atlantic City. Unfortunately, the project was terminated this week with a note that explains their hope to eventually refund the jilted backers.
This definitely isn’t the first time this has happened, but it creates a stir simply because it was such a large and well-funded project. Earlier this year, Inc. magazine reported on a lawsuit against a project creator for offering, but failing to provide refunds after his iPad stand project was terminated despite being fully funded. Kickstarter’s responsibility ends once the funding has been met, and encourages potential backers to weigh the risks when it comes to pledging money. Still, I have to wonder if this terminated campaign will have any impact on future Kickstarter projects. Will campaigns like this create a tepid “buyer beware” atmosphere within the game market? Are backers going to be less likely to pledge at higher dollar amounts after seeing their peers get burned?
There are plenty of blog posts and Board Game Geek forums about games that were produced but fell far short of expectations. A handful of folks I talked to on Twitter emphasized that they take the creator’s past ability to produce a quality game into account when deciding whether or not to back a campaign. As board game designer Ed Carter found out after losing his house, there’s a big gap between having and idea and design, and being able to manufacture it. There are estimates as high as 75% for the number of projects that fail to meet their delivery date; unfortunately, it’s difficult to find the number of projects that never make it to fruition, as Kickstarter doesn’t keep track of those statistics.
Bad experiences can leave lasting impressions on consumers making them hesitant to pledge money that they may never see again. Instead of taking a chance on a new game by a new publisher, they may choose to place their money on a safer bet. Overall, as Kickstarter grows it will be interesting to see if a handful of well respected, and consequently well-funded, game publishers thrive while the newbies have a difficult time finding backers.