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Kickstarter: What is it good for?
Posted on March 28, 2013 by Drew Bergmark

Since Kickstarter has become a relevant platform for crowdsourcing, critics have challenged what people put on there. From the CodeHero fiasco that seemingly hasn't resided to other unfinished fully-funded projects, many consumers stay away from such proposals and wait for them to come to online or brick and mortar retailers. Maybe, that's not a bad thing after all.

Recently, millionaire Susan Wilson posted a Kickstarter which was for her daughter to go to a game developer’s camp for other children. The Kickstarter rewards allowed backers to get the finished role-playing game her daughter was going to develop free or get executive producer credit if they spend enough. When I read the Kickstarter project's page, I questioned myself how many other more fortunate people have created Kickstarters for the fact of not having to put their own money on a product. Unlike ABC's Shark Tank, once you get funding you don't have to worry about sharing the profits.


Surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time that Susan Wilson has created a crowdsourcing project. On IndieGoGo, Susan proposed to remove your wallet from potentially being stolen. Her product was called the Life-Case which posed to be a phone that didn’t work but unfortunately for her, the product never took off. Do you know why it never took off? Currently, there is a company that manufactures the same product and sells them to retailers for only $5. She planned on purchasing a company’s product in bulk to then sell for her own profits up to 500% from what she originally would spend on them. Just to put that in perspective, most retailers sell goods at 180% of the product’s value.

This isn’t the first time that a very rich person has seeked crowdsourcing. Millionaire Ellwood Bartlett had plans for a MMO that was to rival Second Life. The Kickstarter had a proposal of $1.1 million but only raised just over $21 thousand. The game was due to hit beta June 2014 but obviously it never got enough funding to hit that mark of being complete. In the frequently asked questions, he was prepared for people to do their research questioning his reasoning for the project as his name became a popular one in the Baltimore area as he won $27 million after taxes back in 2007.

His reasoning was understandable: he wanted to see if people were interested before investing his own money. He talked about how he lived near a college town and owned a pizza shop because he knew that’s what college students would want but he didn’t know anything about the business so he handed it over to someone else to work on as he just owns it instead of operating it.

The most recent successful project was launched by the creator of the Ultima series, Richard Garriott or as many knows him as “Lord British.” Residing now in Texas, he created a studio which is known as Portalarium and is working on a game called Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. The project goal was a cool million dollars and it has exceeded it by nearly $200 thousand. According to Forbes last year, Garriott’s net worth is $1.2 billion making him one of the most powerful men in the gaming industry. He explains in the FAQ that he has already spent millions on the game and he would like to see the reaction to the game before funding would continue.

As I stated before, sometimes the most applicable people for funding aren’t always the most deserving. Alex Peake of Primer Labs started a Kickstarter back in December of 2011 for an indie game called Code Hero. At the time, I was still writing for my previous website and its staff was super excited about the project: playing a game to learn how to code for other games. Unfortunately, the man who was supposed to take off with the project which was to be fully delivered for all backers by July of last year hasn’t kept to his binding agreement that he made with the crowd sourcing website.

 

Just looking at the comments page you can see how things have unfolded. Currently, the primary discussion for the project is about trying to get refunds and Dustin Deckard demanding Alex Peake gives updates. If you remember from my previous reports on the project, Dustin Deckard started the email to form a class action lawsuit against Alex Peake and Primer Labs. Unfortunately as optimistic I was in my original reporting back in December, Alex still hasn't followed through as now he has a playable version of the game out there but not a complete product more than a year after the open beta was due to be released to backers.

Just like any other form of shopping, consumers have to be smart and research a particular retail outlet or person when they are interested in using their products. If the company has a bad history for getting back to customers, why should you fund these people? If you believe that it's wrong to put in funding for someone who earns millions each year, do your research before you put your dollars forward. In America, the best way to send a message to those looking to sell a product or service is to tell them you aren't buying a product for a particular reason and following through and not purchasing it. I'm calling out those Modern Warfare 3 and Left 4 Dead 2 folks. The most powerful ballot, political or not, is the dollar bill.

Drew Bergmark - Staff Writer viggo (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

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