I don’t make a habit of Kickstarting things, but the few things I have supported I’m genuinely glad I did.
It’s always a gamble. For every project that’s successfully funded I feel like I hear horror stories of jagweeds taking the money and running. Or the product finally comes out, and it’s nowhere near anything that was promised. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to know for sure what’s going to happen when you throw your money into the pile. Even extremely well-regarded creators can’t guarantee success.
For my part, I do my best to read up on whatever is being funded and see if their goals seem reasonable. If it seems like they’ve got their act together and I believe in the product, I’ll support it, and then throw any expectations out the window. It’s the only way to avoid disappointment.
I backed Hyper Light Drifter after first hearing about it on this sight, right after I jumped back into my video game hobby. Kickstarter was still new to me then and I didn’t really know about the risks involved. All I knew is that the game looked beautiful and seemed like a kickass, modernized throwback/ homage to oldschool games. The creator seemed like he knew what he was up against and had made a promise to update constantly. Of course, this is before I realized that everybody on Kickstarter promises to do exactly that. I took him at face value (screen value?).
I knew that games took a long time to make but didn’t really have any context for an indie game like Hyper Light Drifter. I think the original pitch was to have the game out one year after successful funding? It took several. But the team did an amazing job of keeping it’s backers posted. The updates were frequent and informative, and they even copped to making a couple promises that they couldn’t keep (making a Vita and WiiU version of the game). I switched my initial Vita preorder to a PS4 code and all was well.
The game ended up being fantastic, one of my favorites, but that’s besides the point. Heart Machine made an effort to connect with customers and make a real fanbase. They used Kickstarter successfully and if they used the platform for their next game, I wouldn’t hesitate to support them again.
Team Stoic, the group behind the moody tactical RPG The Banner Saga, also used Kickstarter to fund the series. It was another one that I’m really proud I supported early on, and I’m really into the end product. The first game really impressed me and I loved what they did with the sequel, and now the final game is just a few weeks away from releasing.
I had a little more grasp of what supporting a game on Kickstarter would look like this time around and while I don’t feel like the makers behind this one were as communicative as the Heart Machine crew, they still did a great job of getting their product out in a reasonable amount of time and with pretty much everything they promised. They had to break up their game into a couple of sequels, but I didn’t mind that so much. Their development team chose to break up The Banner Saga into more manageable chunks, and I can’t help but respect that. Instead of insisting that they could handle a 60 hour epic in one go, they pulled back, and split the game up. I’m still on board. Playing the demo at Pax East really made me feel proud of choice to give them my money.
Taking a gamble on Kickstarting anything, much less a video game, can be stressful. But it can be really rewarding.