First off, I want to congratulate the community for raising an amazing $421,766 in eight and half hours after the Million Dollars But ... card game went live. It's truly a testament to the passion of the community and the creativity of our benevolent overlords at Rooster Teeth! You all are awesome and I love you all (in a strictly platonic way, naturally).
Having said that, I'd like to stand on my soap box for a second or two ...
When I first heard that MDB was going to released essentially through Kickstarter, I couldn't help but feel an undefined sense of discomfort about it. On the surface, it makes total sense economically for RT to release a new product through Kickstarter:
- As they stated, they can expand to different consumers that are not in RT's ecosystem.
- It gives them an accurate idea of how many units they'll initially need to meet demand. It helps cut down on over/under supply, and having people pay upfront is more reliable than gauging interest with surveys that doesn't put the consumers' money at risk.
- We don't have to pay sales tax on the game.
Those all appeal to my economic senses, but I still felt "meh" about it. I started thinking more on it and I think I uncovered the sources of angst.
For one, unlike Lazer Team, the game is already done. I contributed money to Lazer Team because I knew that the more money they brought in from contributions, the better the movie would be. The larger budget would help clean up the special effects, get more well-known talent, etc... Here, the game is already complete. No matter how many contributors there are, the game will not change.
Another thing, this is purely a pre-order, not a way to have contributors to feel "a part" of the creation process. I'd be curious to know how many of the contributors are already in RT's eco-system (and by eco-system, I mean anyone who has created an account here on site, or purchased items from the Store. I bet they could bounce email or physical addresses off Kickstarter and the RT site to see how many matches there are). I'm willing to bet that the majority of the contributors are already familiar with RT. With Twitter, Reddit, other social media sites, and word of mouth, I bet they could have just effectively reached a new percentage of customers without paying Kickstarter the 5% fee.
Last, and most concerning to me, is the possible negative externalities of doing this on Kickstarter. At its core, Kickstarter is intended to be a vehicle by which creators with ideas, can get funding from backers who support these ideas. Essentially, these backers are making an investment in a project for a certain payoff (namely, the finished product and associated perks). As with any investment, there are risks associated with it. Kickstarter is a great example of the free-market at work for the law of large numbers to assess the balance between the risk and reward. In RT's case, they've completely removed the risk from the equation. They have a finished product ready to go in an environment of ideas and prototypes. Being a market trend setter, I'm afraid that this will have more content creators coming to Kickstarter with completed products already. What this will do, market-wise, is condition the consumer/contributor to expect finished products already before kicking money to it. This creates a crowding-out effect on creators who have good ideas but need capital to further the idea. If these people are crowded out, the idea of Kickstarter is essentially defeated in favor for a pre-order vehicle.
Whew! We went deep. Let's climb out of that hole.
Let's level here: Am I going to buy the game? Absolutely. It looks like a lot of fun. Am I going to do it through Kickstarter? Nope. I'm all for RT being a market disruptor and using outside vehicles to promote their product and be efficient with their resources. I am, however, uncomfortable with the unintended consequences of how they're going about selling their game.
I'm happy for RT's continued success and happy for those who contributed and got wonderful perks for it too!
Have a great week everyone!