×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: At What Point Has a Kickstarter Project Failed?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the when-people-get-angry-on-the-internet dept.

Businesses 247

skywiseguy writes "I have only used Kickstarter to back a single project so far, but one of the backers of that project pointed us to a project promising video capable glasses which was once one of the top 10 highest funded projects in Kickstarter history. After reading through the comments, it is obvious that the project has not met its expected deadline of 'Winter 2011,' but the project team rarely gives any updates with concrete information. All emails sent to them by backers get a form letter in reply, they routinely delete negative comments from their Facebook page, and apparently very soon after the project was funded, they posted pictures of themselves on a tropical beach with the tagline, 'We are not on a beach in Thailand.' Their early promotions were featured on Engadget and other tech sites but since the project was funded they've rarely, if ever, communicated in more than a form letter. So at what point can a project like this be considered to have failed? And if you had backed a project with this kind of lack of communication from the project team, what would you consider to be the best course of action? Disclaimer: I have not backed this project, but I am very interested in funding Kickstarter projects and I do not want to get caught sending money to a less than reputable project. According to the above project's backers, Kickstarter claims to have no mechanism for refunding money to backers of failed projects and no way to hold the project team accountable to their backers. This does not seem like a healthy environment for someone who is averse to giving their money to scam artists."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

247 comments

Contractual obligations (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641799)

Other than requiring a sign agreement with project meetings, milestones and checkpoints you'll have to go on faith.

Re:Contractual obligations (0)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#39641851)

Other than requiring a sign agreement with project meetings, milestones and checkpoints you'll have to go on faith.

Presumably you'll have lost that faith even before they ask you to "bend over and spread 'em". Posting a photo of the developers on a tropical beach was definitely adding powdered glass to the reaming they'd bestowed on their backers.

Re:Contractual obligations (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642027)

Wasn't that projected delivery date around the same as the Raspberry Pi's one?

Re:Contractual obligations (5, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#39642357)

Actually, the glasses do exist, they're just being held up by customs because they lag a CE sign...

Re:Contractual obligations (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#39642245)

And that could be a differential for requesting the backing. One could officially sign a public contract with penalties (e.g. donation to charities) in the case of failure. The legality of the contract would have to be possible to verify by anyone interested.

Re:Contractual obligations (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642499)

This is one of the major problems with the recent legislation allowing scam artists to target everyone for startup financing. There's a reason that was very regulated, and why this round of deregulation was poorly thought out and poorly implemented. While it's good to have a larger pool of money to draw from, and it's good to have more options for investing, there's a reason ultra-high risk investments have been limited to accredited investors.

Re:Contractual obligations (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#39642571)

For the most part if you don't feel comfortable then you drop out. You may like the project idea, but if they are not going to be professional about it, drop out, and put your money somewhere else.

I know as a tech guy I hate having to fill out documentation and give detail status, however when someone is paying you bills, you ought to keep them up to date on what you are doing. Failure to do so, is a mistake on my part.

There is complaining on home useless stuff you need to do at work... However if you are the one that is paying them that useless stuff has more value.

Re:Contractual obligations (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#39642641)

It seems pretty idiotic to whine about a product having gone past the release date. Even a simple view of the kickstarter page shows they're working on things. Acting like they're scamming or nonresponsive seems a bit of bullshit since they've been posting every couple weeks or so.

However, yes, it's a buy in to hope it happens - they are not shareholders and this is not stock.

Welcome to the real world (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641803)

You don't give your money to strangers without some kind of collateral. All this "microfunding" or "crowdfunding" nonsense will not work, for the same reason that we don't have a gift economy: there are incompetent fools (who will fail to use the money well), or just greedy bastards who will take the money for themselves. Try investing in individual stocks after researching them.

Re:Welcome to the real world (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641819)

It will work, it just won't always work. Hell, I'm willing to bet the majority of people couldn't manage it. But remove the people who are uninterested in the buisness model, or with poor to no reputations, and you're left with people with a history of develiering who have the freedom to deliver their image, as opposed to that which is likely "dumbed down" for the masses. You're still going to get some failures, but I'm willing to bet at least some of them will deliver a quality product, and a few of them will be complete gems which would be unfeasible or comprimised with a standard publisher.

Re:Welcome to the real world (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#39641833)

Yes, because there's absolutely no way around this problem. Uh-uh, no way. Just give up and buy some bonds. You should love the money more than whatever it is you were backing anyway.

Re:Welcome to the real world (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39642077)

Yup that is why Linux is an utter failure and not used anywhere.

Oh wait, Linux is used in more places than Windows and OSX combined.... Wait, a slashdot AC has no clue as to how these things really work? OMG!

If you go to google, you can find tens of thousands of things like this that are a wild success.

Oh and most businesses are built this way, if you think you have collateral when you buy stocks you are completely delusional.

Re:Welcome to the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642155)

[...] Oh wait, Linux is used in more places than Windows and OSX combined [...]

Heh - to quote Jon Stewart: Keep fuckin' that chicken.

Re:Welcome to the real world (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642415)

All android cellphones and tablets., All dvd players, most TV's, 99% of all internet servers, All bluray players, etc...

Typical of a windows user to not be educated enough to understand an OS being "used in more places" means more than desktop pc's.

Re:Welcome to the real world (0)

nhat11 (1608159) | about 2 years ago | (#39642429)

I guess to be specific, which OS desktop/laptop is used the most all over the world than is the point I think most usually think off.

Re:Welcome to the real world (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642683)

I suggest a new mod category.
+1 incomprehensible

Re:Welcome to the real world (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642217)

ah no, it'll work, but you don't just throw money at people you're never going to see.

Take for example the double-fine adventure project. That is certainly going to come to fruition, otherwise the people on it will never get another job, crowd-sourced or from any of their previous publishers again.

Some of these people go to conventions, there's your opportunity to see if anything is coming of it. Personally 0-1000$ is in the throw-away range, If you don't have faith in a backer you shouldn't be investing any money at all. If you feel that something is promising, but you're unsure of the ability to deliver, then I wouldn't put more than 1000$ on it.

As it is, of the projects I've seen, are mostly in the realm of micro-publishing, eg getting funding for printing their books instead of having to be extorted by large publishers.

The hardware projects... I'm probably more concerned about than software/publishing. With hardware you can't simply go back and undo things. With software, you can cut the losses right away by halting development, but hardware, you've probably had all the money spent early on. Micropublishing is to get a better cost base and quality instead of the crappy POD services like Lulu.

Re:Welcome to the real world (3, Insightful)

sirlark (1676276) | about 2 years ago | (#39642233)

You mean like a financial institution perhaps, yeah they definitely won't try to screw you over. Trust is an issue regardless of the funding channel and the same guidelines apply, rule #1 being: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Trust (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#39641827)

Pretty much what you said - there's no way to guarantee people will use the funds for the purpose you've donated them for.

I was talking about a Kickstarter-type model ages ago on my blog, and I pretty much got it all right with Kickstarter except for one thing: I said that a crowdfunding system would have to essentially operate a trust, that released funds as certain project milestones were released, or on receipt of invoices, etc.

Obviously, Kickstarter managed to operate without such a mechanism, but I think it's definitely needed if the crowdfunding concept is going to grow. Maybe not for all projects, but ones that reach a certain amount of capitalisation, certainly.

Re:Trust (5, Informative)

Mark Hood (1630) | about 2 years ago | (#39642041)

Hear hear. From Kickstarter's own FAQ [kickstarter.com] (oddly, no-one's quoted this yet):

Who is responsible for fulfilling the promises of a project?

It is the responsibility of the project creator to fulfill the promises of their project. Kickstarter reviews projects to ensure they do not violate the Project Guidelines, however Kickstarter does not investigate a creator's ability to complete their project.

Creators are encouraged to share links to any websites that show work related to the project, or past projects. It's up to them to make the case for their project and their ability to complete it. Because projects are usually funded by the friends, fans, and communities around its creator, there are powerful social forces that keep creators accountable.

The web is an excellent resource for learning about someone’s prior experience. If someone has no demonstrable prior history of doing something like their project, or is unwilling to share information, backers should consider that when weighing a pledge. If something sounds too good to be true, it very well may be.

So there you have it - caveat emptor. If you throw money at a stranger, based on a promise, it's down to you. Most of the Kickstarter projects I've seen have been 'hey fans, you love our website, help us make a book' kind of things, which would certainly bite the owner in the ass if they let you down.

Re:Trust (1)

Y2KDragon (525979) | about 2 years ago | (#39642157)

Add to the the fact that we live in a world where, if you do pull something like the above scam concept, people will know AND make sure everyone else they can tell knows. Information is too quickly spread all over the internet now to hide for long. This kind of Kickstarter scam idea is pretty much a one-shot for someone. Once your name is associated with one, you're pretty much done trying to get anyone to back anything you might try to do.

Re:Trust (2)

DaneM (810927) | about 2 years ago | (#39642211)

...caveat emptor.

I think that this whole discussion could be summarized with those words; since there's no (legal) accountability, it's all up to how much you care to risk, and how much you trust the folks receiving your money.

The instructions above (in the parent comment), from the site, are quite apt, of course, so if you aren't going to fund an already-established-and-reputable project, they're probably the best you'll do for a "guarantee" of sorts.

Re:Trust (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39642087)

You can mitigate and manage risk though. by funding projects that are backed by people that actually have a proven track record of completing a job or task. for example the Double Fine kickstarter or the Shadowrun kickstarter. Both are from people that actually make a finished product and have examples of finished products.

The glasses example was a bunch of kids that never had anything to show that they ever finished, and the transition from concept to product is a hard one. It also had a lot of other red flags that made me back away.

It's why I funded the two games from people with a reputation of success and ignored completely the full of red flags it will fail video glasses project ran by unknowns that did not even have a business plan.

Prizes, not funding. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 2 years ago | (#39642351)

1. Give them the money concept: The first people to completely meet the requirements get all the money plus interest. I would expect the goal to be some sort of working prototype for whatever it is they want to fund.

2. Invest the money in their company concept: The first people to meet the requirements get all the money plus interest in exchange for a minority stake of non voting stock. This is how to encourage people to hand their "crowdsourced" money over.

i.e. They have to already have something more than an idea, to get the cash. Ideas are worthless, everyone and their dog has The Great Idea. The global supply of ideas is huge. The supply of people taking it beyond that and doing something with it is scarce and that is what is worth funding.

No reputation (3)

enz (744942) | about 2 years ago | (#39641831)

Crowdfunding works only together with reputation. If you simply give money to any unknown person who starts a project, then it's your own fault if they run away with it. Reputation means that creators seeking funding need to do their first few projects for free until there are enough fans who believe that the creator will really deliver and who like the quality of the previous products.

Re:No reputation (5, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#39641991)

Crowdfunding works only together with reputation. If you simply give money to any unknown person who starts a project, then it's your own fault if they run away with it. Reputation means that creators seeking funding need to do their first few projects for free until there are enough fans who believe that the creator will really deliver and who like the quality of the previous products.

Exactly. I donated through Kickstarter to Musopen [kickstarter.com] which was also prominently featured here on slashdot because they were already a registered non-profit and had done quite a bit of work to produce and distribute free music before, not to mention they had a semi-tangible goal. Good thing too, because this was in September 2010 and they didn't get to recording until this January with the Prague Symphony Orchestra - it's now in editing and still not released yet. I'd not give money to any random dude who said he'd do the same and I wouldn't trust them to deliver almost two years down the road.

Of course you still don't have a real guarantee, I don't have a contract, I can't get a refund. But you have to consider the value proposition, for example if a person has worked long and hard on an open source project and asks for Kickstarter funding to work full time on some features. If he goes AWOL then that project is scorched earth, he can't use it as reference anywhere because it'll be full of stories about how he took the money and ran. Same with anyone pursuing any kind of career who'd use it in their portfolio. But people with no proven commitment wanting money up front? No way.

You may have a contract, double-check with lawyer (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39642137)

Of course you still don't have a real guarantee, I don't have a contract, I can't get a refund.

While you don't have a guarantee, at least one lawyer (registered with AZ state bar) believes you as a project backer do, in fact, have a contract with the project creator.

Therefore any failure to deliver as promised can be seen as a breach of contract, subject to whatever laws apply in your jurisdiction.

That lawyer is exploring filing a court case as a matter of principle. I'd point you to him, but 1. he's limited to AZ and 2. even though he's a lawyer, he's not your lawyer and I don't think he has any interest of becoming it either, limiting himself to a particular project. It's not difficult to Google anyway.

You do also have refund options. For one thing, you can dispute the charge with your credit card issuer (as KickStarter only goes through Amazon at the moment, which wants a credit card). I believe somebody also said you can go through some Amazon hoops, but I haven't really looked into this.
But I think the easiest route to begin with is to just ask the project creator about a refund. Many are willing to oblige if there's a good reason (and keep in mind that they do lose money on this, as they can only personally refund the amount they got - which is minus the charges by KickStarter and Amazon).

Re:You may have a contract, double-check with lawy (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39642319)

Reply to self, would post anon if there weren't that annoying timer telling me it's only been 15 minutes since I last posted when I do so.

----

IndieGoGo, another crowdfunding platform, does actually spell out the option of taking the project creator to court yourself:
http://support.indiegogo.com/entries/20501033-how-does-indiegogo-deal-with-fraudulent-campaigns [indiegogo.com]

Indiegogo requires campaign owners to fufill their Perks as a part of our Terms of Service. Perks are manged solely by campaign owners; we do not guarantee or take any legal responsibility for Perk fulfillment. Contributors can use our Terms of Service as a document in the court of law, should you choose to take legal action against a campaign owner for failing to fulfill a Perk.

( emphasis mine )

So while most platforms (try to) stay away from legal responsibility, you may have recourse against the project creator directly - and you'd certainly do wise to check the terms of the crowdfunding platform of choice.

possible legal recourse (2)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#39642349)

IANAL, but it seems to me that backers of a project that doesn't actually happen (not referring to your Musopen example, which is merely progressing slower than promised, in part due to expanded goals from its high funding) might have grounds for a breach-of-contract suit, and possibly outright fraud charges could be filed.

As part of the deal between and backer and the project, the backer is promised one of various rewards, typically including a copy of the finished work. If I fulfilled my side of the deal, but they didn't deliver the promised reward, that's breach. Although I'm sure there are terms in the Kickstarter agreement to prevent suits like this, the courts get to rule on whether those terms are enforceable. Similarly, if someone says that they're raising money to do one thing, then take the money and immediately do something entirely different with it (e.g. going on a tropical vacation), then they solicited the money under false pretenses, and that's fraud. In either case, the $5/10/20/50-level backers individually don't have a practical recourse to get their money back. But major backers or backers as a class might in fact be able to take legal action.

Re:No reputation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642005)

The engineering team for this project included people who designed the Flip cameras. That is "reputation."

Bait and switch (-1, Flamebait)

lanner (107308) | about 2 years ago | (#39641835)

The headline asks one question, but it's pretty clear that you just want to learn how to be an investor. Why don't you google it or ask the question you really want answered instead of not asking it.

Kickstart My Project, No Seriously (-1, Offtopic)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 2 years ago | (#39641841)

I could use some seed money! It has been fun spending everything I can on the project though, but I could do so much more if I could actually spend money for quality instead of bare essentials. - HEX

Re:Kickstart My Project, No Seriously (-1, Offtopic)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 2 years ago | (#39642293)

I have to laugh, I have been documenting my entire project on my website and have even posted on the switch in content limits in part to allow us to use services like Paypal, Google Checkout, and Kickstarter. I may be guilty of looking for help anywhere and everywhere but "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"; and one thing my post was not is Offtopic. :P - HEX

Re:Kickstart My Project, No Seriously (-1, Offtopic)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | about 2 years ago | (#39642471)

Your post was definitely on-topic.

However, mine is not.

I think the moderators need to curb their crack pipe habits. A stoned monkey on mind-altering drugs trying to solve a rubiks cube can do considerably better. Slashdot is a shadow of its normal self.

My post will no doubt be marked troll.

What? (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39641845)

"Someone who is averse to giving their money to scam artists" shouldn't be giving their money to random people on Kickstarter without some sort of contract or reputation. Full stop.

Which is why I don't touch Kickstarter. Sure, it'd be nice to get a few "crowdsourced" ideas up and running but, you know what? Those that *CAN* make sense, end up getting made anyway, and often making money anyway.

As soon as someone says "We need X amount of money to do Y", you have to look into exactly who they are and why they need it and what they'll do with it. Those Kickstarter projects that are basically "We'd like to make an indie game that does X" really annoy me. You do? Bugger off and do it then! One of the "big" ones a while ago had signed up a famous voice artist before the project had even been funded - sorry, but that's the LAST thing to worry about and probably the LAST thing I'd ever want added to a game I was funding (no matter how small) - the bloody janitor probably has a good enough voice that you'd never notice the difference.

Save your cash. Give it to established developers, those who have written games you've enjoyed, and those with proven results. Like indie developers in the Humble bundles, or things like Altitude, or whatever. Don't give it on the basis of promises of what they *think* they *could* do until they've actually done it.

Now, if we were talking about things like hardware manufacturing costs, etc. of something that someone has designed in order to get into mass production, then that's a different matter but the same principles apply. Too many "crowdfunded" projects (OpenPandora, etc.) fail miserably even when they have the best will in the world, purely because they've never done certain parts of it, or only handled smaller projects, etc. Where's my "Open Graphics Card" that was being designed / manufactured what? Ten years ago? Hell, it had AGP as an "option" last I looked, so it's already dead in the water for any commercial backer.

Making a video card work is far from easy - but you have to consider your investment like any other. If you don't trust the people involved to follow through, or you just think that throwing money at these sorts of problems is what's lacking, then you're going to be doomed to failure.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641971)

Which is why I don't touch Kickstarter. Sure, it'd be nice to get a few "crowdsourced" ideas up and running but, you know what? Those that *CAN* make sense, end up getting made anyway, and often making money anyway.

Ah, good.

It's nice to know I can just wait for people with no venture capital to produce expensive products. Everything you just said totally isn't a declaration of support for Electronic Arts, Disney, Universal, Viacom, Sony Music and all the various other scumbag publishers who shovel shit out the door constantly.

If crowdsourcing isn't worth considering then what is your solution to the RIAA/MPAA/BSA/ESA? Or do you honestly think those asshats are worthy of support?

Re:What? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39642167)

It's already in my post.

Fund established indie developers. They have the skill to do it, the flair to do something new, the proven ability to bring to market, and the flexibility to take risks.

I don't touch big-name games and haven't for years because of the lack of originality and huge expense on wasteful games. And I don't even own a Sony product and have never bought one, for similar reasons.

The other alternative is, of course, something called INVESTMENT. Go to people who *don't* have ties to EA, etc. and want to get into the market and negotiate the percentages with them. Like any other business would have to. It's not rocket science, people won't throw money at you unless you try and can PROVE your worth. You can prove your worth at your own expense the first time round, like most people do.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641977)

Great post. And so many people plan their immensely complicated and awesome video game ideas for years without ever touching an IDE, or hooking up a good coder or really making any sort of attempt to start beyond sketching on scrap paper. They simply continue to expand their game ideas without limit, forming something dreadful that no established company would go near with a ten foot pole. The "idea guys" with no practical skill.

These people couldn't make games before, and can't now, but it concerns me that they might be able to wrangle $100,000 on kickstarter and run off with it.

Re:What? (2)

Roman Grazhdan (2483616) | about 2 years ago | (#39642113)

For the record, Pandora didn't fail completely. At the moment they are manufacturing the boards in Germany and assemble the devices in Germany and Great Britain and finally started shipping them. Yes, they did piss off plenty of people along the way with poor communications, but they still managed to start building and shipping them, and new ones are of quite a good quality. Besides they finally have newer kernel, 2.4.27 made tinkering with the OS quite painful. I've got myself one on ebay, and even though I had to fix a couple of things myself (first batch, meh) I really am happy with the device and I'm thinking of buying a new one, with more ROM. I mostly use it for surfing, email, minor admin tasks over ssh, reading books and of course playing games, at the moment my fav is Shadowrun for Sega Genesis. The good thing about this whole thing is that they learned to deal with hardware makers and now know a couple of things about the process, so their next project should run smoother. Maybe it's not particularly smart of me, but I'm very enthusiastic about crowdfunding, I'm backing several project on KS and that Debian Administrator Handbook liberation and several games at Desura. But I think I'll be able to tell if it does worth it only in a year.

Re:What? (1)

dabadab (126782) | about 2 years ago | (#39642179)

There ARE projects on Kickstarter where the reputation bit is more than sorted out: a project (to create a new adventure game) run by Tim Schafer, Al Lowe or even Andrew Plotkin is as reputable as it ever gets.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#39642287)

Have you ever watched Dragon's Den? (Shark Tank, I believe the US version is called). In essence, small business owners approach venture capitalists asking them to fund the business in exchange for a percentage. The VCs generally don't mince their words - if an idea or a business owner is totally uninvestable, they'll certainly be told.

It's been going some years yet probably 40% of the people who go on there still have their priorities completely backwards. "Indie game studio hires a famous voiceover artist before first ensuring they have a vaguely playable game" (as the GP alluded) is an absolutely classic example of this.

Another 40% haven't got their priorities backwards - but they've got an idea that for whatever reason is unlikely to make any VC a fortune. It's simply too niche.

I don't see Kickstarter as being terribly different, except the VCs are the general public and so you have to make your own judgement call as to whether it's a worthwhile investment. The niche business in particular could do quite well with the Kickstarter model.

Re:What? (2)

Danathar (267989) | about 2 years ago | (#39642201)

If what you say is true then Wasteland 2 would of been made years ago. Fargo plainly states he could not get the funding from the traditional sources to make it. Now he can.

Success of some kick starter projects point to situations where it can work

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39642317)

It couldn't have been made before 2003 - Konami still had the rights and no interest in making a sequel.

These same people owned the rights from then on and even as far as 2007, work and progress was being reported on it. Nothing happened. That's four years of actual work seemingly wasted. They could have been coding, or looking for funding, or just sitting on their bottoms. We don't know.

And, let's not forget, there's NOTHING yet. Nothing at all. Not a dickie-bird.

And what's the Kickstarter done? Maybe found them a more ordinary publisher / investor who will work on it and take a cut. You could have done that just by proving interest in the game in the first place - not by ACTUALLY removing money from people's accounts. If the interest was there, the same developers and publishers and investors would have been interested.

And this is a sequel to a 1988 game, we're talking about. You're telling me that in 24 years nobody's thought "I'll make a game, like this really cool RPG I saw when I was younger"? Anybody could have written that game in-between, and if it were good enough and sold enough, they could have vied with Konami to sell it as a Wasteland sequel. They didn't. That's not because of lack of funding, that's because of lack of interest. Nobody could even be bothered to make a semi-rip-off of it at home.

And how much resemblance is a sequel going to have to what made the original special? Basically nothing, from what I can see.

Kickstarter isn't doing anything "special" here. Those developers could have sourced expressions of interest from gamers, started coding, got to a publisher, etc. in the meantime. They didn't get that far. They couldn't even be bothered to knock up some code and get something working until someone paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars, with all the established and open game engines that are out there today. And still all you have now are a few pieces of concept art (read: Someone knocked up something in Photoshop that will probably never be actually achievable).

Your example doesn't convince me in the slightest. You're a month in and nothing significant has happened on a two-million-dollar project, that could have been made at any time in the last 5 years and CERTAINLY in the last 24 years.

Call me when it's released, when you have PRODUCT, when you have a $2.4m game sitting on your hands. All you've done is provide a developer that had no interest in a 24-year-old "franchise", and did nothing for 4 years when they got it, with a few million dollars on the basis of a promise.

It seems to me that a lot of people looking on Kickstarter weren't around in the 80's, when software companies went under left, right and centre after making fabulous promises, and then the coders would miraculously pop up from nowhere with another company working on something completely different, while the company went bankrupt with no product and the directors were in comfortable retirement in the Bahamas.

Re:What? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39642505)

Well that's certainly a cynical point of view, but I can understand why, and at least you adhere to it yourself. How is Project X coming along anyway? To a cynic, that 'donate' button doesn't look all that tempting.

On the other hand, just because it seems implausible doesn't mean it's impossible. Sometimes the exposure from e.g. KickStarter is exactly what you needed - whether that is because you didn't put in enough effort before you went that route or whether that's because outside investors only get convinced after seeing the KickStarter project is moot.

Here's one such example, and I readily accept that it may be a full-on fraud as it has nothing to show except for updates that I could've written just as well, and a photo of the guy in a mountain range (vacationing off backers' money, or genuinely a business trip?):
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1116966310/multi-touch-keyboard-and-mouse/ [kickstarter.com]

In that project's latest update, they actually admit that the funding they got through KickStarter ended up not being enough, but that the tech company (who showed interest after seeing the KickStarter project) they mentioned in an update prior will be covering the expenses and honor the KickStarter pledges.

So, and I'll stick with your cynical view, if that is all true, then it would be a clear case where the KickStarter project was substantial in the process of getting noticed by the right people. I doubt the project creator would have found that tech company by themselves (being in another continent entirely), and how would that tech company have found him if he was just trying to pitch the idea to banks, private investors and the-usual-suspect VCs?

And if you think KickStarter is 'bad', check out Quirky. Quirky has people pitch in ideas that are completely whack most of the time - but VCs and product design industries do keep an eye on them just in case there's that lone gem in there that they can work with; and Quirky itself is a part of that process, offering their services, contacts, expertise to help make things happen.

Re:What? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39642643)

"How is Project X coming along anyway? To a cynic, that 'donate' button doesn't look all that tempting."

When I have anything vaguely worth other people's time or investment, they will see. Until then, I intend to get it to the point where it's obvious that I'm not just trying to scam money from people but have actually put years of back-breaking into making something they might actually want to BUY rather than speculatively invest in. If someone'd given me $30,000 (or, hell, $3000) a few years ago, it might even have been in that state or finished by now. Fact is that I've spent several THOUSAND hours on it, and quite a bit of money on things like art assets from independent artists, etc. All in my spare time and from my own money.

Hence the word "Donate" - and not "Pre-Order" or "Kickstart" or "Invest". The Paypal button is actually just pulled forward from sites I used to run for the Freesco project - mirrored multiple times for their usefulness - and the code I wrote for applications for it back then, and some of my GP2X work in porting apps. I get occasional donations, not much, but I make it clear that it's a retrospective donation - you pay me IF I've already done you a favour, and you want to. That's the only way I do business, outside of explicit contracts.

(And if you want an actual status update on Project X - hell, I don't even get people's hopes up by telling them what it is - I've hit limits because I do far too much expensive pathfinding and have to refactor the code. A quick test says it's perfectly feasible. In the meantime, I'm hunting down another artist. But put those comments on a blog that mentions what the project is and I'd be swamped in people expecting me to perform on their schedule, and be disappointed by the "coding stall" of the last few weeks).

I'm a cynic, yes, but not a hypocrite. :-)

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642557)

"And this is a sequel to a 1988 game, we're talking about. You're telling me that in 24 years nobody's thought "I'll make a game, like this really cool RPG I saw when I was younger"? Anybody could have written that game in-between, and if it were good enough and sold enough, they could have vied with Konami to sell it as a Wasteland sequel. They didn't. That's not because of lack of funding, that's because of lack of interest. Nobody could even be bothered to make a semi-rip-off of it at home."

The game you are looking for is "Fallout", and it was EA, not Konami. Smartass.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

JamesP (688957) | about 2 years ago | (#39642285)

Those Kickstarter projects that are basically "We'd like to make an indie game that does X" really annoy me. You do? Bugger off and do it then!

THIS. SO MUCH THIS

A lot of people think kickstarter is a "poor me, I have his idea but no one will finance me to do it." Or even " Look, I've already drawn the iPhone icon for this app "

Well, guess what, you're making yourself look like an 'e-homeless' person.

There are a lot of worthy projects on kickstarter, but they usually are:

1 - more specific
2 - the project leaders have already shown what they are capable of doing
3 - the money is really an issue (materials, manufacturing, etc) and not like "you are paying me to do something I could do in my free time for free"

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

C60 (546704) | about 2 years ago | (#39642375)

As soon as someone says "We need X amount of money to do Y", you have to look into exactly who they are and why they need it and what they'll do with it. Those Kickstarter projects that are basically "We'd like to make an indie game that does X" really annoy me. You do? Bugger off and do it then!

I'm one of those developers who is saying "I need X to do Y". Who also just happens to be working on an indie game. Who also just happens to be using Kickstarter to fund our second stage of development. You know why I know what resources I need? I've been working in the startup industry for the last 25 years.

  Kickstarter is fairly picky about projects they let in. These days you have to either talk a good game, or really show a working proof of concept. Yeah, a few stinkers get through, but I've backed 21 projects so far, and not a single one has failed (admitedly only 3 are software). YMMV, but don't assume a group of developers are full of it because they're using Kickstarter as a funding option. It's an excellent way to guage interest and spur innovation, even if you've never heard of them before.

  Look at the project, determine if it *is* possible based on it's merits and the current technology available, investigate the people involved as much as possible and treat it like a high risk investment that might just get you a t-shirt and a nifty piece of software.

Re:What? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39642491)

I said: "As soon as someone says "We need X amount of money to do Y", you have to look into exactly who they are and why they need it and what they'll do with it."

You said: "Look at the project, determine if it *is* possible based on it's merits and the current technology available, investigate the people involved as much as possible and treat it like a high risk investment that might just get you a t-shirt and a nifty piece of software."

So we basically agree. When you specify what the project is doing and for EXPLICITLY and you've thought it through, I don't have a problem. And investing them in a question of "Do I trust that this is accurate and this person will do it?". It's the *REST* that annoy me, including things like my example - "let's make an indie game with us somewhat-heard-of coding people and famous voice actors!". That's NOT a project description, and it gets through Kickstarter's "filters" all the time. That's where I find it dubious.

If the link between "I'd like something that does this" and "I have one of these in my hands" is full of holes, gaps, guesses and thoughtless babble, a project is doomed to fail and you should steer clear.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642529)

Yeah, man, as a serious backer who's giving away $20 I can't afford to spend my money on some exciting project that might fail. With large sums like this it's better to keep to established developers.

at the point you can fill bullshit bingo.. (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#39641847)

from the description.. and when the description makes no mention of actual how they're going to hide the electronics in the frame(at the sides?).

that hiding of the electronics is what would have made their product unique.

btw the frames look like shit and look like they'll be shit for your nose at that weight(add prescription lenses and it's only worse)

The real problem (4, Interesting)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#39641863)

The real problem is a lack of accountability.

There are no consequences at for creating a "scam" project, collecting donations, and doing no work at all.

It's difficult to tell those from projects that fail honestly, either from lack of funds or mismanagement.

Required communication won't really help; that's too easy to fake. They'd need required deliverables, which won't work for ultimately commercial software projects or hardware projects.

Short of only releasing funds after certain milestones have been met might help, but the project would need enough capital already to achieve each milestone ahead of time. (To say nothing of intermediaries to verify progress!) The trouble is that honest groups may not be able to even begin a project until there were enough promised funds. Even then, if they fail they'd be on the hook for more than they may be able to reasonably afford. But that's the very risk that programs like KickStarter are designed to mitigate!

why mitigate that risk? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641945)

I think you're right on with phased funding like www.hopevault.org [hopevault.org] is trying to start with non-profit projects. You need to add risk to the ones receiving the money. They need to be motivated to do what they say. If they are passionate about it, they will put everything they have into it--not just take they easy road and low risk for them. Hopevault.org is taking phased funding, waiting for proof of product, then giving the donors the power to approve or shut down the project. That seems like a model that had some serious thought about accountability.

The end of the crowd-sourced dream? (3, Interesting)

undulato (2146486) | about 2 years ago | (#39641865)

Between this [theregister.co.uk] and the above it might signal the end of the road for this form of funding. Lots more people are probably going to get burned. I backed the MARIE music robots [kickstarter.com] after reading about them on Slashdot. It gave me a good feeling plus the promise of stuff sent to me in the post was a nice thing to have. I eventually got the stuff out of the blue, over a year later, and was very pleased to receive it having pretty much given up on it. When kickstarter works - it works well as in this case. One thing that projects should do is at least try to keep their backers in the loop. However we can only hope that the JOBS act isn't going to give this type of investment/funding a bad name.

Kickstarter works really well (1)

Yaur (1069446) | about 2 years ago | (#39642083)

Kickstarter works really well for funding albums and art projects from people who have already established a reputation in their art form, because if you scam your fans your done. I'm not sure anyone is really dumb enough to fund a startup that way...

Re:Kickstarter works really well (1)

Y2KDragon (525979) | about 2 years ago | (#39642187)

That would, IMO, depend on the startup, and what you contribution to that startup will get you. If all you get for your money is a great big "Thank you" e-mail and that's it, then I'd say go to the video game store and rummage through the discount bin, you'll do better. Find out just how involved you'll be able to be, and what the project promises in the way of communication, updates, and other "stuff". Many people have stated the "when it works, it works really well" idea, and I hold to that as well. But like anything else, a project can fail, even with funding. Kickstarter is not the place for skeptics and cynics, though a good dose of critical thinking is needed before backing a project.

Re:Kickstarter works really well (1)

undulato (2146486) | about 2 years ago | (#39642483)

The point I was making was this: if crowd sourced funding eventually gets a bad name through Mr and Mrs average losing their investments to crowd funded projects then it's bad for all crowd sourced enterprises - be they artistic and worthy or unashamedly commercial.

Yes Kickstarter works really well now but if that now that same model has been given the green-light for essentially unregulated commercial activity (if you read the El Reg link I sent) then where does that leave all crowd funded projects?

It's reputation.... (1)

Certhas (2310124) | about 2 years ago | (#39641869)

The whole point of kickstarter is for people to chip in for projects they believe in. Not a formal investment, not a purchase.

The kickstarter money you give is a GIFT. What does it take for you to give your money to some random dudes on the interwebs who promise stuff in return? Well that's up to you, but for me if the team doesn't have some sort of track record that demonstrates they are capable, realistic and enthusiastic, I will not pledge.

Re:It's reputation.... (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 2 years ago | (#39642055)

Technically, but it depends on the project. Some times there is a certain amount of implied pre-ordering going on. You just have to read between the lines on the project description. No compensation though f it does fall through.

Kickstarter projects are like other projects (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39641871)

Well, a Kickstarter project fails like any other project.
Deadlines mostly are guesstimates and no project ever can give guarantees that it will finish within budget, in the timeframe given and the featureset that was actually envisioned.
Their plan was actually ambitious. They'd need components to build that damn thing. They need to be small enough so it's not a helmet rather than a pair of glasses. They need the apps. They need a manufacturer. They need to find out how many of these things they'd sell so they can negotiate contracts with suppliers. They need to find out how to best shift those things because it obviously isn't a digital download. They need a price point. They need to market that stuff.
All of which needs money. If they used the Kickstarter bucks to build a working prototype then they still would need an investor to cover all of the above. I reckon if they want to shift it in bulk then that would be a couple of megabucks.

If you can't afford reps to handle customer relations then a techies last resort would possibly be to delete posts. The alternative would be to spend time to deal with potential customers instead of building the damn thing. Any engineer will tell you what he'd rather do. It's clumsy, it's not wise, but if you don't have the time...

A lot of projects use Kickstarter to only cover initial costs. In one case a team wanted to raise 100000 bucks so they could show their professional investors that their story actually floats. Money talks, bs walks.

...it is also quite possible those Eyez guys simply took the money and mishandled it.
Kickstarter is not about ROI. They pitch an idea and you decide if you give them money. That doesn't buy you any shares in the stakes. You don't get any guarantees. You may decide to take them to court but I wouldn't count on you getting anything out of it. It's best to write the money off right after you gave it away. You never know if you backed another Gizmondo.

Kickstarter still is a brilliant idea.

Re:Kickstarter projects are like other projects (2)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39642219)

"If you can't afford reps to handle customer relations then a techies last resort would possibly be to delete posts. The alternative would be to spend time to deal with potential customers instead of building the damn thing. Any engineer will tell you what he'd rather do. It's clumsy, it's not wise, but if you don't have the time..."

Sorry, this is the sort of excuse that lots of projects hide behind.

You know, it takes NOTHING to put up a small update at the end of your working day saying what you've done that day on the project. Literally seconds in some cases, for a fast typist. Sure, you can work all hours, and be doing it outside a job, and have a family, etc.

But if have any sort of smartphone or computer, it takes SECONDS to post a "Still struggling with X. Mr Y says it will be another week." or similar post onto a project page each day. If it's nothing to do it each day, then each week or each month is EVEN EASIER.

Those people PAID for you to be there, working. At least have the decency to keep them up to date and in the loop and LOOK busy (the same as you would if your boss was getting frustrated by your lack of feedback). They (and others looking at that page) are also CUSTOMERS. If you disappear for weeks or months at a time with no word, there's no reason to believe that in the future you WON'T do that one second after I place my order and I won't see product for months.

In the time it took you to read through the posts, you could have done it ten times, and you could ignore replying to the ones that your post answered. If you took the time to DELETE posts, that means you're conscious that the project looks bad with those posts and you don't have an answer. Instead of DELETING them, answer them. Even if the answer is "We're not sure yet".

If you're on a large project and you honestly can't take 5 minutes out of EVERY WORKING DAY you work on it in order to post an update (sod individual replies, that's just pointless with Internet-scale projects without a large team), then you're going to cause yourself ten times more problems - it means you aren't checking paperwork, aren't sitting and thinking things through, aren't considering exactly HOW you're going to deliver something the customers want, etc.

It's not a hardship to write a status update and forgo replying to a thousand people, and actually works BETTER. It's not a hardship to reply to recurring-themes of comments specifically. If it is, then you're trying to hide something, or just setting yourself up for future failure.

Its venture capital (5, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#39641875)

Money put into Kickstarter is probably best regarded as venture capital, where there is a significant failure rate of projects.

The question perhaps ought to be how can failing projects be detected and prevented from being a complete waste of "investors" money?

Re:Its venture capital (0)

KingofSpades (874684) | about 2 years ago | (#39641987)

I disagree. You are not a shareholder and you are not entitled a share of the profits. You only get the rewards.

Re:Its venture capital (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#39642159)

I was trying to say that your approach to investment in the two areas had to have a similar philosophy, including a reasonable expectation of failure.

I was comparing to the expectation of success and failure in projects funded by venture capital, and the fact that you invest in a number of ventures so that the "rewards" from the success of some will outweigh the disappointment or "loss" from the failure of others, stating that the two were exactly the same. The reward is the eventual success/ completion of the the project, not financial gain.

Re:Its venture capital (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#39642263)

in this case they were using it for taking in preorders.

hardly the same as vc.

Re:Its venture capital (1)

Saxerman (253676) | about 2 years ago | (#39642521)

This is not venture capital, but donations. In my limited exposure to venture capital and other business investments, there is usually an ownership stake or some other form of equity being purchased.

Society has been dealing with snake oil salesmen for centuries. And civilization has come up with some novel concepts to fund ideas and protect against fraud. Back before we called it crowd sourcing, we called it the stock market. I think that might still be around in some form or another...

I Use Reputation As Collateral (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#39641891)

Alright, to start, full disclaimer is that I don't see anyway how I will get around mentioning projects I've kickstarted so I'll try to stick to ones that are done and no longer able to hit.

But the simple answer to me is "What do these people have to lose if they meet their goal and don't deliver? And would it be worth 'cashing' out all of your good faith with the community at that price?" I've never kickstarted something that costs more than a million dollars and if I kickstarted something over a hundred dollars, it had a company's name and site associated with it that was already in the business and would be smeared with mud if they decided to fleece a bunch of people trying to help them out. Using this guidance, I haven't had many poor experiences -- although a lot of my experiences are funding musicians to record albums or video. That's something that's pretty hard to fail at although, they're musicians, so I'm still waiting on a movie that was started filming over a year or more ago ("Flood Tide"). I kickstarted a book on programming ("The Nature of Code Book") and this dude has been sending me links to PDFs left and right and I'll probably review the book here on Slashdot when he has it finalized. So far we're talking $25 donations to each of these projects. But I did dump a couple hundred into the NASA space MMO and I sort of expect to be waiting 2-3 years on that one because it's a team of 20 developers making an MMO and I want them to make a nice product. But also, they have a reputation at stake and I know they'll put out something.

Anyway, keep your donations at levels you can afford to lose -- don't ever think you're "buying" something on kickstarter. And look at the reputation of the individuals involved with your project. Also keep in mind it takes a long time to go through all stages of development and you'll find projects at all stages. It looks like ZionEyez started at concept. Do you know how long it takes to go from concept to hardware product? Large companies with massive budgets who are in those businesses take a longtime, I would imagine smaller teams would take even longer. You might get your ZionEyez in 4-5 years and, like a lot of vaporware, maybe never. ZionEyez looks like they were offering you $50 off MSRP to kickstart them and you got some "limited edition" run of them. So ... I'd pretty much pass on this one and just buy them when they're out.

As for criticism, if this is a scam, they're sure committed to it with updates from yesterday [kickstarter.com]. Hell, their site looks like it would cost 10-20k to develop so they're spending their money somewhere. These guys sound like they'll probably come through, they just don't understand FCC testing, engineering problems, etc. So I'd expect your ZionEyez 4 years from now when some Chinese manufacturer already has some knockoff out there. But it's a bad idea to kickstart a lot of money to these guys as I don't see them at risk of losing any reputation, just losing a really good idea (people are obsessed with putting their boring personal status updates online, think about them putting their mundane day-to-day video up).

Re:I Use Reputation As Collateral (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#39641993)

Yes, it is what you get when you start a hardware project with little to no experience. So like any startup it may or may not work. So far, so old common sense.

But that's not what worries me. The truly problematic stuff are the comments they get. All of those negative comments basically come from people who seem to have the misconception that they are preordering stuff. Which they are not. One fool even mentioned the BBB who might be intrigued at first but will ultimately laugh you out of the office. Most of the people who gave them money seem to have given $150 dollars which gets you a pair of glasses. So that also would back my assumption that the people who gave them money mistook it for preorder.

KICKSTARTER IS NOT THE SAME AS PREORDER!
It bears repeating that
KICKSTARTER IS NOT THE SAME AS PREORDER!


The problems Eyez guys mention in the updates seem plausible. Seems like they underestimated the nitty-gritty details you have to take into account when your thing also needs to be produced in bulk.

So far: missed deadline. Deleted a couple of especially idiotic comments. Ho-hum. Not even newsworthy.

trusting society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39641895)

You are correct in your statements about what kickstarter can do. They never promise anything and they are not backing non-profits that are being held accountable by other mechanisms. We are a trusting society in the US, but that is slowly changing. We used to trust our politicians much more than we do today. We used to trust our employer. We still seem to trust people we have never met and are willing to give them money for projects that they are not legally bound to complete. How many projects on their site fall into this category? Impossible to say.

I do know that sites for non-profits are heading in the direction of more accountability and transparency like www.hopevault.org [hopevault.org]. That sites creates accountability with phased funding that requires approval from the donors at each phase in odder to continue. Seems like kickstarter could learn something from small starting websites like that.

My Kickstarter project was a year late - and great (5, Interesting)

vkg (158234) | about 2 years ago | (#39641913)

I ran a $2000 Kickstarter to fund a book called The Future We Deserve. [thefuturewedeserve.com] The project was to collect 100 essays about the future from 100 people, and then write an analysis which drew out common threads and told a story about the future. The material that came in was so strong, individualistic and subtle that it was simply impossible, after a year of trying off-and-on to make an analysis so we simply accepted that the original task didn't make sense in the face of such strong material, and published it as-is.

We've had a few people be like "where's the book, man?" in that year, and we kept in pretty good touch ("it's in the oven, refusing to cook!")

The book is up on PediaPress now, and people are buying copies and are well pleased with the results, but it was an akward year!

Re:My Kickstarter project was a year late - and gr (1)

daid303 (843777) | about 2 years ago | (#39642195)

I took a quick look on the kickstarter of your book. And it didn't make a time promise. Most kickstarter projects set themselves unrealistic deadlines. And then people will get pissed if you mis them.

Or look at the pre-kickstarter example of OpenPandora, original promised to deliver in a year. Finally took 3 years. In those 2 extra years they kept saying "in 2 more months". Even if they delivered in the end, I consider that project failed.

I like their FAQ (1)

KingofSpades (874684) | about 2 years ago | (#39641959)

How much do Eyez weigh?
Eyez will weigh less than 200 grams

Mmmm. How can someone find anything serious in this answer ?

Re:I like their FAQ (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 2 years ago | (#39642197)

You should have quoted the entire answer:

Eyez will weigh less than 200 grams, slightly more than a standard pair of sunglasses. When the glasses are worn the weight will be distributed equally on both ears.

Assuming 200 grams is the maximum, this is not just *slightly* more than a standard pair of sunglasses. even 100 grams would be pretty heavy for sunglasses, and heavy for 3D glasses. Around 80 grams would be the weight of two Twinkies (international standard of weight), which is fine for 3D glasses that are typically worn when seated. These things are going to have to be pretty light to be worn while physically active. Also, anyone seen the quality of video that normally comes from having a camera mounted on the head? Without a lot of self-control, you may as well be attaching a camera to a piece of string, twirling it around your head. They're going to have to be using pretty good image stabilization to avoid most of the footage coming out like shit.

Using z instead of s is not cool. It never was, except among 10-year-old boys and old men trying to impress aforementioned boys.

And why are you asking us? (0)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about 2 years ago | (#39642007)

And exactly why are you asking this here and not, let's say, on Kickstarter? I must have missed the "psychiatric help - 5 cents" sign.

You can be TOO successful (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | about 2 years ago | (#39642039)

I love Kickstarter, it is one of my secret vices. First rule though, never pledge any more than you can afford to write off and still keep a smile on your face. I have pledged to a couple of dozen projects from books and CDs, to paintings and sculptures, to gadgets and tech. Only one has failed to deliver so far, though after a year of silence, that seems to be getting back on track.

The worst thing that can happen to a Kickstarter project is for it to be TOO successful. You have a crazy idea to build something, Kickstart it and suddenly there are a thousand people after it. All of a sudden you are talking serious money and serious organizational skills to produce it. If they just want the money to bring something to market (you are essentially preordering) then fine, if its to do some R&D and actually design the thing then I'd be careful.

I just think of it as a way to be a kind of "patron to the arts" and to find some cool stuff along the way.

Finally, want to get a surefire success for your project? Just stick the words "Neil Gaiman" in in somewhere. They love him. ;)

Take the 'Kickstarter' element out of the question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642111)

You can narrow down this question to 'Should you give a stranger with great ideas money for his project?'

In my case I only read about Kinckstarter on slashdot and other news websites. Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions got a lot of attention with their success on collecting money for their next game.
That's probably a good example for team worth supporting. Most games developed by Double Fine Productions are great and they have a strong fan base.
If they would exploit the Kickstarter system, their reputation would be ruined and they probably would not be able to develop games anymore.
So the project team's reputation is important.

Another good hint for a good project is to see a constant development. If the team has a website for the project which receives frequent updates, like documentation, test results, pictures and demo videos then you can tell that people are working on the project.

In case of the project team mentioned at the start, I think it is Kickstarter's responsibility to find a way to prevent scammers from taking advantage of the system.
My perspective might be simplified but I think that there should be some kind of contract between Kickstarter and the project teams to ensure that the money is only used for the project and they should be able to verify to project's progress and funding. In case of a breach of contract, Kickstarter should have the right to demand the money back.

Not too different than any tech startup (1)

shoppa (464619) | about 2 years ago | (#39642149)

I'd expect 90% chance for a good techie startup with a cool innovative idea to go under, without producing a product or getting bought out, in 2 years. (Number can be radically different if it's a "copycat" techie startup. Ironically the copycats have a substantially better chance of getting bought out by a bigger company.)

Maybe 9% chance that the startup will get bought out by a bigger company if they had any vaguely promising technologies.

Maybe 0.9% chance that an actual product will be produced (if a service oriented company... there may be a different number) and not be successful in the marketplace.

0.1% chance the product will be successful. That's different than turning a profit on the balance sheet though.

Seen a lot of whining about this lately (4, Informative)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | about 2 years ago | (#39642181)

Startups don't all work out (not even fucking close).

The idea of kickstarter, the entire idea of it, is to distribute the costs among many people so that each is investing no more than an amount they are comfortable losing.

Instead of a share of profits like you would get with a large investment in the business, you get token rewards if and when it succeeds.

Kickstarter is entirely clear about all of this, and anyone who invests in something should a) do their homework and ask the right questions and b) not give up more than they can walk away from.

The whole idea is that for the price of a theatre trip (for one!) you can help fund a cool idea, and lots of people are willing to do that. It's not about contracts and buying stuff it's about good will and helping something you believe in come to life.

No-Risk High-Risk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642185)

It seems like this guy wants to take the risk out of his investments. Low-risk high-risk is called a bank account.

Failure depends on your personal definition (3, Interesting)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39642237)

Failure depends on your personal definition.

I think we can all agree that if the project creator takes the money and goes vacationing on a tropical island with it, then the project definitely failed as it was little more than a scam. Unless that's actually what the project was (not applicable to KickStarter, but there's plenty of fund-my-life crowdfunding platforms).

So that leaves failure modes that are a bit more intricate.

Say the developer throws in the towel - so you don't get the 'thing' you pledged for (be that a widget or a book or a movie or whatever) - after trying to make things work, and there's good reason to believe that they did indeed try.
That's a failure to deliver, but was the project a failure? Maybe they learned something from it, maybe others can take what they did and expand on it, etc.
Personally I still see it as a failure, but in the grand scheme of things, there are people who pledge just because they think the idea is interesting and deserves a chance. If in the end it doesn't work out, at least it was tried, and that's good enough for them.

Then there's those projects that do deliver, but they deliver late. How late is too late?
If a movie takes not 3 months to complete as written in the pitch, but ends up taking 9 months instead, does that mean the project failed?
You did, after all, get the movie in the end, so how is that failure?
Well, if the movie is supposed to be on-topic for fairly recent events (let's say the movie is supposed to come out just before the U.S. presidential elections to make people think about their choice) and ends up being so late that it becomes irrelevant, then I'd say it probably still failed. Otherwise, i.e. if the movie isn't really time-sensitive, then I don't see the problem other than the frustration of having to wait longer than expected to see it. That's enough for people to download movies rather than wait for release in their countries, so movie project creators can take away from that what they wish.
For widgets, it's much the same thing. The HexBright Open Source light, for example, is running late - way late - and some people are requesting refunds despite the progress shown in updates. In some ways, it has been overtaken by other flashlights (i.e. brighter, maybe more compact). If that's what a person backed that project for, then that project has failed. On the other hand, it still has the unique programmable features, its grip, the tailcap indicator, and open source implementation - so it still has an edge over other flashlights in that area and those who backed it for those reasons are less likely to consider the project failed.

Then there's projects that promise thing A, but end up delivering thing A'.
Recently there was a metal iPhone case, for example, that looked pretty good and - being an iThing project - got plenty of backers. Turns out that once delivered, people realized their signal dropped significantly.
Did that project fail, in terms of exploring whether what they wanted to do was actually a good thing?
To those who could no longer actually place any calls - yes.
To those who still could, and thought their iPhone now looks like the hottest thing since the iPhone - nope.
In fact, that project's creator adjusted their FAQ to indicate that some signal loss may be apparent, but if you like the look then you'll just take that for granted.
Another project was a capacitive touch stylus for tablets - it initially shipped with a nib that didn't work very well for some people. Did it fail? Largely, no. Why? Because the project creator got right on top of it, had better nibs made, and sent those out at no cost on request.

In this particular project, the Eyez, it really depends on whether or not you believe the project creators' updates (and their lack of updates for a long time does not instill confidence), and whether or not the product is quickly becoming irrelevant ('spy' glasses are available on ebay for cheap - they just generally don't connect to your smartphone, yet).

I do agree with LordLucless comment ( http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2778309&cid=39641827 [slashdot.org] ) that a tiered funds-released approach would be better in many cases, so that funds are released only as deliverables are released. Unfortunately, it's not very practical.
Would a film maker have to release the raw material before he'd get the funding to pay an editor? Would they then have to release the edited movie before they'd get the funding to pay for a color/visual effects (even if it's just painting out a glare)? Would they then have to release that before they'd get the funding to pay for the foley artist / music people?
Even the 'upon receipt of invoices' becomes an issue. A recent movie project hired a visual effects editor that turned out to be a fraud, so they had to hire somebody else. There's no accounting for issues like that.

So the point at which a project has 'failed' really depends on your own definition and what you find acceptable within the scope of the project. Once it meanders off into the unacceptable, that's when it has failed - at least for you.

For what it's worth, by far the majority of the projects don't fail - it's just that the ones that do fail tend to get more attention (other than the $1M+ success stories). Nothing wrong with that, and I do hope that KickStarter (and others) are painfully aware of the failing projects and take steps in the future to help prevent this - both for backers and creators.

It works most of the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642241)

I have supported perhaps 10 kickstarter and Indigogo projects ranging from hardware ideas to movie production projects. Some were for friends but most were strangers. So far all of them are either still in active development or have delivered on their promises. I don't give money I can't afford to lose and I pick projects that seem to be useful or interesting to a wide audience.

zioneyez (1)

issicus (2031176) | about 2 years ago | (#39642269)

wtf is the problem? what they are trying to do doesnt look that hard. I guess battery + usb connector + sensor + flash memory was too hard to fit in there.. they have a nice looking prototype though.

Kickstarter account blacklisted by my bank. (1)

Rip!ey (599235) | about 2 years ago | (#39642281)

I've got one Kickstarter backing under my belt. It's the HexBright project that was featured here on /. and is yet to show a result in terms of a product shipped to me.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/527051507/hexbright-an-open-source-light [kickstarter.com]

The reason I post is the difficulty I had paying the backing money. My bank repeatedly refused to allow the payment to go through (via Amazon) due to prior complaints. They have the Kickstarter payment account blacklisted. This is a mid tier Australian bank and I ended up having to ring them and explain what the payment was for, why I was making it, and to absolve them of all and any responsibility if it went wrong. The matter went though several levels of responsibility within the bank until it reached someone who could authorize the payment.

The same bank doesn't bat an eyelid if I order things direct over the internet straight out of China. But not with Kickstarter.

Re:Kickstarter account blacklisted by my bank. (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#39642519)

Seriously?

You paid money to a project that's going to make a torch (flashlight to you Americans)? And one that has a "programmable" bulb (because on and off are so complicated for a computer to do and humans always want flashy-lights)?

Even the FAQ is so vague when it comes to what the hell you'd ever do with it. And it costs as much as a decent Maglite.

A fool and his money... No wonder the bank intervened.

seems clearly fraud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642297)

a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain. If you were one of the investors you could call the police and file a complaint.

Check this video on SEOMoz.org (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642343)

Ive recently been following this blog on SEOMoz.org. the video is a little long (Just under an hour) But I found it to be very informative http://www.seomoz.org/blog/startup-marketing-how-to-earn-customers-without-paying-for-them

Re:Check this video on SEOMoz.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642559)

I've always found playing in a running industrial chipper-shredder informative. I really think you should try it yourself!

Failed vs. Fraudulent (1)

residieu (577863) | about 2 years ago | (#39642365)

I was surprised at how little I could find about what happens if a project just fails in its goals. It seems like that should be a fairly common occurrence, the backers just simply made a bad estimate of the funds needed or underestimated the difficulty of completing what they planned (or simply found that what they found as not feasible.) This is an unfortunate but understandable result. I kind of figure in this case the backers have to chalk it up to a failed investment and move on. They do deserve an update explaining the unplanned circumstances and apologizing.

But then there's cases where the promoters do all the hype, collect the money and then just skip out, with no intention of ever delivering. Don't know about this project, so can't say if that's the case here, Their lack of contact with their backers is a bad sign, but could just be the first case handled badly. The pictures of them on vacation right after funding ended could be a bad sign, or it could have just been intended as a joke.

when math says so and the founder dies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642409)

it has not failed until a rigorous mathematical refutation shows that the goal is mathematically impossible, and this refutation has been published in a peer-reviewed journal and been accepted by the scientific community. But wait, the founder could still "pivot" and produce something else that satisfies customers. So, the founder(s) need to die as well, with no remaining interest in the project by anyone who has any claim to involvement. Then it is dead. /s

Investment? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642421)

Everybody is complaining about their "investment".

Kickstarter projects aren't investments. You're gifting funds in the hopes of a premium back. There is no investment. If they decide to go to Tahiti, you just sent them there. Maybe you'll get a postcard.

Bad investment (2)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#39642437)

Kickstarter and the like are not investment vehicles. They are supposed to be a fun way to give a few dollars of disposable income to an interesting project. If you are considering sending so much money that you start to worry it might vaporize, then stop and put that money into stocks, bonds, or canned goods.

I "invested" in the video glasses (3, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#39642507)

I "invested" in ZionEyez, since it sounded like an interesting project, and something that I'd be pleased to see come to market. I use "invested" liberally here, since I don't for a second think that this gave me ownership in the project, or anything like that. Perhaps "gambling" would be a better term.

I gave my money to help a project get sufficient funding to go ahead. The "reward" level I paid for was listed as "You will receive the Eyez by ZionEyez HD video recording glasses with clear and shaded removable lenses" but I read this as being dependent on the project succeeding — if I don't receive the glasses, I'll be disappointed, but I wouldn't consider it a breach of contract. I expected the project to give it its best shot, and to put effort into attempting to succeed, rather than taking the money with no intention of creating the project, but it's inevitable that some projects will fail.

Whilst I'm disappointed that the project has been delayed quite considerably, and I'm mindful of the fact that I may never see the glasses, to me, this was an "investment" which did not materialise the way I had hoped rather than buying a product which was not delivered.

I feel particularly sorry for some of the feedback posted to the creator of the Hanfree [kickstarter.com] project too...

This gives me idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39642513)

Start Kickstarter account

Promise Back to the future hover board.

Enjoy my new life of privilege.

Pitfalls of a good thing (1)

skyraker (1977528) | about 2 years ago | (#39642633)

This shows what the downside to such 'donation-based' funding schemes. The point of making it a donation is that you give someone your money with little or no expectation that you personally receive anything in return. That is how it differs from an investment. In that, you would sign a contract stating what portion you would receive of any profits made. If the project failed, you still had no recourse, but typically your required return would be more than what you put into it (and thus the risk element).

R&D and Investing Carries Risk (2)

fooslacker (961470) | about 2 years ago | (#39642661)

First you won't and shouldn't get your money back, at least in my opinion. I get that you don't want to get caught up in the fraud side of things but that's just a risk that supporting people you don't personally know (and sometimes people you do) carries. The whole point of investing is to spread the risk of failure out to as many people as possible while also spreading the rewards of success out.

The real question to me is how to make the system better and discourage the bad actors. I believe there needs to be some sort of reputation management features added to things like Kickstarter. First there should be a mechanism to identify users of the service (maybe a premium service that certifies identities of those asking for money). Verified accounts should carry more clout and be safer investments than unverified accounts. There should also be a reputation/feedback system that lets you know the success rates, communication frequency, general satisfaction of investors, etc. associated with a verified account on past projects. The more information that is out there and the more there is a threat of loosing something valuable (i.e. verified status and reputation) the more likely that the bad actors will be the anomolies not the rule.

None of this fixes the problem but it gradually makes things better which is all you can really achieve when you're trying to manage risks.

What are the expectations (1)

mseeger (40923) | about 2 years ago | (#39642677)

I have backed a half dozen projects so far. Even if none returns with a result, i will not be angry. I spent the money on an idea, not a product.

The only disturbing info was about the beaches. If they didn't even try, i would go from kickstart to kickass ;-)-

I think the funders (like me) are screwed (1)

DynamoJoe (879038) | about 2 years ago | (#39642733)

They're very good marketers, for sure. The positive press that they got (they got coverage in PopSci [popsci.com], Engadget [engadget.com], and various other places) made it seem like a good bet. That they had a working prototype was a good selling point. That's where the good news ended. Their most recent update (#19) shows that they're still working on basic design problems such as cable durability, size of components, chip selection, etc.. I have the feeling that they're stringing us along and we'll never see the glasses.

It has turned me off Kickstarter, for sure. I'll be much more skeptical in the future and probably won't fund the more expensive ventures since I've already been dinged for $150. I hope that the publications that covered the glasses will be a little more wary when these guys show up with the next big thing.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...