March 14, 2013
Just last week, Torment: Tides of Numenera (a computer game based on the world of Numenera, the tabletop roleplaying game that I’m currently working on) broke the Kickstarter record for reaching one million dollars in just a few short hours (beating out even the Ouya, the game console that everyone’s gaga for). This week, that record was broken by a Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars Movie (which, as of this writing, has already hit 2.7 million in just one day). Whatever else you think about crowdfunding, it’s changing the business world, especially in terms of media and gaming, and has the potential to change it even more in the future.
Most of you who read me regularly know that I’m a crowdfunding supporter (with some caveats, as always). Yes, crowdfunding is “cool.” Yes, it has some flaws (as someone who is behind schedule on delivering her own product, because it’s still at the printer, I feel some of these flaws keenly). But it has a ton of benefits as well. Monte Cook and I talked about some of these when we co-wrote Kicking It: Successful Crowdfunding, but since then, even more benefits have come to light:
- Jobs for Creatives: I hope I don’t need to tell you how important this is. Crowdfunding projects create jobs for smart, talented creative people, the ones that you want making your movies and games. Here’s a great article where Brian Fargo (the creative power behind Torment) talks about why starting a second Kickstarter before their first product is complete actually keeps people in jobs. He says, “inXile is described as being made up of “a team and a half” of people, and this second Kickstarter allows the “half team” to begin pre-production on the next game. That way everyone is doing something, and they have two games in the hopper. There is no possibility of downtime, and everyone will have a job to do for the moderate to long-term.”
- Opportunities and Education: This 11-year-old girl just got the funding to publish her first book. Talk about a learning experience and an opportunity. This isn’t just true of children, of course. Many of us have tried to get our creative foot in various doors and have been shut down by gatekeepers time and time again without knowing why. With crowdfunding, you have the chance to learn from your mistakes. Did you make a great product, but just didn’t present it well? Or maybe you need a better product? Either way, you can educate yourself and then try again.
- Publicity and Promotion: Of course, this seems obvious, right? But it isn’t just “oh, we’re successful, someone wrote an article about us.” It’s also an opportunity to get the attention of movers, shakers and supporters in the industry. They’re the ones who will spread the word. Think about the people you know who hadn’t heard about Firefly until last year, and now they love it. This has happened with both Kickstarters I’ve been involved in so far — after the campaign has closed, would-be backers have approached me and said, “I didn’t know about the Kickstarter in time. How can I get involved now?” The more people who hear about you, the better.
- Super Fans: We talked about super fans in Kicking It, but super fans are becoming even more super. Torment, for example, has a number of big-money donors, including many who’ve pledged $10,000 and one who has promised to pledge $100,000 if the Kickstarter reaches $3 million. Yes, you read that right. One person will give $100,000 to the project. Sure, this sounds a bit like old-school “silent partner” stuff, except that the partner is neither silent nor a partner. Backers give money to make the project better, but that is where their participation ends (other than, of course, receiving a huge thank you and an awesome product).
Crowdfunding isn’t perfect, but neither is the traditional system of getting creative products and projects funded. As Kickstarter continues to grow and explore, I think we’ll see even more exciting benefits for companies, creative individuals and fans of all kinds.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. ~Warren Buffett