What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Sunday, June 3, 2012

High Cost of Kickstarters

I know I've alluded to this yesterday and it is something I mentioned briefly in the past and while all these Kickstarter efforts are proving a boon to hobby publishing and a plausible and solid alternative to POD productions, there are some that give me second thoughts when I consider the costs to get in on some of these efforts.

While some can be arguable justifiable, one of the latest, albeit already successful efforts which just started is for Traveller 5th Edition.  Given the history of this game, fans have every reason to be ecstatic about the news and release of an 'ultimate edition'.  However, the least expensive way to get a copy of the game is on 'CD ROM' as well as some cool but relatively insignificant swag (the Traveller dice are pretty awesome).  But the cost?  You end up paying $51 for what is essentially PDF material.  A physical copy of the book is TWICE that!  And then there's the shipping.  Looking through the Kickstarter page (HERE), aside from the picture of the hardcover, I couldn't find an actual page count though, judging by the picture, it looks to be a dense book.  I'm not even suggesting that it isn't worth the price either -- especially at a high page count but efforts like these also seem a bit prohibitive and, given that this product doesn't exactly exist yet, there is a bit of faith involved when pledging this amount of cash!

How would you feel if you pledged a higher than average amount for a book only to receive this book but find out it was published via Lulu or some other POD service?  I know I would be annoyed though others may not really care.  To be clear here, I'm not suggesting that Mark Miller is doing this either and his project is one I having nothing but respect and admiration for.  Whether or not I end up scrounging $125 for a hardcover copy myself is a different issue entirely.

Of course, the Traveller 5 project is not the only high cost, yet highly successful Kickstarter.  Frog God Game's "Rappan Athuk" (details HERE) also has a $100 entry tag to benefit from a hardcover copy however, the amount of swag is quite nice.  Admittedly some of this swag was added after the launch since it has already raised 4 times the original goal with a month still to go!  On the other hand, a PDF copy is $40 and this project promises to be massive (having already seen versions of this before for 3rd Edition).

Other notable projects include the one recently ended by Lamentations of the Flame Princess which, while meeting it's most basic goals, fell short of the ambitious set of bonus goals which would have led to the funding and creation of a host of new modules.  It was an interesting effort on Indiegogo but, I believe it was a bit flawed from the outset.  At the most basic goal, the objective was to fund a hardcover version of the LofFP RPG (well, the Rules & Magic  books anyway) and huge stretch goals which would have seen production of a whole bunch of new adventure modules for the game.  One problem was the 'entry level' to be eligible for those goals.  At $110, you would get 4 copies of the book plus copies of all the bonus goal modules that would be funded -- shipping included.  Now that is fantastic value but a problem for people who just couldn't see the benefit of 4 copies of the rulebooks.  You need to keep in mind that many who would be interested in the project might already have a copy of the rules as part of the previously released box set and the draw here may have been the bonus goals anyway.  I certainly don't fault Jim for his decisions with the project and he's explained the rationale behind this well enough.  At the end of the day though, even if the cost breakdown per rulebook was below the $30 mark with no additional costs to concern oneself with, I think some people were just looking at the total price tag for something they may already had access to.  On the other hand, the entry level to get in on the rulebook itself was only $30 -- a fantastic deal and one I'm so very glad to have taken part in.  I've seen (and praised) the work LotFP has put out before given the quality hardcovers he has managed to put out in the past.  This is one book I will be very excited to receive and have on my shelf.  I think one other thing that may have caused some issues was the implementation, the discontinuation, and subsequent revival of what was called the Digital Faith Pack.  I agree that, since it was initially added after the fact, the benefit of this package would really be dependent on the success of the overall campaign and it made little sense to have it if only the rulebook was going to be funded.  However, given the way that Indiegogo functions and that payment is collected upfront, I have to wonder what might have happened if it was implemented a tad differently and never removed.  In any event, his primary goal was met but the bonus goals fell short (save for the first bonus module).  I am happy to say that his new July Grand Adventures Campaign initiative just announced on the forums (but not on the blog yet) sounds promising and a great way to get one (or more) LotFP adventures into your hands for those who may have been disappointed with the Hardcover campaign.

To date, I have backed over 25 campaigns in the past 6 months and I do think that it is a bit of a boon to our hobby but the higher pledge amounts to access some of the 'basic' material continues to give me pause.  Even so, there is no greater satisfaction of being able to accomplish one's vision and Kickstarter and similar efforts are a benefit to those who continue to dream.



  1. I don't like Indiegogo, as I find their business model to be not pledge-friendly. I much prefer Kickstarter, but as a Canadian, I find it frustrating not to be able to use Kickstarter as a funding platform without a US proxy.

  2. Nor do I to be honest. As a backer, only one of of the projects I've pledged for was with Indiegogo. Frankly, the money up front angle is a big turn off. The Kickstarter restrictions are certainly a pain mind you which will probably assure all projects I do have me putting my money on the line before they can become a reality. That doesn't have to be a bad thing though. ;)

  3. I have to agree that the T^Ult kickstarter is just too expensive. I will happily plunk down my $ (I'm guessing 59.99 CAD) at my FLGS... but the backer rewards are positively ethereal. Heartbreaking, as I would have gladly backed it at either $25 less or with incremental material rewards at the lower tiers.

    To be perfectly honest I also need some idea of the nuts 'n' bolts of the rules and so on, as Classic Traveller is like an older brother to me.

  4. I must admit as a customer I don't give a stuff what the publisher believes is good value, but rather I only care about what I'm willing to pay for an item, whether print or pdf.

    When a new Kickstarter project pops up that interests me I ask myself what I would willingly pay if I saw this book in a shop, and if the answer is less than they're asking for then I won't pledge. This is certainly true of the "Rappan Athuk" project. There is just no way I'd pay $100+ for a single RPG book (unless it was incredibly collectible and valuable), nor would I ever pay $40 for a single pdf - not ever, period. That's not a criticism of anyone, just my own personal sense of value for money.

    I certainly think the excitement of Kickstarter is resulting in some people spending more money on certain items than they otherwise would. I have done so myself on a couple, but more because I've wanted to support the publisher/author than buying frenzy.

    I've only supported one Indiegogo project and was completely unaware until I made payment that it was money up front. I wasn't happy about it but that's fine, it is the first and probably the last time I back anything with Idiegogo.

    All up I think the whole crowd-funding thing is excellent and is enabling publishers and customers to get something a bit more special than we've had in the recent past. But I can also see all sorts of problems in the future, such as customer fatigue, publishers successfully kickstarting a project but failing to deliver, or deliver a substandard product, etc. But overall I think it will be good for the hobby by enabling the little guy to have a serious shot at publishing.