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Kickstarter: the phenomenon

Kickstarter is the new fashionable site. You hear about it everywhere , especially if you’re techno or gaming enthusiast. Not so new that it will tell me the most indie of you! That’s right, because the site was born in New York in 2009.

On Kickstart?
Kickstarter is a popular financing platform to fund projects through you, dear people!The projects are presented on the site and the consumer invests what he wants to support the project. When the project reaches the requested funding, the participant’s payment is validated. The funding threshold is to protect the investments, your money will not be used if the project is not funded at full value. Many entrepreneurs also offer you rewards that are chosen based on a funding scale. These awards can sometimes be very original (a game, a dinner, a humorous product) or sometimes a little useless (promotional gadgets). For its part, Kickstarter keeps a margin of 5% to finance its own site. It is easy to see how Kickstarter can put forward popular projects so they can be financed and ultimately they touch their share on the product! On the other hand, there is also Amazon who manages the transactions of the site which keeps a margin of 3 to 5% on each of the sales.

Kickstarter is therefore part of the movement of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing . The first is the popular or participatory financing and the second is the production of content by the community. The popular financing allows the elimination of intermediaries by providing a much more flexible framework for creators. For some, one of the objectives is also to evacuate the overly cumbersome process of focus groups and committees related to technological production. The flip side is sometimes the instability of some products. It is a calculable risk to take into account.

We quickly understand the interest for small authors, niche products and emerging companies to propose projects on this kind of platform. Kickstarter is a platform that allows you to finance projects and not an online store to buy products . Disappointments with this type of site and funding often come from this misunderstanding. People want to finance a project to have the product cheaper or have exclusivity while the idea is not at all to make an online store, but to encourage entrepreneurs and creators.

In fact, there are so many innovative ideas and creations on Kickstarter, be it in the technological field, think of TikTok + LunaTik , an ingenious idea for transforming an iPod Nano into a watch or Pebble: E-Paperwatch for iPhone and Android which was one of the biggest hits on Kickstarter. In the musical field, we can think of Amanda Palmer who created a craze by selling his latest album, but also offering private concerts. Closer to home, the Mutek Festival has tried Kickstarter funding but unfortunately has not been funded to match their expectations. On the side of independent cinema think, for example Fat kid rules the world from MatttewLillard (there are still a few hours to support him).

In the areas of the game
More interesting for us is the offer on Kickstarter in the fields and industries of the board game and video game. We can not ignore the frenzy caused by Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure project (designer of the Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacles adventure games) . Several “old” series thus propose to make a new skin for its fans including Leisure Suit Larry , Shadowrun or Carmageddon . The latter having many fans, the projects quickly exceeded expectations. Moreover, the “goodies” proposed were really interesting even going to a dinner with Tim Schafer!

As far as board games are concerned, we have been able to see quite impressive financing. I am thinking in particular of Steve Jackson’s Ogre who went for more than $ 900,000. There have also been the successes of Eminent Domain , and Zombicides . It is also not necessary to pass under the silence the phenomenon of the reissues on Kickstarter note for example the reprints of Tammany hall and the famous Sleuthfrom Sid Jackson. One thing is certain, many of the projects that have received the most funding are carried by known authors already well established, but who wish to go through a lighter model. The latter therefore have the necessary means of production and potentially the means of marketing the product.

For some, sites such as Kickstarter offer a real revolution in the industry if you add the power of social media and the potential buzz that can be generated by blogs prominently the viral effect can pay off . Take the example of TikTok + Lunatik which saw its funding jump after a ticket on Gizmodo. Thus, product marketing remains an essential element to take into account.Of course, there is a darker side, that is, all the projects that have not accumulated the necessary funding and that go into oblivion. For the project to work, it is necessary that the creator is credible, remember that we are dealing with investors who are consumers and not experts and especially communicate as much as possible to avoid sowing doubt on the project.

Concerns?
Several doubts are still raised about popular financing sites like Kickstarter. Some believe that the success of the site will create its downfall. If there are too many products, public funding will be diluted and projects will not be funded.

For others the problem with Kickstarter is more on the side of the unhealthy competition that can be played between the different platforms. For example if a very popular product is launched on two separate websites, there will be a marketing competition that will be created to make known and sell the product. As the web is not as regulated as the so-called traditional media, this fight could potentially be done on misinformation and create important issues related to the financing of people. Obviously, the proponents of this type of financing will answer, that one speaks of a hypothetical situation, which is likely to be settled by the domination of a platform and the reputation of the latter.

More realistic, one of the fears raised by Kickstarter users is related to the marketing and production of the product once the funding is obtained. This element regularly explains that people have to wait sometimes long enough to receive the funded product and the “gadgets” associated with the funding. Sometimes, even at the reception of the product the participant can be rather disappointed of its quality. The funding remains quite random when the creator is not known. This is especially true for more technical projects that require significant inputs.

This fear also meets the concerns of production intermediaries who see it as an unfair competition and for some, the loss of assets. Kickstarter may seem to jeopardize industry middlemen be it publishers, distributors or shops. On the contrary, we can think that launching a product on Kickstarter allows to make a proof of concept, that is to say to demonstrate that a game would be very popular in store and thus ensure a commercial success for the publisher who will take care of it later. On the other hand, passing Kickstarter a game author might just want to override the traditional production line. In this case, he must make sure to provide on demand. Think of an author who offers a game on Kickstarter and ends up with viral funding. He must then plan the rest of the production chain that he himself “bypassed” by going on Kickstarter. At this point, we may think that a publisher will contact him or join other experienced people to launch the production and delivery of the product. Then comes the concept of crowdsourcing, a phenomenon mentioned above, proposing the production of content by a community of interested parties.

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