If you are at all active in social media or follow game blogs other than this one, then you probably heard last week about The Doom That Came To Atlantic City. There are literally hundreds of blogs out there speculating about what happened.
So I'm not going to speculate much.
As near as I can tell, Erik Chevalier saw Kickstarter as a way to get his new game company off the ground. The problem is that he put the cart before the horse, as it were. He used the Kickstarter funds to build the company instead of to produce a product with which to sustain the company. Yes, he moved cross-country. Yes he quit his day job. But - really - had he produced the game, there is a possibility he would eventually have done these things anyhow. With the profits from the game instead of the seed money he needed to complete the game.
Wrong order. Rookie mistake.
End of analysis from me.
I give Chevalier full credit for one thing that a lot of the community has overlooked: Instead of launching another project in order to raise money to finish this one, thereby creating a series of "kited" projects, he owned up to the problem.
At least one name in the gaming industry did just that with his projects, by the way. And now none of them are complete, and people are angry. At least he managed to hand some of his projects off to third parties who can (probably) complete at least the core of the project.
Chevalier also didn't just go silent and hope people would stop talking like another project I could name. He kept posting. And, after admitting that the project was dead in the water, he hasn't gone into hiding, either. He's also not hiding behind backer-only updates. What he's telling backers is visible for the whole world to see. I salute Chevalier for this, as well.
What's interesting to me is how the greater community is reacting. Several of the Kickstarter projects I backed that are running late, for example, have posted updates specifically to let us know that they aren't going to fold and eventually get us refunds. Even if they'd been good about updating us all along.
Dozens of people have stated in public that they won't back projects that are from unknowns or first-timers. Personally, I think that's completely ridiculous. And it goes, in part, against the spirit of Kickstarter itself.
Far West is from an experienced hand. Gareth-Michael Skarka is working on it. But it funded two years ago. Powerchords is reaching epic levels of late because Phil Brucato's personal life had some things get in the way.
These are experienced hands in the industry. And they have - so far - failed to deliver the finished product.
Meanwhile, Children of Fire was in my hands about a month after it funded. And it's now on Amazon, too. Not bad for a first-time publisher. Not bad at all. Especially considering the book is full-color and beautiful
What I think everyone needs to remember is that Kickstarter is a risk. Yes, the Terms & Conditions mean that the project creators are required to provide what they said they will provide. Yes, the creators need to make every attempt to get it done in their estimated timelines. But there's no teeth there. The only thing the project creator risks is not being able to create another project, really. Yes, it's possible to sue them for breach - but you'll spend more than you're likely to win. And all the creator has to do is maintain a paper trail that shows that they are working on it.
"Behind Schedule" is normal for these projects.
So - as a backer - just assume that money is gone. Forever. You will never see it again. By backing any project on Kickstarter, just assume that you are throwing your money away. Don't spend money you can't afford to spend. Which is pretty common sense, but people get excited about stretch goals and add-ons, and forget that they need to eat and pay bills.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you back stupid projects. Or obvious fraud. Or even projects that make you feel especially suspicious. Because trust is also part of the equation. See, you're not just throwing it away. Realistically, you will get something. Eventually. Usually. Leave all the foolish things to me. Or to the Snarkers.
Do your homework. Learn who is involved with these projects. Don't be afraid to back out if you have sudden expenses or something you don't like appears in the project. And don't spend money you can't afford to lose.
Then, when you do hit a dud (because you will hit at least one), you're not subsisting on ramen because of it.