Kickstarter: When do we say no? — The MMO Gamer

Kickstarter: When do we say no?


I opened my inbox yesterday to find a news tip about Pathfinder Online starting a Kickstarter campaign. There have been bits and pieces of information floating around about this game and where the developers hope to take it. A fantasy sandbox MMO is exactly what lots of players are looking for, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to let our voices be heard.

Clicking the convenient link in my email took me directly to the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter page, where I immediately began scrolling down the right side, looking for the pledge reward tier that best suited my desire for the game, and financial contiribution abilities right now. The usual $1 and $5 pledge tiers were there, but I wanted a little more from this game, so I kept reading, looking for the tier that would provide me a copy of the game, and possibly a few extra perks as well.

Making my way into the $15 range, I noticed that a copy of the game had still not been offered, but I reminded myself that this is an MMO, and that the price for the actual game would likely be higher than the $15 mark where you can typically get copies of a lot of indie games. So I scrolled some more, still comfortable with the price range for what seemed to be an MMO that could break new ground in the genre. When I got past $100, my comfort level ceased to exist, and my brain began to realize something was a little odd here. I re-read all the pledge tiers to make sure I hadn’t missed something. Suddenly, the truth of what I was looking at hit me. I read the title of the Kickstarter page twice before what I was seeing really sunk in.

“Pathfinder Online Technology Demo”

This wasn’t a Kickstarter for a game, it was to raise $50,000 so that Goblinworks could create a tech demo to show potential publishers. My initial reaction was outrage, but I closed the page and walked away, hoping to find perspective with time. They had not lied or mis-led me in any way. The title and accompanying video made it very clear what they were raising funds for, but my mind kept going back to the same thought, “Why should I give you money, so that you can make a demo to use to try to get money?”. I mean, seriously.  If I donate money to you, and you haven’t even made a tech demo yet, aren’t I now more invested in your game than you are?

The fact of the matter is that the project is already funded, as fans came out and supported the game instantly, and reading through the comments section gives me the impression that the majority of them knew that they weren’t supporting the actual development of the game, and were not being promised a game, nor beta access even, in return. Sure, Goblinworks has full intentions of developing this game, and I believe that a publisher will be found, but at the end of the day, this game could be cancelled at any moment because no publisher likes what it sees. And how will the community feel when Goblinworks comes BACK to Kickstarter, asking for thousands more dollars for actual development?

Obviously there is a significant portion of players and fans out there who feel differently about this, but I can’t help but feel like a tech demo is part of business as usual for a game developer, and if you are coming to Kickstarter for that money, why are you even in business? At what point do the backers say, “Ummm….you need to show us a little more if you want free money”? The publishers sure as hell say that. I suppose I can’t blame the developers for going to Kickstarter. If I could make more than $50,000 appear out of thin air, I probably would too. I just personally feel that a line should be drawn somewhere, and for me it is at the point where you want me to give you money, and I don’t get a game. Your money is yours, feel free to spend it as you see fit. I’ll be holding on to mine for now.


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  1. […] Twitter feed this morning when I saw a tweet from Troy about his article over at MMO Gamer titled Kickstarter: When do we say no. I was intrigued because PC gaming is currently in a bit of a love affair with Kickstarter. After […]

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