Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Please Don't Die, Kickstarter

Why does everything I love collapse and die?

I think Kickstarter, and its crowdfunding allies (indiegogo, Patreon, and so on), are incredible. I love that someone thought them up. I love how they're used. Mostly. I love, basically, the whole idea of crowdfunded and crowdsourced work.

Personally, I love it from an artsy perspective, because everything I learn about every creative industry makes me hate it more. Seriously, don't bother going after a creative career unless you're willing to either put in all the work yourself or compromise every artist value you have. I am getting closer and closer to a sincere belief that dealing with the established media is like making pacts with every evil entity from every religion and superstition man has ever dreamed up.

Or maybe it's not all that bad and I'm just upset. But my exaggerations come from a legitimate foundation.

Crowdfunding, to me, seemed like a way around all of that. It was a way of letting people choose what they wanted to consume, rather than being forced to drink the generic toilet-water Simon Cowell expects us to accept as 'art'.

I adored everything about it. Immediately. I followed Amanda Palmer's Kickstarter adventure religiously. I've backed loads of projects on Kickstarter - music, films, games - and even when I can only offer a few pounds, I like how much more involved backers are made to feel. For instance, creators will send regular email updates on projects that have more meaning that just to sell you more crap. They write in such informal, friendly tones that you really feel their gratitude. The distance between artist and consumer, when broadened by the industry middle man, only looks wider when you've got the communal feeling of a crowdfunded project to compare.

And then I backed a project called The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, a PC game based on an H. P. Lovecraft story. It was a high-profile project that get over 100,000 views in the first couple of days, not to mention shares on FaceBook and Twitter by all kinds of people. By rights, it should have done insanely well. It should have hit its goal with no trouble at all.

Instead, it got fewer than 2000 backers. Which is pitiful.

The makers of the game sent regular progress updates to everyone who pledged, thanking them for their involvement and generosity and letting them know how things were going.

On 30th October 2014, they sent their final update. It thanked everyone who had been willing to help, and regretfully informed us that the project had fallen through. It explained how they had gone about their Kickstarter campaign in huge amounts of detail - there was practically no way they could have generated more interest in their game. They tried to fathom where it had all gone wrong.

They seemed forced to conclude "Kickstarter is dying".

This is definitely something I did not want to believe, but they offered some really good statistics to back their arguments. They did everything right, but crowdfunding had failed.

And this breaks my heart.

As someone who, one day, would like to make a living doing something creative, and who thinks our arts industry is horrifically broken, I was really excited about crowdfunding.

I am well aware that it had its problems, its kinks that needed fixing. There are plenty of 'crowdfunding gone wrong' stories floating around. There are plenty of people ready to use honest crowdfunding platforms to abuse the generosity of others.

But, at its core, it is a beautiful thing.

And even the slightest suggestion that people have already given up on it disappoints the hell out of me.

1 comment:

  1. Crowdfunding is a very interesting concept where many people with the same interest can gather to sponsor a creative work. It can help to get capital easily.