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All Kolossal and Maple Games Kickstarters shut down

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22 Apr 2019 11:33 #295880 by charlest

Michael Barnes wrote: And who would have guessed that games would be their top product? What does that tell us about the board game buyer?


I think you're inferring the wrong thing with that rhetorical question.

Imagine this situation:

-Star Citizen delivering upon most of its promises within 4 years
-Project Pheonix being as awesome as promised and actually delivering
-Mighty No. 9 was released without controversy and without a hitch
-What if the Ouya was actually a thing and not something completely forgotten

In that alternative reality, tabletop games are not the king of Kickstarter.

The tabletop industry is such a success story on Kickstarter because, by and large, it has so many success stories. I know that's tough for you to hear.

I'm not saying Kickstarter hasn't released a deluge of mediocre titles or hasn't negatively impacted the industry. But it's also produced some damn good games that would not have been made otherwise.
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22 Apr 2019 11:36 - 22 Apr 2019 11:45 #295881 by Sagrilarus

charlest wrote:
The tabletop industry is such a success story on Kickstarter because, by and large, it has so many success stories.


I think a big part of that is that boardgames are a right-sized project for the rank amateurs that are publishing their first few games. Another big category, music, is the same way. Boardgames succeed because they can.

That's not a bad thing, in fact it's an indication that Kickstarter just happens to be an appropriate venue for the category of product.

All that said, I just don't see how people get excited about a game that isn't going to appear for another two years, and then are actually excited to receive it when they're currently reading about a dozen other new games. I'm just not that patient. Half the time I've emotionally moved on from a game in the time it takes to get mailed to my house.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 11:45 by Sagrilarus.
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22 Apr 2019 11:41 - 22 Apr 2019 11:42 #295882 by charlest

Sagrilarus wrote: With enough new people coming into the hobby there's always someone that still has their youthful idealism intact, but you can't depend on that forever, and you can't grow forever. At some point the music slows down (likely won't ever stop) and you get into an eBay situation, where the scare is gone and it just becomes a flea market. I think Kickstarter is halfway there. Won't be the same place in ten years.


You're absolutely right that it won't be the same in ten years.

But I also think you're not totally accurate with that youthful idealism point. The majority of backers on something like Batman: Gotham City Chronicles are not new people to the hobby. The people ponying up for Awaken Realms' Tainted Grail aren't people wandering in from the street. These are backers that have played these companies other games and find the risk to be very low. The upside is substantially higher, however.

Tainted Grail is only slightly more risky than buying the new LotR game or Star Wars: Outer Rim. The track record for recent releases is much better, the game is simultaneously more risky in terms of design yet also safer to be more entertaining. Finally, if you don't like it, sell it for a profit instead of a 50% loss.

Man, I can't sell Neon Gods for 60% off MSRP right now, but I can sell my Batman pledge at a profit without issue.

The risk of a Kickstarter campaign can be incredibly small if you perform your due diligence and have a finger on the pulse of the hobby.

Your point about so much money being floated is real, but I don't see a massive collapse on the horizen. The companies getting big bucks are not newcomers off the street but publishers with a track record.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 11:42 by charlest.
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22 Apr 2019 11:44 #295883 by charlest

Sagrilarus wrote:

charlest wrote:
The tabletop industry is such a success story on Kickstarter because, by and large, it has so many success stories.


I think a big part of that is that boardgames are a right-sized project for the rank amateurs that are publishing their first few games. Another big category, music, is the same way. Boardgames succeed because they can.


An important factor though is that the big success stories on Kickstarter are NOT amateurs. Jamey Stegmaier was not an amateur when Scythe dropped the bomb. Awaken Realms were not amateurs when Nemesis or Tainted Grail hit. Even Isaac Childres was not an amateur when Gloomhaven pulled in its lionshare from the second Kickstarter.

The biggest campaigns are ones with less risk.
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22 Apr 2019 11:58 - 22 Apr 2019 12:04 #295886 by Gary Sax
Something I think is a little undersold in the US silicon valley economy is that many business practices that they engage in are straight illegal or very borderline---or at the very least if they were properly labeled would expose them to vast, expensive oversight and give consumers rights. The US has all sorts of fraud and financial stuff on the books from the 20th century. I'm not a lawyer but it may in fact be the case that Kickstarter has its official pie in the sky rules to protect itself from legal liability or specific regulation and that turning itself into a free for all huckster storefront may be legally impossible.

This is super common. Couple examples:

FB has been allowing targeted housing ads for many years *by race.*. Similarly, Zillow and Craigslist have super racist listings on them. This is explicitly extremely, extremely illegal. It took years but somebody finally was like, wait, Facebook can't target housing by race! So now federal action is finally gaining steam around it, because in practice fb, Zillow, etc are functioning as real estate brokers, a thing we already have and is regulated.

Another is monopoly power in silicon valley and telecoms. They've just been merging like crazy and leveraging pricing power and gathering rents from it. But silicon valley is in a more vulnerable position than people realize. The US federal government could initiate action to dismantle operations at any time---those laws are on the books, well vested, and have been used in the past for Google or Comcast size breakups. So silicon valley is relying on executive agencies with the power to really fuck them up not to act on that law by getting very politically involved.

To bring it back to KS, it would not surprise me to find out that changing KSers mission and making what it is explicit might open the up to vastly more legal and regulatory risk (eg actually KS is a financial institution, or backers have some sort of ownership rights, etc) so this shitty facade is necessary.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 12:04 by Gary Sax.
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22 Apr 2019 11:59 - 22 Apr 2019 12:01 #295887 by Jexik

charlest wrote: An important factor though is that the big success stories on Kickstarter are NOT amateurs. Jamey Stegmaier was not an amateur when Scythe dropped the bomb. Awaken Realms were not amateurs when Nemesis or Tainted Grail hit. Even Isaac Childres was not an amateur when Gloomhaven pulled in its lionshare from the second Kickstarter.

The biggest campaigns are ones with less risk.


But if they are no longer amateurs, why use it?
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 12:01 by Jexik.

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22 Apr 2019 12:14 - 22 Apr 2019 12:29 #295889 by charlest

Jexik wrote:

charlest wrote: An important factor though is that the big success stories on Kickstarter are NOT amateurs. Jamey Stegmaier was not an amateur when Scythe dropped the bomb. Awaken Realms were not amateurs when Nemesis or Tainted Grail hit. Even Isaac Childres was not an amateur when Gloomhaven pulled in its lionshare from the second Kickstarter.

The biggest campaigns are ones with less risk.


But if they are no longer amateurs, why use it?


Because the true value of Kickstarter is marketing. It's unparalleled in value there.

Although, Stonemaier Games is a notable exception in that they have moved away from the platform. I believe for them it was a decision based around the difficult nature of backers and the headaches this caused.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 12:29 by charlest.
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22 Apr 2019 12:40 #295892 by ubarose
@Charles

Just to be clear, it was not my intention to throw any shade at Daryl Andrews. He is a great guy. "Let go" in most industries implies financial issues. Coinciding closely with the suspension of Papillon and the return of all the money to backers it gives the appearance that the two events are related.

Also, thank you for clearing up the time lines. I was under the misconception that the tail end of the Papillon campaign coincided with the start of the other two campaigns. Suspending Papillon retroactively, when it concluded before the other two started seems wrong to me. Especially if Kolossal and Maple Games are truly two different legal entities.

It seems to me that this action (retroactively suspending a campaign) must really have shaken up publishers. They invest a ton of time and money into campaigns. So in addition to the risk factor of whether a game will fund or not, they now have the added uncertainty that Kickstarter may randomly pull the rug out from under them, and they have no recourse.

Ironically Kickstarter faulted Kolossal and Maple Games them with poor communication, when it seems to me Kickstarter is the worse offender.
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22 Apr 2019 13:25 - 22 Apr 2019 13:26 #295897 by cdennett
If you think about it, the last three "Game of the Year"s were KickStarter games, two of which would likely not have happened without it (Gloomhaven and Root), and the third allowed the creator to break free of KickStarter (Scythe). And yes, "Game of the Year" is subjective, but the latest two are generally undisputed. And for those that think they should have just gone the traditional "publisher" route, would you feel better if Asmodee held the rights to those games instead of Patrick Leder or Isaac Childress? I personally like that fact that those small companies now have the financial and creative freedom to do what they want. Maybe they could have gotten a bank loan, but seriously, could you see the banker's face when Isaac pitches a $100 boardgame the size of 7 Monopoly boxes?

In the context of this discussion, Leder games couldn't have run the latest root KS as they still need to fulfill the new Vast game. Is anyone really worried about them going belly up and stealing people's cash? Perhaps the next step is requiring creators to disclose all active projects, current status, and possibly financial connections to other creators? Much like the "risks" section at the bottom of every page, gives Kickstarter the "caveat emptor" escape plan should things go badly.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 13:26 by cdennett.
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22 Apr 2019 14:06 #295903 by Michael Barnes
Very good points. But if I were a publisher, I would have put both Gloomhaven and Root out, all the way. I would have seen both of those titles (and Scythe for that matter) as grand slams- innovative, disruptive, and with legs to continue selling year over year.

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22 Apr 2019 14:12 #295904 by Vysetron

Michael Barnes wrote: Very good points. But if I were a publisher, I would have put both Gloomhaven and Root out, all the way. I would have seen both of those titles (and Scythe for that matter) as grand slams- innovative, disruptive, and with legs to continue selling year over year.


Unfortunately an investor might look at the ridiculous production on 2/3 of those and pass on it immediately. That said, any publisher with an eye for quality would have been able to succeed with what was made there. It just would have involved taking on some form of financial risk, and with KS as an option why bother?

I see the arguments being made here, but they don't change the fact that it's being flagrantly abused despite their TOS. Also it's awfully convenient to point at the best KS funded without addressing the shittons of failures, be they awful games or undelivered. It's like people don't even remember Game Salute anymore.
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22 Apr 2019 14:35 - 22 Apr 2019 14:42 #295906 by hotseatgames

Michael Barnes wrote: Very good points. But if I were a publisher, I would have put both Gloomhaven and Root out, all the way. I would have seen both of those titles (and Scythe for that matter) as grand slams- innovative, disruptive, and with legs to continue selling year over year.


I dispute this. I don't know of any publisher these days that would have looked at Gloomhaven, thought about its shelf presence, its MSRP, and still said "yeah, let's do it".

Root, on the other hand, would have been picked up, no question. And frankly, would probably look a lot better if it had. That's not an indictment of the artwork, which is stellar. I'm mainly talking about tokens that are generally tiny, etc.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 14:42 by hotseatgames.
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22 Apr 2019 15:38 #295914 by Jexik
I agree. Gloomhaven probably wouldn't have gotten picked up. Cthulhu Wars too, which I know is popular around here.
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22 Apr 2019 16:39 - 22 Apr 2019 16:41 #295917 by Sagrilarus

cdennett wrote: two of which would likely not have happened without it (Gloomhaven and Root)


Hollandspiele would have picked up Root in a heartbeat. Wehrle has worked with them already with An Infamous Traffic.

Though I appreciate that Kickstarter has injected a bucket of funding into the industry, I don't think games like Gloomhaven and Root would have languished unpublished. My more real question is how many "good" games, published via Kickstarter, could have been "great" games if a couple of pairs of seasoned eyes had been put on them prior to printing. I've played a couple of Kickstarters that had some great ideas that didn't gel completely, something that a Fantasy Flight or Stronghold would have straightened out.

S.
Last edit: 22 Apr 2019 16:41 by Sagrilarus.
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22 Apr 2019 17:40 #295920 by Michael Barnes
People act like left field, weird, or dramatically overproduced games never existed or were impossible before Kickstarter.

The reality of it is that Kickstarter has, above all else, made it where publishers can put out an entire product line up front and then move on to the next one. Or, an all-in box like Gloomhaven. It used to be you’d get the game and IF it sold well, an expansion or two further down the road, which also extended the currency of a title. Now, it’s usually allavailable right away, at least in terms of how the Kickstarter mills operate and with things like the Root expansion notwithstanding.

So no, As a publisher, I would never put $600 retail of Cthulhu Wars SKUs on the shelf right away. Nor would I suggest that $200 was a reasonable price point, and that might have resulted in changes to Petersen’s “vision” as it were. But I hear “oh, FFG turned it down” but they had their business reasons for that, including it not really being compatible with their Arkham Files setting. But it still could have found a publisher based on the quality of the design, the appeal of the figures, and the fact that everybody loves fucking Cthulhu.

Increasingly, I just find it extremely arrogant and even condescending that the Kickstarter mills assume that their $600 product lines are going to reel in the preorder FOMO rubes...let alone doing it across multiple concurrent campaigns.

Charlie made an interesting point- non-KS games in the aftermarket are barely worth 1/3 MSRP now. But the KS shit you can -profit- on.
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