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Kickstarters are risky business these days. For any kind of creative venture it means the creator is putting their idea on the line and using consumer-funded backing because other publishers – no matter what creative industry it is – have refused to fund or invest in the product. Hi-Rez Studios, the developers behind the MOBA Smite, took a poke at the Kickstarter culture with a mock campaign of their own.
The Kickstarter project is dubbed "game. a new vision from todd harris." It's a simple page with a video throwing out a lot of buzzwords but not actually showing anything. It's an obvious jab at some Kickstarter projects where a lot of fluff is put forward but very little is actually demonstrated:
The page contains very little info and has various funding tiers that are all obvious jokes. The main description of the project reads as such...
in gaming, perception is reality, and we’ve worked years on building a foundation to make reality our vision. when we learned of kickstarter, it was the perfect platform to fully explore our next vision. we are calling it – game.
There have been some Kickstarters that have fallen by the wayside, either from running out of funding like Clang, or ending up terribly delayed, like Project Phoenix. It's not easy bringing a game to life, pitching it to gamers and then attempting to follow through, sometimes on a limited budget and sometimes with limited resources. It certainly doesn't excuse the projects that fail to deliver, but there's an inherent risk involved with taking something from scratch and attempting to structure it into a functional project within a limited time frame and the money from the community who actually buy and play games.
The only management structure involved is the one applied by the developers. So it's sometimes easy to see how projects get behind or drop certain buzzwords and then can't live up to it (like procedural, open-world RPG elements).
In a way, I do understand Hi-Rez Studios' attempt to take a jab at the over-promotion culture that sometimes permeate the Kickstarter space, but the developers of Smite have also been guilty of over-promising. In fact, one of the people in the comment section of the mock Kickstarter page asked Hi-Rez what happened to Global Agenda and Tribes Ascend. Hi-Rez stopped post-launch support on both games to move onto newer projects.
Of course, no developer is perfect. Kickstarter culture isn't perfect. Over-promoting and under-delivering definitely isn't something most gamers appreciate. And attempting to pitch an idea using a bunch of buzzwords and a high crowd-funding goal is probably wearing thin
However, I think Kickstarter offers an alternative for some developers to make games that otherwise never would have been made under the typical publishing model. I've thoroughly enjoyed Shadowrun Returns, and games like Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2 have been staples of success and beacons of how to do Kickstarters right. As time goes on I think gamers will be able to better discern the proper crowd-funding campaigns from the over-promisers... or at least, I hope so.