Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Sirens of Kickstarter

If I can make it another twelve hours, I will have successful resisted my forth kickstarter! Hurry up and end Battle Systems!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Kickstarter. I think it is the most interesting development in the use of the internet in years and probably within the whole of capitalism. The idea of using crowd funding to create products that would otherwise be impossible or ignored by traditional funding methods is very appealing.

However there I think there is a dark side, a psychological danger in kickstarter that has been successfully exploited by a lot of miniatures companies. (That makes it sound a bit more sinister than I intended, but depending on the individual in question it is very true).

Take two examples. A year ago, both Reaper Miniatures and Mantic Games ran extremely successful kickstarters. Both companies were blown away by the success, and all of the participants received loads of freebie extras. This year both companies ran second kickstarters, but this time, if the various forums were any indication, people were backing the project, not for what it was, but for what it might become if the amount of funding went way above what was actually required. There is a thrill in watching the numbers roll up, seeing what new prizes you win. It is, dare I say it, addictive.

I was able to resist both of those kickstarters, although especially with Mantic’s Deadzone, it was by the skin of my teeth. Two questions have saved me. First, would I buy that if I walked into a store and saw it right now. Since most of these companies have determined that the ‘sweet spot’ for getting people’s money is £75, the answer is almost always no. I very rarely spend that much in one go on my miniatures hobby. I’d rather space the spending out with more little purchases. The other, related, question is, do I want that much stuff all at one time. Again, with minis, I don’t want to buy too many at once, because I know I will likely lose interest before I finish painting them all. I resisted both kickstarters and in retrospect, I am happy about.

The Battle System kickstater has been especially tough. It looks like a great product. I love good card stock terrain. It doesn’t need painting. It’s good to have a lot of it, and I always return to sci-fi at some point. But why buy in now? The project is well over its funding, so it doesn’t need my help to become a reality. Yes, if I invest now, I’ll get more stuff for less money than if I buy in later. Of course that’s just an ‘if’. It’s not due out for six months, a lot can change in that time.

Would I walk into a store and plunk down £75? Maybe, probably not. I’d probably get the £30 set to see if I really like it and then go back for more if I did. This strikes me as a wiser and more fun way to do it anyway.

This isn’t a criticism of people who back these kickstarters; far be it for me to tell people how they should spend their hobby money. But there is a type of person, myself included, who are prone to obsessive thinking, and I think they need to be careful with kickstarter.


  1. I totally agree with your sentiment on this. Your two points are spot on. I also ask myself a third question: Is this a small company (or individual) and a cool idea that I really think needs my money to get made. If the answer is no then I don't think they should be on Kickstarter and they can (maybe) get my money when they launch their product later.

    As a side note, I am also in on the Battle System kickstater and managed to only just avoid the Mantic kickstarter magnet.

  2. Yes, in fact, I would probably make your question number 1. Perhaps it is illogical, but if Battle Systems was struggling to reach funding, I probably would back it, at least at the £30 level. Anyway, I expect a review when it is released.

  3. I think the danger with some is people put it on the plastic, but then the next project that comes also looks good so that then goes on the plastic as well uh oh! The other thing I see was well is there's a long cooling off period from when people shell out there cash and actually receive there goods I see all to often people sell there ks stuff as soon as it arrives because they've lost interest before it lands or the next big ks is in there minds