3 MIN READ
Chris Crawford reflects on a Kickstarter gone wrong
After running an unfunded Kickstarter campaign, Game Developers Conference founder and veteran game designer Chris Crawford ponders what went wrong.
These past few weeks haven't gone so well for Game Developers Conference founder and veteran game designer Chris Crawford. Like many other developers in the industry, he recently turned to Kickstarter to raise money for his latest project, but with less than four days left in the campaign, he's nowhere close to his $150,000 goal. Crawford hoped to raise money to create Balance of the Planet, a serious environmental simulator that would teach players about sustainable energy, pollution, and other world issues. With his funding, he planned to make the game available for free on the web, and Crawford suspects that's one of the main reasons why his campaign went down in flames. After all, why would backers pledge money for a product that'll eventually be free? "As it turns out, my model was only right for what Kickstarter used to be," said Crawford. "That is, Kickstarter used to be a semi-charitable operation in which people could assist worthy creative projects that might not make it commercially, but still ought to be done. But in the area of games and comics, this is no longer the case. "What's going on now, which I did not comprehend at the time, is that Kickstarter is a marketing channel [for games], so instead of buying a game after it's made, people just pay for a game before it's made. It works in that context, but I had entirely the wrong context in mind, so Balance of the Planet's Kickstarter became a dismal failure." At this point it's very unlikely he'll raise his goal, but Crawford says this experience was still helpful for his game. Throughout the campaign, he directed prospective backers to a a simple-looking, in-progress build of Balance of the Planet, and the players who tried it offered plenty of feedback that helped him tune and refine the title. Assuming the Kickstarter fails, he plans to launch the updated game as a standalone product on the Mac App Store.