Kickstarter has been very popular for both complete RPG games, i.e. new ones, to new editions, to reprints.
I have participated in a few Kickstarters and have not had the funds to join in on all the ones that I’d like.
The Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter was one I was interested in, but it was more nostalgia than a resource for play, as I don’t have a group to do MA with, so I passed. Also because the complete book was at like the $80 level. In hindsight, I wish I had joined in on that one. I GM’d for MA back in the day. My manual was one lost in the water damage incident.
I bought some challenge coins from the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter. I like the one from the Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkey.”, that is, “It’s not my problem.”
Projects I have backed:
Hero Forge – Customizeable 3-D Tabletop Miniatures – Funded – Close to on schedule. Currently in beta. (I have beta access and need to make time to try it out.)
Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coins – Funded. Delivered coins on time. Still waiting on document about the history of challenge coins.
Judges Guild City of the Invincible Overlord – Funded – Close to on schedule. Some minor setbacks due to health and family but will be out a month later than initial projections.
The Great Kingdom – Film about the early days of D&D/TSR. -Funded. On hold due to lawsuit.
I believe I pledged to one or two others that did not meet their funding goal, but Kickstarter does not keep track of those, so I can’t identify them.
I have seen some that were obviously so poor that people were just looking for a quick way to make a lot of money. I have seen some that had a good idea and it was poorly executed or poorly planned so that when there was either mild to overwhelming success, the creators were not near the level of readiness they should have been.
Just the last few days, a Kickstarter for an RPG “sandbox” setting was reviewed at Tenkar’s Tavern (Since edited with more colorful graphics than the images from the Kickstarter, after a lawsuit was threatened.) and the creators whined about his critique instead of taking it for what it was and moving on and improving their product. It got very bizarre as someone at this project threatened a lawsuit and made all kinds of other ridiculous statements on the blog. They later deleted all those statements.
I was curious and went to that Kickstarter page and watched the introductory video that is supposed to be the elevator pitch. I was left scratching my head. I had to read more and dig into other things to figure out what it was. It mentioned four “core” books and 25 modules for this “setting”. Why does a setting need four “core” books if it is compatible with Pathfinder or OSRIC? They had a grandiose and interesting goal to have every business and building in every city, town, and village stated out for ease of play. Basically, a ready made campaign world where the DM had to do little more than run it or generate random encounters. At least, that is the way it came across to me. I think they should have spent more time in explaining what this RPG supplement is and why I would want it. Additionally, they need to polish the look of the product more. If they want to hit their timelines, if they had been funded, they should have had things much closer to a ready to go state. They have a map that looks like an old DOS game map, and the way they describe the modules is that it is a railroad for pre-generated characters, instead of something I can bring my own character into it.
After the storm they caused by their thin-skinned reaction to criticism, it was pointed out that they were using named creatures from WoTC that were not part of the OGL. I suspect they got a take down notice from WoTC and cancelled their Kickstarter. Rather than taking the blame for their own poor execution, they blamed the reviewer and those who agreed with the assessment of the reviewer.
From what I have read from those who have done successful Kickstarters, the main thing is a laser like focus on the goal and to have a near ready product, if it is a book, module, or manual, that only needs final editing and proofing, and layout if art for the project is contingent on funding. Other projects that require programming or a physical product need to have details of when it will be done, how it will ship, and above all, proper accounting for all aspects, including shipping/delivery, and taxes.
I think Kickstarter serves a useful purpose for getting the word out when venture capitalists are nowhere to be found. However, it requires the producer to actually have something, and deliver it on time or communicate delays early and often. Too many have under budgeted and lost a great deal of money when it comes to shipping, etc. If you don’t have the ability to stick with a project and see it through to completion, Kickstarter is not for you.