19 June 2018
Will offer games that are already finished to reduce risk to backers, but potentially undermines original vision of crowdfunding
Batman: Gotham City Chronicles and Conan studio Monolith wants to redefine the way that Kickstarter is used, announcing a controversial new approach to the crowdfunding platform.
The publisher previously stirred up debate with its decision to make its upcoming Batman board game exclusive to Kickstarter, justifying it as a way to avoid the ‘unfair’ cut taken by distributors when games are sold at retail. It seems to have been a plan that worked – Gotham City Chronicles’ campaign took more than $4.4 million in pledges from almost 20,000 backers.
Presumably spurred by this success, Monolith has now unveiled an even more significant change to the way it crowdfunds games on Kickstarter, which it claims “is the result of what we have been trying to achieve since the creation of the company”.
The new business model essentially turns Kickstarter from being a way to gather interest and funds to turn an idea into a real product to being a more traditional storefront, with already produced games offered for sale directly to backers.
Monolith said that its next Kickstarter for Claustrophobia 1643 would be the first such campaign to use the format. It plans to produce and distribute 10,000 copies of the game to the Europe and US ahead of time. When its crowdfunding campaign closes for the game, it will then be able to immediately ship the finished products straight to backers within six weeks, it claims.
The benefit of this for backers is that the all-too-common risk of a delayed or abandoned project is essentially eliminated, because the thing you’re backing has already been made and is all but guaranteed to arrive with you.
Monolith added that it also confronts the divisive use of campaign stretch goals as a “marketing gimmick” (“We know it all the better because we do it ourselves,” it admitted), as whatever is in the game’s box when it’s distributed ahead of time will be what arrives with backers.
What’s controversial about the move is that it potentially undermines the original vision of Kickstarter as a platform from which creators could get the momentum needed to see a project through from conception to production, making it little different to pre-ordering a game directly from Amazon or another online store.
In fact, when asked why it was bothering to use the crowdfunding site to offer already completed games rather than selling directly via a more conventional web shop, Monolith openly stated that it was “because Kickstarter has a large audience”.
For what it’s worth, the studio claims that Kickstarter itself is happy for it to go ahead with its plans, saying: “Obviously we have met with the Kickstarter officials to make sure that this is not a problem for the platform.”
“If it was abusing KS would not be ok with that,” Monolith replied to one Facebook commenter who suggested it was “abusing the system”.
“You can’t know better than KS itself what is KS.”
Monolith is yet to announce a Kickstarter launch date for Claustrophobia 1643 and its new crowdfunding plans, but suggested that if the campaign is a success, it could set in motion a widespread change among publishers.
“We have no doubt that if we do succeed; it will be rapidly copied by others and could even become the norm, attracting a whole new population on the platform.”