Category Archives: Kickstarter

Gamers are Not a Unified Demographic

As regular as clockwork over the life of this blog I have had somebody poke me in comments, in chat, or via email about their great new idea.

They are going to create a social network for gamers.

Back in the day I was willing to buy into this idea.  There was a time when I could believe that somebody could pull together the gamer demographic.

So over the years, I have signed up for various sites including XFire, GuildCafe, Raptr, Anook, Gax Online, WeGame, UGame, Rupture, GamerDNA, and probably quite a few more whose names I have simply forgotten over time.

And every one of those sites has one thing in common: failure.

Most of them are dead.  Raptr called it quits after a long run, though their site remains up, if untended. Xfire morphed into a video game league then shut down. GuildCafe was purchased and shut down.  GamerDNA was purchased and shut down.  UGame is just gone.  WeGame disappeared and the name was picked up last year by Tencent. Rupture, from the guy who created Napster, was bought by EA and shut down.  And GAX Online went offline when Ryan and Gary found that they had not reached a self-sustaining critical mass and likely never would.

In digging through my brain for this post the only site I could come up with that was still online was Anook, which we used as a nexus for Blaugust a few years back, and it is shambling along like it simply isn’t aware that it is dead yet.  It has some regulars, but nothing like the amount of users needed to make it a sustainable venture.

So here we are in 2018 and what pops into my email inbox but a press release about a Kickstarter to fund yet another gamer social network.

I give you GameCritter and their Kickstarter campaign.

I’m sure they licensed those characters for use in their promotional material

The Kickstarter campaign for GameCritter launched this past Thursday looking to raise about $55,000, though it is an Australian company running it, so they’re really asking for $75,000 in their upside down dollaree doos, but Kickstarted nicely converts the currency for you.

That isn’t a big ask, but they might as well be asking for the moon and a million dollars since they have already failed my reliable benchmark for Kickstarter success; if you don’t make 20% of your ask in the first 24 hours just go home.  They didn’t even make 1% in the first three days, and the charts over at Kicktraq don’t show the situation getting any better with time.  Their cause is lost, though not for a lack of overselling.

The company actually had the audacity in the email to claim that this was the, and I quote, “World’s First Social Platform For Gamers!”

However, none of their features seem all that interesting or original.

  • Social Platform with User Posts, Friends, Instant messaging & Commenting
  • Community-Driven Reviews, Guides, Discussion Forums & Question/Answer Forums
  • Addictive Levelling & Rewards System with over 1,500+ Levels & 13 Ranks
  • Hundreds of Unique Collectable Avatars, Companions, Badges & Achievements
  • Competitive Leaderboards with Various Metrics and Clans (Grouping)

From top to bottom the list is “been done many times,” “available on many other sites,” and “meaningless fluff” x3.  Basically, nothing compelling there really.

They are offering features for developers and publishers as well.  I guess that is new-ish.

  •  Dedicated Profile Pages to Build & Foster Fan Followings
  • Raise Crowdfunding for New Projects with Support from Fans
  • Create Revenue by Selling Games Directly from Our Platform
  • Smart Targeted Advertising with Multiple Metrics
  • Powerful Analytics Dashboard for Big Data Handling
  • Conduct User Surveys & Polls to Gauge Strategic Business Direction

The question is, what developer is going to jump on board this platform for any of those things?  Would you crowdfund on a site that couldn’t successfully crowdfund itself into existence?  Or would you trust a company that didn’t even notice that a competitor mentioned in its Kickstarter FAQ had been discontinued over a year? (Hint: Raptr)

Seriously, I could sit here and shit on this whole thing all day long and well into the night, but there is a point where you go beyond disagreement and into just being mean and I don’t want to get too far in that direction.

Instead, I want to explore for a bit why this idea, this plan for a gamer social network, has never worked and likely will never work.

I believe the problem here is that all of the people founding these sorts of projects are operating with a flawed premise, the belief that gamers are some sort of single, unified demographic.

You can guess what I think about that from the title of this post.

It isn’t that gamers do not come together, it is just that what we come together over is a lot more specific than just being a gamer.  What brings us together?

Specific Games: World of Warcraft or Pokemon Go players, when they meet, have something to share with each other immediately.

Gaming Franchises: We all know somebody who has to buy the latest Civilization or Call of Duty or Mario or Fallout title the day it comes out.

Gaming Genres:  There are clear followings for things like MMORPGs or MOBAs or FPSs or MUDs.

Platforms: While not as unifying, we definitely divide ourselves by platform and find common cause with our fellow PC or XBox or PlayStation gamers.  Some people even claim to be gamers even though they only use their phone.

I suppose an analogy would be food.  We like certain restaurants, or types of restaurants, or types of food, but I am not sure we really need a social network platform dedicated to eating.

Furthermore, we already tend to form up into those various groupings using the resources already available.  We use the developers forums, or our own alternate forums if we feel the developer is being too heavy handed in moderating messages.  We form groups on Reddit or Facebook around our shared specific interest.  We follow developers or hash tags on Twitter and Instagram.  We frequent the gaming news sites that best cover our favorite genres.  We even start writing blogs about the games we play, which in turn tend to become part of ad hoc blogging communities.

So when somebody new shows up and says that we should drop all of the infrastructure and social bonds that have formed organically over the years to hop on their shiny new venture, it just isn’t going to happen unless there is something genuinely new on tap.  And, so far, such sites have only offered warmed over versions of well worn ideas.

Basically, such sites fail on both key counts.  They are pitching to a demographic that doesn’t exist and they are not offering any compelling reason to use their platform.

Even a site like Something Awful, whose forums probably represent one of the best cross-genre discussions of video game topics around, is based on an overarching community that goes beyond video games, and within the video game section of the forums, the various genres and games are divided up into groups and specific titles.  While there is some cross-pollination, people tend to stick to their interests, so the EVE Online players aren’t heavily represented in the Pokemon forum and vice versa.

And that doesn’t even get into how Steam is trying to become even more of a social media experience for gamers, where it has the advantage of players already invested in their platform and already… oh, and they pretty much offer everything GameCritter is claiming for end users while having more than 150 million people signed on.  And even there we stratify into groups of friends or followers of specific games or genres.  Still, Steam comes as close to a gamer social network as anything I suppose.

Maybe if you’re somebody like Discord or Twitch and have people already using your service as a social platform you can back your way into this sort of thing by adding more game specific features… and a store… both sites want to sell you things.

Anyway, the GameCritter Kickstarter is going to fail hard for a variety of reasons, and not just because their pre-campaign promotional activities apparently involved sending out hyperbolic press releases to cynical old coots like myself.  (Seriously though, if nobody in the gaming press is taking you seriously enough to do a story on your product, you should take this as huge red flag.)

In the end something like GameCritter looks like a solution in search of a problem.  There is nothing on offer for end users there that hasn’t been tried already.  It apparently only works if you have something compelling to offer the way Steam does.

The World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter Clears Nearly $600K

In something of an amazing turn around, or a demonstration of how well things can go when you do it right, the second Kickstarter campaign for the World of Warcraft Diary closed up earlier today having brought in $598,999 from 8,379 backers.

The book to come

Considering the ask for the campaign was a modest $10,000, that is quite a feat.

In fact, the second campaign was almost the opposite of the first one back in March, which asked for $400,000 and couldn’t even get to $10,000.  Instead the new campaign reached 10x its goal in the first 24 hours and averaged over $43,000 a day over the course of the campaign.

That is a wild success by any measure and along the way The World of Warcraft Diary became the highest funded non-fiction book on Kickstarter.

This is an example of getting everything right after having done many things wrong (no advance notices of the campaign, no press build-up, no kind words/backing from Blizzard, asking for too much money, and not having a plan for updates).

The campaign also again shows that Kickstarter is better for some things, discreet projects like books or other art, and less good for more complicated things like video games, especially online massively multiplayer video games and Minecraft servers.

The promised date for delivery for the book is December 2018, so in theory I might get my copy by Christmas.  Yet I suspect it will be late.  Not every project I have backed has been long delayed, but I think the closest any project has come was to show up a month late.  It will be something for me to read early in the new year I hope.

Kickstarter and the Return of the World of Warcraft Diary

I wrote about the first run at the World of Warcraft Diary back in March.  I was concerned that the ask for the project was too much ($400,000) and that the publicity groundwork hadn’t been done for the project.  One of the rules of Kickstarter campaigns is that your core audience should know it is coming and be ready to support it.

Anyway, the campaign failed, but the author took what he learned to heart and said he would be back again with a second run with better groundwork and a more reasonable ask.  And so here we go with round two of the World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter campaign.

And it has funded already.

I got an email via the original campaign because I was a backer letting me know that the new round would be showing up this week.  But by the time I got around to check on it the campaign was already funded.

Op Success

That is crazy first day success, and the first day isn’t even done as I write this.  My usual minimum benchmark for success is 20% in the first 24 hours, but this is already past 1049% and the number keeps going.  The charts over at Kicktraq show the tale of the campaign.

So yes, this book looks like it will be a thing.

The level of success doesn’t really surprise me.  World of Warcraft is huge and still popular and has enough of a fanbase to support this level of effort… or even the first $400K level of effort… so long as the word gets out to the fans.

I mean, if Andrew Groen can get huge numbers out of the comparatively tiny EVE Online fan base, then the WoW fan base should be able to beat that in a blink.  I will be interested to see where this campaign ends up with such big initial interest.

Anyway, if you are interested the campaign will run through to the morning of September 25, 2018.  Again, you can find the campaign page here.

Trogdor Burninates Kickstarter

It is a victory for an internet sensation from 15 years ago.  Over on Kickstarter there is a campaign for a Trogdor board game.

I don’t need to ask you to go support it because it has already exceeded its goal.

When I look at Kickstarter campaigns I have my eye on a few things.  One of them is name recognition.  How well the person or potential product focus is known often dictates how much a campaign can expect to collect.  One of the rookie mistakes is asking for much more money than your popularity or publicity can possibly bring in.

My latest example on that front is the Codename Reality Kickstarter campaign where a group of unknowns with no listed game dev experience asked for half a million Euros to develop a medieval perma-death sandbox MMO.  They are in the midst of a 46 day campaign… hint, if you can’t make your total in 30 days, 16 additional days won’t get you there… and are closing in on seven thousand Euros.  I don’t know what level of optimism keeps a campaign like that going.

A fifteen year old Strongbad email gag from Homestar Runner though?  They asked for $75,000 and are currently past $1.2 million.  They may have the problem of being too popular.

There is still a day left on the campaign if you want the Trogdor board game.  Are you overcome by nostalgia yet?

Stay Awhile and Listen Book II Kickstarter Campaign Gives 110%

I was a bit worried about the state of the Kickstarter campaign for Stay Awhile and Listen Book II earlier this week.

Stay Awhile…

The campaign got off to a start that seemed sufficient for success.  As I say about every single Kickstarter campaign, my general rules is “20% in the first 24 hours or go home.”  I am sure there have been campaigns that have bucked that rule, but they are rare.

Anyway, Stay Awhile made that mark, if only just, but kept going to just past 50% before entering the great middle period of malaise, that time between the start and the finish where the numbers just don’t change very much.

This is why I think campaigns beyond 30 days are a bit of a waste.  Shoving another 15 days into the campaign, like Codename Reality did, doesn’t really change anything.  That is just a larger gap of time that makes it more likely that your potential last minute supporters will forget about you.  We learned this all 20 years ago when eBay was going to make us all rich; a longer run isn’t necessarily better.  There isn’t really a compelling reason to go past 30 days to my mind.

So Stay Awhile loafed along for more than a week without much action, and as the end of the campaign began to loom, I started to get a bit nervous.  The author did a bit of a “spread the word” campaign towards the end of that time, which got the campaign a nice boost, but things were lingering a couple grand shy of the goal right up until the end.

But I ought to have had faith.  The last 24 hours tends to see a surge in activity as those who were on the fence or who didn’t want to commit until things look good finally made up their mind.  There was enough people jumping on board at the end to push the campaign past its $12,000 goal, with it ending at 110% funded.

The charts over at Kicktraq give a nice view of the campaign.  You can see the peaks at the start and the finish as well as the late boost that came from the author’s push.

Now I just have to wait until June 2019 for the book.  That sounds like the distant future, though only because my brain still isn’t comfortable with the idea that it is currently 2018.  And while I wait I will have time to read the first book.

Kickstarter – Stay Awhile and Listen Campaign Ending Soon

The Kickstarter campaign for Stay Awhile and Listen Book II is wrapping up in just a few days.  You pretty much have through this coming Wednesday to pledge.

The campaign is closing in on its $12,000 goal, sitting at just past $9,300 as of this writing, putting within striking distance of success.  But “almost there” isn’t there yet.

If you look over at Kicktraq you can see that, while there have been some pledges recently, the curve has flattened out and unless there is a last minute rush of people, the whole thing is going to come up short.

So if you were considering this project, but had put it off, now might be the time to revisit the campaign and see if this is the sort of video game history project that interests you.

Kickstarter – Stay Awhile and Listen Book II

My fondness for video games and Kickstarter has cooled, this is true.  Except in special circumstances, it feels like making a game ends up being too sprawling of a venture to fund this way without inviting the inevitable delay and disappointment.  And doubly so (or more) for anything in the MMO genre.  I’ll buy games when they launch.  Or when I fail to notice they’re still in early access.

Books on the other hand, books seem to work out okay.  While the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls campaign went way past their promised dates, that is pretty much a game.  But things like Empires of EVE have kept reasonably close to their timelines and deliver on what they promise.  And even the laggardly Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls ended up on my bookshelf eventually and was worth the wait.

And so it is that I have another book based Kickstarter on my radar, Stay Awhile and Listen Book II.

Of course, my first question was, “What happened with Stay Awhile and Listen?”  I mean, if we’re speaking of a “Book II” then it seems likely that there is an original out there.

And there was.

The author already has the first book out, Stay Awhile and Listen Book I, released initially back in 2013, which you can find over at Amazon.  While the title suggests that Diablo is the focus, the author’s description of the series says it covers more of the evolution of Blizzard as a company and has tales about other projects, including both those that shipped and those that never saw the light of day.

Stay Awhile…

The book itself is said to be essentially done and the funding is for editing and artwork to get the whole project wrapped up.  So the amount of funding requested is not huge when compared to some other projects, sitting at $12,000, of which $5,500 has already been pledged.

And while the campaign hit my benchmark of 20% funding in the first 24 hours, meaning that it has a chance of success, the pledges really dropped off after day three.  Like, off a cliff, to the point that I suspect the campaign won’t fund unless it gets some more attention.  So I want to help get the word out lest the campaign founder midway through..

This sort of behind the scenes book is something I enjoy, so I am in for $30.  That gets me a paperback of book II and ebook versions of both book I and book II.  If this sort of thing interests you as well, take a look at the Kickstarter page.  The campaign has about 20 days left to run and the estimated delivery date for the finished product is June of next year.