Should you support MMORPGs on Kickstarter?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 October 2012, 12:30 am
UnSubject is working on a project to find out whether Kickstarter video games actually deliver. Certainly some cases appear fishy. But many people see Kickstarter as being inherently a good thing, a "giving a chance to the underdog" or "sticking it to the Man" affair. I got a mail from a reader this week asking me why I didn't write a blog post in support of one specific Kickstarter MMORPG project from a fellow blogger. The answer is that I'm not feeling comfortable at all to recommend Kickstarter projects, and specifically not MMORPGs.

That starts with the deceptively simple question of how much money you need to make a MMORPG. From 38 Studios we know that it is possible to fail to even bring a product to market with over $100 million. Kickstarter doesn't deliver that sort of money, the record in the game category being $8.5 million for the Ouya. The often cited success story of FTL involved just $200,000 of funding. Star Wars: The Old Republic supposedly did cost $300 million, and while it did come to market, many people consider it to not have been a success. So if I see somebody promising me a great MMORPG on Kickstarter for under a million in funding, I can't help but being skeptical. Where are all the great MMORPGs that somebody produced for that sort of money?

I'm not saying that these Kickstarter projects are scams, although those certainly exist. But the difference between a scam and a simple failure is just one of intention. If you put money in a game and that game is never released, it doesn't really help if the project team's intentions were good. You still ended up paying something for nothing. And even if a game is eventually released, how sure are you that this will turn out to be the game you always wanted? The hype cycle of MMORPGs financed by traditional means suggests that people are a lot more enthusiastic about a game before they played it than after.

So I think I will continue turning down everybody who asks me to promote a Kickstarter project for a MMORPG. Maybe one day a great Kickstarter-financed MMORPG will come out and prove me wrong. Until then I'll claim that funding a good MMORPG on Kickstarter is simply not possible.
Tobold's Blog

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