I have to admit for me the whole idea behind kickstarter is awesome. The ability to put your project out there and attract investors has, up to this point, been way beyond what the small business owner has ever been able to do before. Venture capitalists are just not interested in the small fry, they want the big return. I have seen a lot of griping about regular publishers using kickstarter to essentially act as a pre-order system. I just don’t see the issue here. Yes, its going to cut down on the initial sales through the retail market but it also allows the publisher to produce a lot more product up front and still have it available to the retailer after that initial wave of product goes out. In fact I think it is to the benefit of the retailer because now you can actually get an idea of the enthusiasm level of the gaming community about a product and order accordingly.
A good example right now is the Zombicide kickstarter. The actual product started to hit about mid August and the enthusiasm, at least in my area, is huge. For every Zombicide sale missed by a retailer because of the kickstarter there are probably 3-4 people looking to buy it right now. I’m not sure if CMoN is really going out to the retail stores with this but I’m sure they are now having trouble keeping up with the demand created after the first packages were delivered. It is the first really big one to get delivered (I think Ogre was the first game kickstarter to raise a ton of money, but it hasn’t hit yet). Sedition Wars, also from CMoN blew both Zombicide and Ogre out of the water as far as dollars raised and it ended up being a huge deal, miniature wise, for all of those backers that supported it. Then there was the Reaper BONES kickstarter, which really shows what a properly thought out kickstarter should be and it raised just over 3.4 million dollars and they will be shipping out something on the order of 4 million plastic BONES miniatures in March. Reaper is definitely an established company but by using the kickstarter they were able to ramp up the number of miniatures in the BONES lines to about 200 miniatures in six months instead of six years, a solid win for Reaper and the miniatures community. Reaper is now number 3 on the list for top fund raising kickstarters.
As huge as all of those kickstarters are its some of the smaller ones that really tell the tale and it is these that deserve more attention than they are getting. The one I’m looking forward to the most simply wanted to raise enough money to be able to cast the 28mm cannon for the ships they produce. It seems that no company really produces the cannons necessary for wooden ship actions, so Laser Dream Works decided to use kickstarter to raise funds to get the masters produced and purchase the casting equipment for the ship’s cannon that they needed for their War of 1812 project. It was a near run thing at the end but they cleared the $7,000 goal they set and are now off to the races. I have always been fascinated with wooden ships although I don’t really play any games that feature them. I jumped on this one though so I could finally play some pirate games and maybe get motivated to get my cool Black Scorpion Pirate miniatures painted. I signed up for the “Sloop Slaughter” which gets me the USS Wasp, and the HMS Frolic, and a small gunboat. Afterwards, I found out that the Wasp is like 38” long and the Frolic is pretty close to that as well. I guess I will need a bigger table to play on now. The reality is that we managed to help one of the small guys get what he needed to become a bigger force in the market place and maybe position himself as the place to go for anyone that needs ships’ guns for their wooden ship fleet. And that’s what I think Kickstarter is all about, getting the small business what they need when they need it, without having to try and secure a loan from a bank for it.
Now let me leave this with a note of caution. There are no guarantees. Kickstarter is an investment vehicle. Like any investment vehicle there is an element of risk, there is no guarantee that you will get what is promised when you put your money down. I hope that everyone has crunched the numbers before they leap headlong into the fray but it is inevitable that some of these projects are going to get their money and fail. You have no recourse if this happens, so be sure you have read and understand what Kickstarter is and take a good look at what the company is promising and whether you think they can actually deliver or not.
Check out the cool stuff from Laser Dream Works available here: Laser Dream Works
And a few pictures of the cool stuff I hope to be receiving from Laser Dream Works sometime in the near future.