Friday 2 November 2012

Kickstarter UK - Why We Passed, For Now

The Folk Tale team outlines its reasoning behind stepping back and observing the UK launch of Kickstarter rather than riding it's recent success on Steam Greenlight.

As a UK-based project ( even with 50% of the team based in the US ) we've been watching Kickstarter for a long time now, locked out of a significant source of funding. So in the summer we were delighted when Kickstarter announced they were launching in the UK. That thought was immediately followed by concern over whether a predominantly US audience would back UK projects listed in pounds sterling, and whether those projects would end up segregated. Without US participation, I doubt the UK crowd funding community alone would be large enough to provide the funding we are hoping to secure.

We deliberated over whether to launch Folk Tale's campaign on 31st October as part of the UK Kickstarter launch, especially in light of our recently acquired status on Steam Greenlight. To maximize our chance of success, we've invested 18 months of our lives working on a demo to prove we can deliver a quality game, relatively risk free.  We firmly believe that now crowd funding is maturing, it would be insulting to go cap-in-hand asking for funding - especially in current economic times - if we hadn't first demonstrated our commitment and ability to deliver.  While it's approaching a state of readiness, the demo wasn't going to be polished in time.  Rushing the demo and releasing prematurely, no matter how badly Gamers are clambering to get their hands on it, would potentially do us more harm than good, thereby risking all the hard work that's been put in.

Throughout 2012 we've been busy communicating to a growing audience of followers through quarterly video, screenshot and blog updates.  We hope that when we do launch the Folk Tale campaign, followers will consider expressing their interest by supporting the project through pledges and telling their friends about us.  At the moment we've got more work to do to grow our audience until it reaches a critical mass capable of supporting the game's funding requirement.

Just this morning we went to pledge support for a UK project, only to discover we had to re-enter credit card details.  We couldn't use Amazon, nor Paypal.  Now while that's not a major hindrance it highlights two issues.  Firstly, trust and online security.  Amazon and Paypal have been doing this for years and have built that trust.  But there's no transparency on Kickstarter over who the processor is or who is holding the credit card data.  The second problem is convenience.  Not providing alternate payment options presents a barrier ( albeit small ) to making a pledge.

Taking all considerations into account, we decided to wait and observe, and although early days, that appears to have been the right decision. Given what the press are deeming a lackluster reception, I'm glad we waited, no matter how frustrating that may be.

Based on our thoughts and observations, here are the changes to Kickstarter we'd like to see:
  1. Allow campaign managers to specify which currency pledge tiers and pledges are primarily presented in, even if the settlement currency is pounds sterling.
  2. Support more payment options, including Amazon so that existing members aren't forced to re-enter their credit card details.  It's a barrier to pledging that needs to be removed.  Paypal would be far more preferential.
  3. Greater transparency over the handling of personal data including the storing of credit card details.

Until we do launch our own campaign, we will continue to pledge our meager support to other worthy projects.

Folk Tale Demo Beta Registration:

If you would like to receive an email notification of when Folk Tale does launch on Kickstarter, please sign up for your chance to get into the demo closed beta.