Kickstarter 2021 Autopsy

In December 2021, Kickstarter mentioned a plan in Bloomburg business to pivot to NFTs, putting their previous existing system onto a blockchain technology. With that in mind, I made a serious decision to simply divest myself of Kickstarter until I heard definitively that they absolutely weren’t fucking doing that, because the last thing I want is a trust-based crowdfunding system to tie itself to a thing that makes scams a lot easier.

Which is a bummer for me, because Kickstarter is a system I really like, and I really like using it, in my particularly privileged position. See, I have spending money I can dump on modest purchases throughout a month and it’ll just, you know, be something my budget can handle, between Patreon money and just, you know, one of the weird effects of working for a university.

And… well, what did that look like, in 2021?

Button Shy did a reprint campaign! I have tried to not just make a bunch of Game Pile articles about ‘oh hey look, it’s a Button Shy game, and I like it, because it’s great,’ but I mean, you know it kind of goes without saying. It’s not that they’re all great, I mean I haven’t been able to play them all but this reprint campaign let me get nice printed versions of some really nice PNP solo games like Pentaquark.

Look, I am easily influenced by steep discounts. Mint Bid was a kickstarter not just for Mint Bid, a new game by Mint Works, but also for a reprint campaign of a bunch of their other stuff. I wanted to look at what mint-tin games look like in person (because I have no idea what a mint tin looks like, really), and so… backed it. And got four games.

This one got to land on the basis of me going ‘oh, those meeples are cute.’ Also, what’s weird is that in my whole collection I don’t feel like I have a proper worker placement game, and there aren’t a lot of those that have a kind of fun, goofy theme that’s available to me that are also kid-approachable.

This game, Intel, looked like an interesting social deduction game, but also, the price point was low and it had all the marks of ‘gamecrafter fulfillment’ on it. I backed it because it was very cheap, and figured that maybe it’ll get resold at some point. A tiny developer getting their game attention is a good thing, after all.

What’s super cool is that this game got to me, in December. I mentioned the box got damaged and they sent me a new box to replace it. That’s nice, they didn’t have to do that.

As the transport crisis grew, I became more interested in projects that I may want to support, but not be able to afford to at the tier I’d normally want. I don’t need this game, I have Photosynthesis. But what I did want is a chance to check it out, maybe some Print and Play files, and the app, so I backed it at that tier.

I don’t actually need a lot of tabletop RPGs. After all, my poison of choice is a game with an enormous well-supported extremely professionally made library, because I like D&D 4e. I also have Brinkwood, Hard Wired Island and Blades in the Dark to play around with if I want to do something else.

But Tide Breaker deserved attention for being interesting and cool, and the people making it weren’t The Same Boring People making RPGs or even indie RPGs. So I backed it, and who knows, maybe I’ll wind up with a thing I can gift to someone else as their new favourite thing.

I think about this, about how I’m not about to be a big fan of this game, but I still want to support it with my money and want other people to know about it. That’s an interesting thing to me because I don’t imagine the makers care overmuch about my enthusiasm, on its own. I would waste money on a bad fast food meal at a weird time, so to me it’s not a meaningful loss – but to them, it’s more money to make their dream project work.

This is one of those big-backer projects of 2021, and aaaaaa I hope it’s okay. I hope it’s good. It’s a cooperative adventure game (Didn’t I just say I have D&D for that?) but it’s also a deck builder and it’s trying to show ways to make games in environmentally sustainable ways and it’s very pretty and I’m very hopeful this works.

I also don’t think about it much. It’s just, you know, at some point it’ll arrive. It’s a big project, there are transport concerns, almost guaranteed that doing things differently means it’ll be dealing with setbacks.

I try to forget about a lot of my kickstarter purchases like this for exactly this reason.

… yeah I backed Flamecraft. And I backed it for the entirely superficial reason that it looks like a lovely, beautiful object. I’ll hopefully get to play it and I’ll get to enjoy it and maybe it’ll be a favourite game. I do know as my family gets older, our tastes in games are moving on in terms of complexity, and I do think that being able to manage and sustain complicated economic states are juuust hovering on the edges of awareness for my play group.

I try to make sure I’m not always backing games from like, Seattle, which is a surprisingly large number of game kickstarters. I look for games especially in Hong Kong and Latin America – two places where my Australian dollars actually has a positive impact. Crossing Fates was cheap to back, cheap to ship, and so… backed it.

Oh yeah there’s this. I’ve wanted to play with the Korra universe for a while, and this seemed a fun project to get involved with. And then, after the kickstarter resolved, I learned they’re paying their writers remarkably little compared to indie press, which is a sucky thing for the most successful RPG kickstarter ever.

Here’s another one. This is an indie RPG about uh, a labor union movement that really happened and resulted in the US Government bombing its own citizens, if I remember the history? Really interesting and even if I buy it and it lives on a shelf, I think it’s worth supporting people who are doing this kind of thing, especially if it means I get an example I can share with other people later.

Another Button-Shy Adjacent game, but this time I had to bite the bullet and admit to myself that even though I wanted a printed copy, they are expensive and Button Shy doesn’t make any money off them when they mail them out here. This time I backed at the print-and-play tier, to have a nice holiday project with my family.

See also here, a game I backed at the print-and-play level, because I wanted the people who made it to have support, not because I found the game compelling. No, I don’t know who they are, I just read their take, saw them on twitter and I think backed a previous, similarly small game and went: Well, why not?

Verdant is another Beth Sobel art collection. The game could be meaningless, but having bought the print-and-play version, I can appreciate having my own little gallery of Beth Sobel art that I can again, use as an art project with the family to see how they feel about the practical, get-your-hands-on-it style of making games.

Turns out around October, a bunch of neat spooky games dropped, and it so happened they caught my atttention just right. See also:

aaand also:

This also coincides with a point when my pay rate spiked slightly, which meant I may have picked up a few more things – some because they were cheap (like the Medusa), but some because again, aesthetically lovely objects. Fox likes pretty games, and Keep The Heroes Out is also a cooperative game, which we always want.

I lashed out for the Cthulhu add-on, though, because… welll…

I mean I’m me. It’s a complicated relationship.

And then, finally, we got the news and announcement from kickstarter that they were going to pivot to NFTs. That was either the day before or after (I’m not sure) that I backed Mind Bug, a game made by Richard Garfield and another grouping of people who are just, you know, making Richard Garfield’s game.

I’m a big fan of the concept of ‘Magic: The Gathering, but in a small, contained package,’ and Mind Bug looks like that kind of thing.

And… yeah, with the news that Kickstarter are pivoting away from this, I guess I’ll be dropping more money on people’s Ko-Fis at random for fiction and art!