Crowdfunding

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Since their launch, platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo helped to fund projects which would never have seen the light of day otherwise. Especially in the video game industry noone was willing to take any risks anymore and for example old-school computer RPGs had trouble to find publishers. The pen & paper had a similar issue. Only a few publishers are large enough to fund big (at least for the RPG industry) print runs, and some of them just couldn’t take any risks anymore. Over the years the target audience might even have grown smaller while the competition increased.

Kickstarter (and other crowdfunding platforms) changed this. If there’re are enough people interested in backing a project, even niche games can be produced. For a while it was a win-win situation. But as things are, this eventually changed.

Kickstarters are not preorders
This simple truth is often forgotten by both customers and publishers. As a customer you always have to remind yourself that there’s always the risk that the project will fail (even after being funded) and you might not even get your money back. There are more than enough failed crowdfunding projects that went awry.
On the other hand, some publishers treat Kickstarter like a preorder platform. This may even lead to people being more hesitant to support smaller, more risky projects. A lot of great roleplaying games might not have seen the light of day, because of another KS by a publisher who could easily prefinance their own projects.

Kickstarters are stress
I’ve talked to publishers who have run Kickstarters and who have also financed their products the regular way. All of them told me that the Kickstarters are way more stress. Instead of actually finishing the actual product, you have to keep your backers happy with regular updates, you have to worry about stretch goals, extras you promised, and especially the funding period must feel like hell on Earth, especially when it’s unsure if the project will fund at all. And even if the whole project runs smoothly, there may be more stress afterwards. There’s a much stronger feeling of entitlement when people back a project. Since they helped fund it, they feel more attached but also as if they have more say into where the voyage goes. Since noone can please each and every backer, some people will always feel let down.

No one takes a risk anymore
I actually praised this at a good thing, but it also has a dark side. Kickstarters are a relatively easy way to check if a project garners enough interest in the gaming community. But there are much more things that can spell doom for a KS than just the product’s quality and people’s interest in it. Timing is also important. Run your campaign while Monte Cook runs one of his and you’re target audience may already have overspent their monthly KS budget.
Running a KS is usually less risk for the publisher, but it’s also often the easy way out. Risk-taking is a part of entrepreneurship, and sometimes it’s necessary. But sometimes I get the impression that crowdfunding is seen as the perfect alternative. But this also means that some great products might never see the light of day because of a Kickstarter. Sometimes the customer doesn’t actually know what he wants.

I often have the impression that it has become a standard to fund new roleplaying games on Kickstarter or its competing crowdfunding platforms. Unfortunately this is not always a good thing. I understand that in this day and age it has become harder to stay afloat if you’re a small press publisher, but a KS that went wrong may as easily spell doom for a publisher as well.

What are your thoughts on crowdfunding? Love it, hate it? Or do you share my ambivalent feelings? Please share your comments below!

#RPGaDay2017 Day 13: Change is the one constant

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Hello readers! Thanks for dropping by on Sunday for the next question on #RPGaDay2017. Today it’s all about change, specifically a game experience that changed how I play. The question read as follows:

August 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

Let me think… In the past, I’ve touched upon similar subjects. For RPG a Day 2016, Day 11 I wrote about a player that challenged my expectation of solving everything through combat when I started playing D&D. I’ve told the story of how I became a killer GM, and as recent as this month on Day 7 I reposted about an incident that also affected how I play.  Thinking of another experience that changed how I play sent me on a trip down memory lane… All the way back to the summer of 1988 and the Hammer of Thunderbolts incident. Continue reading #RPGaDay2017 Day 13: Change is the one constant

New Warhammer 40,000 RPG in the Works

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Ulisses North America has secured the precious Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game license. This is huge! This not only means that there will be a completely new 40K RPG available soon, but the books created by FFG will also return to DriveThruRPG, too. Check out the official press release if you still can’t believe it! Zwinkerndes Smiley

Ross Watson, who has worked on FFG’s 40K series will return as lead developer and the Warhammer 40,000 Wrath & Glory core rules will be released in 2018. It will not use a d100 system reminiscent of the venerable Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Games or FFG’s 40K RPGs but a d6-based dice pool system. Hopefully they’ll also opt for something less crunchy and more accessible. I enjoyed playing especially Rogue Trader and Deathwatch a lot, but we always heavily simplified the rules in our games.

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Ulisses North America getting the 40K license is huge news out of several reasons. They have also recently acquired the license for Fading Suns and Ulisses also now owns TORG and is working on a new edition of it. What some of you might not know is that Ulisses is actually a German publisher based in a small town not too far from my home town. This means a local publisher is bringing back a lot of the games I love. They slowly but surely will become a force to be reckoned with on an international level, which is also great for the local roleplaying scene. It’s also great that they’re bringing back the older 40K RPG editions on RPGNow.

I am personally extremely excited about this news and I can’t wait to learn more about the game!

A Roleplaying Games blog