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Patreon for games

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by neginfinity, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    I'm looking for general information on using patreon for games. (Because I don't have experience with marketing and the whole social networking stuff)

    Guidelines/anything pretty much.

    At the moment I have impression that the platform may not be very useful for games in general, unless someone is making adult content.

    So, if anyone used patreon for their game and is willing to share info, I'm all ears.
     
  2. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    The main problem is that if you aren't regularly putting out content where you can pound the message of "if you like what I do, then become my patron", it's hard then for it to get any traction. It's easy to find adult content that is successful, but it's part and parcel of their quick iteration times (find a three month stretch where they are ever quiet). Then there are a couple others like Dwarf Fortress that have lived on donations long before patreon, and simply jumped to a new service.
     
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  3. sokki

    sokki

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    I'm not a big fan of Patreon because as RockoDyne said, its hard to get traction especially on start. If the game don't get any income (donation) it won't be much longer before the developers put it aside and focus onto a new game. Donation works only if you are Wikipedia owner, and place a good banner on its homepage :p
     
  4. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    I don't use Patreon personally @neginfinity so feel free to disregard.

    Just letting you know I have investigated it when I started thinking about doing the Indie thing several months back (before I completely burnt out and left for a couple of months lol).

    There are some people who are making a small amount of money from Patreon to support development of their game(s).

    Kitty Horrorshow currently has 166 patreons generating $822 per month for work on a Haunted Cities which appears to be an ultra low poly game of one kind or another.

    Rose Morgan currently has 19 patreons generating $256 per month for work on Hyaline which is described as a "symbiotic survival game on an alien planet"

    There are many other game devs there as well but other than the ones who already had a huge following elsewhere most of these people are receiving less than $100 per month.

    But that is specifically for supporting people's development of their game(s).

    Now, if you are interested in teaching game dev with tutorials things get a whole lot better. I've seen patreon accounts pulling in ~$5k per month simply for writing general game dev articles or for providing art tutorials or programming tutorials.

    One interesting case I've found is ThinMatrix who currently has 119 patreons generating $1,127 per month for game dev logs and videos of games he is making. So, as you can see this is basically him getting $1,127 per month to make games but he is spinning it differently. He is letting people look behind the curtain so to speak. Giving patreons an inside look at what he is actually doing while building the game(s). Basically he is just creating dev logs and letting the patreons read / watch those dev logs.

    Also, if you had the interest in such a thing, you could most likely do a series on ultra low poly 3D modeling for games and I think you'd find much more interest in that than you would support for any specific game idea you may have. The work I've seen makes you very qualified to do such a thing. Because basically your target market would be newbies. People who want to model and don't have a clue. Also programmers like myself who would like to learn some basics without taking some formal course, etc.

    You may be interested in a new thread I just posted. Which is about short dev cycles on games and an example. Which shows a probably better more traditional route to take.

    Anyway, I hope some of that helps in some tiny way at least.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  5. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

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    Yeah looks like youll need like 100 paterons to make enough per month but they would have to be long time fans of your content

    Slowbeef who does lets plays and has been doing it since 2006 is getting 2.5k per month off 113 people.
    https://www.patreon.com/slowbeef
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  6. Ryiah

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    Some quick searching shows both of these developers are active across multiple social media platforms and have some past games to their name. Have to wonder how the others who are below the mark you set qualify in comparison.

    https://kittyhorrorshow.itch.io/
    https://twitter.com/kittyhorrorshow

    https://machinesbleedtoo.itch.io/
    https://twitter.com/machinesbleed2
     
  7. GarBenjamin

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    I think that will always be the case Ryiah. Whether people like it or not a big part of success is all in how much clout you have built up. If a person wants to be a successful Indie game dev I think they better start focusing on building a community of fans or at least some kind of following.
     
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  8. Ryiah

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    Here are two examples of tutorial creators that I recognized and they show just how much of a difference the amounts can be despite having user bases that aren't as different in size. Maybe those of us who prefer text-based tutorials are just cheap.

    https://www.patreon.com/catlikecoding
    https://www.patreon.com/quill18creates

    Additionally I'm surprised a certain bored fellow hasn't at least tried it to find out what happens. :p
     
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  9. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

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    Maybe youd have better luck just making games like day of the broom type games every month and then people pay $10 a month to get the new game. And building up a small niche audience.

    Guardian looks cool and you made that in 1 weekend
     
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  10. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    I would suspect it requires more patrons than that. A high patron number is a better sign of sustainability. People paying high dollar amounts tend to be quite volatile and don't last very long, never mind any shenanigans that can make the dollar.

    Also if anyone wants to look at better numbers/charts, check out graphtreon.
     
  11. nipoco

    nipoco

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    That's not just Patreon though.
    Putting a game on Steam for example (Greenlight/Store) doesn't magically give you a huge number of followers/buyers.
    You always have to start small and build your way up with quality content.
     
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  12. Kiwasi

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    A few cents per forum post and I could retire tomorrow. :p

    I actually looked at Patreon. I'm set up, but not live. Things were just getting big enough to think about going live when I got made redundant, moved countries and stopped making regular videos.

    Now that life's back in order, I should revisit it again.
     
  13. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    That's the plan at the moment. I have at least 2 more ideas that could fit into this format.

    Although as far as I can tell at the moment, just one month may not be enough for polishing "Guardian" into the shape I want - not until I develop a proper framework I can keep reusing across projects.
     
  14. Aiursrage2k

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    I guess you need to be able to get to the point where you could make content regularly so that people would want to keep subscribing for more content.
     
  15. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Does Google allow you to embed ads into your signature? :p
     
  16. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Step one: buy unity technologies...

    IIRC you're supposed to own the site from which you're getting adsense revenue.

    Your post made me wonder if episodic structure makes sense in this kind of scenario.
     
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  17. Aiursrage2k

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    Yeah I was thinking some kind of tell tale type scheme. Where each month you release a single chapter (level(s)) which could even end up with a better product​
     
  18. Carve_Online

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    Unless it was some story-element game where you are adding new content every month, Patreon is not for you. It just is the wrong platform for ´a game´ .. it is more for people who are putting out content regularly.

    Kickstarter or Steam Early Access are better ways to do it, although both are problematic. Also for what it´s worth, Indiegogo in my opinion is better than Kickstarter because you can get the money even if you don´t reach your goal.
     
  19. Kiwasi

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    This. The first step of implementing google ads is proving you own the site.
     
  20. TonyLi

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    If you don't reach your goal:
    1. Not enough people were interested in your game. You probably shouldn't just forge ahead and try to make it anyway without reevaluating first.
    2. You presumably won't have enough funds to finish your game, so is it really ethical to take the money?
     
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  21. Kiwasi

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    It's also worth noting that people are less likely to support 'dev gets money regardless' campaigns.

    If you need 300k to make what I want, I feel safe donating $30 knowing I won't loose it unless you make 300k. Thus you will have the money to fund the project.

    On the other hand if you run a dev keeps all campaign an only make 10k, you probably can't deliver what I expected for my money. This my money is gone forever.
     
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  22. Ryiah

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    Alternatively they simply failed to market it properly. Just look at the Kickstarter for Poncho, the game being discussed a few threads down, and notice how it didn't even get a fraction of the funds necessary. The Gamasutra article covering their failure specifically mentions they had done no marketing whatsoever.

    http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DanHayes/20170106/288790/PONCHO__A_Postmortem.php
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1971413574/poncho-an-open-world-puzzle-platformer?ref=card
     
  23. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    One major problem with the idea of Patreon for games is that if the person is making sufficient amounts, they might keep working...and keep working...and keep working...on the game. And never release it--what's their incentive to?

    (Exhibit A, Star Citizen)(said as an SC backer for $30)

    I feel certain I saw an article or something about this recently, but can't remember where.

    The problem with this is that you have to set an amount for the Kickstarter. And "your" amount may simply be too much--more than you need, or more than you could expect for whatever niche you're in.

    It's possible to have a good idea for a game with plenty of people interested, but be completely unknowledgeable about the funds required. Though of course, it's almost certainly the opposite way--costs end up being more than expected. But it's a possibility.
     
  24. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    The way I see it you'll need to keep producing contnet to keep patrons interested, otherwise they'll just leave and you'll get nothing. It is kinda similar to getting paid hourly - if someone gets a bright idea to "earn more" by artificially prolonging work, it'll result in a loss, because the client will be less likely to come again.

    Hmm....
     
  25. Stardog

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    Star Citizen isn't a good example. It takes that long to make the game they're making.

    Wolfire (Overgrowth) and SpyParty are better examples.
     
  26. TonyLi

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    On the other hand, if they can't handle the marketing sufficiently to meet their funding goals, it might be a red flag that their project lacks something critical and might be too big a gamble. Perhaps they lack the leadership to bring someone on board with a bit of marketing savvy, or their idea doesn't resonate with enough people, or their development team has a bad track record or no track record at all.

    As you wrote below, this is almost never the case. Inexperienced teams who got kickstarted and failed almost always ran out of money earlier than anticipated. And if they're asking for too little without explaining how they plan to cover the rest, it's another red flag that they probably don't know how to scope or budget.

    As a developer, it took me a long time to appreciate the other side -- marketing, management, accounting, etc. Again I think it's a red flag if their team lacks those essential capabilities.

    That said, if someone has a game idea that they're really passionate about, just go ahead and make it. Take the risks, make the sacrifices, follow your vision, and go for it! Please just think twice before risking taking down backers with you. Not only does it suck for them, but it also spoils the waters for other passionate devs who want to crowdfund in the future.

    ---

    I just realized how off-topic this got.

    I think another potential avenue for Patreon is someone building middleware, such as an RPG framework that patrons could access to make their own games, and have some input on the direction of its development.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  27. EternalAmbiguity

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    It's more than possible to add "content" which doesn't really benefit the game in any way.

    I don't agree at all (that SC is taking a long time simply because "it takes that long to make games like that"). Take a look at their Kickstarter for a quick example. There was no Squadron 42, gameplay description was a lot sparser than what they have it as now, and the estimated delivery data was November 2014.

    The game has suffered significant scope creep, and they've consistently delayed each and every module that they've released. Either Roberts just doesn't know how to manage time (and sees fit to "refactor" extensively), or they're deliberately stringing people along.

    I think it's the former, and I'm still looking forward to the game. But it is definitely an example of development with continual donations where the pace of the development seems to have slowed (at least the last year or so, things seem to have picked up again with Star Marine releasing, which I hope to try soon).

    Sorry, I'm getting off-topic too.

    There actually IS a company I know of who's making games (or visual novels) who uses Patreon (Alice in Dissonance), but their games are very short (yet are somewhat expensive); in addition, their next upcoming game seems to have slipped significantly from their original intended release date--and the scope on both that game and another upcoming game (which was actually part of one they already released, but they split it into two games) seems to have grown dramatically.

    Additionally, their patreon seems to mainly focus on releasing art images rather than actual game updates.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  28. Ryiah

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    To be fair they also suffered from having entirely too much money thrown at them. Part of the problem if you ask me is that the number was made public after the Kickstarter and thus they may feel that their audience will be upset with them if they don't invest every cent that is visible. Last I checked, a few minutes ago, it was just over $140 million.

    By comparison the Kickstarter itself only hit $2.1 million. If they hadn't progressed much beyond that I believe the game would have already been finished and in our hands now, but instead they multiplied that initial sum within months of the Kickstarter.
     
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  29. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    This statement sounds strange to me.

    If people like the new content, it benefits the game, because it keeps funding flowing, even if it does not really add anything to gameplay.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  30. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I agree. In fact, they stopped the stretch goals at 65 million, and they removed the "XX MILLION RAISED" on the front page a while back to attempt to change the focus of the whole endeavor.

    The first sentence of that funding page is kind of worrying, though: "As a crowd funded project, Star Citizen's scope is based directly on the support provided by our backers."

    That's...not really how development is supposed to work, is it?

    See my example near the end of my (habitually over-long) post. The artist for a company that makes VNs (which are, like, 30-40% art) is making multiple high-res pictures a week and releasing them, rather than providing consistent updates on the games in development (which have grown in scope, probably in response to the increased funding).

    I disagree that "keeps funding flowing" actually benefits the game. It benefits the company, or the people in the company, but the game benefits from being a complete product, not simply from raking in endless amounts of cash.

    And I think it's worrying when we see stuff like companies spending lots of time and money on things tangential to the game development itself, such as making a bunch of in-universe short stories and ship trailers and having an actual monthly magazine for a game which isn't out yet. At that point people aren't as invested in a game as they are the idea around the game, and the "world" the game is set in (as someone who followed the development of FF XV for years, I certainly know a little about that). And at that point the incentive isn't to finish a game...it's to provide content which keeps the subscribers entertained and shelling out cash.

    Seriously, just go to Star Citizen's website and look at the "Comm-Links." There is so, so much chaff there, with very little actual development information/progress being presented.
     
  31. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Hmm. I sorta see your point, but I disagree with it.

    Funding keeps development going on. No funding - no development.
    Even if people shift too much attention towards producing in-universe art-work, as long as supporters are happy with that, I don't see much problem with it.

    Basically, game development does not have any rules, and it is not "supposed to work" in any specific way. People explore different models and see what works for them and what doesn't. Trying to stick too rigidily to "the one true way of doing things", may hurt your project.

    At the time where focus shifts away from making actual game, they're no longer selling the game, but the franchise. Think about Angry Birds plush toys, for example.
     
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  32. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Were Angry Birds plush toys sold before or after the game was made? There's a reason why Ubisoft gets flak for selling "iconic hats" before a game is even released.

    And if everyone's okay with it, of course it's hard to say there's anything "wrong." But what about those of us who aren't okay with it, who actually want "the best ---- space sim ever" and not dozens of "in-universe" stories to parse through? We get left out in the cold.

    If all of this stuff is getting a game the funding it *needs* to proceed to completion, then that's one thing. But if the company is already making money hand over fist and has more than enough to make the game, then diverting resources elsewhere is only slowing production.

    Agree to disagree I suppose. Nothing wrong with that. Just consider that some potential "backers" or subscribers might have that mindset.
     
  33. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Those of you who aren't okay with it have an option to vote with their wallets.

    You can :
    • refuse to support star citizen
    • attempt to demand a refund if you already supported it and the company's goals no longer match your own.
    • support another project.
    • attempt to make your own game instead of waiting for someone else to finish it.
    Basically, the situation goes like this:
    • YOU want "the best spacesim game"
    • SOmeone else starts making the project that matches your interests.
    • Then halfway through they switch development focus.
    • YOU get frustrated.
    Now, here's a question. Did the project lead do anything wrong? I mean, it is their project, and you are a backer and not an investor/employer, which pretty much mean different contract terms (basically, you threw money at them in hopes that they will make something you'll like).

    Actually, I need to think this over. There's some interesting information underneath all this...
     
  34. aer0ace

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    I highly recommend reading the article Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen on Kotaku. It's a long read, but highly in-depth. I just don't think everyone that's commented about it on here is fully informed of the goings-on.

    I have nothing to contribute to the Patreon discussion directly, so apologies in advance for supporting the side convo,.. but not really.
     
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  35. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I don't think the problem is that they intentionally switched their focus. I think the problem is that as a result of the money (and poor decisions like hiring a company to make the FPS portion before scrapping it entirely to work on it on their own) they are losing focus.

    And that can probably happen to anyone.

    I would also recommend Polygon's article as well, as well as Escapist's second big article (after the inflammatory one). But only if you're really, really interested in all this.
     
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  36. Carve_Online

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    1. I am not sure. Obviously if 1000 people fund you, they are going to buy the game, but does that mean many other people will buy it? Sometimes the biggest success stories on kickstarter are for very niche items that are not financially viable.

    2. Time and Scope.- You can make a game for free, or you can get funded and have a few contractors, buy some models etc. I know for us, we do not need money before launch, but I could see a scenario where if we did have money, we could buy character models and hire someone to do unique AI´s for those creatures and add a lot of ´rare´ stuff to the game. Really the opposite of WOW, where if they create a model, they make sure it is found at 10 different places and everyone sees it. But really, it is more about time.. the more funding you have the faster you might be able to get things done as and Indy.
     
  37. TonyLi

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    Good points. Crowdfunding has been fantastic for niche games that would never have been made through a traditional publishing model.

    Let's just say it's all about communication, then. The developer should just make it very clear what the crowdfunding is for and try not to overpromise.
     
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  38. Carve_Online

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    Yeah, Crowdfunding has just been getting stupid, which I think is why it lost traction for game development. The original idea was it was for ideas, and then the money would make the idea come true. But then you have huge famous developers doing crowdfunding, failing the kickstarter, and then just making the game anyway because they had enough money all along.... and then you have games like GreedMonger who got almost twice what they asked for, and then couldn´t even get close to making an actual game. I personally hate KS, I think now it is just developers pushing the ´risk´ onto future customers. Hey, if you give me money, i will spend the next year trying to make this game, if I don´t make it, no big deal because I got paid for it anyway. I think it is good if developers are hanging on the success of their game and have a little more skin in the game.

    Which is one of the reasons I like Patreon.. it is more about rewarding someone for past contributions and encouraging them to create more. There are Itch.io type developers who do ´game a money´ jams and can produce some decent, fun ( for a few hours) games. That is more in line with what Patreon is for...
     
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  39. sokki

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    I meant that almost all games on Patreon can be published, while, like you said, on Steam there is the Greenlight process which works as a filter to all types of games. Yea, its not magic, and ofc, building up slowly is the best way.
     
  40. Kiwasi

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    Mines live now. Feel free to check it out.

    https://www.patreon.com/boredmormon

    It's not exactly targeting games, it's looking at tutorials instead. But I imagine the life cycle will be pretty similar. If anyone is interested I can post updates on how it goes.
     
  41. AndreasU

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    It depends if your game lives up to the promises you made in the Kickstarter. If it does i'd think you'd see a LOT higher sales on completion.

    Well, sometimes... Very rarely.
    The highest funded KS projects these days are highly marketed and highly marketable projects. Or scams - if you can get someone with reach to say "this cannot be done", you're practically funded because so many people react so strongly to that (adversely, they will usually cite the Wright Brothers; and they dont seem to care if your project is to rebuild the Moon with cheese - as long as someone says "it cant be done", you're a made man or woman).

    How you are describing it, might be how Kickstarter started out or was supposed to work in the long run. But i dont think that is the case any more. Yes, there are a projects like that, that are trying to do something that would be unfundable - ie Bill Nye's little spacecraft. Because people consider them as valuable, but are not economical. So here, KS is actually being used to fix a market failure.

    But that doesnt seem to be the rule to me.

    Often, economically unfundable projects are simply scams or pseudo-scams (by which i mean projects that are dishonest but would, legally, not be qualified as a scam). And keep in mind that only economically unfundable projects would need KS in theory.

    Most of the rest are heavily marketed and/or easily marketable projects. Because that is what is naturally drawing the attention of the public on the social network Kickstarter. Look at serial Kickstarters. Wouldnt you think that eventually, when they get their bills paid to make a successful game, that they could fund the next game on their own? Yeah, me too, but Kickstarter isnt only regarded as free money but as cheap advertisment.

    Do you have examples for that?
     
  42. TonyLi

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    I could point to the big ones like the Double Fine Adventure and Star Citizen -- both crowdfunding successes in genres that big publishers weren't interested in at the time. (Thimbleweed Park was also successfully crowdfunded, but by then successfully crowdfunded adventure games had repopularized the genre.) But there are so many awesome smaller niche games like Crossing Souls (which was picked up by Devolver after their Kickstarter success), Aviary Attorney, Elegy for a Dead World, Sunless Sea, This is the Police, The Fall, Hyper Light Drifter, Superhot, etc. Sure Superhot is an FPS, but with an abstract visual style that's a far cry from, well, Far Cry. But there's a ton of metroidvanias, and what big publisher in the age of GTA and Assassin's Creed is going to pick up a 4-hour metroidvania? (Sorry, I got lazy after linking the first game -- which is an awesome upcoming game if you liked Stranger Things or Ready Player One. But the others are just a quick google search away of course.)
     
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  43. AndreasU

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    Interesting, this game
    http://www.fantasystrike.com/
    is monetizing via Patreon.

    It's already far in development though. But it might be worth looking into how they marketed themselves.