Highlighting a Few New Kickstarter Guidelines

27 June 2019 | 65 Comments

Recently I noticed that Kickstarter has updated some of their creator guidelines, and I thought I’d share a few notable highlights with you today.

The guidelines I’ll discuss are found on a page titled “Honest and Clear Presentation in Projects.” The consequences for not following these guidelines range from “your project being ineligible for promotion to account restrictions or even project suspension.”

The sentences in bold below are direct quotes from the guidelines page–these aren’t my opinions.

Do not make assumptions about whether you’ll be able to sell your product after Kickstarter, such as by referring to its retail value (ex. “50% off retail price” or “35% off MSRP”)

I find this to be an interesting addition. The intent seems to be that Kickstarter wants creators to avoid making claims about an uncertain future. The downside, though, is that it’s common for backers to wonder how the reward cost compares to a future price they might pay if they wait. If this is important enough for Kickstarter to note in their guidelines, I bet we may see them talk about the term “Kickstarter exclusive” in the future, as I’ve seen so many creators use this term in reference to components that end up being sold at conventions, through their webstore, etc (i.e., not actually exclusive to Kickstarter).

Do not use superlatives or puffery to describe your project, such as “the world’s best / smallest / fastest / first / etc.” or “the ultimate / unrivaled / revolutionary / etc.”

I’m not sure this needed an official guideline, but I really like it as a recommendation for creators. I try to avoid any subjective adjectives (e.g., “the art is beautiful” or “the game is so much fun”). Yes, I may think the art is beautiful and the game is fun, but what matters is what you think. I find it to be an instant turnoff when a creator tells me how I should feel about a product.

Set your funding goal according to what you realistically need to completely fulfill your Kickstarter rewards, instead of a low goal that will allow you to claim a quick funding success.

While I think this will be difficult to prove, we may see Kickstarter crack down on projects that reach their goal and then cancel (which often reveals that the creator actually needed a higher amount to make the product). Keep in mind that it’s okay to use non-KS funds; just be transparent about that on the project page.

Do not add popularity badges, such as “Funded in 5 hours!” to your project’s images, videos, or description.

This is interesting because it doesn’t seem to conflict with honesty or transparency to tell backers how quickly a project funded (if you tell the truth about it). There’s some debate as to whether these badges help projects or if they’re just annoying, and it looks like Kickstarter is actively discouraging the practice. I’m fine with that.

Do not use photorealistic renderings anywhere within your project. Do not show your product packaging if it hasn’t been produced yet.

This is a biggee. Can you find any tabletop game Kickstarter project right now that doesn’t feature some photorealistic renderings or a 3D box image? I’m not sure how I feel about this. Again, the intent is good: Kickstarter wants to ensure that the product backers paid to receive is the same as advertised. But just because you show a prototype miniature or game box doesn’t mean that’s what the final version will look like–it’s not necessarily any more accurate than a rendering.

In the past, Kickstarter has highlighted this for technology products (e.g., if you invent a new type of can opener, you need to show a functional prototype in action, not a simulation), but I think this is the first time they’ve extended it to all products. I’m curious if they enforce it.


What are your thoughts on these guidelines? As backers, do you like them, or are there some unintended results? As creators, will you conform to them?


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65 Comments on “Highlighting a Few New Kickstarter Guidelines

  1. Its been a few months since these guidelines were posted, and while there was a stir at first I will say that I’ve seen every single one of these guidelines violated multiple times and I’ve never seen anything done about them. I’m not really clear on the purpose of posting guidelines only to ignore them like this, while they all work towards helping out the little guy in my opinion, not enforcing them totally reverses the intent. The only people it actually changes are the first time creators or small creators who actually read the guidelines and believe in them, larger and more experienced creators seem to just ignore them, so the upshot is that first time creators have more restrictions than experienced ones.

    In relation to some previous comments, I don’t believe that a guideline against ‘funded in’ signs will decrease momentum. In the end, if a project puts up a goal that it needs and it hopes to raise in 30 days, and it raises it in 2 hours, no sign or lack of sign is going to seriously alter that momentum. If you raise £20,000 in your first morning you’re rolling either way. This only really effects projects that don’t actually have that momentum but want to create it with such signs, projects that put reduced goals hoping to turn early funding into significant overfunding.

    On the subject of renders making it harder for small creators, I’d suggest that actually its forcing a closer co-relation between capability and promise. Firstly, getting a render printed with a professional prototyping company costs around £20, so honestly I don’t believe its out of the financial reach of any creator, and certainly not one that is willing to pay for professional renders of 3-D elements anyway. However, it does cut down on a huge source of delay for inexperienced or first time creators, making renders that can actually be made. Secondly, producing mini heavy games is a huge logistical challenge, far more than simply producing the render and requires far more than simply the money to put into place. Shifting the line even a little bit to make those who offer these projects closer to those who can deliver them is I think no bad thing.

  2. It’s funny, as a new one-time (unfunded) KS creator of a tabletop game pretty much ALL of these changes are what I was expecting when I launched on Kickstarter, my experience was not anything like that…

    Rather than creators who have a real, psychical product or prototype mostly ready as I naively had, the campaigns I was seeing were all polished renderings, finished boxes with a MSRP.

    I couldn’t understand how they already had their boxes already, when I hadn’t finalised my artwork, and couldn’t afford to finish it without the Kickstarter funds.

    What was my RRP? I had no idea, first I had to get it off the ground on Kickstarter and all my figures were based on this and not the 5 x COGS needed to make it into Retail.

    I took (professional) photos of my actual prototype, compared to the other campaigns it seemed crude and ‘unfinished’.

    I had expected Kickstarter to be a kick-start for new creators, rather than a marketing tool for polished games and studios. I LIKE seeing the raw, rough prototypes from creators.

    Honestly the whole tabletop gaming category seemed overhyped and inauthentic, I did lose heart that making an actual prototype wasn’t enough anymore.

    So yes, I totally welcome these changes.

    Without taking some action Kickstarter risks losing its major appeal as a incubator of innovation, becoming just another marketplace like eBay, Amazon etc, full of fakes, big promises, free shipping and cheap products.

    Anyway, lots of great feedback on an interesting topic, good to see all sides of the debate, the tabletop gaming community is alive and well!

  3. One thing KS forgot in the new guidelines. A rule notifying backers whenever Golden Bell is involved in a project. In all seriousness I’m glad more attention is being paid to protect backers. Shipping is one of those areas I feel less than reputable creators use to make money and not to simply cover their costs. They also need to do a better job of watching companies with multiple projects at varoius stages of completion. The way this was handled with Papillon was strange and seemed disingenuous, at least from a backers point of view.

  4. I was actually wondering about the fact you have to be able to deliver for the price charged on ks. To me, this means that if I back the project & shipping isn’t included in the ks page (maybe it will be charged later via pledge managers) I’m still eligible for the item as you (the project creator) can’t charge me additional funds in order to fulfil your project.

    This has 2 main impacts as I see it.

    1. KS make more money as they now get to charge their fee on the shipping costs that were starting to be shifted outside of the KS ecosystem, &
    2. Backers no longer get hit with shipping costs that were way above the ‘estimated’ shipping cost shown on the project. I’ve seen many backers venting at the cost being the same or greater than the item cost yet feeling trapped into paying it as they have no recourse to get a refund.

    So, what you see as the cost on Kickstarter, that is charged via Kickstarter, is the only money you are allowed to get from backers to produce & deliver the backed item/s. This could potentially also affect the sale of add-ons via pledge managers as well, since you are charging extra outside of the original KS.

    1. This could really be a problem if you meet a bunch of stretch goals, and end up with a much larger and heavier box. Do you have to calculate ‘maximum possible’ shipping, which is going to seem really high and probably will drive away potential early backers?

  5. The new guides seem fine other than the rendering image one as literally every KS has this. It’s also a massive blow for those planning a KS that have already invested in such things. I’d be interested to see if they enforce that one.

  6. I like most of these changes. The biggest question is about 3d renderings.

    I absolutely *love* getting feedback from my backers. I hope there’s still ways for backers to influence campaigns.

    Ex. Here are some options for the front of the box. What do you prefer?

  7. The first point is very interesting – “Do not make assumptions about whether you’ll be able to sell your product after Kickstarter, SUCH AS by referring to its retail value” – I wonder what other assumptions you’re not allowed to make any more?
    I’ve been quite surprised by the amount of debate generated by Serious Poulp announcing 7th Continent lite last week, having previously give lots of people the impression that it would never be available outside of Kickstarter, so I wonder whether this type of issue is on KS’s minds.
    Of course, as lots of people have pointed out with 7th Continent – when they ran the second campaign, it’s likely/probable/possible that before they got such a big response to the second KS, they DIDN’T know/think that they’d be able to do a retail-ish version. Still, it looks like cautioning people to be more careful is a good idea.

  8. As a backer, I really like the /intent/ of these changes, but it really feels like there could be major problems with enforcement. “Don’t misrepresent your project with unrealistic renders” is a great idea…but as a backer I’d like to see mockups of things as the creator intends to implement them, and renders are way easier to produce than physical prototypes in a lot of cases.

    I think a better rule would be that all renders need to be boldly and dramatically flagged as such, so nobody is under the impression that they’re 100% representative of the final product.

    1. I agree. The rule should be about transparency regarding renderings, not an outright ban of them. There are many good reasons to have renderings. As long as people don’t confuse them with actual photos, I don’t see what the problem is.

  9. I think it’s a huge opportunity for another platform to pull tabletop business. Everything else equal, allowing 3d renderings alone is a decision that could save creators countless thousands of dollars in upfront capital.

  10. As a small (literally alone) creator going to KS soon I’m happy to see most of these guidelines, but the “no 3D rendering” is really surprising. Maybe they put that guideline because of other types of projects (not game related), but personally it is much easier and cost effective to do a 3D rendering than having a high quality physical prototype and high quality camera and lightning set up.

  11. Do not use superlatives or puffery to describe your project, such as “the world’s best / smallest / fastest / first / etc.” or “the ultimate / unrivaled / revolutionary / etc.”

    I hope this doesn’t lead to every second creator using “re-imagined” instead. Like the Tech & Design categories.

    Worker placement re-imagined.
    Dudes on a map re-imagined.
    Auctions re-imagined
    Roll & Move re-imagined ~ although I would like to see that :)

  12. I think the interesting part about their changes is that it lines up with their whole campaign to “break Kickstarter.” Encouraging people to find creative ways to utilize their platform creatively, while instituting stricter guidelines is a bit confusing. I agree that most of these guidelines will benefit the platform, but as many others have said, especially the renderings one must have either grossly ignored the board game category, or they are going to push us off their platform.

    I’ve already seen a couple other platforms pop up specifically for tabletop projects, so I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ends up pulling creators/backers away. It’s certainly a nice healthy market and running a Kickstarter takes a good chunk away from creators (especially if they also use a pledge manager as well.

    1. You’ve peaked my curiosity, what other platforms are out there? I know of crowd sales on Game Crafter but haven’t heard of much else.

  13. Very interesting stuff! Thank you very much for highlighting.

    Personally, I think this is a really odd mix. The rendering point seems very odd. It’s cheap to produce high quality renders these days – much *more* expensive and complex to make a high quality physical prototype. So this surely penalises anyone who wants to make a more complex product (such as minis) but isn’t a better funded creator?

    The “funded in” restriction is also odd. Alongside a sensible funding goal its a strong badge of endorsement. Social proof is just a fundamental marketing mechanism. I can see that there’s some logic in trying to level the playing field for small creators here (who are less likely to be funded as quickly) but this can be a powerful vote of confidence if they manage to produce a product people are keen to back in big numbers (the small creators do it too!). From what I have seen, the nature of successful Kickstarters is that it is an ‘event’ that benefits from momentum because people are excited about it.

    And yet if, they were consistently trying to back the ‘little guy’ here as some of these moves would suggest, their responses to your questions about the Claustrophobia campaign came across to me as very limp (thanks again for following this one up so closely btw!)

    Ultimately, the most defining value of that platform is that it is to empower creators to make something. By definition, a project that has already made the final project, doesn’t need it so a lot of these moves just come across – to me – as rather hypocritical.

    I’m sure it’s not an easy enterprise to run but I would really like to see them get a bit more consistent. Either it’s all about empowering creators who otherwise wouldn’t get the funds, or it evolves naturally into more of a free-for-all funding platform. There are strong arguments for both futures, but this is all coming across as unpredictable and arbitrary.

    1. I don’t know that “event” culture is being driven by KS internally. I also to don’t know that it’s ubiquitous across the platform.

      At the end of the day, the needs of different sized creators is different. The choice between large creators (like claustrophobia) or small creators is not dichotomous. They both have to exist. These changes, imo, help to address some of the bigger issues on the platform while helping to maybe bring some communities that we’ve over indexed on slightly closer to center. In essence, I feel like this is what consistency starts to look like.

  14. The rendering guideline jumped out to me as well, especially for miniatures games or games with miniatures included. It’s easy to make a render of a mini that either couldn’t be made in an injection mold or at least not without a lot of extra cost/work.

    1. Yeah, the rendering one jumped out to me as well.

      Box art fine mockup of the box bad? What? Plus how this feels like it will kill minis focused games on KS to me.

  15. Hi there. So as a small publisher and KS employee (who is not speaking on behalf of KS), I think a lot of these changes are good. (Long post ahead, I could discuss KS all day).

    Something I’m not necessarily seeing discussed in this thread is the culture of the KS community. In my observation there’s a lot of ritual and superstition in KS and a lot of it drive hype and FOMO.

    In the presence of the massive uncertainty that is backing a product (that is manufactured and shipped over seas) people start to look for signal where ever they can find it. Again, to my knowledge, a lot of that signal is not based in data.

    For example, those funded in banners. I find those banners annoying because they are irrelevant. Funded in banners do not correlate (to my knowledge) to an increased quality of product (say higher BGG ratings). They have no significant correlation to having a well executed production with fewer production hiccups (except the implicit one that probably where well funded projects tend to be completed).

    Conversely, I don’t know that data supports that projects which have realistic funding goals, and fund across their project life cycle are prone to lower scores or more shipping delays. I think those banners are false signal. I think those signals are easy to ignore as an experienced KS user, but if you’re new and you see the World’s best can opener / smart assistant was funded in 2 hours and has super sleek 3d renderings then maybe that sounds pretty exciting. Never mind the fact that you won’t see your pledge for 3 years, hahaha.

    A culture that relies on FOMO reminds me of the loot box / gambling conversations that are happening in video games. It’s all kind of like dopamine hacking, Which is kind of by it’s nature not necessarily what leads to a long term sense of satisfaction. I think it’s kind of better to slow down the culture and have people make fewer, well considered purchases, leading to more long term interactions with the platform. Conversely, a FOMO culture is one that will tend towards burn out and TBH long term dissatisfaction or fatigue with the platform. That’s something that I personally hate to see because I love this company and it’s vision.

    In the end, I’d like to see KS move towards supporting both it’s “pre order” creators and it’s small business creators. Ultimately, I think that this is a step in that direction.

    1. I agree, but as an employee does the “project we love” banner fall under the same rules? I’ve backed multiple projects that haven’t delivered and many backers are miffed as the only reason they backed was the ks endorsement itself

  16. Don’t “Use photorealistic renderings anywhere within your project.” – does KS know anything about tooling costs? We can present renderings, handmade/3d printed prototypes or pay thousands of $ (that we don’t have KS) to produce the tools for final components.Yay.

    Don’t “Show your product packaging if it hasn’t been produced yet.” – who needs to see a “packaging art” anyway? :)

    Overall, the rules break the way the games are presented novadays. I’m very curious how the new way of presenting will look like.

      1. Our case: custom dice – pretty common. We use stickers for prototypes but we know – and inform – that that’s not the final form of them. Suddenly we would have to make 3d models and 3d prints or write just a mention “this will change”. Yeah – writing in an image-oriented world…Just another face-palm and keep workin’ :)

  17. Very nice article, Jamey.

    While in my opinion Kickstarter is making those statements for EVERY kind of project (not only board games), I haven’t the slightest idea for the way other type of campaigns are handled. Maybe Movies category shows more that the final product, maybe Gadgets use 3D render in a different way from Tabletop category. In any case, it is their site and their regulations and should we want to use its services, we have to accept them; if there is not another alternative on equal terms.

    Second, about final presentation. As the title “Honest and Clear Presentation in Projects” states, if a creator honestly enters a line beneath components “Final artwork/miniatures/graphics/box design are prototypes and subject to change”, there shouldn’t be a problem. That could also be at Risk and Challenges section.

    I totally agree with badges and low funding goals. Claustrophobia had $89 as funding goal and reached it within 3”. So, be it self funded it could be outside Kickstarter. For certain Kickstarter has a huge cut from those kind of projects and it is not beneficial to them, but those regulations may make small creators rise up like it used to be. A nice step towards new creators, I would say.

    As for MSRPs, board game retailers say that when a potential customer asks for a price, they compare it not to the lowest they find online, but to the Kickstarter price. So:
    a $50 game that is sold $49,99 at a shop near you,
    or $39,99+5 shipping = $44,99 from an online shop,
    or $40 shipping included on Kickstarter,
    or even $30+10 shipping worldwide on Kickstarter,

    The eyes of the customer lock on $30 and they have the feeling they are being ripped off. (They shouldn’t, because they missed their chance at the campaign or didn’t want to invest, but they do). Yes, it would be ideal to not mix Kickstarter price (which is not a purchase, but an investment) with MSRP, but I welcome any idea to compare backing NOW instead of buying later.

    Sorry for the long post, I had much to say this time :)

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Harry. I’m equally interested in a way to help backers compare backing now instead of buying later. Maybe that information could be in a “why back now” box, complete with a clear disclaimer saying the hypothetical retail price IF the game is distributed that way in the future.

  18. I welcome these changes as a creator and a backer, I think it helps to level the playing field for us smaller indie guys. I did hear though that Luke hadn’t decided if the render element would be applied to boardgames as it is kinda backwards – funding is needed to make these items a reality which is the grass roots purpose of kickstarter. I used 3d printed models on my page but renders are still part of even the finished product. I wonder what effect this will have then on mechanic gifs made from the likes of tabletopia.

  19. Wow! This is big news as I’m currently working on a Kickstarter page. Jamey – Do you think that the badge regulations could be avoided by just focusing on that message off of kickstarter? i.e. having the “Funded in 5 hours!” copy running just on ads off of Kickstarter?

    Another thing regarding 3D renderings – We have Dice printed a purple color, but also wanted to give 2 other options on color and run a poll to see what people wanted. Do you think the 3D rendering regulations would apply even to something like that?

    1. Austin: If sharing that badge is important to you, Kickstarter can’t regulate anything you do off of their platform (as far as I’m aware).

      I think your dice question highlights why renderings can be really helpful. In that instance, I can’t see Kickstarter taking action against your project.

      1. I went back and read it again – I’m thinking the Dice color render would be a no. :/

        “X Heavily manipulate your images to show future functionality, including color variations and software integration.”

  20. I’d think if you don’t use renderings and only show a printed product, the backer would feel like they have less of a chance to impact the product with feedback.

  21. Personally as a creator these guidelines are all things I’m pretty happy about, but I’m a small time independent creator. I’ve not managed to get games into widespread distribution yet so avoiding claims about RRP are good, I don’t produce games big enough to need miniatures so don’t need to render 3D images and haven’t the resources to do so anyway and have always used photos of prototype versions and physical videos thereof. If I was a company who could afford to do any of those things or one with pre-established distribution channels I might find these suggestions difficult or annoying, but as it is it feels like a levelling of the playing field for smaller creators.

    As for fast funding badges, I agree with taking a stand against them. A project coming from a large company can set its funding at any level, since they don’t actually need the funds, and so can claim a quick funding badge more easily. On the other hand a Creator who actually needs a certain level of funding is stuck at a higher level. Also, I would suggest that a project that only just makes it over the line needs funding far more than one that funded in day one, it seems to be a move by Kickstarter to encourage more projects from more creators to fund rather than fewer projects to fund at higher levels. Why they have done so I’m not certain, but for someone at my end of the creator food chain they all seem positive changes.

  22. It says that the MRSP is just guidance, a recommendation, not a rule, but then says your campaign can be suspend if you don’t follow the guidance. It also says that the rules section must be followed. Very confusing.

    With the ban on rendering it’s going to make a lot of stretch goals impossible to show.

    “Any features you’re promising to deliver to backers must be included in your prototype documentation.”

    That KS page shows a GIF animation of a product working and had a red (don’t) next to it. A lot of board game pages use animations to explain the rules. That is a very big problem.

    What about the KS videos like the Scythe video and CMONs. Might be hard to do if you can’t show renderings or digitally move things around on the board.

    “A single-shot, unedited video created on your cell phone is a good way to illustrate the full range of your product’s features and functionality.”

    1. The bit about what you promise must be included in your prototype doco should mean that the demand from backers for new stuff e.g. solo mode, new character abilities etc, can’t be offered as they weren’t included in the original ks. Hopefully this means that the number of projects that fund because they’ve decided to add x-item that then fail to deliver because they didn’t realise the true cost is reduced.

  23. From all of the changes I’ve heard, it seems like Kickstarter is trying to get back to its roots, a website for creators who need to drum up the funds to create something cool. There has been a lot of accusations in the board game community that Kickstarter has just become a glorified pre-order website, I can see how adding these new regulations are an attempt to cut down on that.

    1. Although, I can see how not allowing photorealistic renderings would show just the opposite point. It’s hard to have something tangible to share with backers if you don’t have the funds to create the tangible items.

      1. My best guess is that the issue with Photorealistic renders is that it’s a marketing asset that can be very expensive for a small business to obtain, and Kickstarter maybe wants to move away from that being an expectation for the platform.

        I’m wondering though if this is more of an issue with non-game projects. Is Kickstarter worried about people faking box art or is the actual issue someone coming up with and marketing some gadget only to deliver a very different looking object.

        1. And yet Blender is free and works as well as any professional program for most basic 3D rendering purposes, and if you still don’t have art with which to texture your highly complicated model (a lowly cube, if we’re talking about a render of the game box) you probably aren’t ready to launch a Kickstarter anyway.
          No, the ability to have a physical prototype created and then photographed professionally is much more expensive for the little guy.
          In my case, yes I have some physical prototypes. The problem? They get outdated really really fast, as I make changes and improvements to the game’s art. So I had them made back at the beginning of the year and by now they’re completely obsolete. I’d need new prototypes at this point. And then as soon as something else changes I’d need new prototypes again. That’s a lot of money, and more importantly, time, wasted, simply because “3D renders are a lie and evil and bad” which makes no sense anyway. That point made about being completely unable to portray stretch goals or future plans is entirely valid as well.
          Fortunately, it appears at this point that the silly 3D render restrictions are being ignored, at least for board games.

          1. At this point it appears that all of the restrictions are being ignored.
            Just to say, there is a difference here between a 3d render of a box or a card, and a 3d render of a mini. I don’t really think the intention of and the problem that this guideline was intended to combat was about boxes, but companies that display images of games with ranks of minis, not one of which has ever existed in a physical format. I know of projects delayed by months because when the first mini was cast it failed and needed to be re-designed, changing the look and resulting in a product that looked different from the one offered.

  24. Jamey,

    As a backer, I’m most concerned about the last two guidelines. The popularity badges provide a sense of authority and security for the project. As a backer, I think it’s nice to know it has funded so quickly. I guess you can see that it is funded regardless in most cases but may not know the time in which it funded. I do think it helps more than hurts a project. I agree with your honesty remark.

    The photorealistic rendering is concerning for both the creator and backer. If backers can’t see what they are getting then is the page mostly text when it comes to the box and board renderings? A lot of projects usually put a disclaimer near an image that it isn’t finalized or may vary slightly. I don’t see a problem with that as long as the creator acknowledges there might be some differences in the final version.

    From a creator standpoint, would they need to receive a near-finished prototype before their KS campaign? This guideline seems detrimental if it is enforced.


    1. Reed: Thanks for sharing your perspective as a backer. My perception is that Kickstarter is pushing creators towards having accurate prototypes, which I think is fine…but if Kickstarter itself is an act of collaborative creation, I think some flexibility is good too. I would hope that the types of disclaimers you mentioned would be enough.

      1. This may also be what Robert Wood was pointing toward. Having to have a finished prototype seems more accessible to established companies that are using KS as a pre-order platform other than independent creators who are pursuing a dream. The whole thing appears to be written from a “looking out for the little guy” tone, but I fear they actually set up a bigger hurdle for the little guy.

        I would also add that I fear the interpretation of these new guidelines allows for them to be unequally enforced.

        Only time will tell. Hopefully this does pan out as being beneficial to all who use KS.

        Thanks for your thoughts Jamey and everyone who’s commented.

        1. Do talk about what you’re hoping to achieve with your backers’ support.

          Do not use imagery or video that is heavily suggestive of future functionality.

          So the adage of “Show, not Tell” goes out the window..

  25. This is positive overall in my opinion – I think at the end of the day it forces creators to invest more in their product upfront instead of “puffery”, which I think is healthy.

    The 3d render bit will certainly change the landscape of board games on Kickstarter. Really curious to see how that plays out.

  26. Something I saw noted around the discussion of superlatives was that they wouldn’t be enforcing a rule against it (so you can do it if you want) it would just influence what projects Kickstarter chooses to promote.

    My guess is that these are based around what Kickstarter wants to see itself as, which is a way for relatively independent creators to get funding, rather than a marketing platform (which it can effectively be, I think).

    1. It’s interesting that you say that, since I had sort of the opposite read. It seems to me like they are trying to discourage common marketing tactics you see from a lot of semi-mainstream companies.

      1. I may just not know the current lingo, but wouldn’t there be a difference between a “rendering” (even a 3D one) and a “photorealistic rendering?” I would expect that a rotating gif of a mini would be fine as long as it wasn’t made to look like a finished object being filmed. And surely prototype box art against a white background, properly labeled as a rendering would be allowed.

    2. How so, specifically in terms of these guidelines? A pre-order is when a company has already finalized a product and is accepting orders for it. While Kickstarter seems to want accuracy, transparency, and honesty, I don’t think these guidelines target new/small creators.

      1. Speaking to the need for “accuracy, transparency, and honesty”, I’ve wondered what would happen if Kickstarter required public cost breakdown/forecast spreadsheets for campaigns. There could be a number of benefits:

        1) it would help creators avoid costing mistakes, which are common and sometimes deadly. You could share cost forecasts with interested parties before your campaign starts, as part of the campaign preview. I know even experienced creators who don’t maintain the discipline of costing everything out beforehand, and I think they would only be helped by this requirement. It might also mean fewer failed deliveries and more trust in KS over time.

        2) it would help educate backers about what it takes to bring a new product to market, and maybe help turn some of them into creators themselves.

        3) it might help keep the focus more on creation and less on big rah-rah marketing things, by making the discussion a little more nuts & bolts.

        It could also spawn problems though. There’s a lot of entitlement on Kickstarter and I can imagine it being amplified through this: “You’re getting $X gross margin! Surely you can afford to give us [whatever thing that one backer wants]”

          1. Agreed. It’s a fundamental aspect of the business that most people run into blindly and get hosed on.

        1. My gut instinct was to dislike this idea though I had considered exposing the data for my campaign. I think there are a number of complexities that make it unrealistic ahead of time. 1) forecasting. Really, if Stonemaier can’t always get this right (no offense intended) how can a first time publisher get it right. 2) It all depends on the forecast. The economics for a KS will vary widely depending on the resulting revenue generated. 3) Does the first time KS know if they can sell into distribution, no. So how do you plan to work that into the equation and if you do how many units are you going to sell. 4) Do you wrap in company/brand building costs? For example, as a first time publisher we spent a lot to build awareness for the game and company. Do I burden my KS with that or not. 5) Some publishers are willing to take a loss on a game and others are not. Should one be punished or rewarded? Anyway, I like the idea but the devil is in the implementation. Things I like about the idea: helping backers understand the costs associated with bringing a game to their door.

          1. Interesting points!

            1) Your first objection, “how can a first-time publisher get it right?”, sounds to me like an argument in favor of public forecasting. First-time creators need help, and public data would make them more likely to get it. It’s a natural impulse to hide our ignorance, and that keeps us from learning as well or as fast as we otherwise could. Compulsory forecasts could be a nice nudge away from that impulse. And like you say, it’s a tough problem for even experienced creators. And just imagine how much easier it would be if a first time creator could look at a bunch of other campaign’s cost breakdowns in the process of learning how to do it!

            2) “The economics for a KS will vary widely depending on the revenue generated” – this is true but to me, it’s a reason to do more forecasting, not less. Specifically, forecasting multiple funding scenarios. This is important because the mechanics of manufacturing and fulfillment can change depending on the size of the raise, and so cost structure along with it (e.g. a small creator plans to fulfill rewards herself, but the campaign becomes too popular for that to be feasible).

            3) Another reason to forecast multiple scenarios!

            4) This is the most interesting question for me, because I think it would be the most scary for many creators, especially creators with sophisticated marketing operations, who might be uncomfortable revealing just how much they’re spending, or what they’re spending on. There’s a justified cultural ambivalence about marketing, and marketers know this. Your use of the word “burden” suggests maybe you feel that too?

            No doubt marketing budgets for campaigns are all over the map, and some creators might be embarrassed to reveal how much they’re spending. It’s easy to imagine some fudging their numbers. I personally would love more transparency about this, and maybe start some conversations about the nature and value of different kinds of marketing.

            5) I imagine creators whose goal is more profit-centered might be called out for that, and therefore dissuaded. No doubt many creators wouldn’t be cool with that. On the other hand, I imagine that a lot of backers, as well as some people at KS, might like the resulting shift of incentives. On the *other* other hand, KS benefits very materially from big, sophisticated marketing spends that draw in a lot of backers. They grow the platform, and KS gets a cut of the generated revenue without having to pay for any of that marketing. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

        2. I like this idea, especially from the standpoint of preventing cost oversights and education I have a concern about the privacy of the services you contract from other individuals. My concern is some form of “you did it for company x for this amount, why are you charging me more?”

          1. I don’t imagine you’d have to list specific vendors. Rather, just generic types of costs. e.g. “ad campaign”, “Kickstarter video production”, “pledge manager”, etc.

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