27 June 2019 | 61 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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