Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Up on a soapbox: Crowd-funding

Today I'm beginning a new semi-regular (not too regular) series of entries on the blog I'm calling "Up On A Soapbox".  Basically it's just going to be me giving you my 2-cents worth on an issue I see affecting gaming and the gaming industry.  To be really transparent about ALL these entries they really are just my opinion and I would certainly like to hear any responses any of you have.  And now without any further ado...crowd-funding.

I decided I wanted to speak about crowd-funding in the gaming business because I've spoken up about it a bunch of times on Facebook and I realise that some people might have misunderstood my position and I'd like to delve into it a bit more deeply.

First up let me say I think crowd-funding is GREAT!  Not just for the gaming industry but across the board.  It gives aspiring artists and business people a chance to bring products to market that might otherwise never have seen the light of day.  I think crowd-funding is the best example I can think of in recent years of the free-market actually working the way it's supposed to.
Based on the success that a lot of independents in the gaming industry had in the early days of Kickstarter and Indiegogo something has changed, and that thing is larger more established companies jumping into the pool.  Now on it's face I don't think there's anything wrong with that but in the last year or so I have seen 2 products on Kickstarter from companies that have been in this industry for 30 years or so that are basically part of their existing product lines and 2 products from a company that is owned by the license holder of the product they're "kickstarting".  My issue with these types of releases is that they are little more than thinly veiled attempts to cut retailers and wholesalers out of the marketplace.  When someone new or unconnected or any kind of outsider goes this route they are trying to succeed in the face of an industry that they have no support from but when you've had other businesses contribute to your success over the years and you cut them out of the pie at your first opportunity I think that's just low.

I'm not saying anyone reading this should boycott crowd-funding or anything radical like that but what I am saying is this; if you get value from your local gaming store don't buy products you could be buying from them (and will end up playing with in their store) from other sources just because they're cheaper.  Our local gaming stores need all the support we can give them and the good ones have earned our business.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know.


1 comment:

  1. I can't agree more Jay. Certain companies, specifically Wyrd Miniatures, have done a superb job of using crowd funding to further their company without undercutting or blatently removing the suppliers and retailers who make a living off selling their product. Other companies, however, like the guys who make Zombiecide, have almost completely removed retailers from the equation for all their products. Not only does it remove the retailer's excitement (and thus cut out an entire section of prospective customers), retailers are a lot less likely to physically carry the product when it does become available. Why carry something that everyone bought online for cheaper, and talked about it in you store?
    Crowd funding isn't a magic bullet - it should be a springboard, and reward customers with exclusive bonuses - not discounts. Discounting product devalues all the product, not just what was originally sold at a lower price.