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Blades in the Dark and Kickstarter Ethics

Skywalker

Back Off the Buddha!
Validated User
Interestingly I remember this KS being held out as being an example of proper value for money compared to other KSs, some of which have fully delivered in a timely fashion.
 

Gorilla Zod

I can see for miles and miles
Validated User
When I back a kickstarter - and I back a lot of rpg kickstarters - I have learned to think of stretch goals as marketing hype. The core product's the thing; stretch-goals are quite often just that: a stretch of the imagination, both on the part of the creators and the investors.
 

Mondo231

New member
Banned
Kickstarters are not a preorder, but a venture.
Another term would be a gamble, or investment.

You put up money hoping that the project will work out and you'll get a payoff, but there are no guarantees. The only ethic involved was if the person starting the KS genuinely intended to see the thing through from the start.

If he or she did, then all that has happened is you lost your bet.
 

macd21

Registered User
Validated User
‘Venture,’ ‘gamble’ and ‘investment’ are poor words to describe Kickstarters Pre-order is in fact the right term. That is what a KS like blades is. It is no more of a gamble or venture than any other pre-order. You order the goods and the creator is obliged to deliver them. Putting them up on KS instead of your own site (or Amazon or whatever) doesn’t change that.
 

Mondo231

New member
Banned
‘Venture,’ ‘gamble’ and ‘investment’ are poor words to describe Kickstarters Pre-order is in fact the right term. That is what a KS like blades is. It is no more of a gamble or venture than any other pre-order. You order the goods and the creator is obliged to deliver them. Putting them up on KS instead of your own site (or Amazon or whatever) doesn’t change that.
So there was a contractual agreement?

Most KS I have seen, and I will freely admit that I had not made a detailed study, were more of 'if we get X funds you will get the book plus rewards based upon your investment'.

That is not a sale, but an investment into a project, and the basis of it was a conditional response: IF enough money was raised, X, Y, and Z would happen.

So if they did not raise sufficient money, you lose your investment. That was why those who risked more received a greater payoff.

Amazon puts up a contractual agreement: the product or a refund, as it is a site devoted to one thing: commercial transactions. It will engage in pre-orders for high-demand goods, but the contract remains.
 

Shining Dragon

Tough Tiger Fist
Validated User
‘Venture,’ ‘gamble’ and ‘investment’ are poor words to describe Kickstarters Pre-order is in fact the right term. That is what a KS like blades is. It is no more of a gamble or venture than any other pre-order. You order the goods and the creator is obliged to deliver them. Putting them up on KS instead of your own site (or Amazon or whatever) doesn’t change that.
I agree. If most people take part in a kickstarter at a level that has a product attached, then it is more like a pre-order than an "investment". This video discusses this with regards to the robotech tactics kickstarter.

The thing about stretch goals is that, most of the time, people aren't paying more for them than their initial payment for a physical and/or pdf product. So can you consider a stretch goal as part and parcel of the initial payment, especially if you are someone who takes part in the kickstarter before any stretch goals are announced/reached?
 

Random Task

Substandard Henchman
Validated User
What stood out specifically to me was that there was no financial relationship between these stretch goals and the Kickstarter they were a part of. That there should be such a relationship is heavily implied by having these goals next to a specific monetary funding level. If the $150,000 level is supposed to get Blades of the Jhereg going, you would expect at least some of the extra money to pay some amount for work on Blades of the Jhereg - whereas in reality it was work for honor and exposure. If, for instance, the stretch goal was a dice set or other physical product, there would have definitely had to have been monetary payment made by the Kickstarter to deliver that stretch goal, so why this attempt to substitute non-monetary value for a creative product? Wouldn't Harper be looking and probably able to feel better if he had some skin in the game on these stretch goals rather than turning out to have little cover? If he wanted more money to cover Blades in the Dark, why not just up all the goals?
 

macd21

Registered User
Validated User
So there was a contractual agreement?

Most KS I have seen, and I will freely admit that I had not made a detailed study, were more of 'if we get X funds you will get the book plus rewards based upon your investment'.

That is not a sale, but an investment into a project, and the basis of it was a conditional response: IF enough money was raised, X, Y, and Z would happen.

So if they did not raise sufficient money, you lose your investment. That was why those who risked more received a greater payoff.

Amazon puts up a contractual agreement: the product or a refund, as it is a site devoted to one thing: commercial transactions. It will engage in pre-orders for high-demand goods, but the contract remains.
Yes, there’s a contractual agreement. This has been looked at extensively. A KS creator agrees to provide products assuming the funding goal is met. The creator receives no funds if the funding goal is not met, so that’s irrelevant. There is an offer and an acceptance.

Usually people who get screwed over by Kickstarters can’t be bothered going through the courts (it’s not worth it), but there have been some exceptions. The law is pretty clear - a KS like Blades is a pre-order, not an investment. A potentially interesting case may be coming up over the Robotech disaster, but it’s early days yet.
 

numtini

Registered User
Validated User
I'm not sure this is about Kickstarter ethics as much as the ethics (or lack thereof) of paying people in "exposure." Exposure is when you don't get paid enough to buy warm clothes and die of the cold. It's not a form of payment whatsoever. On the other side, there are costs in production past writing. RPGs have complicated layouts and presumably there will also be art requirements and so on. So simply because this isn't a physical object doesn't mean there aren't costs.

But lets please dispense of this idea that a few lines of text in a TOS can magically absolve companies of all responsibility when they use Kickstarter as a preorder system. I suppose at least the main body of the product shipped, which is more than some of us who got rooked by things like Judges Guild City State of the Invincible Overlord and other projects can say.
 

macd21

Registered User
Validated User
I agree. If most people take part in a kickstarter at a level that has a product attached, then it is more like a pre-order than an "investment". This video discusses this with regards to the robotech tactics kickstarter.

The thing about stretch goals is that, most of the time, people aren't paying more for them than their initial payment for a physical and/or pdf product. So can you consider a stretch goal as part and parcel of the initial payment, especially if you are someone who takes part in the kickstarter before any stretch goals are announced/reached?
I would say yes. I’d say final acceptance of the offer doesn’t occur until the KS campaign ends, until then you’re free to change your mind. So at the end of the campaign the creator is offering you the product + all the stretch goals and you are free to accept or reject them. The fact that the value of the offer changed over the campaign is irrelevant, it’s the final offer that matters.
 
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