I decided to look at my “backer history” on Kickstarter to get a sense of how much I spend on Kickstarter and how much I get out of it.
I have funded a total of 21 projects that have been successful in their fundraising. Of these, 4 were funded in the last 6 months and I’m not considering them for this blog post, since they haven’t had enough time to fulfill their backer promises.
I have spent $922 on the remaining 17 projects funded between October 2010 and January 2012. Of these 17 projects, only 7 of them (41%) have given me the reward I signed up for. Adding up what I spent on the 7 individual projects, it looks like $450 (49%) of my money actually got me the thing that I wanted.
Some fun notes:
- One of the projects that was successfully funded offered to put my name on their website as a donor in exchange for my $10. I assumed that my name was up there until I looked today and… nope, nothing.
- Two of the projects that did not send me a reward were projects that I spent $100 on.
- While I backed a lot of games, I expect games to take a lot longer to ship than the sunny initial estimates of “it’ll be done by the end of the year!” My problem is when my reward is supposed to be something like a poster, and it’s been a year, and I still have no poster.
- In one case I was promised some stickers for my $20 donation. That was 18 months ago.
- (Edited to add): Of the game projects that I backed where the reward was a copy of the game (or access to beta builds), roughly 75% of them delivered. I attribute this to the fact that I only ask for a copy of the game when the devs are experienced and I’m reasonably sure they’ll deliver.
I’ve drastically slowed down my Kickstarter funding in 2012 as a result of feeling vaguely like a sucker for backing projects. I’m not suggesting that the people who run these projects are malicious, but rather that they bite off WAY more than they can chew by underestimating how much work it is to both do your project and appease your backers. Even in the case of the project that didn’t put my name (or any names) on their site, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are very busy running the (ongoing) project, and hey, I helped them make it happen, hooray.
Still, I think this is anecdotal proof that Ian Bogost might be right: Kickstarter is just reality TV for people who like to feel they contribute to culture.
Edited to add:
What this means to me is that I’m only going to fund Kickstarter projects based on what I would give them were there no rewards to begin with. I will read the project page and decide on how much money I want to give before even looking at the reward list.
So I’m going to keep giving money, but probably less money than before, and probably to fewer projects.