I have this weird habit of describing crowdfunding to you guys, like, every other article I write. I have a reason though, for describing the process. First off, some of our readers need to be reminded that backing a game is not akin to preordering it. The vast majority of you guys are fine, I imagine, but I’m doing my part to calm the collective crowdfunding soul of our readership that may go on to grace the comments section of a delayed campaign.
Well, taking effect on all Kickstarter projects launched after October 19th of this year, there will be a legal agreement between creators and backers that will guarantee one thing: The content creator will provide what they’ve promised to the best of their ability, or they’ll be subject to legal action by the backers, and considering the emotional fervor of backers of a cancelled or delayed project, I have a feeling we’ll get to see the results of these lawsuits first-hand very soon.
Content creators seeking funding on Kickstarter must complete the project the the best of their ability, and if you think that sounds vague and wildly open to interpretation, that’s because… Well, it is. The actual excerpt from the updated Terms and Conditions is just as murky, stating that “…creators owe their backers a high standard of effort…” and a “…dedication to bringing the project to life“. They must also “…work diligently and in good faith to bring the project to the best possible conclusion…” and communicate to backers.
None of this is bad. These are all great guidelines, and if content creators follow them and backers don’t exploit them, everything will go very well, but are backers going to resist the ability to sue people all willy-nilly? Just look at the comments section of the average delayed Kickstarter campaign. Every other comment is probably a call-to-arms demanding that other backers stand together to file a class-action lawsuit. Content creators are going to be sued on a weekly basis for things that are out of their control if the demeanor of the crowdfunding public doesn’t change drastically in the next month.
You can read the entire blog post by clicking here, and you can skip right to the relevant part of the Terms and Conditions document by clicking here, and please do so and draw your own conclusions. Personally, this worries me. Yes, I’ve seen campaigns that look completely shady, and they did exactly what I expected – cancelled their product and cut off all communication with backers. The unfortunate thing is that that isn’t the norm at all. The majority of cancelled campaigns aren’t cancelled because the creator was eager to screw over their fanbase. They’re cancelled because of unforeseeable circumstances, unpredictable expenses, and catastrophic loss of staff or assets. Depending on how Kickstarter decides to gauge their level of effort and dedication, this could lead to a lawsuit being piled on top of the aforementioned creator’s pile of problems.
This policy is a good policy, but it’s not clear enough. It could potentially motivate content creators to work harder, set more realistic goals, and deliver a product. It may also drive scam artists away from Kickstarter. Unfortunately, lawsuits are certainly going to follow this new policies effective date, and the people filing the lawsuits are the same people who lose their minds and spew obscenities in the comments section. This could go either way, but I doubt that this will be the first draft of this policy, and it certainly won’t fix all of Kickstarter’s problems overnight. In the policies current form, it may even exacerbate them.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/nathaniel.jpg” ] Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free on his BandCamp page. You can watch him play games on his Twitch channel. You can also follow him on twitter at @NathanielLiles.[/author]