Within the last few months, Indiegogo performed some housekeeping. It’s hard to put an exact date on when since they made these changes with such little fanfare. We’ve chronicled Indiegogo’s failings in the past, especially with games, but perhaps they’re turning a new leaf.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Indiegogo has that it’s always been hard to browse. Unlike Kickstarter, they don’t employ sub-categories, tossing video games haphazardly in with board games, card games, and other novelty toys. That’s finally changed though, and video games finally have their own dedicated section under “Creative Works.”
These new categories make Indiegogo easier to browse, but it does have one nasty side effect. With a single click, you can easily see how much of a disaster the video game campaigns on Indiegogo are. Browsing through the newest campaigns reveals one lazy crash grab after one scam, after one downright bad game after another. Let’s just take a look at the four newest campaigns, at least at the time of writing.
“Hello there, my name is Andrew and NO I do not want 11 million $, I wanted just to capture your attention, for many year I have been passionate about gaming and game industry,” reads the opening paragraph for The Lost Brother. If you’re wondering, no, of course this developer didn’t set their funding goal to $11 million. They set to $11.1 million, obviously.
You should stop reading this article right now and check out this masterpiece of a pitch. The highlights include Mr. Andrew saying he only has a low end laptop, that he doesn’t have any software to develop games, and that he does indeed have software because he used Unity and Blender.
“So what is this 1’st basic game about?” you may be asking if you wrote the page. “It’s about finding our bigger brother but as u can see he is not on this island but that does not mean that we will never find him. :).” Suffice to say we cannot see. There’s also a download link on the page to a demo, but I strongly suggest you not clicking it.
At first glance, The Run seems to be a better campaign – at first glance. After you stop to focus for more than two seconds you notice the myriad of problems. A majority of the page is dedicates itself to talking about the three developers, with only a single paragraph explaining the game.
It’s an endless runner game with online and offline play, and that’s about all we know. We do know that the team only needs $500, an astonishingly low goal for a developer who apparently needs to hire employees, buy “softwares” and “hardwares,” and buy a bunch of assets. Yes, this game is an asset flip – a game in which some, most, or even all of its assets are pre-bought. It’s not illegal, but it’s not something you want to donate money to when anybody can cobble together some pre-made assets, code, and music and call it a game.
It’s always worrying when a game developer says their biggest risk is time. It communicates that they don’t understand the massive amount of skill and money needed to make a video game. That’s the trouble with Nadie Alvarez Garcia’s Snowball Wars. You’re not being asked to fund a game, you’re being asked to fund software licenses and Garcia’s programming classes.
It’s a common thing on Indiegogo. You’ll have a mishmash of developers asking for cash for any assortment of things from pre-made assets, software, or for some classes. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s on Indiegogo. There are students asking for $60 to put a game on Greenlight, a scam artist pretending to be from another company, and a dude named Phil asking you to buy them an Xbox One. These joke campaigns have always been a common occurrence. In the past they hid behind the board games and card games, which seem to be immune from this sort of thing. These new categories, however, bring these campaigns to the light.
Exiled Mage seems to be some kind of first person RPG, but it’s hard to say. The creator, Ümit Yılmaz, didn’t fill out any of the Indiegogo page. Instead, he seems to be opting for a daring strategy of using the default, placeholder text. The same can be said of Kids Mayan Adventure.
These are just some of the most recent campaigns. You’ll find some shoddy campaigns when looking at new Kickstarter video game campaigns, for sure. The difference in quality, though, is like comparing night and the surface of the sun. On Earth As It Is In Heaven is a pleasant looking visual novel that’s already funded. Kynseed, an open world RPG from former Lionhead developers, looks stunning. Even something like Ball Bot FPS Multiplayer Shooters has a ton of information, screenshots, and video to show for itself.
What does Mega Dork: Dissonance’s campaign offer? A generic picture of a PS4 controller, a description saying they’re a high school student who needs money for their step-mom’s medical bills, and more placeholder text. Retrorummage’s page has only a single picture and a grammatical minefield of a paragraph. The same can be said for Osella FA30 mod for Assetto Corsa and Historical quiz ‘Was America Great?‘, both of which some of the newer campaigns. Oh, and there’s another guy asking you to buy their friend a graphics card.
You may look at campaigns like this and roll your eyes. Some of you will doubtlessly think it doesn’t matter, the same way Steam’s equally lax quality control standards don’t matter. The person behind the graphics card campaign even says it “likely won’t get any donations.” But this is a big deal.
When you oversaturate a market with low quality products, it lowers the overall value of entire market. Imagine if Wal-Mart started selling bags of broken glass and used toilet paper. They still have food and video games and whatever else, but you have to walk past aisles and aisles full of dead animals and even men slashing at you with knives to get to them. There’s no way you’d ever go to that store again, let alone risk spending any money there.
It’s the same principle on Indiegogo. There’s a tidal wave of low quality campaigns, scams, and goofballs asking you to buy them stuff. When you see that, what would make you ever go back there again? Developers see this too, and the good ones don’t want anything to do with this mess. Instead, they go to Kickstarter or Fig if they can manage it. In even rarer instances they’re starting their own crowdfunding campaigns on their own websites. That’s what Gaijin Entertanment is doing with Enlisted, and what Introversoin Software did for Prison Architect. But that means there’s less parody in the crowdfunding scene, and Kickstarter’s monopoly grows ever larger.
Indiegogo had a great chance to impart meaningful change with their policies when they re-arranged their categories. Instead, they did the bare minimum, and made things look worse than ever.
None of that is to say there aren’t great games and campaigns on Indiegogo. Indivisible had a professionally run campaign and is currently the highest funded game on the site by leaps and bounds. Long Gone Days is like a diamond in the rough, a unique role playing game that takes a look at the lives of young soldiers. Ghost of a Tale is another hidden gem, a role playing game where you play a cute mouse who accidentally wandered into a Dark Souls game.
I’ll end with a quote from myself from our The Decline of Indiegogo article. “One day Indiegogo will fall into irrelevancy, either because of its low quality standards or a new crowdfunding site will rise to offer a real competitor to Kickstarter.” That day is upon us, and the whole crowdfunding scene is worse off because of it.