[dropcap size=big]2[/dropcap]Awesome Studio were simply trying to make their dream shoot ‘em up. It looked pretty darn good, too. However, this Kickstarter failed to see a strong momentum push during the majority of its campaign. That, despite the fact they had a pretty strong press release skills (I know – I received their PR emails!), multiple gaming crossovers, and a plainly appealing product. Of course, fans of crowdfunidng know that sometimes even the best projects fail for reasons unknown.
Things started to look up for Dimension Drive late in the game. After tracking under $11,000 (or €10,000) for weeks, the very last week of funding saw a strong climb in backers. However, the incline didn’t appear quite steep enough to make it by the end. That is – until the very last day when someone backed a huge chunk of change to get them to the finish line. Celebrations were had, tears were likely shed, and 2Awesome Studio were just in a state of elation. Until it was revealed by Kickstarter that the pledge was fraudulent and therefore couldn’t be charged. Dimension Drive had not been Kickstarted and the campaign was now over.
This is no doubt a troubling state of events, but also not something new to the crowdfunding world. People have proven themselves to be quite cruel on multiple occasions with different campaigns over the years. Kickstarter is doing what they can but there is probably no way to stop this kind of activity completely. The best warning for everyone involved is that if a pledge appears too good to be true (thousands of dollars pledged by one person to a campaign which isn’t something like Wasteland 2 or Bloodstained) then it probably is.
Unlike many campaigns which fade into obscurity after failure, Dimension Drive’s team had the luck (or genius marketing pivot?) of this story hitting big gaming sites. “Troll Destroys Kickstarter Dreams” is a pretty strong concept, after all. Folks who had never heard of the campaign were now promising to pledge serious money based on the principle of sticking it to the troll! After reevaluating and assessing the sudden swelling of attention, Dimension Drive has since returned to Kickstarter less than a week after its previous failure. Although rare, sometimes campaign relaunches occur this quickly (and that’s without any associated drama).
It’s impossible to say just now with certainty that Dimension Drive will be funded, but the prospects certainly look better this time around. Now there’s a real newsworthiness to the game which didn’t exist before. Unlike games such as Yooka-Laylee which get press purely by the recognition of their team, Dimension Drive now has a story – and people want to see that “story” end happily. 2Awesome Studio now highlight story quotes from the biggest sites in gaming about that incident rather than how incredible their new shooter is.
Beyond the selling point tweak, everything else appears the same. The reason why it typically takes a developer time to create a second Kickstarter campaign is because they must fundamentally reevaluate the failings of their campaign. They may even spend more time in development to produce a more polished product to present down the line. Dimension Drive needs none of that now that it has both been the victim of a troll and managed to receive huge press attention because of it. Was it their fault? Certainly not! But it does go to show that sometimes crowdfunding projects are willing to run with anything if it means they’ll get funding over never seeing their dream game come to fruition.
My hope is that future Kickstarter campaigns do not attempt to piggyback off of this by creating their own publicity stunts. For one, it’s disingenuous. Secondly, it probably won’t work out nearly as well because it will no longer be the “first time.” Again, although this isn’t the first incident of the sort on Kickstarter, it is the one which grabbed press and gamer attention. Of course, that doesn’t mean other developers cannot continue to pull their own ethically dubious actions in order to get a successful campaign the first time through. For example, getting “friends” to pledge their own money to top off a campaign – and then returning that batch of money afterward.
Dimension Drive is trending well thus far and I do hope its media attention alongside repeat backers will be enough to push it over the edge. After all, the game does look pretty sweet, and it was spectacularly cruel to have their emotions toyed with by a single individual. However, this is one of those rare media events that won’t come around often.