Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Kick Starter: Beyond the Gates of Antares and Others

The last year or two has seen the emergence of a new way of funding wargame projects: Kick Starter.

So what is Kick Starter? I'll quote from their website:

"Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others."

 How it works is like this:
1. The project creator sets out a prospectus and a funding target, and offers rewards to people pledging money.
2. Individuals pledge sum of money that are only taken up if the funding target is reached. Otherwise nothing happens.
3. If the target is reached the creator has the responsibility of fulfilling their promises.

As an example of a wargaming Kick Starter project, look at Beyond the Gates of Antares Kickstarter, which has its own website here.

The Target is £300,000
So far £101,000 has been pledged by 975 backers with 22 days still to go.

The minimum a Backer can pledge is £1, which gets a backer PDFs of the alpha and beta iterations of the rulebook.

The maximim is £4930, which gets you a batch of goodies from professionally painted miniatures to dinner with the game designers.

And there are various levels in between.

So what should you look for before offering to give money to a Kick Starter Project?

And please bear in mind that is what you are doing. You are not buying something or investing money. A couple of my friends have been burnt by pledging money that was taken up for  projects that went nowhere.

I think you should consider these criteria:

1. Do you want the project to go ahead?
You have to be an enthusiast for the project.

2. Can you afford to gift the money?
 You could give money to a project that produces no rewards at all and the money is still gone.

3. Is the financial target realistic to fund the project?
Wargame projects are notoriously under capitalised with the concomitant implosions. For example Antares needs £300K or no money is taken. Be very wary of a project with a too low target for the promised outcome. Your pledged money will be taken but the total sum raised may not be enough to fund the project even if the target is reached.

4. Do the people requesting the money have the appropriate skills to handle the project?
Good intentions maketh not a successful business plan. For Antares, the game designer is Rick Priestley who designed 40K (tick) and I notice John Stallard is one of the proposers: he was a senior manager at GW and is the man who created and runs Warlord games (tick).

OK, you don't fancy Antares so what else is out there at the time of writing? Some examples:

1. Jawaballs

 Jawaballs is a project to produce miniature painting DVDs by Chris Dubuque.

 2. Tabletop Towns

Tabletop Towns, a foldaway carboard terrain project by Julian Hicks.

3. Relics Reinforcements

New models for the Relics system by Tor Gaming.

4. Wild West Exodus

A new wargame by Outlaw Miniatures.

5. Torn World

New miniatures from The World of Torn from Center Stage Miniatures

And many, many more.

Go to Kick Starter and try typing 'wargame' and 'miniatures' into the search engines.


  1. The other thing to note is that, even if the project does go ahead and you are due products as part of your pledge, you're not likely to have anything in your hand for at least 6-12 months.

    I'm concluding (with a large tar-filled brush) that what initially seemed like a good idea is being used by certain companies to just reap extra cash from the hobby community and make (literally) millions.

    1. I doubt if anyone outside the fatcat level at GW is making millions but you are right about the time delay - and that is if all goes well.

  2. I've been averaging about 80% good Kickstarter experience, 10% neutral to good and 10% bad.

    Most (and it's been a mix of things, not just games) deliver, on time, good job communicating, etc.

    One has run into problems but has done a really good job communicating, so I know what is happening. A few others have run into other delays, but warned ahead of time, so no problem.

    Two have been pretty bad experiences: lots of difficulties (most of which should have been taken care of ahead of time, e.g., legal research or technology research) and the people running the projects have been horrid about communicating about delays (yes, you don't need to tell me every week...but once a month or at least every other month, please let me know!).

    From the good experiences, I'm on my second or third KS with some of them. The others, I'd do it again. Even the neutrals, I'd probably do it again, based on the fact that it is clear they are learning and improving.

    The bad experiences? I don't care if you KS a game that will put Games Workshop out of business, guaranteed. I won't buy from you again, folks. Fool me once, end of story.

    1. Thanks Fred, it is really useful to hear of your experience in these matters. It is a bit of a new idea to most of us on this side of the pond.

  3. Now got kick starter fatigue. The guy from Heresy minatures was askign his client base what sort of KS he should do; which is fair enough, but I think a lot of people are getting sort of kick startered out. Which is a shame.

    1. Kick Start does seem to be flavour of the month. I think you may be right about saturation.

  4. I've pledged for this project, it has some thoroughbred expertise at the helm and the video explanations of the game mechanics so far look a nice squad-turn based tabletop game. I look forward to seeing this get off the ground.

  5. My feelings exactly. The names behind the project are critical.

  6. I wish Rick P and John S all the best with this project, but after my past experiences with GW/40k price hikes , codex creep etc etc... I am total over sci-fi gaming...

    1. Dear Scott
      There are other companies than GW supplying SF games and models. Most of them quite small, of course. :)