I started writing a grumpy post about Penny Arcade’s Kickstarter this morning, reconsidered it, and then ended up saying essentially the same things on another forum tonight—so I thought I’d post it here as well with a dorky title!
The thing that worries me about the PA kickstarter is how it’s essentially ditching the “project” requirement of Kickstarter—and Kickstarter approving it because they’re getting a 5% slice of what’s bound to be a big project.
Kickstarter is already in this weird place where they’ve cultivated the idea of it as a pre-order QVC, but without any of the protections you have when dealing with any other merchant. They’ve created this expectation at their peril, because eventually one of these projects is going to blow up and damage their reputation.
Now, on top of that, you have PA’s venture which seems to skim by on being a project just by virtue of having an arbitrary end-point of one year (something that I imagine was added in their back-and-forth with Kickstarter to get it approved, along with some of the ancillary stuff). And while they’re promising some additional content if several beyond-the-requirement funding figures are met, they’re tacked-on and not the core concern of the project: removing ads.
A good way to ask yourself whether this qualifies as a “project” under the Kickstarter guidelines is to ask if anything would not be created if they didn’t breach the number they’re asking for; as PA admits themselves on the Kickstarter page, “things stay how they are now.” And all the ancillary add-ons are ancillary: the clear thrust of the project is in simply removing ads— and an empty ad slot doesn’t count under any conventional idea of something that’s “created”.
How big PA is or the snarky tone of the rewards are asinine—who would expect anything else from the creators of dickwolves?—but they’re beside the point in that this is a proposal that should never have made it onto Kickstarter. This should have been handled on their own site or elsewhere, and I’m sure they would have still made plenty of money there.