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Kickstarter’s problem with time

B. G. Kubacki
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As a company, we pride ourselves on delivering our Kickstarters on time. It’s not that we’re never late, sometimes even the best laid plans end up one contingency short of a perfect ending, but the few times we’ve slipped (out of a dozen or so projects), the delays were rather small – and we worked hard to minimize them.

For most creators, however, delays happen due to bad planning. Optimistically assuming that every step of brining a game from a prototype to a product is the mistake made most often – and one grievous enough to ensure that no amount of extra work will help minimize delays that keep on piling up.

The truth is that, as backers, we’ve come to almost expect Kickstarter projects to be late. After all, Kickstarting a game often changes it enough to force the creator into devoting extra time for unexpected design and development – and that is something very difficult to properly schedule for. Still there is a bigger problem that makes backers wait for most of the games: their own expectations, and how creators deal with them.

As I said, we almost expect Kickstarter games to be late, and while creators do not account for delays, many backers often do. Simply put, when you see a waiting period of six months, you often immediately assume you’ll probably have to in fact wait for eight to nine months, because – hey! – delays are a part of Kickstarter.

It is a kind of a vicious circle. Many creators now are able to accurately assess the time they will need to fulfil a Kickstarter project, but putting a realistic timeline requires actually telling the backers that it is realistic. In the highly competitive crowdfunding landscape of today, games you’ll have to wait for longer than for others – similar in scope, complexity and component lists – can easily earn a pass by a prospective backer internally accounting for inevitable delays.

It’s a global problem that is hard to fix. After all, Kickstarter is the place where amateurs get their shot at becoming pros, and some mistakes are bound to happen. Still, urging other creators to build realistic timelines is something we do when lending a hand or providing consulting.

Building better communication is important for all Kickstarter creators. Hopefully, with more projects delivering on time, the circle can be broken for good, allowing backers to expect their pledges to arrive on time(or a late by no more than a few weeks) – and not having to mentally adjust for obligatory delays.
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