Kickstarter Still Setting Records Despite Everyone Wanting Everything For Free

from the cha-ching dept

When it comes to old notions that are used to stave off the need to embrace new business models in the digital age, nothing is more annoying than the whole “the masses just want everything for free” myth. That belief is snappy, punchy, and as simple to understand as it is completely and demonstrably wrong. But for a certain segment of the population, typically older generations of the kind that pine for the good old days when America was all apple pie and tasteful cartoons, the myth persists. Now, however, the myth is old. Old enough that it’s begun to lose its flavor, like a piece of gum that you’ve been chewing on since Metallica shut down Napster. The new flavor is every digital success story that proves the myth wrong. Kickstarter happens to be my favorite example of this. What’s remarkable about Kickstarter is that it’s over half a decade old and, despite some still embracing the old myths, it’s somehow still setting records in raising money for content producers.

Shenmue 3 isn’t only the fastest game to raise a million dollars on Kickstarter, it’s also the fastest game to raise two million dollars. The project was announced last night at Sony’s E3 press conference. It’s the follow-up the Shenmue 2, which was released fourteen years ago.

Were you to believe the legacy content producers, who insist the public are free-loading internet anarchists hell-bent on ruining everything and everyone, this shouldn’t even be possible. The fact that records for raising money are being broken now is perfect in debunking every part of the myth. The money rolls in over a decade after the myth’s creation, despite the expectation that every day would see an increase in younger generations just wanting “everything for free.” The money rolls in six years into Kickstarter’s existence, meaning nobody can claim that all this money is currently pouring in due to the embrace of some new platform, the popularity of which will quickly die away. The money rolls in for a video game, the exact kind of product that those who believe the myth would expect to be the most pirated.

What does this all mean? Kickstarter is on the verge of becoming the establishment now, if it isn’t already. It’s no longer the upstart experiment. It’s firmly entrenched as a success story in the modern digital economy, taking its place alongside iTunes, Steam, and Netflix as snap-rebuttals to the old mythos. The truth is that there are conversations to be had about how to best operate within the digital economy, but those proselytizing the old gods against a greed that doesn’t exist are no more useful in that discussion than flat-worlders might be in a conversation about astronomy. The myth is dead, gone the way of Zeus and relegated to a time before the counterexamples had borne fruit. The new question isn’t whether content producers can get the public to pay for their goods; it’s whether the now-established platforms can scale to keep up with the wider adoption of the platform.


This was in response to the insane amount of interest and traffic generated by Shenmue 3. People flocking to Kickstarter so fast that the site couldn’t keep up. People who others will tell you just want everything for free. The myth is dead. Long live the new business models.

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Comments on “Kickstarter Still Setting Records Despite Everyone Wanting Everything For Free”

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16 Comments
Nimas says:

Although I’m normally all for Kickstarter, this one actually feels a bit skeasy to me.

I find it *highly* unlikely that Sony were not willing to fund shenmue 3. They devoted time of the biggest E3 panel to announce a Kickstarter (that is not effectively free).

Also add to this, the ‘sneak peek’ they showed was fully 3d, so its quite likely that to actually complete the game would cost significantly more then most kickstarters (most likely at least 20-25 million).

Normally this is fine (developers use kickstarter to show investors that there is a market), but here it feels far too much like Sony is just using Kickstarter as a Pre-order platform/cost offset.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe. But I don’t think all the backers had this mindset. They genuinely wanted the thing to move ahead (and possibly get a lower cost copy). And Sony managed to grasp the reach it will have which may help them fine tune the end price. Even if it is the case, they got feedback, they got time to fix stuff and develop on the feedback and they got data to work their release and pricing strategy (maybe even ports). Assuming they use it right.

It doesn’t seem to be a problem to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Considering the first Shenmue costs a lot more, link
(“estimated production and marketing cost of $47 to $70 million USD”) I’m not actually surprised that they are still asking for commercial support to release. This is also a boost for Sony since it will only be released for the PC and PS4, so a benefit for both companies. Looking at the Witcher 3 from CD Projekt Red, it was $32 million for dev, and $35 million for marketing, link, and that was considered low budget for a AAA game. That Shenmue is going to be a semi-exclusive title, it only makes sense that Sony was on board with the project from the beginning as opposed to other non exclusive titles on KickStarter.

Nimas says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s kind of my point. I have no problems with Sony funding Shenmue, I just don’t like them showing off a ‘kickstarter’ when they were obviously going to fund it in the first place.

I also think that most of the backers were backing because they believed in the project, which I have no problems with.

I do have a problem with Sony basically using kickstarter as glorified pre-order, especially given the major problems AAA publishers have with pre-orders. (Cough cough Batman cough to name just the most recent example)

Ninja (profile) says:

The myth is dead. Long live the new business models.

This fact won’t deter a few dinosaurs and paid shills.

I myself have contributed to a few projects already. I remember one of them which was from Ross (Dimeword was the name) where I gave a couple of bucks to a project that was dedicated at putting short stories in the public domain so others can build on top of them. I got nothing from it and yet I contributed. But overall we are all a bit richer from it culturally speaking (some of the stories were awesome and I only read the horror/sci-fi ones).

The ‘freetards’ mantra doesn’t even sound funny anymore. It’s pitiful already.

Paying UP FRONT may be new. says:

"You want Shenmue 3? You'll get it. If you pay for it." -- Direct quote from:

http://kotaku.com/shenmue-3-is-real-is-coming-to-kickstarter-1711560762

“You want Shenmue 3? You’ll get it. If you pay for it.”

“You want Shenmue 3? You’ll get it. If you pay for it.”

WHAT’S NEW ABOUT CONNECTING “PAY” TO “GET”? That’s all any creator has ever asked, you pirates!

“iTunes, Steam, and Netflix as snap-rebuttals to the old mythos” — Steam is the only one of those I know to be profitable (Itunes is murky and apparently subsidized), and it uses DRM. Itunes has definitely gone to a PAY model, as Netflix was all along. — See the KEY point there? PAYING. NOT FREE. PAYING.

YOU’LL GET IT IF PAY FOR IT. SAME AS FOREVER.


By the way, this is a well-established game, so the publicity is already done. People aren’t tossing money at unknowns.

And yet again, games are cheap to make and popular. Remains to be seen if profitable: clearly already sold lot of copies which are now, oddly, liabilities…

You’re just grasping at straws, arguing with a strawman you made about the quality of straw.


Found that quote and liked, only reason commenting.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: "You want Shenmue 3? You'll get it. If you pay for it." -- Direct quote from:

WHAT’S NEW ABOUT CONNECTING “PAY” TO “GET”? That’s all any creator has ever asked, you pirates!

Personally, I find it very interesting to watch such things as Kickstarter progressing and gaining popularity. To me, it represents a fundamental shift away from our current copyright system back to the way is was before copyright existed. It’s basically a patronage system on steroids where many patrons can contribute smaller amounts.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: "You want Shenmue 3? You'll get it. If you pay for it." -- Direct quote from:

This. And even niche things can find plenty of backers as Chris pointed above. I like these new initiatives. I’d throw money at an uncertain kickstarter project but I refuse to buy from the MAFIAA again (well, at least the old models, I do have a Netflix account…).

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: "You want Shenmue 3? You'll get it. If you pay for it." -- Direct quote from:

You’re just grasping at straws, arguing with a strawman you made about the quality of straw.

Looked at the mirror lately, moron? This is ONE project among thousands and thousands that are virtually unknown and still get backed. With few to no warrants of return.

And ALL the other services you mentioned are competing with free. Anything found on Netflix can be downloaded for free and yet the service is growing like there was no tomorrow. Please explain this.

You are pathetic at best.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t really have much perspective or experience but I’ve always considered it a more practical and reasonable approach for a competent content producer to ask for money to create something rather than to create something and then ask for money for it. I think Kickstarter and others like it play into that on a large scale.

Anonymous Coward says:

its easy to make massive money on a kickstarter project when you lie about the project for the sole purpose to generate hype for a product in this case a game.

Sony had no intention of backing a game made with 2 million but they only added that small caveat to their kickstarter sometime after people had already donated 2 million.

There are enough kickstarter scams to draw on to compare this to.

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