Kickstarter Introduces New Rules To Try To Limit Disappointment

from the some-good,-some-bad dept

There have been a few stories of late about the possibility of backlash over failed Kickstarter projects. After all, for all the cool things about Kickstarter, anyone investing in a project there is taking a risk, and some of that risk leads to dashed expectations. Kickstarter has apparently been taking those concerns quite seriously, and issued some rule changes directed at hopefully limiting the disappointment factor for supporters of physical products, mainly by doing more to highlight the risks and current state of the offerings.

New projects will be required to detail what the risks and challenges of the project are, and how they intend to overcome them. It should be pretty interesting to see how those sections turn out. To be honest, I could actually see that being really useful for people behind these projects, as it's not uncommon for enthusiastic creators to not even want to confront the risks and challenges they're facing. Forcing them to do so will hopefully lead to more realistic assessments of what can be done.

The other rule changes seem a bit strange to me, and I'm not sure they'll be as effective. The first is to ban renderings or simulations of products:
  • Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.
  • Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
  • I can certainly understand why they're doing this, as it will clearly give a much more realistic picture of where things are at the moment. But it seems like requiring renderings and simulations to be clearly marked as such might be a more effective solution -- along with showing what the actual current state of the technology is. Since many of these projects need money to finalize development, it seems fair to show what they intend the final product to look like.

    The other ban is on offering multiple quantities of a reward, unless it really only makes sense that way (like where you need a pair of devices to make something work). That's to reinforce the idea that this isn't a "store" for pre-buying things, but to really get people to invest in the project itself. While it does often feel that projects got a bit lazy with upper tiers that were little more than "5 of x," I'm also not sure that this one really makes that much sense. Kickstarter defends the decision this way:
    The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship.
    I understand the line of thinking... but I could see that taking away value from potential buyers who are willing to take the risk and buy in on a product early, where they'd like multiple quantities.

    Either way, it's fascinating to watch how Kickstarter continues to evolve -- and to note that the company (as it has for a long time) seems very keen on listening to what people are saying, and figuring out reasonable ways to avoid any problems.

    Filed Under: crowdfunding, products, rules
    Companies: kickstarter


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    1. icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 21 Sep 2012 @ 2:54pm

      I can understand Kickstarter's desire to require people to show exactly where the project is at the moment. But banning the concept art or mock-ups will be more damaging to getting funding then only having concept art or mock-ups.

      I agree with Mike, have two different clearly marked sections; "This is where we are" and "This is where we're going".

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