I suffer from deep personal dilemmas when it comes to Kickstarter. I am constantly aware of all the projects flowing in and out of the platform, trying to tease the hard-earned money from my wallet. At the same time, I’m constantly paralyzed with fear, either of missing out on the next best game that is difficult to get after the product ships, or spending much more on a game that I could get for less after it hits retail shelves. Let me tell you about two games that recently caught my eye when they launched on Kickstarter. For both projects I chose not to pledge my support.
Burgle Bros. 2 by Tim Fowers is the follow up game to one of my favourite cooperative games of all time, Burgle Bros. When I saw the Kickstarter for Burgle Bros. 2 I decided to pass on it because I already owned the first one. The initial reviews talked about how the game ‘fixed’ some annoyances of the first one (particularly about the guard movement) that I never found to be onerous. The Kickstarter campaign failed to offer me a compelling reason to add this this shiny new version to my collection when I already owned the tried and true original.
Cut to today – the Kickstarter is being fulfilled and some of my favourite reviewers are lauding the game. According to the reviews, the production is novel and exciting, the game flows smoothly, and the campaign setting is exciting. Deep within my heart, I found myself lusting after this product. I loved the first game and desperately wanted to experience Burgle Bros 2 at the same time as the others in the board game community. I did not account for the social aspect of experiencing a new game at the same time as everyone else when I chose to pass on the Burgle Bros 2 Kickstarter. If I wanted to buy the game now, it would cost $60, plus $6 shipping. Had I backed the Kickstarter I would have only paid $50 +shipping, and I would have the game in my hands now! I pledged to myself to not miss out on another Kickstarter.
Bullet♥︎ was another Kickstarter project that I was terribly tempted to get in on. While I’m not the biggest fan of shoot-em up games (SHUMPS), I am a degenerate anime fan, and I really enjoy Level 99’s whimsy. Ultimately I passed on Bullet♥︎, knowing that the majority of my gaming partners do not find the anime aesthetic appealing.
Reviews on Bullet♥︎ started trickling into my media feed, and I found myself playing the (highly scripted) Tabletop Simulator version after having my interest renewed. I loved the puzzle the game provided. Additionally, the variability of all the different heroines and the promise of multiple game modes caused me to salivate. Again, the desire to have this game in my hands right now rose dramatically, and I found myself wandering over to their Kickstarter page to find all the things I missed out on.
Imagine my surprise when I found that the base game of Bullet♥︎ was $50 on Kickstarter, while the pre-orders have it listed for $35. The Kickstarter had no stretch goals, and no exclusives to speak of, which then begs the question, where is the value in Kickstarting this project? Is it just to have the game first? To be riding the first wave of discussion when the community at large gets their hands on it? I made a pledge to myself to remain strong and not back Kickstarters. After all, the majority of games come to retail eventually, and I can make the distributors pay for the shipping.
These two experiences with Kickstarter perfectly illustrate my ambivalence. If I choose to back, then I regret spending my money (not to mention having to explain to my wife where that board game came from and of course it’s always been there). If I pass, I have the bitter taste of regret in my mouth for months.
Turns out Kickstarter is a push your luck game, and I am what the experts call a
coward risk-averse investor