Financially backing a Kickstarter for any amount always involves a certain degree of risk as the final project may never come to fruition or match your expectations. Ideally, backers should see themselves as financial investors which allows you to access certain equity perks in exchange for money. While there has been a great number of success stories including Broken Sword 5 and FTL, the majority of published articles revolve around failed or controversial Kickstarter campaigns.
It’s quite common for Kickstarter projects to fold due skepticism and fairly large monetary targets. Although, many developers can dramatically underestimate the required budget to cover coding, marketing and the business side of things. Sadly, this is the case with Midora, a 2D action-adventure in the style of many classic role-playing games. Initially, the game was a resounding success and attained $73,000 to fund the project. However, the developer has released a thorough statement regarding their financial woes which reads:
“On the subject of money, there are certain things that I will admit. I will admit that the amount needed to create this game was largely underestimated for the campaign. I knew that the game would need more than $60,000 to be made. However, like many others, I didn’t think for one second we could reach a goal higher than $60,000, especially after two failed campaigns and no prior advertising. With $60,000 in our hands, it would have been rather easy to create an Early Access and go from there. That part you probably knew already, and we aren’t the first to have made poor decisions. Now what most of you don’t know is how much was actually used in the development so far, and the answer is very simple: all of it. But how much exactly? Between $45,000 and $50,000. You wanted numbers, you got numbers. Not a single cent of that money was used to pay anything other than bills, food and development costs.”
“But wait, kickstarter only takes 5% of the total! How can that be?”. One word: taxes. We were heavily taxed from all places imaginable and everybody wanted a piece. We of course knew that would happen, but we never expected to be left with so little. After hiring another artist and paying existing debts, there was not much to work with… and yet we tried. We tried as hard as we could to bring you Early Access and we nearly succeeded. What we have done in 3 months last year was the most we had ever done on any project, and it was amazing. And yet we could not release anything due to lack of money, often doubts and poor timing. Running out of money quick has a way of pressuring you and transforming your life into a mess, simply because you need to secure more before it happens.”
This entire situation emphasizes how expensive video game development is even for smaller indie studios. It can be quite tempting to reduce the funding target to entice more prospective buyers and guarantee funding. Unfortunately, this can cause a myriad of problems and make the original backers feel quite angry.