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Can Kickstarter stretch goals cannibalize your vision?
Can Kickstarter stretch goals cannibalize your vision?
July 17, 2013 | By Mike Rose

July 17, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design

"When you force a game or film past its own scope and design it just begins to cannibalize its own narrative and vision by stretching it until it breaks."
- Indie developer Zak Ayles explains why his successful Kickstarter will not receive any stretch goals.

Ayles, who has been described by some as "The Next Cactus" (that is, the next Jonatan Soderstrom), recently launched a Kickstarter for his upcoming project LIONESS.

The developer rapidly hit his target goal within the first few days. However, rather than announce stretch goals as many Kickstarter campaigns have, Ayles says that he will not be introducing such incentives to his Kickstarter.

"Many of you are curious about stretch goals, and how this project's success will impact the game's scope," he said in an update. "We have no intention of taking our foot off the gas, and encourage you all to continue sharing this project with as many others as possible. However, there are no plans for project expanding stretch goals."

"We disagree with the idea that there's any direct correlation between quality and scope in a project like this," he added, noting that, "we've seen this become the case just recently, and have no intention of making a similar mistake."

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Eric McQuiggan
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Yes and no.

I think it depends on what style of game you are making. If you are trying to get your user to explore a narrative, I would think that stretch goals would bloat what should be tight and simple.

Additional money to increase non narrative aspects of your game, such as additional supported platforms and the like is fine I would think. If your game is more systemic and can support it, I see nothing wrong with the promise of additional features with additional funding.

Though it's always best when you can get yourself in a position to under promise and over deliver.

Just make sure to factor in the costs of physical goods and the idea is to make enough money to fund the project.

E Zachary Knight
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Stretch goals that bloat the original game and deadline? Bad. Stretch goals that add additional content that can be created after the original game is finished? Good.

Lincoln Thurber
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I think the use of Kickstarter for games is still in its infancy. Yes, four years in with Kickstarters backing games and we are still at the beginning.

The biggest issue I see is developers saying the game will get bigger as they go past the original goal. That should ONLY occur when a game has multiple times the original asking cost in funds. In other worlds be extremely conservative with stretch goals that 'expand' that game. The best way to look at stretch goals might be you will work on publicity, or you will work on bug fixes that might not be accounted for in the original plan.

The second issue with development should be realistic goals from teh outset. Budget for your game, then double that price tag. Plan your development cycle and DOUBLE teh time you will request, it will take longer than you think to complete. If you set realistic goals, then all the remains if to pitch your game well. The pitch for your KS should be all about how realistic, how well planned, and how safe your request is because you are asking for a the proper amount and you have the proper plan.

Chris Sanyk
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It seems like Kickstarter has become a de-facto pre-order system for indies. That's not exactly what Kickstarter is meant to be -- a means of generating seed capital to fund a venture. But as long as indies are treating it like pre-order, then they might as well just take large pre-order revenue, and live off of it, rather than feel opposed to deliver more -- especially if they end up obligating themselves to deliver more than they are capable, and it puts the entire project at risk.

If the public likes your original concept that much, then simply deliver that. There's enough indie devs out there who are struggling to earn the equivalent of minimum wage, or even any revenue at all, from their work. If you raise 3-4x the cost to make it, consider that fair compensation for your creativity and effort. Being an entrepreneur is supposed to be a rewarding thing, and the goal shouldn't be to break even.

Don't forget, you have to budget taxes, kickstarter and payment gateway fees, rent, eating, retirement, and the costs to fund your NEXT project into your kickstarter goal.

The Le
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Ironically, stretch goals goes against the spirit of Kickstarter. THINK ABOUT IT.