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Kickstarter's new rules keep developers honest

Kickstarter's new rules keep developers honest

September 20, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

If you're getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund your next game (and if our inbox is any indication, that's most of you), prepare yourself to be a little more open with your project's risks than before.

Kickstarter made two surprise updates to its policies on Thursday aimed at making creators more accountable for a project's success, and at reinforcing that Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, and not a store.

The first is a required "Risks and Challenges" section to each project, where creators have to explain the challenges their project might face, and why they are qualified to overcome them. This, says Kickstarter, will enable potential backers to judge a creator's ability to actually complete their project.

The second -- which is a bit less relevant for game developers -- is that hardware and physical products can no longer show a simulation of what they will eventually be able to do but, rather, must show how they are functioning in their current state of development.

Additionally, a product can not represent itself with a render: instead, a photograph of a prototype as it currently exists will have to do.

Note that this second set of rules does not apply to games, though any game-related hardware is obviously affected.

"It's hard to know how many people feel like they're shopping at a store when they're backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it's no one," reads an official explanation from Kickstarter.

"We hope these updates reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a traditional retail experience and underline the uniqueness of Kickstarter."

Gamasutra's take

Holding developers accountable for being transparent with the risks involved in their product is nothing but a blessing for video game development funded through Kickstarter.

No project is risk-free, and your backers -- even the ones only throwing you a buck or two -- need to be made aware of that. If crowdfunding is going to mature into a viable method for getting even larger projects funded -- or indeed, is going to survive after a few high profile games disappear into the vapor -- then we need to have the same relationship with our "small" backers that we would with a private investor or, gasp, a publisher.

We've called out projects before that left us with more questions than answers, and we'll continue to do so. That Kickstarter is now making its creators spell out their risks, and reminding its backers that they're not guaranteed a delivered product as shown, is a move that I applaud.

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