If you have spent any time with me playing games, peeked in my games cupboard, peered at my shelves or even read a few articles here at miskatonic.co.uk then you will have established that I am a huge Call Of Cthulhu fan, in short I am passionate about roleplaying in the Lovecraftian horror genre. But, after being a backer of the two big Kickstarters run by Chaosium – the reprint of “Horror On The Orient Express“and the new “Call Of Cthulhu 7th Edition Rules” I have decided that they get no more of my hard earned gaming dollars. Why? Well quite simply, like a number of other Kickstarters they are going to deliver their pledge rewards quite a bit later than planned – and frankly that’s pretty much no surprise to anyone, after all they are big complex products and the success of the Kickstarters and the add ons and stretch goals have made them even more complicated. But its not the delays that have finally tugged my horn, no its the general disregard for their backers with the infrequent and often uninformative updates. Now, having said that, there was just recently a fairly lengthy and actually frank and informative update posted to both projects, but for me its too little and (ironically) too late.
I have, since I started supporting games on Kickstarter, backed around forty projects ranging from playing cards, to board games through to new role-play games, supplements and scenarios. Mainly they deliver later than estimated, and I think thats pretty much par for the course. But I have backed some projects that were absolutely brilliant at keeping their backers informed. Bill Trammel’s “Official Settlers of Catan Gaming Board” hit numerous problems on its way to delivering but thanks to frequent and honest updates I actually felt like I was a part of that process, I learnt about the difficulties of injection moulding, colour matching, the challenges of international fulfilment and so on. I would back that project again in an instant and support any future projects that they do. Similarly, the amazing David Malki and his “Machine Of Death: The game of creative assassination” was a pleasure to back even though the due date came and went – why was it a pleasure? Well because frankly David’s updates were, for me, a part of the reward. I looked forward to getting his next update, reading it when it popped into my mailbox and having a chuckle about the latest problem to befall the project or cheering the successes. In both cases these guys epitomised what I think Kickstarter is about, a lot of us don’t back projects just to get a discounted pre-order, we do it to help get something produced that otherwise may never have happened and in so doing we like to feel engaged. There are plenty of others I could mention; Chris Birch and Modiphius with “Achthung! Cthulhu“, Shane Hensley and Pinnacle Entertainment Group’s fabulous “Weird Wars Rome” and Eloy Lasanta and Third Eye Games “Divine Instruments” all of which were stunning projects that really engaged with their backers and delivered top quality products.
So getting back to Chaosiums big Kickstarters, I just don’t feel engaged. It literally has been like placing a pre-order for products with delivery dates TBD. I have ended up posting comments literally begging for updates and, as a result, I’ve decided they don’t get any more of my cash. There are loads of other publishers out there who genuinely do care about what their “investors” think and who share their plans and challenges with those backers. These are the guys that I will look to continue to support and partner with both through crowd funding efforts and through other purchases. It is worth saying that I don’t for a minute think that Chaosium are the worst offenders, I’ve backed two other projects that frankly if they never delivered I wouldn’t be surprised, and if they were offering my cash back now I’d probably take it. Yet the difference for me is that Chaosium are big enough, well established enough, and have a loyal and passionate customer base, in short they should know better.