I am disappointed, but not hugely surprised to be informed that Dark Space Corps Kickstarter: Beyond the Gates of Antares has been cancelled at their request. The project has struggled to attract meaningful backing almost since inception and although it reached a credible one third of the way to their honest and realistic full funding target of £300K, it was clear from the way it had stalled the past few weeks it was unlikely to realise its full ambitions in the remaining fortnight or so. I really saw the potential in this project, hence why I backed it from day one at the level I did, and continue to do so now I am aware of it. I have no doubt Rick and Rik will regroup and explore other ways to bring the game and universe to fruition and look forward to tracking the progress here.
Beyond the Gates of Antares failure to turn initial interest into investment has highlighted a rather sad trend in that it appears Kickstarter is rapidly becoming known as a pre-order platform in all but name where miniature games are concerned. In other words, if you can’t bait the lure with a low funding target and then reel in the backer with the promise of more ‘extras’ than they actually need, there is little point in applying. Equally, backers don’t appear to want to even show interest until a fully fleshed out (or at the least near finished) product and miniature range is demonstrated. If you have the funds up front to pay artists, designers and sculptors to do all that initial development then Kickstarter is probably going to serve you well if your product has enough wow factor. The campaign from that point onwards is largely a performance designed to reveal tantalising stretch rewards which could be yours ‘if‘ you just pledge a little more money or help attract new backers. Later stretch goals are I suspect already pre-designed and the roadmap for revealing them very carefully planned out to create just the right amount of interest and generate social buzz.
Nothing wrong with that, it’s just well orchestrated and entertaining promotion, no different to the pitch I see every Saturday down my local market from the Butcher who’s looking to sell direct to you more meat than you can fit in your freezer, at a price that’s “cutting me own arm off Guv’nor!”. It’s a win-win in the sense the seller gets what they want (your money) and you get what you want (lots of goodies for your money). It isn’t until you get home and try to cram all those pork chops into the freezer that a small voice in the back of your head questions why you have all that when you only went out to buy two chicken breasts and a packet of Hob-Nobs? Sure, I just spend £50 instead of £5, but just look at all that meat!
By the way, I have two boxes of Sedition Wars sat on a shelf right now which include me in that category as well. So I’m not suggesting for one moment I am not drawn by all that glitters either.
Could DSC have given themselves a better fighting chance by having more in the way of fleshed out miniature concepts and finished or near finished masters before they announced the Kickstarter, or at least far earlier in the project? Absolutely. I think that was the biggest criticism. Unfortunately Rick Priestley made it clear they only had enough funds to get some initial concepts done, such as Hansa and they were approaching Kickstarter as a funding platform very much in the spirit of the name. In light of how Kickstarter ‘is‘ being leveraged however for miniature games, that now sadly seems naive. It feels somewhat like the scene from “The Running Man” where the shows charismatic front-man Killian is loading a clearly over-stimulated Leon up with more and more gifts and goodies as the rest of the audience cheers him on.
You asked for ’em Leon, you got ’em, here they are Buzzsaw and Dynamo!
We all like a good show and even better I think we like to feel we are pioneering something new and exciting together, whilst all the time being loaded up with more and more goodies as rewards for doing so. That’s a hard feeling to top. So when a startup like Dark Space Corp comes along with a great idea, but needing support to make it happen? Well, I think we now know the end result.
“Here lies Sub Zero, now just plain zero”
On the positive side, that’s £125 that won’t be coming out of the hobby fund at the end of the month when I tot up this month’s purchases. I can add that to the £25 refund from Wayland Games who after sitting on my order for over a month, finally sent it the other day sans all of the Flames or War items. In other words after all that time they basically sent me a box of GW Great Eagles and two pots of paint. I only know this because PayPal emailed me about the refund; Wayland clearly couldn’t be bothered as customer service and communication is something ‘small’ retailers do. Apologies if I come across as a bit grumpy this week, it has been one of those days.
More positive stuff next time, I promise. Until then have a great week!