KickStarter Curmudgeons

I mean, look at how real those eyes look.

No matter who you are, you have heard, somewhere from someone, that the Oculus Rift project has been purchased by Facebook for $2 billion.  What’s a social network company going to do with a VR headset?  Who knows?  That sort of money opens up a lot of doors but comes with a fair few strings, which has some folks concerned and others upset.  If you backed the project, you could be excited at the new possibilities, or wondering why you’re not sharing in the team’s success (or you might be spending your time pointing out that you’re just making a donation to a project, not an investment.)  No matter how you slice it, this has become a bookend to the KickStarter honeymoon period that started when the Double Fine Adventure first took off.

It’s quite true that KickStarter contributions are donations, for which you may or may not even receive the donor rewards.  Even if the feeling of betrayal to project backers is misplaced, it’s shattering the image that KickStarter is exclusively the territory of the underdogs who are casting off conventional means of funding to come up with unconventional creations.  KickStarter can be a pitstop on the way back to business as usual, or even charity for venture capitalists.  I can’t imagine the Oculus team means to dispense with the community’s input, but the speed with which this deal was struck has made the gaming community keenly aware that KickStarting a project doesn’t automatically mean that project answers to the community.

If backers knew Oculus was destined to be kickstarted into a Facebook acquisition, they might not have backed it in the first place.  And I’m sure that going forward, many will wonder if ambitious projects may just be using KickStarter to cash in on the community’s goodwill, only to ditch it later for friends with fatter wallets.  But if you aren’t soured to the idea of KickStarter entirely, you should consider backing the always excellent Sup, Holmes? show.

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