Evan (me) has a game idea. An online game about drawing. At a game jam, he starts making it. 18 days later, he releases the first version. Over the next week or two, he excitedly watches the server and releases little patches.
He gets less productive and when the summer ends he takes the game (interest in which has petered out) down.
Evan hears about Kickstarter and starts putting information together for one. He also submits his game to a Japanese showcase at the suggestion of a friend. The showcase selects him and he gives a speech about it in japan. Then, he returns home, launches the Kickstarter and gets his game back online, version 0.2.
Note: Evan's game is near-impossible to fit into any commercial model. Venture Capital is irrelevant to it.
Evan doesn't know how to market things, but word spreads naturally and his game is featured in a few places by journalists who check Kickstarter. Later on, the Kickstarter team, who have been smitten with the project from the start, feature the game on their frontpage and weekly E-mail. It rockets from half of its $1000 goal to double it, eventually landing at $2500 in funding.
Evan is very grateful (as expressed in Kickstarter updates) and sets to work fulfilling the technical requirements of his rewards. He purchases and assembles a new, powerful server box to replace the seven-year-old Dell we was using before. The game goes back offline as development of the new version takes longer than expected. Evan gets a Mac for porting and is no longer reliant on school machines.
My project was named Kickstarter's game project of the year 2010 and I'll be on a PAX East panel with "interative fiction guy" and a tabletop game developer in a month. I'm very grateful to the Kickstarter folks, Journalists and the hundred-and-some people who sponsored my project. I'm nearing completion of version 0.3.0, and I've not actually made any personal use of my funds despite the hundreds of hours I've put in.
So if nothing else, call that an example of the "usefulness" of systems like Kickstarter. I may only be part of a 10-20% "success group", but that owes to the fact that people liked my idea and wanted to support it. I'm behind on delivering my rewards (I'll take care of them soon!) but not one person has complained.
Kickstarter and its little cousin 8BitFunding are mechanisms where people who want to see something finished (because they believe in it!) can give it a push. It doesn't take a lot of help--thirty donors would have been enough for my project--and there are a lot of those fish in the sea.
The system works, for myself and my patrons. We win.
Regarding 8BitFunding, I saw their site for the first time yesterday. I'm a little critical, and on the whole I would probably use Kickstarter again, though my bias is to be noted. 8Bit's system is less mature, the monetary loss is 2% larger, and their halfway-point system seems to be an attempt to address an apparent weakness in the Kickstarter scheme that's actually what gets donors worried about a project meeting its goal. The site also doesn't have the sort of patronage that Kickstarter has built up, which as I saw goes a long
Anyway. I need to go do some programming.