Tag Archives: Kickstarter

Nintendo Pokes Fun At Crowdfunding With Wario’s “Crowdfarter”

22 May
Image © 2013 Nintendo

Image © 2013 Nintendo

Ask any musician that’s been parodied by Weird Al Yankovic, and they’ll tell you: you’ve only truly made it when someone parodies you. Which is why I’m thrilled to death that crowdfunding is such a big deal that videogame giant Nintendo has lampooned it to sell their new Wii U game, Game & Wario.

Crowdfunding was popularized by sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that present underfunded projects for people to throw money at if they want to see them completed. Nintendo’s parody, the maturely-named “Crowdfarter”, copies elements from the source material in a manner that shows that Nintendo isn’t just trying to cash in on a buzzword. They’ve made a conscious effort here to find the funniest and most ripe-for-parody elements of crowdfunding sites, and to represent them through their “lazy greedy corporate slob” character, Mario’s unscrupulous brother Wario.

Wario is a great fit for this parody; he wants to cash in on the new Wii U system, so he needs a game to do it. But of course, he doesn’t want to pay his own money to make the game, and that’s where we come in. Through Facebook “Likes” and Twitter shares, Wario will “fund” his game and spread awareness at the same time.

Nintendo went to notable lengths to rip on crowdfunding as lovingly as possible. All the elements that make crowdfunding unique are here: we’ve got the poorly-produced introduction video, the lofty and over-hyped funding goal rewards, the updates from Wario where he professes that his project will be “the best Wii U game ever”, and the less-than-subtle indication that the entire thing is less about the final product and more of a huge cash grab.

This parody would feel disingenuous if done poorly, but Wario’s characterization is absolutely perfect for this campaign. He’s unarguably the type of character who would see a system like crowdfunding and immediately attempt to game it for his own self-interested and lazy purposes. Wario might have even inadvertently touched on a deeper crowdsourcing issue with one off-the-cuff line: “Why should I pay for everything when other people will do it for me?” The best parodies always contain a kernel of truth.

Well done, Nintendo. I don’t own a Wii U so I probably won’t buy Game & Wario, but this is a marketing home run.  Check out the parody site here, and throw Wario a Tweet or a Like if you’re so inclined. Goodness knows his lazy ass could use the help.

Crowdfunding Crash Course: How To Make Your Campaign A Successful One

6 Feb

Marguerite Caruana Galizia - CrowdfundingI used to have a sort of embargo against articles about crowdfunding. It wasn’t that I didn’t see a place for it, or thought it was an illegitimate way to make money; I just thought that there wasn’t really any depth to the topic worth talking about.

But, times change, and a few articles later, I find that crowdfunding has really come into its own as a subject worth introducing to my readers. To that end, I was thrilled when I discovered that a dancing blog, of all places, had written up an excellent guide on how someone with no knowledge of crowdfunding could set up a project and get their dreams funded. Below, you will find my summary of the guide’s sticking points, originally compiled by Marguerite Galizia and presented on her personal blog.

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a way to get your projects, personal campaigns, and product ideas funded without going to a wealthy backer or company with deep pockets, and anyone with a dream and a video camera can do it.

Through sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe, users can create “project pages” where they show their idea to the world. These pages typically consist of a video, showing off the idea and its creator, and a written statement that goes into a little more detail. They specify their goal, or how much money they need to fully find their project, and a time frame for completion. The public views these entries, and donates money to those that they wish to see carried through. They are rewarded for donating certain amounts with a gift from the project creator, usually some sort of token of esteem or similar “thank you”. Depending on the site this project is posted on, the creator may get to keep all the money they’ve been given, or may only get paid if their project reaches its goal amount.

Step 1: Choosing Your Platform

When starting your campaign, the first thing to decide is where to host it. There are a multitude of crowdfunding sites available, and more keep popping up every day, so this is not a decision to be taken lightly. When choosing a site, one should consider factors such as the fees involved, the site’s level of professionalism, the countries the platform caters to, and which types of projects the site has made successful in the past.

Galizia’s article goes into more detail on things like the fee structures of these sites, if you’re curious, but the important thing to remember is to find a site that looks like a good fit for whatever type of project you’re doing. If you’re trying to start an art school, sites that fund scientific discoveries probably won’t do you much good. Similarly, if the site you’re using isn’t doesn’t provide service to your country, you’ll likely find it impossible to get any funding at all.

Step 2: Make Your Pitch

Arguably the most important step! Your pitch will introduce your idea to the world, and more importantly, it will introduce you to your potential donors. The strength of your pitch can make or break a campaign, so it’s important to make sure there are a few things you absolutely don’t miss. First among those is to have a clearly defined goal; your aim should be a finished, tangible thing that other people can use or consume. This can be a finished product, a book or movie, or even an entire company, but few people will fork over their money for the promise of things to come. Have something to show for your campaign when it’s over.

Also important to include in your pitch is some personal background on your project and yourself. Nothing opens wallets faster than when someone feels personally involved in your project, so start by making them personally involved in you! Explain your passion in a way that is simple and genuine, and emphasize that your donors are investing not only in the finished project, but in your own future. If they fund this project, who knows what else they’ll see from you someday!

Finally, choose your rewards carefully. For some donors, the rewards provide a large portion of their incentive to help, so make it worth their while. This doesn’t mean pull out all the stops, of course; your budget is obviously limited if you’re crowdfunding in the first place! But it does mean to cater your rewards to your audience. Galizia emphasizes that you should offer “bragging rights” rewards over “involvement” rewards. What this means is that people want to show off that they helped the project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be a direct part of it. Put their name in the credits, or send them a prop from your movie, or a signed picture from the people involved, but don’t ask them to, for example, put their lives on hold to appear in a cameo role.

Step 3: Promote, Promote, Promote!

If you’ve got your pitch all set up, your final step is to get that page in front of as many eyes as humanly possible before your campaign ends. For someone who doesn’t have extensive experience in promotion, where to begin could be a bit of a mystery, but rule of thumb says to start with people you know. Friends and family are already invested in your future, and early donations from them will appear on your page and help your project gain traction.

Standard print materials can also be a good bet. Having a physical flyer or card to hand to your personal contacts could encourage them to tell someone else about it, with the added bonus that they don’t have to memorize the project’s details. Posters could also be a good bet, especially if they are displayed in areas where people likely to support your project gather. And there’s always real-world newspapers, which may be interested in running a story or advertisement calling attention to your campaign. Besides, senior citizens read newspapers, and they’ve got that retirement money.

Naturally, there is also the Internet and social media, which are as always fantastic channels for spreading the word. Facebook and Twitter blasts will make sure your followers are aware of what you’re doing, and that they can in turn tell their friends about it. You can also locate online communities, forums, and blogs that may be interested in your project, and make posts on their sites promoting your idea. You could even start your own blog about the project, which has the dual benefit of providing publicity and keeping your donors abreast of current project developments.

Go Forth and Get Funded!

If ideas are the only currency you trade in (out of necessity), crowdfunding is a great way to get your name out there, promote your dreams, and have a ready-made fanbase when your project comes to fruition. I’d like to thank Marguerite Galizia for putting together a great guide on the subject, which again, you should view in its original form if you’d like more information on any part of this guide.

Until next time, may the crowd be ever in your favor!

 

CrowdsUnite Is Your One-Stop Shop for Crowdfunding

16 Jan

CrowdsUnite

Attention entrepreneurs! CrowdsUnite has emerged as a deadly useful new service, making its way onto the scene with the intention of connecting you with the perfect platform for crowdfunding your dream business, product or artistic endeavor.

What is crowdfunding, you may ask? A fair question; it’s a topic I’ve only addressed a couple times on this blog. Crowdfunding is a specific type of crowdsourcing that aims to change the way that large projects receive funding. Instead of the people behind these projects appealing to an official board or a wealthy corporation for their startup money, they turn the challenge to the “crowd”.

Crowdfunding sites typically consist of a large collection of project plans, and allow individuals browsing the site to donate money to projects they wish to see carried out. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular of these brand of sites; Kickstarter users alone pledged over $319 million in 2012.

In addition, users typically receive some sort of compensation in exchange for their donation to up-and-coming projects. Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects offer prizes to donors depending on how much money they chip in; the looser your purse-strings, the greater the reward. Other sites offer a return on your investment once the project takes off, and still others even offer equity, allowing you to share in your project’s success.

CrowdsUnite aims to become the main compendium of crowdfunding sites. “What Amazon did for retail, we want to do for the crowdfunding industry,” says Alex Feldman, the CEO and founder of CrowdsUnite. Since many crowdfunding platforms are specifically geared towards certain types of projects, and since more of them keep popping up every day, a single place where they are all collected, sorted, and categorized is extremely useful. In the future, Feldman says he hopes that CrowdsUnite will be the first stop for any individual who wants to find the perfect platform to start their crowdfunding campaign.

The site’s features, while constantly improving, are already quite robust. All of the most popular and successful platforms have detailed profile pages on CrowdsUnite, where potential campaign managers can view information such as fee structure, the nature of how the platform handles compensation, and if the platform is specific to certain countries. Additionally, CrowdUnite’s visitors can view reviews, comments, and articles  for each platform, submitted by their fellow users. Possibly the most useful feature is the ability to compare two or more platforms side-by-side to see how they stack up against each other.

If you’d like to help CrowdUnite on its way to becoming the go-to Wikipedia for crowdfunding, the best thing to do it hop over to the site and register an account. Fleshing out the information on various platforms by submitting content is a great way to get your favorite platform noticed and discover new ones. Feldman also adds that he is looking for business partners; if you are an industry professional or consultant that wants to explore the crowdfunding space, the relationship that CrowdsUnite holds with these platform administrators would be useful to you.

Make Your Idea A Reality With Quirky

17 Jul

I’m a sucker for platforms and campaigns that give people power where they previously had none, so it was practically a given that I would write about Quirky, a sort of supercharged Kickstarter for product designs.

Quirky

The idea is novel and has a lot of room for creative depth, but everything else is handled in a very standard fashion. Product ideas, as polished as 3D models or as crude as hand-drawn doodles, are submitted to Quirky and presented for public endorsement. You can vote on products you like, and if they get enough attention, they’re manufactured and sold on a wide scale thanks to Quirky’s deals with retailers like Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.com. The creator of the product gets a very nice share of the profits, of course.

Like I said, as far as the process goes there isn’t a lot of new ground trodden.  We’ve seen a lot of platforms conform to the go-to “submit ideas, gather votes, they become a reality” process. What determines their success usually boils down to how easy the platform is to use and how tangible or exciting the results are.

To this end, I think we’ve got a winner with Quirky. They’ve already invented some really cool products, and more are always on the way. If you’ve been looking for the perfect place to launch your new product idea, Quirky is there to help you make it a reality, and yourself a rich person (hopefully).

Steam Announces Greenlight, Its Own Kickstarter For Games

11 Jul

Gambitious had a great idea with their whole “Kickstarter for Videogames” thing, so it makes sense that we didn’t have to wait long for the big guns to follow suit.

Steam Greenlight Coming Soon

Game distribution platform Steam just announced Greenlight, a system that will allow its users to cast votes to decide which new games will appear on the Steam marketplace. This will abolish, or at least mitigate, the trials of the former review process, which would often leave game developers with a “no” answer and no further explanation.

Developers will submit their project to Greenlight in the form of a branding image, a handful of screenshots, some intro footage, and tentative system requirements. Users will cast votes and offer feedback, and games that have enough “traction” compared to similar games are selected for distribution. Compare this to Kickstarter, where projects must reach a certain monetary threshold to be funded; in Greenlight, all you need is the proper attention.

The advantages of such a system for Steam are numerous:

  • Games stay in Greenlight indefinitely, offering unlimited opportunities for improvement and reassessment
  • It costs Steam the same (small) amount to host any game, whether it sells ten copies or ten million, so they don’t lose money by hosting smaller “indie” games
  • And of course, there is an audience waiting for every approved game with open wallets

As long as Steam hammers out the kinks in the first few months of the system’s release, we’re looking at a real winner of an idea here. They could reach out to established platforms like Gambitious and Desura that have already crowdsourced games to see what pitfalls to avoid. The fact that this sort of thing has been done before bodes very well, though, and it’s always great when companies let eager audiences help create new content.  I can’t wait to see what this system turns out!

Gambitious Seeks to Reinvent Gaming Industry

7 Jun

Two gaming posts in a row? It must be geek Christmas. This time it’s not about weird-shaped controllers, though; it’s about Gambitious, a crowdfunding platform specifically for video game pitches.

Gambitious - Pitch, Get Funded, Develop

Quick rundown for those unfamiliar with crowdfunding. On this platform, aspiring game developers post their idea for video games they’d like to make, usually accompanied by concept art, a few graphical mock-ups, or a preview video. If the game looks good, people invest in the developer; at a certain level, the game is fully funded, goes into the development process proper, and eventually becomes a full game. Think Kickstarter.

What sets this site apart from other crowdfunding sites is that it calls to attention the fact that the gaming industry, as a whole, isn’t that great. It’s plagued with shady business practices, overly harsh deterrents for piracy, and a deluge of terrible, zero-effort games. A model like Gambitious could turn such an industry on its head.

Short list of ways Gambitious trumps the current industry model:

  • Allows gamers to not only help develop games they want to play, but to own stock/shares in their success
  • Close interactions with the audience during the development process lead to better gameplay
  • Easier to use crowd talent, such as game music or artwork
  • Piracy deterrents can be relaxed since the game doesn’t have millions of dollars riding on it
  • Brings gaming back to the community instead of a faceless, hard-to-trust corporate entity
  • Further solidifies the theory (supported by games like Minecraft) that it takes neither a big studio nor a big budget to design instantly classic games

Long story short, I’m excited, and I’ll be keeping an eye on Gambitious to see if anything great shakes out. If you’re a gamer, join me in the comments to further poke holes in the gaming industry.

Semi-Organized Crime: The Dark Side of Crowdsourcing

10 May

Can crowdsourcing be used as a tool for evil? - Tommaso De Benetti, Microtask

In a recent Microtask post, Tommaso De Benetti calls to memory the heart-pounding scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker essentially crowdsources crime by going on TV and threatening to blow up a hospital unless a particular person is killed. De Benetti ponders the ramifications; could real-life crime be crowdsourced in a similar fashion? He offers two scenarios he thinks could be effective.

The first method is pretty much the real-world application of Joker’s ultimatum; a cyber-terrorist posts on Facebook (for example) that they will blow up the Eiffel Tower unless everyone goes to Website X and donates $5 to him. He describes it accurately as “a cross between crowdfunding site Kickstarter and those absurd guilt-trip chain emails”, but would it work? Probably not. Joker’s ruse was successful for two reasons:

  1. He’s the Joker. When he says he’s going to blow up a hospital, people tend to believe him. Random Facebook poster? Probably not going to get as much credibility. He’d have to prove he’s capable of such a thing, and in doing that he would most likely attract law enforcement attention, nipping the whole thing in the bud.
  2. He was on Gotham TV. Joker knew his audience. His message was targeted towards a scared, doubtful audience, one that had already put very little faith in traditional methods of keeping the peace. In the real world, a message like this hits a much different crowd, and we probably can’t expect the reaction to be similar. Someone who actually believes this terrorist’s message (see point #1) is more likely to simply call the cops or FBI than actually donate their hard-earned and scarce funds.

De Benetti’s second method, however, has already seen some success. It involves using an online medium to organize a mass robbery of a certain store. The organizer offers to buy the loot, and the crowd organizes their own lookouts, getaway vehicles, and systems to decide who gets a cut of what. We’ve seen this in small-scale with flash robberies. If a mob was to collaborate to attempt a bigger heist, they certainly have the tools to do so, but at a certain point it seems bound to collapse on itself; all you need is one miscommunication or stool pigeon, and suddenly your big heist has no getaway cars. Or worse, the police are waiting for you when you arrive.

Flash Mob Welcoming Party

Your crowdsourced mafia’s welcoming party.

The best example of real-world crowdsourced crime that I can think of is Anonymous’ DDoS raids of various websites. While it equates to little more than Internet vandalism, the heart of crowdsourcing is absolutely present here. This is a group that anyone can join, organized grassroots-style, which has no leader and its participants have no illusions of personal glory. Their actions are for a cause they see as righteous and use methods that could only be accomplished by a large group of loosely-organized individuals. Nothing more crowdsource-y than that.

Do you think crime can be crowdsourced? Tell me in the comments how you’d build your own ground-up crime syndicate.

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