Kickstarter as Entertainment

Source: FastCompany, Jul 2012

According to Kickstarter’s stats, 44% of projects succeed–but “success” in this case refers to reaching their funding goals, not completing the proposed work or thriving in the marketplace. Only 25% of 471 projects in a sample taken from Kickstarter’s technology and design categories were delivered on time.

… even after an eight month delay only 75% of successful projects deliver at all according to the sample study. That’s just delivery, never mind viability–a matter some industry critics have found unconvincing in the case of OUYA. As games industry critic Ben Kuchera put it, OUYA is “selling a dream, not a solution.”

Kickstarters are dreams, and that’s their strength rather than their weakness. People back projects on Kickstarter to fund the development of a new creative work or a consumer product that might never see the light of day via traditional financing.

But what if Kickstarter is more about the experience of kickstarting than it is about the finished products? When you fund something like OUYA, you’re not pre-ordering a new console that will be made and marketed, you’re buying a ticket on the ride, reserving a front-row seat to the process and endorsing an idea. It’s a Like button attached to your wallet.

The fact that OUYA raised so much money so fast speaks more to our fantasies than the market reality. Whether or not OUYA will disrupt the console business is beside the point–no one could predict such a thing anyhow–the pleasure we get from imagining that possibility is highly valuable.

When faced with the reality of these products, disappointment is inevitable–not just because they’re too little too late (if at all) but for even weirder reasons. We don’t really want the stuff. We’re paying for the sensation of a hypothetical idea, not the experience of a realized product. For the pleasure of desiring it. For the experience of watching it succeed beyond expectations or to fail dramatically.

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