The lights are on
Kickstarter has been slowly tightening up its guidance to project managers and potential backers. Last year, we saw the funding platform institute a "risks and challenges" section to spur realistic thinking about potential stumbling blocks.
Now the organization has issued a warning about stretch goals. "For a typical stretch goal a creator will promise to release their game in additional formats or add extra functions if certain funding goals are hit," writes Kickstarter co-founder and head of communication Yancey Strickler.
"But expanding a project’s scope can change the creative vision and put the whole project at risk. We’ve seen stretch goals leave some projects overwhelmed, over-budget, and behind schedule."
Strickler also identifies a fallacy about funding overages. "More money means more backers and rewards to fulfill — and less margin for error," he writes.
Ultimately, stretch goals defeat the purpose of all-or-nothing funding and "muddy the waters." Instead of adding new layers to the project, Strickler urges managers take the opportunity to build a strong community rather than "trade long-term risk for short-term gain."
Our TakeStrickler's post echoes something I recently wrote about best practices that should be adopted from the nonprofit world. Stretch goals are extremely dangerous, and it's no surprise that he specifically calls out games as the culprit.
The Double Fine Adventure (now Broken Age) was delayed right out of the gate due to stretch goals, and suffered even more significant delays along the way due to creative creep. Double Fine isn't the only group to experience this. Both Shadowrun Returns and Wasteland 2 to lesser extents saw their timeline extended.
The tricky part is when you have a situation like Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency videos. Regardless what you think of the content, Sarkeesian reached her $6,000 goal and is delivering the project exactly as she specified. People continue to harp on the amount she raised rather than the relevant points: budget and deliverable.
The culture of Kickstarter must change, and it needs to start with a successful project manager capping the creative vision before wild stretch goals get out of hand.