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Kickstarter Doubles Down On Blockchain Move Despite Blowback


Image: Kickstarter

Last week, Kickstarter made a rather terrible announcement: the crowd-funding platform would be switching its services to the blockchain. This is somewhere it absolutely does not need to go, but feels compelled to anyway by the lure of…something. Probably money.

In a blog post rather optimistically titled, “Let’s Build What’s Next for Crowdfunding Creative Projects, Kickstarter leans on the same “this makes everything easier and more open!” argument that blockchain/crypto/NFT stuff always does. But, as ever, without being able to actually explain why that is, or how it improves on the existing experience. (Largely because they can’t, since it doesn’t.)

Reaction has been swift and negative. The platform has long been on thin ice with many backers and creators, especially since its anti-union efforts from 2019-20. This intention to pivot to the blockchain has been seen by many as the final straw, and resulted in a week of protest and complaints, to the point where Kickstarter felt compelled today to issue a response.

If you were thinking it would come in the form of an apology or a consideration of people’s feedback, well, lol.

This ticks nearly every condescending techbro box imaginable. “Oh, guys, what we’re doing is right, you just don’t understand, so here’s an FAQ. Fuck off! The bottom line is that users aren’t complaining because they’re luddites, they’re complaining because they know exactly what’s wrong with blockchain stuff, and don’t want a piece of it.

One example that will probably be most relevant to Kotaku readers is that of board game creators. “Kickstarter has always suffered from being the big fish so they never felt the need to innovate or do the job well, Tin Star Game’s Steve Dee told Dicebreaker in reaction to the news. “Now that they’re doing this, the environmental and ethical damage of working with cryptocurrency is not something we want to be part of personally—but, more importantly, it’s not something our customers like.”

Designers and publishers with games currently running fundraising campaigns have been left “blindsided” by the announcement. Many feel trapped between needing funds to complete their project—with Kickstarter being by far the largest and most popular crowd-funding site—and personal opposition to Kickstarter’s decision. It’s a conflict that will play out across all campaigns running on the site in the future, board games and beyond.

If you’re looking at all this and wondering about Kickstarter alternatives, Gamefound has become an excellent place to check out board game campaigns, from both smaller creators and large publishers.