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Let’s Talk About Bigger Companies on Kickstarter

As of the time of writing, Trial by Trolly by Cyanide And Happiness has surpassed 1.5 million pounds. They were asking for a mere £55,529, which is fair enough; the game would cost money to produce, this is a good way to cover those costs and get on with it. This is a success story, akin to those such as Joking Hazard (one of their previous Kickstarter campaigns) and their own adventure video game that was backed but is not finished yet. So, as they’re a company with a proven track record and has done immensely well off of Kickstarter in the past, it makes sense they’d use it again.

However this is a problem.

I’m not against bigger companies using platforms like Kickstarter, but when they get blended in with all of the other campaigns out there, then there’s a problem. A bigger company has a better budget for advertising for one, as well as an already established fanbase which they can tap into. You bet that if they came up with an idea and posted it to their own platforms, it’d already do pretty well. But here we are, looking at Trial by Trolly, another card game by Cyanide And Happiness. As a fan of silly games, I thought hey, this is a great idea – and I also remembered all of the campaigns I’ve backed in the past by bigger companies (see The Oatmeal’s Exploding Kittens).

However, when a bigger company publishes something to the platform, it does eat away at the smaller folk. When I saw Trial by Trolly, I didn’t see something clever and witty; I saw a loose theme of a “murder trolly” and gameplay that amounts to “Would You Rather..?” with some death counters. This is something that you can get some friends around, say “would you rather drive your trolly into a puppy or a kitty” and see where it goes from there. The humour will then be made by the friends playing the game, although if one of you can clearly choose a puppy or a kitty, you’ve got some problems – And that’s okay. We all do.

Now, I’m not going to only rag on about Trial by Trolly; I might not be a fan of the game, but there are people out there who happily want to part ways with their money, to support a company they like. This is what crowdfunding should be about: An entity – be it a studio, or just one person – comes up with a concept and either through concept alone or through name value attracts folk to spend money. That’s all Kickstarter is as well and that’s great, but does it give a somewhat unfair reflection of what campaigns are Kickstarted? Is it unfair for those with totally new ideas, who have no-one to rely on and barely any money to fund their campaign?

Ideally, I want this article to open to a discussion. There have been plenty of bigger names that have used the Kickstarter platform. If anyone over at Cyanide And Happiness ever read this, the game premise in itself is fine, albeit clearly not for me. I have seen worse things on Kickstarter and not all ideas are golden… But when you have an established company, doesn’t it hurt the smaller folk who are working so hard to get their names seen? What do you all think? Should there be a sort of separate section for established companies from smaller Kickstarters, or am I being too defensive for small studios or even independent developers? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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