Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Exploding Kittens, KS Surges, and a Worried Gamer

There's a Kickstarter campaign going on a card game called "Exploding Kittens," by Elan Lee and Shane Small. The game appears to be simple enough, having players avoid getting the exploding kitten and getting eliminated. By itself, it sounds like your common Kickstarter that would maybe gain some ground on its own, with the high probability that it would not fund.

This one, however, has artwork by Matthew Inman, the artist behind the popular The Oatmeal web comic. And everything blew up.


Really, the only word that comes to mind at this point. Having launched earlier today, funds have nearly surpassed $850k. EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND. And what did they humbly asked? A meager $10,000. It's currently open in a separate tab, just so I can watch the backers and funding climb at an abnormally-constant rate. It didn't just succeeded in funding, it grounded success into a pulp, baked it in a success cake, fed all its backers with it, and gathered their poop to distill it back into water, to be used with more success they ground up to make even MORE success cake to feed its backers YET AGAIN, only to do this a THOUSAND TIMES over. All before this day's done.

A Fan-Funded Fantasy?

It's not difficult to see that this project is clearly fan-funded. Any board game designer out there would give their right arm for even a fraction of the boost Exploding Kittens is getting in just today. And the comments section is just chock full of loyal "The Oatmeal" followers just reveling in all manner of relevant references to the popular web comic. Speaking as a fan, I can relate to most of the comments about Tesla or the Mantis Shrimp. The popularity is undeniably oozing out of the project as backers come in throngs to support the project, and its success should still be commended. Even Kicktraq has projected its trend to end at $28 MILLION!


There's a larger concern here that worries me. Larger than the $29k increase that has occurred since the start of writing this article ($870k??)...that this is a small game with a HUGE artist.

Hefty Load

There's a lot - a LOT - of people parading the fact that they're funding purely because it's The Oatmeal. Even a co-worker (who, I am not aware, has played anything else other than Cards Against Humanity) is funding purely because it's The Oatmeal. And that has me worried. Just think of all the potential "new" gamers out there, funding a card game based purely on the artist's popularity. Suddenly, you now have a game that has ridiculously-high expectations from a loyal fanbase not of your choosing. I'm not sure about the designers, but if I were them, I'd be REALLY nervous, now.

And not only is Inman carrying the project on his shoulders (whether he wants to or not), but his name is on the project itself. Which means fans will have higher expectations based on his involvement in the game. Any doubt in the game at all, and not only will people dismiss the game, but waver in the credibility of everyone involved.

That's not to say I'm doubting the game or the project as a whole. Nonsense! But it would not be realistic to not acknowledge ANY of the inherit risks of ANY Kickstarter project. It's something I've harked upon time and time again, but most likely, you're having lots of people not only new to card games (or board games in general), but completely and utterly brand-spanking new to Kickstarter, itself. There is a LOT riding on this project, a lot more than people realize. The problem is, do people realize this?

Riding the Wave

As a backer, people are just coasting along, almost blindly funding Exploding Kittens. As a KS campaigner, I would start stoking the embers of this flash fire and begin to either set or simmer down expectations. There is a clear momentum here, one that will not calm down, so it's important for the KS campaign runners to maintain a professional image. After all, you have the eyes of not just normal backers, but The Oatmeal fan-based backers. There shouldn't be any time to rest on laurels, and if they're to be taken more seriously, they'll handle this immense funding with great care.

Remember, just as easily did this KS project continues to fund (another $60k, nearly $930k now!), so can it be easily diminished before the month is up. Thirty days is a long time, and until then, funding is not set in stone. Keeping it stable is just as crucial, and any wrong move can have you losing backers just as fast.

Just don't draw any exploding kittens.
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