I understand games cost to make but aren’t you counting on what the game makes afterwards when on sale.
Yes on KS you pay before the release, and you never know exactly what you will get!
BUT all projects are explained (or should be explained) in detail. If the explanation is detailed enough and if the devs look serious (they should appear in a video to tell their intentions), then you should be able to imagine what the game will look like and if it's worth paying for it.
If you can't even imagine it from the explanation that was given, then don't pay for that game. It can look nice with beautiful artwork, but you should be able to sense if the background is rich or empty.
Also a good point is that you pay the game only once (I mean on Kickstarter, and not on another store again after the release), and most of the time the game is cheaper when you take it on KS than on a store day 1.
Even if there is a risk to lose money or to be disappointed, it's also a chance to get it at a lower price, to support a dev that you like, and to get some collector goodies that will never be seen elsewhere.
In the old days there weren’t Kickstarters.
Indeed in the old days there weren't Kickstarters, but in the old days there were no indie devs, and AAA devs were still making adventure games. Today how many 'big' publishers are still releasing adventure games?
Many indie devs work at home with no funds (others have small studios but can hardly pay themselves).
That's what I've been doing since 2012, working in my attic, but I lose more money than I earn, even after 4 commercial games released with good reviews. I just can't get money from them to live from. You could think that after 4 games I have a bit of money in reserve for my old days, but I have nothing, and I have to rely on social aids and on my garden to get some free food.
That's why it is very useful to get some funds on Kickstarter: during the development you can pay your bills until the game is finally released (there's no income during the production process)! And in addition, thanks to KS you have a base of loyal followers who support you, and who are interested in your game.
The only KS campaign I did was in 2017 for Myha (RealMyha) and we succeeded. It was a good experience, we were happy, but the amount of money was quite low and didn't refund the expanses we had. In addition, please be aware that the total money (goal) that you see for a game on Kickstarter is what people have given for it, but not what developers get. You have to remove the cost of the physical rewards, Kickstarter fee (5%), shipping, etc.
Another thing to know is that most KS campaigns ask a lot *less* money than what they really need to make their game in comfortable conditions. Because if we ask more, usually we're not funded. We have to show a "realistic" target. It's rare to see a KS campaign funded with a million dollar (except famous people, like Cyan for Obduction).
How devs are supposed to find the good amount to ask? It's very difficult.
Think about this: when you have a job, you are paid let's say $1000 every month (I know it's more). Making a game will take like 2 years (from pre-production to release). If you have 2 people in your team (artist and programmer) and want to hire a musician (which is the minimum), with some quick calculations you easily reach $60 000 of development costs, and it is a strict minimum (human resources only).
But a small team of 3 devs can't ask $60 000, it wouldn't seem to be very serious. So they often prefer to ask $6 000 and not get paid while they work, hoping that the sales after release will be good (which is rarely the case).
Some devs find other funds in their country, it depends of the situation.
Don't take it wrong, I don't want to complain because I'm very happy to be able to tell stories to people around the world through my games, and challenge them with my puzzles. But many people *do* like to complain about games prices. They try to get the games the cheapest possible and would still complain even if it was free (it is understandable, there are too many games). The problem is that at the same time there are many indie devs who can't even live from their work. Are we supposed to stop making games?
I was recently talking on Twitter of the fact that my new game Boinihi sold only 50 copies in the first month after release. It is ridiculous because it is the month where games usually sell the most (press release, influencers, etc), and where the developer is supposed to refund himself after all his hard work and start to think of the next game. (Games sell the most: on month 1, during special events, when the price drops a lot)
Well, of course I'm proud of the 50 copies sold, and very thankful to my supporters, but look at it that way: the game is at $19,99 (-15% if you choose the bundle). If you calculate (50 copies x $20), that reprents approx a total of $1000 for this month. You could think it's quite good but it's not even what I will receive for real. Steam takes a 30% fee: so they will send me something like $700 ($1000 - 30%). There are international transfer costs, so that will be maybe $680 on my bank account ($700 -$20). And then I pay 25% of taxes on any income for my activity (French taxes). So it only remains $510 in the end to live from ($680 - 25%).
So I keep about half the amount paid by players.
But that's not all: this money is most of the time split when I give something to the music composer and to the voice actors (or other collaborators). It depends how we dealed our cooperation, if there are royalties, etc.
Well I hope it wasn't too complicated but I wanted to try to give a concrete example.
According to what Jan Kavan (CBE Software) said regarding his new game Someday You'll Return, it would seem that they are also facing big issues because of piracy and that as a result they can't live from their work too.
And I know of many other indie devs in the same situation... Through my collective of creators "The Icehouse" I heard a lot of sad stories: some talented and motivated people who couldn't continue to create, and who had to take small jobs in fast foods, web design... And their situation never improves in the end, it's a vicious circle.
In addition the current game market is saturated with a very lot of games (of quality... or not!!), so people can't be aware of all the releases, and they can't buy ALL. Add to that the fact that the adventure market is a niche compared to other genres, and you see that all of your support is of utmost importance!!
What I'm trying to say concretely is that working with the money of a successful Kickstarter is not a luxury (contrary to what some people think), because the market, and the way people buy, have both changed. In addition, succeeding with a Kickstarter campaign is a huge lot of work, it doesn't just happen by clicking a button and waiting for the end of the month to receive money. It's very complicated and requires a huge investment of time and energy to convince, contact people, spread the word...
Sorry that it was so long and maybe sounded pessimistic, but this is what happens behind the scenes. Overall it is a very complicated situation for many of us, and as you can see Kickstarter is not a perfect solution, it's not a bad one either, it's just a way for us (among others) to try to 'exist'. It's sad that some people abuse of it while others don't have the chance to even complete their first campaign with success.
I hope it's clear that I wasn't criticizing anybody (players or devs or KS or Steam...)
I'd be happy to read the opinion of other adventure developers around.
Winfrey it wasn't directed to you, I just took this opportunity to explain from my own experience.