We are gearing up for the crowdfunding campaign for Apocalypse Keys by Rae Nedjadi and wanted to take a brief moment to share the thinking behind our decision to launch it on Kickstarter.
First, we want to be clear about our company values:
We at Evil Hat believe cryptocurrencies and NFTs are too volatile, too unregulated, and ultimately harmful to consumers and the environment. We will never pursue, endorse, or sell them.
Now, to give some background on the issues at play, in December of last year Kickstarter abruptly announced “The Future of Crowdfunding Creative Projects” which involved spinning off an independent organization to develop an open source protocol for crowdfunding that would live on a public blockchain. This led to a lot of speculation that Kickstarter was going to start accepting cryptocurrency payments or begin trafficking in NFTs although those elements weren’t explicitly named in the effort.
The announcement by Kickstarter Founder Perry Chen and then-CEO Aziz Hasan led us to begin exploring other crowdfunding options. In the nine months since, a number of things have happened. Here’s our perspective:
Kickstarter leadership is in transition. CEO Aziz Hasan left in April and their COO is currently serving as the transitional head of the company as their board looks for a new chief executive. Whether the new CEO will continue pursuing this path is an open question.
NFTs and the cryptocurrency market in general have massively cratered. We see this as further evidence of how unreliable and unstable these offerings are for everyday consumers. Kickstarter is a business that runs on trust: “give us money now, at some point you get this cool product.” They suffer erosion of trust when big projects flop and fail to deliver. After months of news about crypto scams and NFTs crashing, we hope that Kickstarter would avoid linking their brand to scam technologies which would undoubtedly erode consumer trust even further.
The main update we’ve seen about the progress of Kickstarter’s blockchain-based protocol is a commitment to further limit its environmental impact, and the formation of the Kickstarter Community Advisory Council. So while there’s no public announcement that the blockchain effort has been canceled, there’s also been no major indication in the past nine months that it is continuing to move forward in any significant or immediate way.
The Kickstarter Community Advisory Council was created to “help [Kickstarter] identify issues, questions, and opportunities we may not be able to see on our own.” It’s a direct result of the outcry over the blockchain effort. The Council has just recently been appointed and only held one meeting time so far. It’s noteworthy that the TTRPG games industry has representation on that Council, so we have a direct venue to raise any concerns.
In our search for alternative options, this past April we decided to crowdsource the 2nd Edition of Improv For Gamers on GameFound. That title has a very specific audience – likely smaller than Apocalypse Keys. While Improv For Gamers hit both of its stretch goals, those were admittedly modest. It took over a week to achieve the base funding goal and across the life of the campaign we did not see a significant boost from the platform’s native promotion (email newsletter, front page featured game, etc). Kickstarter’s various recommendation tools (Project We Love, other project email updates that promote your KS) typically provide 25% of a project’s backers. We did not see those kinds of results on GameFound which is fundamentally oriented around the board game market.
We’ve examined BackerKit’s crowdfunding initiative and had some exploratory talks with their staff. It looks very promising. A number of high-profile companies in the game space have signed on and have begun spinning up projects. However, the effort is still in beta and we can’t confidently commit to getting Apocalypse Keys set up within the next month. We remain very open to working with BackerKit but for this project the timing is not quite right.
So at this point in time, we feel other crowdfunding services are either not ready or not the right fit for Apocalypse Keys. We think the game has the potential to be a marquee product like Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Blades In The Dark, and Monster of the Week and we’re excited to share the amazing talent and hard work designer Rae Nedjadi has brought to the table. We owe it to both our fans, the game, and to Rae to ensure that Apocalypse Keys achieves the greatest possible success.
We’re going to continue to stay on top of the concerns outlined above, but for now we believe Kickstarter is the best home for Apocalypse Keys.
If you would like to get notified when we launch Apocalypse Keys on September 13th, you can follow the project here.