The role of Kickstarter in the culture of games has grown exponentially, but some questions remain unanswered about what happens when a project fails. NPR spoke to people behind successfully backed Kickstarter campaigns and the crowdfunding company itself about the issue, which could escalate as the service becomes more widely used.
Ouya, the company behind the proposed open-source home console of the same name, raised more than $8.5 million in its month-long campaign. CEO Julie Uhrman said she wasn't sure about Kickstarter's policies, but Ouya would "treat our backers the best possible way" if it was unable to honor its commitments.
Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler said it would be "new ground" if Ouya were to fail and the company had to consider whether to get involved in refunds. "I mean, no, I don't think that we would. But certainly, the kind of thing you're talking about is not a bridge that has been crossed yet. Someday it will. And you know, I think if something did go awry, it would be--it wouldn't be my favorite day."
The murky rules reflect Kickstarter's origins as a platform primarily to arrange funds for artists working on smaller-scale projects, NPR's article states. But today the service is also seen by some backers as a form of investment with expected rewards, or even a pre-order service, leading to potential backlash if a project falls through.
"Enthusiasm is ahead of [the] tools," said Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School of Business. "So, Kickstarter is a very minimal system in some ways. It's not really built to police itself."
Several other high-profile Kickstarter projects have emerged in the game space within the last year, including Double Fine Adventure, Oculus Rift, and Wasteland 2. While those projects were successfully backed, it remains to be seen when or if their end products will be released.