“In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.” Charles Revson [Revlon]
The quote above appears in every Marketing textbook under the Sun. The message is clear: what you manufacture and what the customer is buying are two different things. A bottle of shampoo promises me shiny, split-end-free hair on the surface, but dig deeper and you discover that it will liberate me from my crippling lack of self-confidence and the deep-rooted fear of social rejection that has plagued me my entire life.
Contrary to the teachings of Buddha, my journey to self-actualization and lasting happiness begins with a trip to the shops.
Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website taking the gaming community by storm, is also in the business of selling hope.
The model is simple: you select which project you want to support and choose you reward level. On the surface, you are pre-ordering a game and get to watch it being made, cheering from the sidelines.
But if we look a little closer, you discover that that this is not a purchase – you are making a pledge. In exchange for your financial support, you have been sold the hope that a game will be made and that that game will be good. You have been sold the IDEA of a game. Perhaps with a touch of nostalgia for the bygone golden era of PC gaming, where specialist shops’ shelves were stacked high with hefty cardboard boxes and many a night was spent absorbing every page of their fresh-smelling accompanying manuals.
I am sadly not licensed as a financial adviser, but I would strongly recommend considering whether committing $50 now for something that may or may not be delivered in 18 months is a wise investment, considering the vast array of high quality titles available to play now on Steam.
This week, one of the first Kickstarter scams has gone public and I have no doubt that many more “entrepreneurs” will attempt to manipulate the community into financing mirages.
I do not want to discourage readers from using Kickstarter, but rather to treat pledging as an act of patronage. You will be waiting for a very long time to see playable results. You may not get a final game. You may not like the game you get.
That said, sometimes paying for hope is worthwhile, providing you realise that’s what you’re getting.