Chaosium killed Crowdfunding for me

I am done with crowdfunding.


Earlier this year, I put up an article about finally receiving my Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition books that Chaosium had done through Kickstarter. I had already got my fez significantly prior to this. However, I was still waiting on a long list of bonus items, such as dice, a t-shirt, a pin and more. But this morning, an email came through from Chaosium, through Kickstarter, that all those bonus items were cancelled. No one gets anything. Here’s an excerpt.

With our sincere apologies, financial considerations have caused us to cancel the following free items that were added as stretch goals during and after the campaign:

  • Bookmarks (PDF has been delivered)
  • Dice and Dicebag
  • Evidence File (PDF has been delivered)
  • Postcards (PDF has been delivered)
  • Lovecraftian Bookplates (PDF has been delivered)
  • 1000% backer T-shirt
  • 1000% backer Pin
  • 1000% Backer certificate
  • Innsmouth Gold

Most of these items were offered to backers for free via stretch goals. As part of our apology for cancelling these items we are offering a free PDF of our new 7th edition Call of Cthulhu scenario book Doors to Darkness to everyone backing with a physical product. We will be sending the download instructions shortly. If you paid extra for any of the above items as an add-on in the Curiosity Shoppe, we will refund you the amount you paid to get this as an add-on. This will be either as store credit on or via PayPal (your choice).

crowdfundingNow I understand Chaosium has had a rough time of it recently, almost going out of business and all, and they did offer something in recompense, but still. This is a company that has been around since the 1970s, one would think they know how to produce and ship a few books, you know, considering they had done it with six previous editions and countless other books before this. And they got over 1000% of their Kickstarter goal. I would hate to see what it would have been like if they had only gotten their goal of $40k. And it took almost 3 years beyond the estimated date for me to get my books, let alone anything else. Doing a crowdfunded project to ensure there is interest in the item prior to production is a good idea, better than just making something and hoping it will sell. But, in saying that, at least some work should be done before the project goes live. It seems to me that Chaosium didn’t do this. Maybe they put the 8th Edition project too close behind Horror on the Orient Express. Maybe they should have made sure Horror was fulfilled before starting 7th Edition. Hindsight is 20/20.

I just want to get a couple things straight here. I’m not against crowdfunding, and I am not against Kickstarter. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services provide great opportunities for people to introduce things to the public that otherwise wouldn’t happen. What I don’t like are those people or companies who don’t fulfill their promises. Usually it is because they don’t realise the work involved or the cost or whatever. And it is not only this most recent event that has caused me to think this way, it is just the final straw. I can be an impatient person; I tend to want things now. If I decide I want something, I will try to find it locally before I look for it online, because I don’t want to wait for shipping, even if it is more expensive locally. I will give leeway on estimated return dates, because they are just estimations, but there is a limit to my patience.

Over the past few years, I have backed ten things on Kickstarter. Of those ten, now with the cancellation of those items from Chaosium, five have been completed. Two of those completed items took two or more years longer than the estimated date. Of the other three, one was right on time and the other two were only a few months past date.
Of the five that remain unfulfilled, one I know is dead and I will never see a return. One is a year past due but has just released an alpha build (though it seems very polished and fully functional for alpha). One is due this month, and while I don’t think the full release will come out this month, it does receive regular updates and is still moving forward. The last two do not have their due dates till next year, one in May and the other in September.

phdMy backed projects cover a small range; one set of pencils, two role playing games, two sets of dice and the rest are video games. So far, everything with a physical component has seen return (except one set of dice, which are due in May next year). I trust my dice will turn up on or near due as the company, Poly Hero Dice, has already completed a previous project and got their product out within 6 months of due date.

The tiny amount of research I performed revealed a failure rate of Kickstarter campaigns of 9%. Slightly less than 1 in 10 successfully funded campaigns do not deliver the promised return. Some people would consider that an acceptable rate, but not me. Perhaps because I am stingy with money, but I really dislike throwing money away for no reason, so I don’t like even being in the position where I could lose money (the same reason why I don’t gamble). These statistics come from 2015. The fact that one of my ten has died fits along those lines. I have no issue with projects that do not reach funding goals, because backers do not lose out because they commit no money, but once the money is taken, I expect a return.

At the heart of this article, it is mainly me raging that I don’t get all the cool add-ons that I was promised from Chaosium. And perhaps some belated rage from the dead project. I might still go for some crowdfunding projects if they come from trusted and proven sources, such as Poly Hero Dice, but if someone like Chaosium can have so much issue, even with their experience and the amount of money they received, and it not being their first crowdfunding project either, it instills little hope for future projects. If it was not for the fact that Call of Cthulhu is my most favoured of role playing games, I would swear off Chaosium all together.

I want to know other people’s opinions on crowdfunding. Maybe I am just being too cynical and should take a more kind view on it. I had already taken a stand where I would not commit anything more than $25 on a video game, lest it all disappear (I lost $60 on the dead video game project, but I know others who lost more on it), but I am leaning towards not backing anything, unless it comes from a trusted source like I mentioned earlier. I want to back all these interesting ideas and support all these creative people, but I also don’t want to take risks to be left with bad products or nothing at all. Tell me your stories, good and bad, to help me decide.

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One Comment
  1. Bane
    September 4, 2017 | Reply

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