OMG! I just got profit from Kickstarter!?

Kickstarter, among other crowdfunding sites, has reached a wide audience during the last few years. Crowdfunding as a term has come to stay and is accepted as a viable form of gathering funding for a project.

Games have gained a lot of attention in crowdfunding space and have managed to be among the most popular projects ever. Godus, Faster Than Light, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and many others have managed to gather hundreds of thousands of dollars more money than they have requested for. And lately, this has been an issue with game companies [Gamasutra: When crowdfunding reveals the realities of game dev budgets].

Receiving a lot more money than you asked for can mean problems. Latest founder of this issue was Double Fine which announced around a week ago of their troubles [Gamasutra: Double Fine splits Broken Age in half to fund completion]. Having gained almost three million dollars more than they asked for, they felt the necessity of delivering more content for their backers. Because of this, they are no longer able to deliver within the original schedule nor can they even make everything they promised in one game. Instead, they are splitting the game in two parts, asking for more money and delivering the final game behind the schedule. All because they got more money than they needed. Without a question, such behavior has made the whole internet to explode with angry cries and opinions [Back To Reality: Double Fine, Crowdfunding And The Repercussions]. Which is understandable, Double Fine just did not get the point.

Crowdfunding is a beautiful idea and could even be thought as an ideology. Asking for people to support your vision and to pledge money to help it become a reality. Like selling your idea to bunch of investors, but not giving away shares of your company or paying from the profits once the product hits the markets. Of course, the stakes are not that high and the risk for a single person is only couple (tens) of dollars. Absolutely beautiful.

However, it turns out that if a lot of people believe in you, then you have a problem. Problem of delivering them something much more bigger, engaging and mind blowing than you planned for.

Why?

If people believe in your idea and support you more than you have asked for, is it not a proof enough that the idea is rock solid? If a 10.000 USD project receives 200.000 USD worth of pledges, doesn’t it proove that people want the product?

Example of Kickstarter pledge info

Everyone can already see the pledged amount of money on the crowdfunding site (the example picture on the right hand side). Even though it says $121k/$15k – “Succesfully funded”, people still pledge. They pledge, because they believe in THAT project. They pledge, because they want it to become reality. They want to back you to show their support. Even though you have the money already. They don’t want extra big and more engaging. They want the thing you already promised in your pitch. That is enough.

Think about the same situation from a different perspective. How many times has a game studio or publisher run into trouble when a game has sold more than its real to-market costs were? Have you ever heard Microsoft Studios, Sony or Nintendo announcing, that because their game has sold over a million copies instead of the required 100.000 for make-even, they are going to postpone the release of their next game. Just to make it bigger, better and more mind blowing than it was supposed to be, because their products just sell too much. Sounds familiar? We don’t want extra big and more engaging. We want the thing you already promised in your pitch. That is enough.

Crowdfunding is asking for people to back your idea. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and you get $10 instead of the $5.000 you asked for. And sometimes your idea just happens to be ground shaking and get you ten times more than needed.

An overwhelming success in crowdfunding does not mean that you need to go back to the drawing board. It means that your plan was already awesome. People don’t fund you so you could create something else than you promised. They fund you because they want what you promised. The money you got are sales, people just bought the product beforehand. The money is yours to have.

So please. Stick with what you promised. Deliver the promises, in time and transparently, updating backers about the progress. And if you received more than you asked for, even more than your secondary fundings goals – enjoy the money! Use it to prototype and create the pitch for your next crowdfunding project!

Just make sure you deliver what you promised in your pitch. That is, what I funded after all.

Internet Roaming

Good morning everyone and Happy New Year! I know this comes a little bit late (it’s already 15th of Jan), but I have been travelling in Spain the last few weeks.

During the trip I needed internet access quite often. Or at least, I would have needed had this been possible. Travelling on your own time when you are supposed to work brings a few requirements – like reading and answering to your emails if nothing more. During this trip I also realized that I was badly addicted to internet. I have an iPhone and Android tablet, both quipped with massive data plans (my phone contract has 2Gb transfer/month and my tablet has unlimited transfer every month). In my study & workplace (the Lappeenranta University of Technology) a Wi-Fi connection is available all around, so I am basically hooked to cyber world all the time. Not having internet in my pocket and available all the time made me feel inferior. It was like my left hand had been cutoff.

Having Internet in your pocket (almost like in this joke of The IT Crowd from YouTube) makes life just so easy! Especially when travelling in a strange country (to be honest, I lived one year in Madrid, so it was not that strange, but nonetheless) internet does have its upsides.

For example, almost every phone has Google maps. It can be used to search for streets and to show public transportation routes – but only if you are connected to the web! Otherwise you can only use it like a normal map, but you have to load the maps to your phone’s memory beforehand. Another good help is the access to messaging applications. No need to send expensive SMS if you can just use WhatsApp or MSN. No need for international calls if you use Skype or Viber. The amount of money you can save! But alas! the prices for data roaming!

Data Roaming

Roaming in telephone operator slang means using other than your original carrier’s network. This happens when you go abroad and don’t have your original service provider to connect to (you have AT&T but when you come to Finland the operator does not exist here – thus the phone has to connect to either Sonera, Elise or DNA network). Data Roaming means using the foreign teleoperator network for surfing the web.

Internet roaming is very, very expensive. I can give an example of my own to help understanding the situation: My phone operator is Finnish Sonera. The price for data roaming in Spain was 0.121 € for every starting 50 kb. Just looking at my Facebook profile picture would cost me over 20 euro cents (the picture is 50.5 kb)! Opening just my Facebook home view would probably cost more than 1 euro! Cheap? No way!

Another option to approach this is to purchase a SIM card from the local operators. Well, getting a normal plan is impossible again (at least in Spain you needed local bank account, some residence number and minimum time for contract was one year). Luckily, there are also prepaid cards to which you can also buy data plan. Sounds great in theory, but…

Prepaid Pricing

I started searching for the different operators for their prepaid internet offers. Honestly, the options were pretty bad. Not many of them offered anything at all, but I found few acceptable from Orange and Vodafone.

Orange offered prepaid internet for 3.5 €/day. Not that bad, but there was data limit included. For the 3,5 € you can surf the web with maximum speed until you reach 250 mb. After that the speed drops down to 64kb/s (slooooooow). However, for checking email, twitter, Facebook and doing some navigating and few searches this should be decent.

The other notable provider was Vodafone. They offered a wider range of options and underneath is the table describing the services offered. A quick translation for those who don’t understand Spanish: Bono means the type of contract. The options are Fin de semana (weekend), seminal (weekly), mensual (monthly). So for example 1Gb/month is 22.42 € with VAT included. Not really bad offer, considering the hotel we were in offered internet connection to room with “reasonable” price of 15€/day.

BONO

RECARGA

VOLUMEN

PERIODO VALIDEZ

CODIGO AL 2207
PARA RECARGAR

Fin de semana

9€ (10,62 IVA inc.)

Hasta 500 MB

3 días

C QUI

Semanal

15€ (17,70 IVA inc.)

Hasta 1 GB

7 días

C SEM

Mensual 100 MB

8€ (9,44 IVA inc.)

Hasta 100 MB

C VAS

Mensual 500 MB

15€ (17,70 IVA inc.)

Hasta 500 MB

C ABA

Mensual 1 GB

19€ (22,42 IVA inc.)

Hasta 1 GMB

30 días

C PRE

Mensual 2 GB

32€ (37,76 IVA inc.)

Hasta 2 GMB

C MES

Someone! Do something!

In the end, all I can say is that the telephone companies are evil for not letting me to use Internet for a decent price! That is a violation of my human rights (if you didn’t know, internet access is a human right according to UN)! Luckily, the European Union is taking action and limiting maximum tariffs for roaming. But we still have a long way to go, until I can enjoy from mobile internet even abroad.

Purchasing prepaid SIM cards is not the perfect solution for a one week trip, but it’s a start nonetheless. So please, phone operators, make prepaid internet available in every country! We need internet; it makes life so much easier! Paying 20 euros for a 1 GB internet for a one or two week trip is not that big a deal. I will gladly pay it, because it makes my life so much easier and my trip more enjoyable. So please, follow the example of Vodafone and do the same in other countries (or even better, make roaming affordable!)!