Crowdfunding website Kickstarter launches in the UK

Popular crowd-funding website Kickstarter has finally launched in the UK.

Since it’s launch on April 28th, 2009 the website, which lets users post creative and/or innovative projects to seek funding, has raised over $350m from over 2.5 million people, with Kickstarter taking %5 of each successful pledge. Projects often come with perks for different donation tiers, giving those who donate more opportunities such as receiving bonus items in return.

The UK launch has long been awaited by Britons hoping to use the platform to get their ideas funded, with users outside of America forced create an American Amazon account in the past. Kickstarter certainly noticed, as the Head of Community, Yancey Strickler told the BBC; “The request to expand internationally has long been one of our most requested features. We certainly are interested. We’re going to see how the UK launch goes and figure out the next moves from there. There’s a lot of places that will be interesting.”

Over 30,000 projects have been funded successfully through Kickstarter, representing almost 45% of all projects posted on the website. Many have been extremely successful, with the Pebble e-paper watch which was seeking $100,000 ending with over $10m pledged.

Kickstarter has become another option for video game developers, something everyone noticed when renowned video game developer Tim Schafer, who was seeking $400,000 for a old-school (’90s style) adventure game, received over $3m in pledges. Tim’s example was especially notable as new adventure games in that style are hardly found nowadays as publishers are scared they won’t sell.

Aside from that, the Ouya, a small android-powered gaming system that would provide free-to-play games (akin to those seen on mobile phones) not only got over $8.5m in pledges compared to the near $1m figure it was seeking, it blew up on every game blog, ending with VEVO, Square Enix, iHeart Radio and more pledging to put their content on it.

However with all the successes, the failures can’t be ignored. Even though ~45% of projects have been successful, not all have them have followed their plans and have failed to deliver what they promised. After a string of successfully funded projects that took longer than promised, or straight up didn’t make it to developing their idea, often due to creators wrongly predicting costs and release dates, people complained.

As noted in Kickstarter’s Terms of Use, they don’t offer refunds, and essentially can’t be held accountable for failures down the line after successful funding. Thus people are responsible for their own pledges, and are expected to understand that there is a risk associated with them.

Regardless, as complaints and press coverage of their stance of refunds grew, towards late September this year Kickstarter tightened their rules, in the hopes of ensuring that users have truly considered the future of their product and business – in their own words, Kickstarter is not a store. From that point projects with simulations or renders have been banned, with users in that category now required to have working prototypes of their inventions. Creators are now also required to talk about the risks and challenges they feel their project may face, and how they’re qualified to overcome them.

As you can imagine therefore, Kickstarter’s UK debut has been met with both optimism and skepticism. With the new guidelines in place however, I’m sure it won’t be long before UK creators start showing Kickstarter what it’s been missing out on.

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