So do i support unfinished games? Why, yes i do; at least if you asked my wallet. I ‘bought’ Shroud of the Avatar, Landmark, Divinity: Original Sin, ArcheAge, Skyforge, Neverwinter and Elite: Dangerous before they released. To be fair, only the first three were actually unfinished when i bought them.
If you look closely, however, you’ll find that none of them needed my money when i “kickstarted” them- SotA’s Kickstarter campaign was well finished when i bought into it via Steam, Landmark was started by SOE, a company who didn’t really need my money and D:OS was bought via Steam.
The reason for this behaviour is that i’d actually like to see if the product they put out to ‘testers’ resembles the design goals outlined in the Kickstarter campaign- i’m not a huge risktaker when it comes to the product- it’s more my fickle nature i’m taking risks with, so i want to at least know that i’m interested in seeing the product as is when i ‘buy’ it.
And there lies the key, in my opinion: you should be interested in the product that’s available when you buy it, because there’s actually a chance that it will never really see the light of day. Granted, i don’t know of many failures, but still. If i wanted to promote an idea, i’d also do Kickstarters. For instance, i’d have backed Satellite Reign if there would have been signals that it wouldn’t make its Kickstarter goals. There weren’t, so right now, i’m waiting to become interested in the product that is available- when i am, i’ll buy it.
You should know what you’re spending your money on
Don’t think you buy a game when you’re supporting an idea by kickstarting a game, because what you do is give money to the devs so they know someone is interested in seeing their vision come to fruition. Right now, if you’re buying a 200$ starship for Star Citizen, you won’t help make the product better, become available quicker or make it happen at all. You’re buying a virtual ship in a game that might release at some point and that you know virtually nothing about. Would i do that? Oh for sure i wouldn’t.
If a release date is set, you’re actually not backing but pre-ordering a game. You might get early access, too.
Is kickstarter / selling early access bad?
No, i don’t think so. The thing is, if we’re spending money on it, we deserve what we get. It’s quite the same as with lockboxes in MMOs- if that is what the devs make their money on, they’re well within their rights to sell them and make them attractive. I don’t think adults need help in getting their spending habits under control- and if they do, it’s on them to realize the problem, not on the devs.
In free-to-play-land early access is similar to a box sell, in my opinion- and that’s especially true if you get to play a longer period after the final wipe in that game. Everywhere else it’s selling a product- an unfinished product, at that, but it is a product.
Now, if we, as customers, should tag along in this venture, i don’t know. I don’t think there are many products that made a 180-turn in terms of product design between early access and release. There are, however, some products that were left behind by their devs. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to early access titles, though- just remember how Hi-Rez, a dev team i used to respect greatly in the times of Global Agenda, treated said title and Tribes afterwards. Or remember Vanguard. Or Champions Online.
On the other hand, sometimes, Kickstarter can be the only way for ideas to become products. I think we should back ideas we like to become reality- if we can afford to. I don’t think we should spend money on spaceships in a game that isn’t released yet and got 60,000,000$ already. But in the end, it’s your money and how to spend it is your decision to make.