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Kickstarter: Stretch goals not always a good idea

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In a blog on Kickstarter, one of the founders explains that stretch goals might not be as great as initially believed.  While some projects might benefit from them, there can also be some serious problems that arise.  What is the solution?  Focus on your community.

Yancey Strickler explains that stretch goals muddy the waters on a project:

What if someone got in early and helped a project reach its funding goal, but now the creator is focused on stretch goals? What if someone backs a project for a stretch goal-related reward, and that goal isn’t met? Both are bad experiences for backers.

Typically, projects are created with a target, while stretch goals promise games on other platforms with additional functionality.  However, these can change a project’s scope, alter the creative vision and even put the whole project in jeopardy.  Sometimes, although targets may be well exceeded, the stretch goals actually leave them overwhelmed, over-budget and way off schedule. Strickler says stretch goals aren’t about extra money:

As many creators and backers have learned from experience, often what seems like “extra” money isn’t extra at all. If a project has a funding goal of $10,000 but raises $1 million, does that mean its creator got an “extra” $990,000? Not at all.  More money means more backers and rewards to fulfill — and less margin for error.

There is nothing wrong with using overfunding to improve materials, or even turn a profit.  Stretch goals increase expectations and long-term risks.  Rather than worry about adding stretch goals, creators should focus on their community.  Use the extra funds to create more updates and interaction – development diaries, pictures or even interviews.  The money may be fleeting without strong community support.

I have to say that I agree with this sentiment.  Sure, sometimes the reach goals are awesome – extra content, more platforms, why would I say no to that?  However, when it change the whole vibe of the original project, it’s simply not worth it.  I’d rather get the game that got everyone excited in the first place, then change the scope and never see it realized.  It’s like all those games that get stuck in development hell, or indie games that never come out of beta.  No piece of art is truly finished; stretching the canvass even more won’t help!

Last Updated: August 14, 2013

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