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Project failed, money gone, great frustration: Kickstarter changes the terms and conditions - but not much else

Crowdfunding platforms, especially Kickstarter, have a problem. At regular intervals, projects fail once they have been financed and thus never make it to the finished product. The computer game Clang only recently suffered this fate. The project raised half a million US dollars. They are probably burned now. Kickstarter itself can easily pull itself out of responsibility by referring to its terms and conditions.

In terms of image, the platform still has a problem, because the risk is now largely known. Even if a project does not fail, users now firmly expect delays. Kickstarter is now reacting and making the terms and conditions more readable and user-friendly.

Money gone, bad luck

It was supposed to be the best sword fighting game ever. With this promise, developer Neal Stephenson started his game Clang and managed to collect almost 530,000 US dollars.

Two years later it is now clear: the development will be stopped. Stephenson just announced this in the project blog on Kickstarter. The end of the project is sad, but it doesn't come as a complete surprise. A development break was announced last year after the prototype of the game lacked sufficient fun.

Some donors got their money back, but so far only around 700 US dollars have been paid back. Most of the investors are more likely to have lost their money as a result. Also Stephenson himself, who admits that he put a lot of money into the project.

Systematic failure

The failure of Clang is a shame. Even more regrettable, however, is that funded and then failed projects are not uncommon on Kickstarter (and other platforms). But it is difficult to get exact figures here. On Reddit, for example, I found a hand-knitted and certainly not exhaustive list.

It is similar with numbers about delayed projects. In 2012, for example, CNN Money compiled a list of the top 50 projects by funding amount. The result: only 8 projects made it in the planned time, another 19 with a slight delay. The rest of them only made it with a lot or an incredible amount of delay or have not yet been delivered.

After all, Kickstarter has been giving limited insight into statistics for some time. However, they only show how many projects were financed / not financed. 70,000 financed are compared to 100,000 non-financed. 80 percent of them didn't even reach 20 percent of the minimum threshold.

More protection for donors

Kickstarter has been pretty good so far. Of course, users can sue against failed projects, but only against the initiators of the campaign. Kickstarter itself is only the mediation platform and can therefore not be held responsible, so the point of view.

They continue to adhere to this, but Kickstarter now wants to make the conditions and the risk for users clearer. Probably the most important aspect deals with the conditions or duties of the project initiators if a campaign fails after funding. Basically, little has changed, but the wording is now much clearer.

In short, initiators of failed projects must now give clear reasons, justify how exactly they used the money and why it cannot be completed. Then they have to come up with a proposal on how to proceed and how the project can be brought to the best possible conclusion.

Is crowdfunding still interesting?

I think it's good that Kickstarter has now set about making the claused legal English understandable. But it doesn't change a lot. In all honesty, anyone who invests money at Kickstarter should be aware of the risk of possible loss. This is nothing new, especially since there are many good reasons to fail.

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I myself have been waiting for what feels like an eternity for the Touch Board, which I once presented here in the gadget series. It has been supposed to be ready for a few days now. For me it is not so important that and how much it comes too late. What really annoyed me in this case were the endlessly long emails that gave me plenty of reasons for the delay. A targeted, reasonably reliable (rather than optimistic) date would have been better to me than these mail orgies.

I wouldn't have been surprised if the board had stopped coming at all. But I probably wouldn't have complained for just under 50 euros. Nevertheless, I would not hesitate to invest again in a cool project with manageable amounts. how do you see it? Who is waiting in vain for their crowdfunding investment?

Image: Kickstarter