It makes sense that many of Greg Stolze’s recent projects have had Kickstarters associated with them, seeing how Greg was doing crowdfunding well before Kickstarter became a significant platform for RPG publication. Back when he was self-publishing REIGN, Greg pioneered the use of crowdfunding in RPG publication by his so-called “ransom model” – he’d write a product, set a “ransom” for it, and then release it to the world for free once the ransom had been paid.
The ransom model was a good way for Greg to ensure he wasn’t putting out too much stuff which nobody actually wanted, and to get a reasonably predictable level of recompense for his writing time; if a product struggled to hit the ransom, he’d know that the market was less hot for it than a product which hit ransom quickly. At the same time, the ransom model rewards freeloaders and doesn’t offer anything extra to people who chip in beyond the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to the product being released. If you were confident that a particular thing that Greg had written was popular and would hit its ransom anyway, then there was little reason for you yourself to pay any of the ransom – and that factor, perversely, gets stronger the more apparently-popular the product is.
Kickstarter, by comparison, avoids this issue. Some Kickstarters are a back-this-or-miss-out affair, where if you weren’t in on the crowdfunding campaign, you won’t get the product, but the majority of them still make their fruits available to the general public eventually (should the products in question actually get made at all, that is); this means that if people genuinely can’t afford to throw money in during the funding period they don’t necessarily miss out completely. At the same time, Kickstarter allows project creators to appropriately reward people who do pitch in, ensuring that their contribution is valued and creating a reason to want to get in during the funding period when you could just hold onto your money and wait.
It’s appropriate, then, that when Atlas Games decided that it was the right time to bring out a new edition of Unknown Armies, they used Kickstarter to do it. And where there’s a Kickstarter, there’s scope for a Kickstopper…