On the Subject of Funding

  • There has been enormous debate over the past week about the status of the Pantheon Kickstarter and just exactly what Visionary Realms intends to do about getting money to fund the Pantheon project.  That debate has often turned quite ugly, as the passions and prejudices of the MMORPG community took hold where concrete information could not.  Within the next week, many of those questions and concerns will be addressed, hopefully to a quite successful degree.  But until then, I will attempt to make an argument for the strategy it appears VRI is currently attempting to employ.


    This didn't go as planned...

    Without question, mistakes were made during the Kickstarter launch.  As an outsider, I can only speculate as to the status of the game's planning and development, but it would appear that we have been given a look behind the curtain at the earliest stages imagineable for this game.  As the Kickstarter ramped up, many posters and backers clammored for more art assets and information -- often feeling like that information was being withheld.  I believe this perception was actually incorrect, and that team was actually working fervently to try to beat the clock while actually CREATING the content they were trying to promote while the Kickstarter days droned on.  Rather than projecting a very well organized, well written, well proposed argument for Pantheon, the early days projected a wish list of ideas and little less than philosophy to grasp onto.  The backers that lined up were believers in the proverbial Vision.  Those who did not were sharply critical of the lack of concrete details.  As the Kickstarter now closes out its 40 day run, the information we currently have would have made an excellent starting point... not a finale.


    But all is not lost...

    What the Kickstarter has shown us is that the team, although very new, is capable of adapting.  It would have been very nice had the project been smoothly presented and funded within a matter of weeks, but that does not mean the projects value has been destroyed.  The team worked hard and manufactured a lot of information for us to consider during the last 40 days, and there has been a near constant stream of community interaction and interviews.  Some call into question the amount of time they spent on the Kickstarter site itself, but I think very early on it was determined that Kickstarter had not been the fit they had hoped.  Enter the wonderful site they have built here.  While still having the kinks worked out, it is clear that the emphasis has shifted, and that private funding through their own channels is option #1.  Some have been concerned that more private funding causes the fundraising effort to lose credibility.  I would rebut that with a few points.


    - Kickstarter/Amazon claim a portion of all funds raised through their site.  This method will offer a better cut to the actual team.

    - The perception that Kickstarter is a "safer" is just that - perception.  The best argument for Kickstarter is that a successful effort guarantees at least the target amount is raised.  But the idea that a successful fundraising effort would guarantee an end product of this nature is far from certain.  The ability to recoup any losses is still almost nil.  The "investment" here is purely speculative, regardless of the method in which we invest.  Don't look for guarantees -- look for the ideas behind the effort.  This isn't a 401k, but it is something worthwhile.

    - Private funding through their site allows for a longer funding window and more consistent subscription options, along with more flexible tiers and add ons.  For instance, you will soon notice the addition of a lifetime subscription to the pledge tiers.


    The bright (and potentially bumpy) future ahead...

    Whatever problems have cropped up thus far, the team still seems incredibly dedicated to finishing this project.  The passion is palpable, and the effort to refine errors is noticeable.  While some will say "they've only got 3,000 people who are intersted in pledging" or "only 400,000 in pledges so far," I would remind all that they have done this with almost no existing assets for the game when the project started.  They have almost nothing to "sell" other than an idea.  The numbers they have put up are nothing to be ashamed of, and should motivate them further (if not fund them) should the Kickstarter fall short of the overall goal.  

    More mistakes will be made, undoubtedly.  The team is letting us see some things that we normally don't.  And this process isn't seamless and it isn't always pretty.  But I encourage everyone to look past the periphery and focus on the effort and ideas the team is showing us.  We can monitor their progress in the months and years to come, and make further financial decisions as details change.  I'm fully supporting the team and their efforts right now for many reasons, not the least of which is this:

    I'm quite certain no one else out there intends to make this game.  Pantheon is the last best hope at a classic MMORPG.

    And that's an idea I can get behind.

  • Shaz
    Shaz Although Kickstarter and Amazon may have taken a cut, wouldn't a big boom in funds be better than $15.00 here and there? I feel the forum subscription is an addition but something else will need to be done.
    February 21, 2014
  • Hannar
    Hannar Time will tell on that, Shaz -- as I would expect that as of Saturday at least a fair portion of those Kickstarter funds will be added to the fundraising here. When they open up the pledge tiers here, it will augment the subscription model, so they will...  more
    February 21, 2014
  • Aradune
    Aradune Another great write-up Hannar! Your assumptions are pretty close to right-on.
    February 21, 2014 - 1 likes this
  • Forlaen
    Forlaen The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation....We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Pantheon. - paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln a bit
    February 21, 2014