Sadly, in the past few years backers of various projects have found just how bad crowdfunding can be. For me, the project that taught me just how risky Kickstarters can be was Onyx Path's "Deluxe Exalted Third Edition" Kickstarter campaign. While it seems that they are finally delivering on a campaign that is (of this writing) over two whole years late, there were many mistakes made along the way that future project creators could learn from.
Here are two of the three downfalls that you should watch before before you create a Kickstarter for your project (or warning signs to look for before you back a project):
1. Release Some Actual Rules
"Exalted Second Edition is a buggy mess and I never want to run a game using it ever again."
- Me, after running the system for three years.
The reason? They, like several creators, were afraid someone would steal their rules before they would have the opportunity to publish the game.
Well, it turns out that the real reason was that the rules had not even been written yet. Shortly after the completion of the campaign, they stated that they were not satisfied with the quality of the rules that they did have written. They went back to the drawing board, and two years later had something ready for release. This lack of preparation was a large part of what upsets me about the delay - had they been more honest at the campaign's onset about the state of the rules, or at least released what they had at the time, I and many other backers would not have gotten so fed up. Plus, during the time that this game was been in development, Onyx Path ran multiple other "Deluxe" Kickstarters for other game lines they own, with these campaigns all delivering well before a single Exalted backer received even a pre-release "Please Check For Spelling" PDF.
Lesson to be Learned: Bring Something to the Table, or Don't Come at All.
2. Do NOT Keep Backers in the Dark
But all of those things blacked out? They ended up being terms like Initiative Crash, Withering, Decisive, and words that are not copywritable. But, non-playtest backers were growing more and more concerned as the original deadline continued to slip further into the past. As a way to prove that Exalted was shaping up to be worth the wait, one of the playtesters released a version of the playtest packet to the public. In response, Onyx Path ended the playtest prematurely, stating that they would never be holding a public playtest again. Sadly, while the leak restored many unsatisfied backers opinions on the game, the negative response from Onyx Path basically canceled it out.
Lesson to be Learned: Keeping Backers in the dark will Backfire and will Alienate People Against You.