Profile PictureLong Tail Games

Most creators don't want to be publishers (February 2022)

The first question I ask new designers is: what do you want to do with this?

And the answer is usually: bring it to Kickstarter.

That's an interesting answer given that publishing - particularly at the very small end of the industry - has very little to do with human joy.

Sure, it always begins with thinking about rad elves, but eventually, you need to nail this spreadsheet otherwise the European Union will bankrupt you specifically. Or maybe you have an interesting idea about dice and then 18 months later you're staying up until 4AM to make sure the factory got your last email (they didn't).

For many indie publishers, the core task of producing, selling and distributing their titles is a necessary evil... which is an odd way to think of the heart of your business.

In a previous update, I briefly mentioned something ludicrous I was going to test.

  • The mission: launching an alternative crowdfunding platform to Kickstarter.
  • The budget: about $100 / year.
  • The reason: because blockchain sucks.

However, that last point isn't correct.

There's actually a cluster of other problems with the current crowdfunding model, going well beyond the pivot to blockchain (which still doesn't have a good explanation). Putting together my own spin on things helped me identify what they are, and what an alternative could bring to the table.

And it pretty much all stems from my main thesis: most creators don't want to be publishers.

This is a pretty uncontroversial take in the boardgame world, where tradition and barriers to entry have bifurcated roles for a long time. For indie RPGs... I don't think it's so clear. But if it is true that most creators really don't want to be publishers, what do they want? And how can a crowdfunding model help them get it?

In a surprise to nobody, I actually did (kind of) launch an alternative model! It's called slowfunding.

In future posts, I hope to dive further into how it works and exactly why I think it fills a useful niche in the crowdfunding landscape.

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