bit-tech.net

Kickstarter cracks down on hardware projects

Kickstarter cracks down on hardware projects

Kickstarter projects like the Ouya and the Pebble Watch are forbidden from now on, with companies seeking funding through the site asked to be more honest in their approaches.

Start-ups looking to get some venture-free funding via the popular Kickstarter crowd-sourcing platform may find their job a little harder than before, with the site announcing new rules that would have made several high-profile projects ineligible for listing.

The crowd-sourced funding site has been getting plenty of press recently, with high-profile projects including Tim Schafer's Double Fine Adventure and the recently-reviewed FTL: Faster Than Light smashing past their funding goals with time to spare. Kickstarter isn't just about software projects, however: back in 2009 we explained how to raise funding for your next mod through the site, and recently a start-up company raised millions of dollars in a matter of hours with the proposal to create an open-source, Android-powered games console dubbed Ouya.

Those looking to hit the Ouya-scale big-time with their pie-in-the-sky hardware project should pay attention to Kickstarter's new rules, created following a spate of apparent scam projects seeking funding through the site. In a blog post entitled 'Kickstarter Is Not a Store,' the company outlined new restrictions on hardware projects which include the banning of rendered images and product simulations in favour of prototype photographs and footage of actual, current performance. 'Products should be presented as they are,' the company explained of its new rules. 'Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers. The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver.'

Had the Ouya project been seeking funding today, it would likely have been significantly less successful: the company's Kickstarter page is festooned with now-banned content, including a simulated video demonstrating a device which doesn't exist and numerous renders of a design which even the company itself admits is by no means final.

Further changes to the funding rules for hardware projects make it verboten to offer multiple units in exchange for increased funding pledges - a common tactic for low-cost hardware projects to reduce the number of individual backers they need to reach their funding goals. The Pebble Watch is a perfect example of exactly that approach, offering a single watch for $125, two watches for $220, five watches for $550, ten watches for $1,000 and a hundred watches for $10,000.

That approach of offering bulk purchasing deals is clearly what Kickstarter had in mind when it described itself as not being a store - and is, again, now banned, meaning projects looking to duplicate Pebble's impressive $10M funding run will have to find other ways to do so. 'The development of new products can be especially complex for creators,' the company explains, 'and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship.'

20 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Cei 24th September 2012, 12:26 Quote
Good. This means somebody has to actually have something of a product to sell, rather than just a bit of skill in a render program to pull the wool over backers' eyes.

That said, I'm not convinced about the multiple items limit. I backed two Pebbles - one for me and one for the better half. Surely there is nothing wrong with that? Plus, if they enforce this, it'll just be bypassed by offering PayPal donations on the side, which is something that already happens.
XXAOSICXX 24th September 2012, 13:24 Quote
"The best rule of thumb: over-promise and under-deliver."

I think you might have that the wrong way around, Gareth ;)
Jehla 24th September 2012, 13:41 Quote
What's wrong with renders? Assuming the are clearly labeled as such.
Guinevere 24th September 2012, 15:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jehla
What's wrong with renders? Assuming the are clearly labeled as such.

Because when used alone they don't provide a true picture of the current state of the project. Kickstarter want their funding model to be used to fund products already in development rather than use it to fund 'concepts' where the product doesn't exist in any shape or form or where the prototype isn't close to the product the project is promising.

Personally I think renders should be allowed but they should be secondary to the images and pics of the prototype.
greigaitken 24th September 2012, 16:03 Quote
wheres the incentive to go for 100 watches when its same price each as 10
Gareth Halfacree 24th September 2012, 16:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
"The best rule of thumb: over-promise and under-deliver." I think you might have that the wrong way around, Gareth ;)
Hah! T'wasn't my fault, this time (although I should have caught it) - that was a direct copy-and-paste from the Kickstarter Blog. Looks like they've fixed their version now, so I've corrected this to match.
XXAOSICXX 24th September 2012, 16:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Hah! T'wasn't my fault, this time (although I should have caught it) - that was a direct copy-and-paste from the Kickstarter Blog. Looks like they've fixed their version now, so I've corrected this to match.

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure it was ;)
theshadow2001 24th September 2012, 16:41 Quote
I never really got the idea of kickstarter. Give someone money to p*ss away in whatever manner they please with no obligation to you or any other "investor" to provide the product which was initially outlined.
fellix_bg 24th September 2012, 18:11 Quote
A compromise solution for the future projects on KS could be rapid prototyping, a.k.a. 3D printing. It's cheap, even for single runs, and provides convincing impression of the intended product.
theshadow2001 24th September 2012, 18:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fellix_bg
A compromise solution for the future projects on KS could be rapid prototyping, a.k.a. 3D printing. It's cheap, even for single runs, and provides convincing impression of the intended product.

Rapid prototyping doesn't provide any real improvement over a render for customers. It's still ends up as an image of an artists impression of what the device might look like on the website. If you haven't got a good idea what the internals of a device is, be it electronic, mechanical or both. Then a render (or rapid prototype) of the outer case is pretty meaningless. This is why an actual working prototype is much more valuable (even if it looks like crap) than a pretty picture of the casing the end product might fit into.
Guinevere 24th September 2012, 18:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Rapid prototyping doesn't provide any real improvement over a render for customers.

But it can do, depending on the product. Take a phone case / stand / gizmo. A render may show the product as a perfect bit of kit with all design issues and manufacturing issues ironed out. It could appear 'ready to roll' when in reality it's all wishful thinking and shallow promises.

A 3D print may show this as well, but it may also show how far the project owners have got to go before they get to a final production ready 'thing'.

All in all the Kickstarter is better with these changes in place, but they also went a little too far (banning renders in all cases) and not far enough in others.
theshadow2001 24th September 2012, 19:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere

A 3D print may show this as well, but it may also show how far the project owners have got to go before they get to a final production ready 'thing'.
.

I'll admit if the product needs to interact mechanically with something else and can be demonstrated to do so with a rapid prototype. Then it is of some benefit. However that is usually only one element of a product. For example a phone docking station that acts as a projector. A rapid prototype could show the design docking with a real phone, but it may not demonstrate capacity to hold lenses, bulbs, contain required electronics, deal with heat etc. Also there is the temptation just to print the drawings in a prototyper. A proof of concept prototype trumps anything else you can do in the early stages, regardless of how you seek investment.
ch424 24th September 2012, 19:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jehla
What's wrong with renders? Assuming the are clearly labeled as such.

I've seen a few projects that I (as an electronics engineer) know aren't possible - they claim they can make something incredibly complex by putting an arduino in a different form factor, then saying "Software will be written" to take care of the rest. I'm sure that they're all in good faith and aren't trying to scam anyone, they've just underestimated the complexity of what they're doing. I therefore think it's a good thing that kickerstarter are forcing people to actually make a prototype - now many of the product proposers will see that what they're suggesting isn't actually feasible, and won't end up disappointing their excited funders.
fellix_bg 24th September 2012, 19:41 Quote
I think, the true reason behind KS banning renderings is that they want to discourage the over-hyped "marketing" type of product presentations, and let's be honest -- graphics visualisations could easily spoil the way project managers are communicating with the public.
theshadow2001 24th September 2012, 20:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch424
I've seen a few projects that I (as an electronics engineer) know aren't possible - they claim they can make something incredibly complex by putting an arduino in a different form factor, then saying "Software will be written" to take care of the rest. I'm sure that they're all in good faith and aren't trying to scam anyone, they've just underestimated the complexity of what they're doing. I therefore think it's a good thing that kickerstarter are forcing people to actually make a prototype - now many of the product proposers will see that what they're suggesting isn't actually feasible, and won't end up disappointing their excited funders.

Yes, so many times I have seen ideas/"inventions" on the internet by what seems to be student industrial designers that overlook simple things like physics and the laws of nature.
Griffter 25th September 2012, 10:15 Quote
good. hope kick-starter keeps up stopping EA mentality business' of more money for sub par !@#$.
Cei 25th September 2012, 11:26 Quote
To be honest, I think Ooya (or however you spell it) has to take some of the blame here. It was sold, in vast quantities, based off renders and vague promises. If the project backfires, and the end result isn't as good as the perfection made out in the pitch, then it could have a huge impact on Kickstarter as peoples' confidence in the system is shattered by such a high profile failure.

I didn't back it, because it all looked so tenuous. Not even a prototype was shown in any form - I wouldn't have cared if it was naked circuit boards - just glossy renders that they admitted could and would change.

Pebble, on the other hand, used renders and working prototypes to make their pitch - much more convincing and much more likely to actually come up with a result that adheres closely to those renders, simply because they've already done it on a hand-built level.
Dudey109 25th September 2012, 12:04 Quote
"That approach of offering bulk purchasing deals is clearly what Kickstarter had in mind when it described itself as not being a store - and is, again, now banned, "

Not what kickstarter had in mind? or am i reading this wrong

Jake
dolphie 26th September 2012, 01:39 Quote
I can imagine this going the way of YouTube eventually where they have so many new projects starting on their site, and it's all automated, they can't possibly cope with moderating them all. So you could end up with rule breakers on there or even illegal projects.

I need 10 grand for my penis extending machine! I will pay u guyz back I promiz!

Help me fund a war!

Invest in my awesome pool party full of hot naked chicks - you can come if you give me 500 dollars for some really nice weed!

Please halp. I just need a million dollerz to buy a gunship to blow up my geography teacher!
Gareth Halfacree 26th September 2012, 08:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dudey109
"That approach of offering bulk purchasing deals is clearly what Kickstarter had in mind when it described itself as not being a store - and is, again, now banned, "

Not what kickstarter had in mind? or am i reading this wrong
You're reading it wrong: Kickstarter's blog post was entitled "Kickstarter Is Not A Store," and offering bulk purchasing deals via Kickstarter is clearly treating it like a store; thus when Kickstarter described itself as not being a store, it had that approach of offering bulk purchasing deals in mind as a key example of the problem.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums