What the Hell These Game Developers Did with Your Kickstarter Money

Illustration for article titled What the Hell These Game Developers Did with Your Kickstarter Money

The folks at War Balloon Games thought that they had it made. After asking for 20 grand on the web's most popular crowfunding site, backers shoveled all of that and 16,000 more to help make the dev studio's Star Command mobile game a reality. Smooth sailing from here on out, right? Not exactly.


In a recent update post on their Kickstarter, War Balloon breaks down where all that money's gone and it's a revealing portrait of what kinds of costs an indie dev team can face:

Our kickstarter earned $36,967 after asking for $20,000 so that was incredible.

To begin with, we didn't get all of that. We lost about $2,000 to no-shows, just people that pledged and the funds didn't not transfer.

That got us down to $35k, and kickstarter and Amazon Payments take their portions, which got us down to right around $32,000.

Now, right off the top you had $10,000 for prize fulfillment. That includes printing the posters, the shirts and shipping everything (thanks Australia). If we had to do it again, we would have probably had the price point a bit higher for the t-shirts and posters, as those turned to be a very large expense. We also would have included the cost of a 3rd party fulfillment house - we just aren't equipped or skilled in that area, and it was (still is) something that we struggle with.

After that, we had $22,000 remaining. From there:

Music - $6,000
Attorneys, startup fees, CPA - $4000
Poster art - $2000
iPads - $1000
PAX East - $3000

TOTAL: $16,000

Leaving us with around $6000, which is income, so that was taxed (piece of advice to other kickstarters - spend that money before the end of the year).

Now, don't think that Star Command isn't being made. War Balloon showed the game at PAX East and debuted the new teaser trailer. There's more in the post about how the team's amassed considerable personal debt to continue development on their game, as well as insight on what they would've done differently if they had it all to do over again.

Update #19: What the hell did you do with our money? [Kickstarter, via Reddit]


Star Command

Just as a notice - we don't regret and of these costs.

Yep, we spent $1000 on iPads - they were worth it. If you think this is a splurge, we have nothing to discuss.

Yep, we paid our musicians. As artists, we pay other artists. We don't believe in free work. If anything we underpaid Marius (our composer) but that's because he is cool and believes in the game.

Yep, we got attorneys. We hate them too, but thats just the way business works.

Yep, we went to PAX. Advertising is a critical component of making games. "A great game finds an audience". That's silly. Ask Beyond Good and Evil. Or psychonaughts. 25% of our budget on advertising is about right.

Yep, poster art. The poster is great, and there was some concept art in there as well. But we didn't want to make this a line item list.

The point of the post was to show people how fast money can go and to be sensitive to some costs that can balloon.

We're confident there are plenty of business managers and people who have run game companies that could have use the funds more wisely than we did - but that's not who got funded.