Stretch goals which change the scope of a project can cause major difficulties for creators, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler has warned.
In a post on Kickstarter, Strickler said stretch goals “muddy the waters” of otherwise straight-forward projects.
“What if someone got in early and helped a project reach its funding goal, but now the creator is focused on stretch goals? What if someone backs a project for a stretch goal-related reward, and that goal isn’t met? Both are bad experiences for backers,” he said.
“For a typical stretch goal a creator will promise to release their game in additional formats or add extra functions if certain funding goals are hit. But expanding a project’s scope can change the creative vision and put the whole project at risk. We’ve seen stretch goals leave some projects overwhelmed, over-budget, and behind schedule.”
Strickler said many creators have come to realise that what feels like “extra” money isn’t; since backers usually expect rewards for their pledges, money earned over a project’s initial goal can be quickly gobbled up by the costs of producing and shipping these items.
“Many Kickstarter projects end up significantly overfunded, and creators often use those funds to improve the project’s end product. More funding might mean higher-quality materials and other improvements that thank backers with a better-made thing. For other creators overfunding means the project turns a profit. Both are great outcomes,” Strickler added.
“Stretch goals, on the other hand, trade long-term risk for a short-term gain. Tread carefully.”
The crowdfunding leader suggested creators use time after a project hits its goal to open the creative process and forge a connection with backers rather than chase stretch goals.
Many games Kickstarters use stretch goals to add extra features or platforms to well-plotted and budgeted projects, but some others use them as a kind of design document – by pledging, backers control the shape and scope of the project. Double Fine has come under criticism for bringing both Broken Age and Massive Chalice to Kickstarter when they were in their very early design stages, and allowing backers to set the agenda; Broken Age was delayed and will release in episodic format as it has gone over-budget.