Kickstarting and Screaming


I haven’t seen anybody around here talking about these headphones, so maybe nobody here has been affected:

The company raised $2.7 million on Kickstarter and $3.2 million on Indiegogo for their Ossic X headphones which they pitched as a pair of high-end head-tracking headphones that would be perfect for listening to 3D audio, especially in a VR environment. While the company also raised a “substantial seed investment,” in a letter on the Ossic website, the company blamed the slow adoption of virtual reality alongside their crowdfunding campaign stretch goals which bogged down their R&D team.


4 posts above yours…

I’m pissed but not surprised.

I’ve backed 350+ kicks, this is like #5 to not deliver


Blame the shitty search feature. There was only one hit for Ossic, from 2005, and it had nothing to do with these headphones.


Ultimately what seems clear in the last few years of Kickstarter successes and failures is that it’s OK to back known entities from proven creators who have regularly delivered things on the past, but stay the heck away from anything claiming to deliver the “first ever” or anything they claim is “innovative” or anything from washed-up people from decades ago who haven’t shipped something for a really long time.

I mean, it’s obvious especially in retrospect, but the same rules of innovation as ever apply - if you think you can deliver on something groundbreaking and innovative, you should really think about why that thing doesn’t already exist. Usually the answer is because “it’s fucking hard and expensive as hell”.

Too many times these Kickstarter pitches make it sound like the creators look down on everyone else, saying “those idiots never thought of doing this, but I did, and I can deliver even though no one else has been able to yet”. Yeah, and all they need is to burn millions of dollars of your cash with zero risk to themselves.


I don’t know, I like backing folks who are new because they seem to have the most interesting ideas. I will say that I view Kickstarter and the like just the same way I view Las Vegas - don’t spend money you don’t have, and don’t expect a return. I broke my own rules several times I be past, I bet pretty big on stuff like Ogre and Double Fine and Wasteland 2, but then I was still getting the hang of how all this worked too. I’ve scaled back a bit, and try to be a bit more circumspect about where I drop my bucks. I’ve lost out on a couple failed projects but luckily not all that much.


The new people with interesting ideas also seem to be the most naive. Which is probably why they were unable to get funding through traditional sources and instead went to Kickstarter in the first place.


And that’s why there’s still a place for something like Kickstarter in the funding process. Not all interesting and new ideas are good, and even then not all the good ones will find an audience but this is a way to try to reach directly to an audience. Whether or not a developer is “naive” or not is beside the point to me, unless it results in a project’s funding getting drastically over- or underestimated, and I think folks are getting better at spotting those.


What Kickstarter campaigns are you aware of where:

  • It was a genuinely new and innovative thing no one has done before
  • It was a groundbreaking success in how much funding it got
  • It delivered a final product which lived up to initial promises, and was genuinely new and innovative once it released

I’m not as concerned with timelines - shit gets delayed and that’s fine - but I’m having trouble thinking of any campaigns which met the three bullet points I outlined above.


Damn dude, those aren’t hurdles, those are skyscrapers! A new thing that nobody has ever done before? A groundbreaking success in funding? I don’t see how anything would ever get kickstarted by those standards.


I just meant something at the level of those Ossic headphones. High-end head-tracking headphones?

I think Oculus Rift is the only product which meets the criteria I outlined.


I can’t really speak to either of those projects since I didn’t back them and haven’t researched them. I would imagine higher end items have their own additional set of risks, in that you’re narrowing your possible customer base by level of interest plus price.

I’m more interested in smaller projects, stuff that might be more difficult to get financial backing for because the return may not look that great. May not be the most innovative thing you’ll ever see, but might be different enough that publishers may not want to roll the dice. That’s the kind of thing I’m down with supporting and that I can see keeping Kickstarter going as a viable option.


Oculus rift, for one


The Pebble smart watch before smart watches were a thing. And they certainly hadn’t been done at that price point.

Also, I don’t know whether it counts at wildly successful, but I got The Present from Kickstarter. A brand new annual clock that’s also kind of an art piece. Mine has been going for over 5 years and it’s a genuinely different way to take a look at time passing. Doesn’t fulfill any real need as such. But it was pretty successful (only achieved about 4 times the campaign goal) and innovative. Though on a much smaller scale than Pebble.


+1 This is exactly how I look at it. I’ve supported lots of games, but never with more money than I would be willing to lose gambling at the track.

I find it tough to wrap my mind around the venom towards Kickstarter, given that no one is required to support anything. I mean, it’s not like a tax. Maybe a newbie to Kickstarter who initially did not understand the very significant possibility that nothing worthwhile would be produced. But people who keep getting angrier and angrier as they repeatedly support projects with the idea that this is like a purchase of a guaranteed product?


I think people are just disposed to be drama llamas online over, well, basically anything. I mean, don’t get me wrong, when I back a project I expect a good faith effort to deliver and I’m not wild when I don’t end up getting what I was promised (actually in some ways more so if the thing actually comes out but they made some crucial change to what I was pitched). But you read comments sections on Kickstarter if there’s the least complication and people just get so aggro. Not for me.


I think the internet is just a rage multiplier. And everyone’s going for the perfect combo.

Hey whoa, that’s deep.


I kinda wonder if you and Laminator are speaking to different varieties of Kickstarter. His seems mostly geared toward crazy Inventions (gadgets, devices, tools, etc.), whereas you seem to be primarily talking about entertainment products (e.g., boardgames and videogames).

I think that there is a bit of a gulf between the two, and that the criteria he outline are much more “dangerous” in the inventions side of Kickstarter. Building a brand new, market-creating, need-fulfilling, problem-solving gadget that no one has ever made before is a little different than making your own particular take on a Euro-style worker placement boardgame, but this time with Orcish weapons factory management as the principle theme. While neither are guaranteed successes or even necessarily easy, thinking up, designing, prototyping, testing, refining, reengineering, and mass-producing a gadget-style invention is, I think, a much harder task to attempt.

So in that vein, if Joe McRegularguy says he’s thought up a perpetual motion machine that will power your smartwatch forever and ever and he only needs $10,000,000 to build it, I’ll be way more skeptical of him than Sally von Averagegal wanting to make her STEM Pioneers card battler game a reality for $30,000.


Yes, that’s become clearer to me as the discussion has moved along. I only chimes in because I found @LMN8R’s point about only backing established creators and avoiding those trying to create new stuff to be completely at odds with my own approach. If that was intended mainly for backing higher end devices, that wasn’t clear to me initially.


For what it’s worth, the one non-established creator I did back on KS completely failed to deliver his product for years and years but still sends us really sad emails every couple of months about how he’s working on it for sure. I’m just like, dude, I appreciate your constant self-flagellation for my wasted $15, but you made like $4.5k from this after fees and taxes. You can probably let go 5 years on. . .


Then let me swerve back to my original point, which is that Kickstarter is good, and serves a valuable purpose for those who know what they’re doing. I recognize that may not be the case for every market or consumer item but for I’ve had pretty a pretty darn good run with successful outcomes by stuff I’ve backed, quite likely through dumb luck. I’m not analyzing that one too closely.