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Does Kickstarter hurt your brand? Why this Warhammer 40k game couldn't crowdfund

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Games Workshop, the creator of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, prevented Behaviour Interactive from using Kickstarter to fund the upcoming game Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Behaviour's executive producer Miguel Caron told Polygon that the option was discussed briefly, but Games Workshop felt crowdfunding could damage the image of the franchise.

Behaviour Interactive wasn't just handed the chance to make a game in the Warhammer 40K universe, they had to fight for the privilege. After they earned the right Caron says that he brought several funding models to the table. The crowdfunding option was quickly brushed aside however because Games Workshop was concerned about the potential for failure.

The alternative model that Behaviour and Games Workshop settled on is the current, pre-order structure blended with a free-to-play faction, the Orks.

Caron agrees that Kickstarter shouldn't be used for long standing franchises.

"[Crowdfunding] is something that Games Workshop is not comfortable with," Caron said. "They have the perception that it could potentially devalue the perception of the franchise. It's something they had in mind a year and a half, perhaps two years ago when I was last discussing it with them. But now it's too late to change.

"I understood what they were saying, because even after a few notable successes there was [at that time] a lot of failure on Kickstarter."

Since then many high profile Kickstarters have continued to have trouble, while others have failed outright. Several, like the most recent campaign from Uber Entertainment, have even been pulled down early. It's as much a way for a company to save face as it is an opportunity to re-position a product with consumers.

The pre-order model that Behaviour has used instead has been successful, Caron said. Additionally, he and the team feel that the pre-order model protects their players in ways that crowdfunding cannot.

"The world-wide regulation of pre-orders," Caron said, "is that most countries have — as a law — that I’m forced to reimburse them if I don’t deliver what they want. They have up to 24 hours in most countries after the game is released, based on the different rules in different countries.

"This is not our policy. I’m just saying this is the law in the world; pre-order is handled differently than crowdfunding. So, we really need to show that we’re taking very good care of the founder’s money and that our monetization model is fair and is true."

"We really need to show that we're taking very good care of the founder's money and that our monetization model is fair and is true."

Caron went on to explain how each pre-order earns buyers access to the development forums, where features and changes to the game are discussed. They also earn a certain amount of in-game currency, called Rogue Trader Points. These points can be used to purchase in-game items with cosmetic enhancements, items that function similarly to equipment that can be earned in the game but look different. He said this gives Behaviour's customers a better value for their money than crowdfunding otherwise could.

"At the end of the day, my message to the fan is different," Caron said. "If it’s crowdfunding, I'm saying 'give me money or your dream game won’t happen. It won’t happen at all.' With a pre-order, I’m saying, 'the game will happen. Give me money in advance so you can participate in the development cycle of that game, and you can have a lot of bonuses for your money.' So you get double, triple your $40 in value versus if you wait until the game is going to launch, where for $40 you get the game key and that’s all."

Edit: This article was corrected for minor spelling errors, and to reflect that Caron agrees with Games Workshop's decision not to use crowdfunding for long standing franchises.