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Nearly 1 in 10 Kickstarters fail to deliver rewards, a 'reasonable' rate says company

"It's not a store, and ... amid creativity and innovation there is risk and failure. "

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

An independent U.S. research university has conducted a deep analysis of the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform’s own internal data, and uncovered a number of interesting statistics. Among them is the fact that roughly nine percent of successfully funded campaigns fail to deliver rewards to their backers, a number which the public benefit corporation calls "reasonable."

"Kickstarter’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life," the company wrote on a page announcing the results of the study earlier this week. "It’s a platform for ideas. Creative ideas. Big ideas. Weird ideas. But all just ideas that are looking to come to life.

"Is a 9% failure rate reasonable for a community of people trying to bring creative projects to life? We think so, but we also understand that the risk of failure may deter some people from participating. We respect that. We want everyone to understand exactly how Kickstarter works — that it’s not a store, and that amid creativity and innovation there is risk and failure."

The page also includes a short synopsis of Professor Ethan Mollick's disclosures, including how Kickstarter collaborated in sharing data. According to the company, projects were categorized as failures if "backers answered that they never expect to get the promised reward, or that they did receive a reward but it wasn't what they were promised," and included samples from more than 65,000 projects.

Among the study's other findings includes the observation that only eight percent of dollars pledged went to failed projects, and that 65 percent of backers "agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that "the reward was delivered on time." The most risky efforts were for projects that raised less than $1,000.

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