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New Kickstarter Guidelines Could Drastically Affect the Crowdfunding Platform

10.10.12 @ 7:36PM Tags : ,

Kickstarter has become synonymous with crowdfunding, even though they aren’t the only game in town. If you’ve been following the site at all, you’ll know that Kickstarter is home not just to people trying to fund films, but a rapidly growing segment of the site that deals in physical products and designs. New guidelines for the Hardware and Product Design section, however, may derail plenty of these massively successful crowdfunding campaigns before they even get started.

Here are the new guidelines in full:

  • Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.
  • Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
  • Offering multiple quantities of a reward is prohibited. Hardware and Product Design projects can only offer rewards in single quantities or a sensible set (some items only make sense as a pair or as a kit of several items, for instance). The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship.


This is a big deal for anyone trying their hand at making products, even if they are strictly mechanical in nature. Kickstarter will disallow any projects containing photorealistic renderings of an object, but technical drawings, CAD designs, sketches, and other parts of the design process will continue to be allowed. There have been numerous products that have been funded based on photorealistic renderings, and it’s a little strange that Kickstarter is making this move now after so many millions of dollars have already been put into projects that never would have been allowed under these new guidelines.

Quite a few projects use 3D photorealistic models to help make their campaign look more professional, and also give people a better sense of what the final product will look like. The last new guideline will affect a number of projects, especially if the price is reasonable, and people want more than one of a specific product so they can get a deal. I can understand the photorealistic renderings, but I don’t know that multiple quantities is really that troublesome in the grand scheme of the site — there are likely larger problems that need to be addressed. For example, what happens if the subject of a crowdfunding campaign never materializes, do the creators have a responsibility to the supportes? According to this article from  at Filmmaker Magazine, the creators of a Kickstarter project are legally required to fulfill the rewards, but not necessarily anything else. Here is that guideline:

Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

I haven’t heard of legal action against any large projects that haven’t delivered on their promises but were successfully funded, though it may not stay that way forever. Since so many projects are completed in one or two year timespans, we may not start getting the fallout from failed (but successfully funded) projects until a few years from now.

Only time will tell if these new guidelines (if properly enforced) will reduce risk on the part of the supporters. What do you guys think? Have you been fooled by product renderings before? If not, why do you think Kickstarter is enforcing this new rule?

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COMMENT POLICY

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  • I just can’t understand the legal reason for doing this. I think it’s ridiculous.

  • I get the whole not delivering the donation kit thing, but the image?

    That’s a bit bizarre. I would have thought that as long as they pus a disclaimer saying “it’s a computer render, Not final product, final product is subject to change etcetc” than it should be allowed.

  • I was under the impression (like most of us) that Kickstarter held a strong reputation of providing a safe place for people to donate to projects. I’m a little confused as to what events or fears have caused Kickstarter to suddenly change its criteria for products. Offering multiple quantities of a reward is a large part of the reason projects reached success. That capability is such a great way to gauge if your product is going to received well or not, so to revoke that is odd. This is also a perfect opportunity for someone to start a product based crowdfunding site that offers what Kickstarter doesn’t anymore.

  • hows the old digital bolex coming along? ;)

  • Personally I’d much rather support a project based on a photo realistic rendering of what the creators want it to look like than a CAD design where I have to guess. Having a finished rendering of a product demonstrates that they actually know what they want it to look like, and have taken the time to construct it in 3D space. Ideally of course you’d do this with an actual prototype, but that’s expensive, and the whole idea of kickstarter is to help people get past that obstacle.

  • About that multiple quatity thing! What about 1 Item + A gift Card (With the price of several more Items)? That should work right?

  • I understand that they don’t want to make it too easy. A 3d rendering can look cool but be totally unrealistic to produce. On the other hand, the RED camera existed only as a rendering for quite some time. The quantity thing seems stupid because you’d definitely want more than one lens cap holder or lens gear etc.

    George – tshit.de/freshdailies

  • shaun wilson on 10.11.12 @ 9:33AM

    Its almost as stupid as the fact that most of the world is disqualified from starting a kickstarter project because they are not an American or UK resident.

  • I have always had a problem with kickstarter. I am aware of the benefits it can have on certain projects and products but when it comes to ‘filmakers’ asking for money to produce their own short film, it bothers me a lot. It’s embarrassing. “Here, let me give money to a complete stranger so they can produce a short film of their own vision.” This is not always the case. As for products, cineskates is one of the most useless yet most funded projects out there for filmakers. Cineskates actually showed you what you could use it for but people still bought it.

  • Digital bolex anyone? what ever happened to rhat scam?

    is she still posting about “exciting new changes” she wants to add to the camera while she tours the globe with everyones money.

    Has even one camera shipped yet?

    • Please do some research before you start calling something a scam. They have not shipped yet, but development is well on its way. Making a camera is unbelievably complicated, and these changes you speak of have actually come from users wanting more functionality – so I would much prefer a company that actually listens to the people buying the camera rather than one that doesn’t.

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joedp/the-digital-bolex-the-1st-affordable-digital-cinem/posts

      • You are in the minority however. Digital bolex faces heroic problems that are overwhelming them right now.

        http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/2568/digital-bolex-raw-camera-for-2500/p1

        • I’m not sure what a forum of people speculating tells me about the actual delivery of the product?

          • The engineer who hacked the gh2 posted great insight. Please read it. Thank you.

            • Yes I read it, I’m still not sure I understand what part of that is a scam. Are they saying Joe and Elle have nothing to do with the actual design or the engineering part of the camera? Regardless of any of that, if they deliver a product that works, how is it a scam?

              I’m not being antagonizing, if you can offer more insight about what they’re talking about I would like to read it.

          • English not my firest languages. Sorry I cant help explain what Vitaliy typed. Take care.

            • There are plenty of online translators, I’m sure if you typed in your native language I could attempt to translate, or there are others who understand your native language who could translate. I really am not sure I understand all of what Vitaliy said probably because of the same reason you don’t want to explain, but really, I’m curious to know, when people come and say something is a scam, they usually have a very good reason and I honestly would like to understand why someone would think that.

    • shaun wilson on 10.11.12 @ 4:35PM

      Charles you might not want to say companies are a scam when they are legit because the likelihood of being sued these days is pretty high.

    • john jeffreys on 10.12.12 @ 3:48AM

      Digital Bolex is legit, its just an “indie” camera so it is taking a while to get off the ground. Camera design is very expensive, especially when its from the ground up. I’ve talked with them to potentially come to my school and give a lecture and prototype demonstration.

  • i think they trying to make it more of legitimate/professional site than those other beggar/panhandling sites
    you know those ones “my mom was bullied help me raise money so i can send her to Spa Manicure and make her feel better about herself ” or ” i lost my record collection in a fire. Donate to rebuy my records and i’ll send you a mix tape”…….

  • I disagree with banning photorealistic renderings (that seems a little paranoid to me), but one change I agree with is only allowing one (or some sensible small number) reward per person. I’ve seen projects that were offering “distributor blocks” of 50 of an item, which seemed against the spirit of kickstarter. Hopefully those will go away now.

  • Thats crap. Since english isn´t my native tongue, I love watching the renderings and fully understanding what the creators are aiming at. Much better with pictures than words.

  • KUDOS for KS!
    I was sick and tired looking at FAKE stuff and people getting millions. Show what you got and not what CGI, FX or whatever can do. This rule they have now will clean up the hype and fakery that’s going on. Now, they need a tech person to look over the claims and remove anything does not comply with the rules.

    Many of you don;t like the new rules, get over it.
    This is not about creating CGI or simulation, this is about people who wants to support a new idea and wants to see if you’re full of shit or actually have something useful to produce. Many of these ‘winners’ don’t have a clue about making a paperclip and so far I have not seen a single product that came out of KS. A lot of these people squandered the money without any accountability… hey it’s FREE money and most of them are kids who spent it on who knows what.

    I used to give money to any useful products in the begining to MANY of them, then came the FX-fakery and I stopped giving anything. Am not alone who see this as a FREE money site and present crazy things to rake in whatever they can by some people.

  • I’ve seen a bunch of products that had nice renderings and looked good on paper but when it came to manufacturing they completely changed and / or sucked. I think forcing people to make a good working prototype is the best step for Kickstarter.

  • I think it’s a good thing. It’ll force creators to do more work before they open up a kickstarter and/or to set their funding goals higher.

    I rather think that the successfully funded, but recently failed, Cam Crate would have benefited from these rules.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mgeyster/cam-crate-a-weatherproof-dslr-camera-case

    • Yeah, and a bunch more that took the money and nothing happened. One scam was if they could not make the desired amount by the given date, they had friends make up the missing amount so they can close the deal. After they got the money, gave the money back to their friends and kept the rest.
      Pure scam!

  • Daniel Mimura on 10.18.12 @ 5:49AM

    I’m guessing kickstarter had a really good reason to change their rules…but without stating why. Think about it—it could seriously delegitimize their site to show the flaws if it turns out some specific projects have been pure CGI pipe dreams…obviously, some serious problems have been unveiled to them or they probably wouldn’t be changing things.

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