The folks at War Balloon Games thought that they had it made. After asking for 20 grand on the web's most popular crowdfunding site, backers shovelled all of that and 16,000 more to help make the dev studio's Star Command mobile game a reality. Smooth sailing from here on out, right? Not exactly.
In a recent update post on their Kickstarter, War Balloon breaks down where all that money's gone, and it's a revealing portrait of what kinds of costs an indie dev team can face:
Our kickstarter earned $US36,967 after asking for $US20,000 so that was incredible.
To begin with, we didn't get all of that. We lost about $US2,000 to no-shows, just people that pledged and the funds didn't not transfer.
That got us down to $US35k, and kickstarter and Amazon Payments take their portions, which got us down to right around $US32,000.
Now, right off the top you had $US10,000 for prize fulfillment. That includes printing the posters, the shirts and shipping everything (thanks Australia). If we had to do it again, we would have probably had the price point a bit higher for the t-shirts and posters, as those turned to be a very large expense. We also would have included the cost of a 3rd party fulfillment house - we just aren't equipped or skilled in that area, and it was (still is) something that we struggle with.
After that, we had $US22,000 remaining. From there:
Music - $US6,000
Attorneys, startup fees, CPA - $US4000
Poster art - $US2000
iPads - $US1000
PAX East - $US3000
Leaving us with around $US6000, which is income, so that was taxed (piece of advice to other kickstarters - spend that money before the end of the year).
Now, don't think that Star Command isn't being made. War Balloon showed the game at PAX East and debuted the new teaser trailer. There's more in the post about how the team's amassed considerable personal debt to continue development on their game, as well as insight on what they would've done differently if they had it all to do over again.
Update #19: What the hell did you do with our money? [Kickstarter, via Reddit]