What The Hell These Game Developers Did With Your Kickstarter Money

What The Hell These Game Developers Did With Your Kickstarter Money

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

TOTAL: $US16,000

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]


  • Prize fulfillment especially is one that troubles me, I really do wonder what happens if they only just meet their target and have to spend all that money on shipping etc.

    I’m also surprised the Kickstarter system even allows for “no shows”. I assumed the funds had to clear before it was considered pledged.

    • If the goal isn’t met you don’t get charged so people can bail before the actual charge takes place. Classy. 5% isn’t too bad actually, depending what industry your in 😉

      lols at the Australia comment!

    • I’ve always wondered about the higher tier pledges too. It’s obvious that many projects haven’t fully calculated the additional cost of bonuses. They just think “Hey, if they throw in an extra $20, we’ll give them a free shirt. We’ll still be coming out on top.”

  • If they had offered a copy of the game they would have made a lot more money off kickstarter. Sure, those same people wouldn’t buy the game later (that was their argument) but you’re still getting a sale, you’re just getting it before the game is made, which is money you can then use for development.

  • I don’t understand the problem, they have an extra $2000 from funds that “didn’t not transfer” that’s a good thing, right?

  • If shipping overseas were an issue, why didn’t they include that in the rewards? Most of the others I’ve seen have requested you add an extra $10 or so for international shipping. Sounds like they didn’t do much research on how much the rewards would cost. (Or the taxes, either. Maybe they should have spent a few hundred bucks on an accountant, too.)

    Well, at least the game is still getting made and they learned from it.

  • Enter Jumpstarter, the fund raising website for Kickstarter projects that ran out of money. =P

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