Kickstarter's New Terms Of Use Holds Creators More Accountable

Kickstarter is a platform for all sorts of crowdfunded activities, though we know it best for the games it's helped launch -- and those that failed spectacularly. Investing in a project always carries risk, but surely creators should be held more accountable when things don't go to plan? Kickstarter it seems has been listening and in response, has updated its terms of use.

A blog post by the company's Yancey Strickler outlines the changes, which mostly deal with cleaning up the language, trimming the legalese and making it "straightforward and to-the-point". Strickler also mentions that a bit of work has gone into explaining "what's expected from everyone involved in a project":

For the overwhelming majority of projects, it's pretty simple: creators finish the work they planned, backers are happy, and nobody sweats the details. But there are exceptions. Sometimes problems come up, projects don't go according to plan, and people wind up in the dark about what's supposed to happen next. So we're spelling it out -- what's expected from backers, what's expected from creators, and what needs to happen if a project runs into trouble.

The specifics are provided in section four of the document. Essentially it states that a creator must finish their project and provide rewards once funding is complete. If, for whatever reason, these obligations can't be met, the creator must "make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion".

It then lists the actions the creator must take and revolves around providing a clear explanation as to what went wrong and how the money was spent. It's simple stuff, really, though the final point is interesting:

They offer to return any remaining funds to backers who have not received their reward (in proportion to the amounts pledged), or else explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form.

The terms of use take affect for all projects started on 19 October onwards, so it won't apply to something like the failed Yogventures, where a considerable sum of money was apparently held onto and not returned to backers who, instead, got a Steam key for another game.

An update to our terms of use [Kickstarter, via Polygon]


Comments

    So if a project goes belly up, or just doesn't deliver the goods, what will Kickstarter actually do?
    Nothing as far as I can tell.
    "Kickstarter isn’t liable for any damages or losses related to your use of the Services. We don’t become involved in disputes between users, or between users and any third party relating to the use of the Services. We don’t oversee the performance or punctuality of projects, and we don’t endorse any content users submit to the Site."

      KS has *always* been a risk when you "invest" in a product. So in league w/ your post yes nothing has changed.. per se.

      HOWEVER.

      These updates (in addition to older updates back in 2012) basically spells out *accountability* for *both* sides. Many a KS I've seen devs go quiet during crunch and get accused of scamming... and the other more public failure sides from dev sides that gaming press are always eager to latch on to.

      By spelling out the specifics of accountability it opens up really shoddy KS projects to greater scrutiny on how it's going wrong or how it intends to rectify it and if things go south (like a certain webcomic turned print affair... ) an avenue of legal action for failing to follow the accountability clause for failure to refund or failure of "reasonable effort" on a project.

      It won't stop failures by any means by projects that aim too high and budget too little (Clang comes to mind..) but it will stop obvious shoddy projects that do runners (which has happened a few times but very rarely gets press time here since a majority of them don't fall in the VG category)

    From what I read, it seemed to just make the language surrounding the terms & conditions just a little bit clearer without making really any changes. Was the "final point" above added in or was it just explained in a complicated manner originally?

    Last edited 20/09/14 3:39 pm

    I can see that final point being abused as a get out of jail free card.
    "I will use the rest of the funds to do a thing so you can't get a refund."
    *1 year later*
    "That thing never worked out and now all the money's gone."

      Not quite... the funds needs to be use in what's seen as "reasonable steps" to finish a project or get the product backers backed for.

      It basically means backers are expected to be given more than "oh don't worry buys were spending it on something that'll keep game solvent... can't be specific but we are trying!" And i'm fairly sure the refund request takes precedence first if a backer does not think the "explanations/steps" are acceptable.

    I saw someone on Twitter talking about starting a Kickstarter to make a documentary about all the failed Kickstarters. God, I would watch that - it would be so wonderfully cringe-worthy.

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