I would say yes, from a public relations standpoint, you definitely don't want to engage in activities that negatively impact your business' (or your own) public image.
I, along with over 5,700 fans, backed Wakfu on Kickstarter. The expectation was to finance an English dub for Season 1. In exchange for my investment, I get a Blu-Ray, a t-shirt, a PDF art book, and a sticker. Coolio, but all I wanted was the Blu-Ray, and this package was the only way to get it. Don't get me wrong, it certainly feels like a value. Anyway, the Kickstarter funded successfully and went well beyond it's goal. They were asking $80,000 and raised over $480,000! Not too shabby.
However, many backers were a little upset when they discovered the English dub of Wakfu Season 1 was going to be made available to Netflix subscribers today (September 14th). Of course, many backers are happy for Ankama's success, but Ankama take's the stance they did nothing wrong. Is that true? It will still be months before the backers who made this possible get their rewards, and the campaign successfully funded nearly 7 months ago! If you don't have a Netflix subscription, you're just out of luck? Most disturbing is, the last backers knew, Ankama couldn't say who they would partner with and they didn't know when a deal would happen. Surprise backers, it's happening in five days (announcement was posted September 9th)!
That doesn't seem like a very fair way to treat the people who made it possible. I made the following comment when the announcement was made.
... From the standpoint of a fan and an investor, it's very exciting to see Wakfu reach a new audience and achieve more success. But from the perspective of a Kickstarter backer who helped make an English dub possible, having the rest of the world reap the benefits at the same time is kinda disappointing.
So where do you stand? Would you feel cheated if you gave your hard earned money to bring a project to life, then watched the company boost their bottom line, all while you go wanting for your reward? Mind you, I have much to gain that non-backers won't, but does that mean I don't deserve a little communication about how my investment is being used? Should we be happy just sharing in the "joy" of helping to bring a project to life? If crowd funding mostly served people who had no other way of making their dreams come true, I'd say maybe. That's just not how crowd funding works.
Being successful requires more than just a dream. Regardless of their intended purpose, crowd funding sites are successfully utilized far more often to mitigate a business' risk than they are to bring indie dreams to life. I feel a little let down by Ankama, and I'm not alone. Comment below and let me know if I am just another entitled backer or if the expectations of a crowd funding culture should be met by project creators!
Article by yours truly, Noble Valerian. Feel free to leave your thoughts, quips and retorts in the comments!
Digital Arts Instructor