Kickstarter has instituted a new policy prohibiting bulk or retailer rewards, and has begun enforcing it. The first project on which we became aware of this happening is the Kickstarter for Playroom Entertainment’s Killer Bunnies Quest Deluxe, which has been up about a week. Shortly after launching its Kickstarter, Playroom removed the retailer reward, saying:
"Playroom loves our retailers and we know that the success of Killer Bunnies wouldn’t be possible without them. Unfortunately, we were forced to remove the Retailer Level by Kickstarter (at approx. 9 a.m. on 7/26) because it violates their newly implemented rule of not allowing "discounted bulk pricing" at a wholesale level for retailers. We are very upset about this, but we have to play by the rules. If you are upset too, please take it up directly with Kickstarter."
We asked Playroom president Dan Rowen for clarification, and he said "We got a message in our Kickstarter Message Inbox stating that were reported as having bulk prices… We inquired further because we weren’t sure what 'bulk' actually meant. Did that mean that no price breaks were allowed for buying multiple copies? Almost every Kickstarter has that. Their response was, 'You’ll find on our guidelines that we prohibit bulk rewards as well as rewards geared towards retailers in general.'"
We didn’t find any mention of rewards geared toward retailers in Kickstarter’s Guidelines (although we may have missed it), but we did find a prohibition of "rewards in bulk quantities," which is apparently new.
This is a big change for Kickstarter, which until now has been accommodating to projects that included retailers as backers along with consumers. Eliminating retailer rewards makes Kickstarter a strictly direct-to-consumer site, and requires project creators that want to include sales to the retail trade to do so only through their traditional channels of distribution.
That’s the course chosen by Playroom, which is making the same retailer offer as it was offering through Kickstarter available direct from the company or through ACD, its exclusive distributor.
There are still many projects in multiple categories offering retailer or bulk rewards, so it’s unclear how vigorously Kickstarter will pursue enforcement, or under what circumstances. In the case of Playroom, action appears to have been precipitated by a tip. Rowen told us, "We don’t know how that happened, exactly though."
Here at ICv2, we get multiple announcements of Kickstarter projects in multiple categories, especially comics and games, every day; it’s rapidly becoming the method of choice of funding new creative projects. Whether this will impact the volume of Kickstarter projects, or merely change the way companies and creators use it, will depend on how this new policy is enforced and how companies react.