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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Give the people what they want

Spring is full of new creative projects. The past few months have seen many high-profile and highly successful Kickstarter campaigns, each one raising more money than the last. The trend this spring shows a shift in consumer culture — that people will pay for things they want before they’ve had the chance to use or even see them.

The Kickstarter platform and crowdfunding model aren’t new. Creators post ideas for projects on Kickstarter.com, set a monetary goal to be raised and provide incentives for people to fund them. The idea of crowdfunding is that everyday people — not large investors — should be able to decide what they want by donating small sums of money that collectively add up. Projects have included new video games, movies or gadgets.

Recently, some ideas have raised millions of dollars, such as a recent video game pitch that raised more than $3 million — which is 800 percent more than they were looking for. That extra money is going to be used to put the game on more platforms and pay for better voice acting.

The growing amount of money being invested on Kickstarter shows a shift in how consumers and producers do business. Before crowdfunding, there were only a few gatekeeper investors who could provide all of the funding to turn ideas into reality, and often it would involve compromising the creator’s vision to an extent. The Internet allows producers to pitch directly to their audience, and it’s the people who choose what is created through what they choose to give money to.

Projects that barely reach their funding goal are limited in how much they can vary from the original budget and the quality of the work. Overfunding projects allows creators to run with the original idea and offer more features, hire more staff, and explore greater uses for whatever they are pitching.

Project after project has broken Kickstarter records so far this year, with the latest success being Pebble, a high contrast and easy-to-read e-paper with built-in apps that works with smartphones, showing incoming calls, controlling music, and other nifty features. In need of $100,000, the project surpassed $1 million in 28 hours, and the team has broken records by reaching more than $6.5 million with 22 days left of funding.

With producers offering discounts and bonus content for early adopters, people are beginning to jump on the crowdsourcing trend. People are creating the world they want to live in through small donations that fund the movies, gadgets and more that they want. Expect Kickstarter projects to continue to grow in scope and funding as consumers switch from buying existing goods to funding future goods.

TJ Gunther is a senior journalism major. Email him at tgunthe1@ithaca.edu.