Less than a third of Kickstarter funds went on developing Star Command, admits War Balloon

Where the money goes

Less than a third of Kickstarter funds went on developing Star Command, admits War Balloon
Since Double Fine Adventure lit the blue touch paper on the Kickstarter model, indies around the globe have attempted to reach out to fans to get their projects off the ground.

Just how many have been successful is unclear, but War Balloon Games has revealed just how it spent the money it sourced from its own crowdfunding venture for space-sim Star Command.

It's a candid assessment that no doubt won't surprise developers, but may raise the eyebrows of a fair few Kickstarter users. 


Kick up the backside

War Balloon Games opened its Star Command Kickstarter project back in September 2011 – notably a good five months ahead of Double Fine's phenomenally successful venture - reaching the target amount of $20,000 within its first five days and closing off at $36,967 in October.

Six months on, and the studio has addressed its backers in an update explaining where the money has been spent.

Starting with the absences of $2,000 from no-shows, KickStarter and Amazon Payments naturally took their fill, leaving the developer with $32,000. A further $10,000 went on prize fulfilment, which included printing posters and t-shirts and shipping them globally.

In regards to the remaining $22,000, War Balloon spent $6,000 on game music, $4,000 on attorneys, startup fees and CPA, $2,000 on poster art, $1,000 on iPads and $3,000 on attending PAX East.

That left the studio with $6,000 to actually finish the game itself - combined with music costs, that's 32 percent of the total pledged.

If I could turn back time

So what would War Balloon have done differently?

Keeping attorneys out of the equation is one lesson learned, while the developer claims it could have better prepared itself for the costs of printing 200 posters, t-shirts, and other rewards.

"We have still taken a lot of debt on ourselves (over $50k), and hopefully this can help give insight to other kickstarters and would-be-developers on what to expect," explained the company on its Kickstart page.

"All that said though, its been great and the game would not be where it is if it wasn't for kickstarter. We have made a game we're really, really proud of and you guys should be too."
Star Command is still on schedule for a summer 2012 release on iOS and Android.
As can be seen in the comments section below, War Balloon Games contests our take on the firm's figures, pegging games development costs at around 65 percent of the funds raised.

[source: War Balloon Games]

Fresh out of the packaging, Tom joins Pocket Gamer with a chip on his shoulder and a degree in Journalism. Naively, Tom believes there's a star-studded career in video games and has penned words across the internet in between praying to the almighty Nintendo gods.


View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies
Keith Andrew
Corrected the music part - that was a slip up on my part.
So the title is a bit misleading...

We would definitely consider music, attorneys and startups, ipads and PAX part of development.

The original promise was to use the funds for many of those purposes. Music is essential, and either we buy the ipads ourselves or use funds to get them for play testing.

You could make an argument that attorneys were silly, but again, when your first going you want to do everything "right". We would definitely consider that part of development (and I think if you looked at any other business, legal is part of making games).

PAX might be loose, but the experience we received from that was amazing. There is no substitute for 2000 playtesters trying your game out, getting to watch how they play things. Kickstarter also paid for our booth and lot's of other things, so it wasn't our company bearing all the brunt.

If the thought was use that money to keep the lights on (spend it on rent and living expenses) we have a problem with that. We can take debts to do those things - the way we look at it, our supporters want to see tangible things like music and a chance to actually see the game vs. "hey, rent check sent today!".

We were probably closer to 65% spent on game development, and the rest spent on prizes and just misc things.