Crowdfunding seems to be all the rage these days. I mean, you can even do things like, make thousands of dollars for a potato salad and not even have a product to give people in return. Most of the campaigns I've donated to on Kickstarter have been gaming related – some have been highly successful, while others have miserably tanked. Developers and fans both win at these, when they're successful, because independent studios can get the much needed money to make their dreams a reality, while the fanbase can directly contribute to what they're passionate about. These campaigns often come with ways that the fans can have direct input and influence on the game while it's still in development, which will give them a stronger emotional connection to the game they'll be playing.
But, what happens when you're working on a crowdfunding campaign that's not yours? That's exactly what an Australian film studio is doing right now on IndieGoGo. The Old Republic: Rescue Mission hopes to be a web series based on the lore from BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic, and this crowdfunding project will be for the pilot's creation. I'm wondering how long this will continue until Lucas Arts and EA's lawyers come knocking on someone's door. As far as I can from reading the description, these folks don't have the rights to use KOTOR's IP. This is a risky move, no matter how well your intentions. A legal team won't care about your passion and love for something when they show up with a cease and desist.
The film crew are working towards a goal of $10,000 AUD to fund the costs of a ten-day filming run, for everything from special effects to costuming to catering. In the reward tiers, you can pitch in $5 to just say you did it, get a pen for $25, or other physical items. For example, $100 will get you an HD-DVD of the film, according to the description, which I imagine to be the pilot they are currently working on, and not the webseries. There seems to be a lot of missing information throughout the entire IndieGoGo page, especially considering that no where is it noted that they even have the rights to use this IP in the first place.
At least with IndieGoGo, there's very little risk involved. Unlike Kickstarter, the campaign isn't dependent on the goal being met for the funding to go through. Right now, this campaign sits at $335 AUD, so if that's all that gets donated by the time the campaign is over, these ambitious film makers still have $335. The downside to using IndieGoGo is that setting up a campaign is easier than Kickstarter, so people feel that there are a lot more scam projects that end up there, even after The Oatmeal had a successful viral campaign. The downside to any crowdfunding project, no matter where you're hosting your campaign, is that there's the continued risk that even if a project is successful, there's no guarantee that you get what you donated for.
Say these guys pull it off and meet or exceed the $10,000 AUD goal and no one at either Lucas Arts or EA cares that a passion project for KOTOR fans just made money off of their IP. There's still the chance that, for whatever reason, Rescue Mission just does not happen. Hell, say they run a successful campaign and a gaggle of lawyers do come knocking. You've donated your money, it went directly to production costs like they said it would, but now they're legally unable to produce this pilot. Now what happens?
While I certainly applaud them for wanting to put together a fan-created project of love for the game, I firmly believe that there is way too much risk involved to ask for other fans of the game to back the project. I haven't exactly been shy about writing about my own love for STAR WARS: The Old Republic. I bought the CE. I've got a lot of trinkets involved with the game, including a SWTOR branded lightsaber. Still, I cannot support this effort. During the development of SWTOR, I watched a lot of fans for BioWare, STAR WARS, Knights of the Old Republic, and even STAR WARS Galaxies hype themselves into frenzies over pretty small bits of information. I could see someone easily get super excited about this project, donate a large sum of money out of the excitement, and then it never happen because this IP does not belong to the film studio. That's a risky thing to do to other fans.