Friday, July 11, 2014

Stay Classy Palladium

by CaulynDarr


The Admiral is not amused
Man, I sure know how to pick Kickstarters.  This one for Robotech Tactics has turned into a real cluster frak.  One of the implicit understandings of a Kickstarter is that backers get the product first.  We put down money months to years in advance for a product that may or may not live up to expectations.  All because we want to see a cool idea come to life and be part of it.  And, if the implicit promise isn't enough for you, there's also the times when the creators make it explicitly:
In the end, you, our Kickstarter supporters, will be the first to receive a wonderful product that we hope will make you grin and provide endless hours of enjoyment. Thank you for sharing our dream. You, your pledges of support and unbridled enthusiasm are very much appreciated.
Emphasis mine.  So of course what is Palladium doing?  They are planning on selling at Gencon before they ship to backers. 

Ok, technically they are going to start shipping just before traveling to Gencon.  As in, they are leaving 2 guys back at the warehouse to work on shipping 5K backer pledges.    In case you have not gone through a large Kickstarter fulfillment, these typically can take a much larger team a month or more to complete just domestic US shipping.  They might get  3-4 boxes out the door, so it's OK.  "See, we technically shipped to backers first!  We tried our best guys, really."

And not only that but:
Sorry, we can not possibly bring your order with us to Gen Con. This is a much bigger, bulkier product than books. To bring even 100 full orders would fill up several pallets worth of space we just don’t have at our booth.
Most companies that have a fulfillment intersect with a major Con, do allow you to arrange pickup at the convention.  They realize it's kind of a dick move that non-backers get a kickstarted product before the backers.  But hey, Palladium totally wants you to stop by the booth anyway to take a look at the miniatures that wouldn't have been made without you--that you can't have, sorry.

We're Sorrrrryyyy
Backers are pretty much nothing.  We don't get any guaranties or consumer protections, and we aren't technically investors either.  So we don't have any rights really.  But there is a universal rule to business.  If you piss off the people who give you money, they won't give you any more money.  I really hope that pissing of 5K backers is worth the immediate profits of selling to a few hundred people at Gen Con.  And you know a good chunk of those will just get posted to Ebay the next day.

It's not that I'm upset that someone else is getting their war dollies before me.  It's the principle.  I don't like companies that lie to me.  It's that Palladium has not kept a single promise to their backers--who gave them over 1.4 million to make this game happen. That they are generally condescending as all hell when they communicate to us.  Read all of that first link; they talk to us like we're five year olds.  And they love making it sound like they are doing us a favor for stuff out of their control like:
Only a few hundred people will get the product before our highly valued Kickstarter supporters at Gen Con. We will not be offering Kickstarter exclusives at Gen Con.
Emphasis original.  There will be no Kickstarter exclusives to sell, because they where all put into the second wave, that isn't getting manufactured yet, and no one will probably see any of for another 8 months(if ever).  Much smoke was blown up many asses.  

Then they try to hide behind how hard everything is.  We as the backers just don't realize how complicated and technical it all is.  The other dozen or so kickstarters that funded to that level and shipped successfully seemed to handle it without bitching about how haaaarrrd everything was. Maybe how hard it was going to be should have been something they thought about before taking nearly one and half million dollars from us.  I guess it's the backers fault really.  It was still the halcyon days of the early big gaming Kickstarters. Before we figured out that there is zero creator accountability built into the system.

They also refused refunds due to the lateness.  Something that is not guaranteed, but other late companies have done for their backers as a matter of basic customer service.  I'm glad that I kept my pledge on this one to a reasonable level.  I feel bad for all the guys that did throw $400 plus into this.    

This whole Kickstarter has been a train wreck since it funded.  It went from being 98% percent done, might start shipping early, to you get half your stuff 6 months late, then 8 months late, then finally after some random yahoos at Gencon.  And the quality has gotten questionable.  The seams and detail on the figures has fallen short of expectations.  And they can't blame PVC for this one, since they are doing injection molded ABS.   

The whole thing could be moot.  The timeline they have for getting the stuff from China is pretty optimistic, and Palladium has not been able to hit an estimated timeline since taking our money.   I'm actually wishing a customs hold up hits them with a nice 2-3 week delay so they miss Gencon altogether.  

And if people want to say, "Well it's Kickstarter, what did you expect."  My only recourse as a backer is to rant on a blog or sue.  Lawyers are expensive.  So, I rant 

I guess someone has to keep GW from being the worst company in the industry.


15 comments:

  1. Just be thankful you didn't back Imbrian Arts Miniatures kickstarter by Jody Siegel. This guy was funded on December 27, 2012 & I've given up expecting I'll ever see a miniature from that guy!

    I've come to realise that for far too many, kickstarter has become a vehicle for business retards. I mean, it should have been obvious from the start (I'm a bit slow on the uptake), but if you already had enough business acumen right from the get go, you wouldn't need kickstarter in the first place! Would you?!

    After this bad experience I won't be backing another kickstarter.

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  2. Selling at Gen-Con BEFORE sending all of the KS backers their toys has (I think) created far more of a backlash than ALL of the production delays combined! Don't even get me going on the Rick Hunter VT that I ordered. Not mention of that anywhere other than it'll be in the far off and mythological 'wave 2'.

    The Gen-con booth ought built like a bunker with its own dedicated security to ward off all of the angry KS backers who show up in a mountain dew fueled nerd-rage! lol! Sounds like another PR nightmare with a far broader audience than just the KS backers...

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    1. I was't going to go to Gencon, but now I'm tempted to go just to grief. I'm also tempted that when my pledge eventually comes, to spray paint the entire contents hot pink and and ship it back with a GFYS note attached. Or just use the miniatures only for Battletech. Probably the Battletech option.

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    2. lol, in all honesty, that was why I went in on the KS in the first place: for a new and reasonably priced lance of 'Riflemen' and/or 'Warhammers'. Rick Hunter's VT was just icing on the cake. Indeed, I know a LOT of people did much the same (even ones who later splurged up to $200-$300 of stuff). Personally I think that that's one of the reasons the KS did so well (i.e.: CBT players wanting new 'unseen' mechs).

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    3. Guessing that was why I backed this one... The Warhammers and Riflemen that I could field... Looking like I am very much in the minority in not really caring that they are selling at Gen Con for (presumably) full retail... Figuring I got a pretty steep discount for all the wee toys when they do show up :-) My wife on the other hand would probably be annoyed that I sent off money so long ago and still haven't gotten the toys... At this point, the company taking the excellent retail opportunity vs staying back at the warehouse to ensure already massively delayed KS packages? I'd probably rather the company take the first option for their longer term survival to get more copies out to more people... :-) But that's just the IE/ME talking, I know nothing about marketing... Saying that, I DO of course understand why a lot of folks ARE annoyed, just my tolerance level is probably different here...

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    4. I take the view that it's not my problem they need to sell this game at Gencon for their long term profitability. I didn't fund Palladium so that they could exist. I funded Robotech Tactics so I could get some cool robot miniatures. It isn't my fault they mismanaged their development so much that their only option is to screw over the people that already paid.

      Not everybody cares deeply about this particular situation, but there's a simple solution for this. Let the people who do care pick up their pledge, even if it's only the starter box portion, at Gencon.

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  3. This reminds me of Palladium's "Crisis of Treachery". Mew mew mew, we wuz terribly betrayed. Everything is so hard. Mew mew.

    http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?t=6109

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  4. I've heard of something similar happening with a Cool Mini or Not kickstarter.

    Great article. Thanks.

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    1. They had Zombicide available at Gencon before it had shipped to all it's backers. But there where a few major differences. Gencon was in August 2013 and their estimated delivery was September 2013. So they were not 9 months behind schedule. Secondly, they allowed backers to pick up their pledges at Gencon.

      It wasn't the coolest thing to do from the backers' perspective. But they where able to mitigate the problem by giving people who really cared about it a way to get their stuff at the same time. CMON has at least tried to make restitution when they screw up. Including giving previous backers discounts on their next campaigns.

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  5. I looked at this one. I used to love playing Battletech but have not played in a long time (1986-1992). The concept of not having the mechs that were with the game originally and even on the cover of the boxes seemed to take something away. We mainly used the cardstock stuff for it. How do these models compare in scale with the current Battletech lines? I had the will power to not get anything as I have a horrible history of buying stuff to use for something else than never using it.

    I do agree that this is totally not classy though. Backers should be able to pick up any compete box sets type of product that is part of their pledge.

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    1. Not sure how well they scale to current battle-tech stuff. My guess is they will be larger than most of the battletech figures I've seem. From the pics they've shown the human stuff looks to be somewhere in size between a tactical marine and a terminator.

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  6. Most investors do due diligence before dumping money on a producer, and then they typically do so with legal protections in place. You gave money to a company, Palladium, infamous for delivering its products a day late and a penny short. The fact that you might get anything at all is a miracle.

    The bright side is that maybe people will stop funding existing companies looking to make rent that month without having to go to the trouble of retail, and perhaps start funding people that need a few bucks to cover start-up costs.

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    1. I don't back with money I'm not expecting to loose. I do believe in funding the idea, and don't consider it just a glorified pre-order(which was why I very-much disapproved of the Dust Tactics one from Battlefront). Still, when the results are disappointing, that doesn't mean I can't complain.

      And the realization that KS accountability issues are lacking didn't really come into play until a few bad ones spoiled the whole thing. I think people are getting smarter. Which is apparent by the failures of recent tries like Fallen Frontiers. Backers are realizing what it takes to produce a miniature game in terms of cost and time. Where getting better at noticing the overly optimistic projects.

      Schedule slip isn't too much of a concern for most KS backers. I've had some get delayed even longer, and not gotten this pissed about it. Add to that they claimed a contractor was handling most of the work, and that they strongly claimed 98% completeness on pre-production work. Really, they hit us with a bait and switch. Ninja Division handled all the aspects of the campaign during funding. They really gave the impression that the whole project would be handled with a bit more professionalism. To the point where most of us thought Palladium's only involvement was ownership of the license. At some point though, Palladium started to take a more hands on roll(possibly after a snafu between the factory and ND over file formats).

      This one elicits so much rage mostly because of the disingenuous communication. If they where up front about the problems, kept backers in the loop, and didn't wait to the last minute to tell us they screwed up, it would make all the difference. Plus they need someone other than Kevin to write the updates. I don't know anything about him personally, but he comes off as a nominee for the biggest douche in the universe through his writing. I think he feels that the more bad things go, the more he needs to get involved. Not realizing he tends to just make things worse. Classic micro-manager.

      It doesn't help that Palladium also has some of the worse fan-boys in the industry. If you think GW white knights are bad, try multiplying by 1000. Not only do they put up with Palldium's BS, they thank them for it and enthusiastically ask for more.

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  7. Kick starter should be looked at as pre ordering an item... But you have to pre pay also.. So lets look at the definition of "Pre" {pre- pref.prefix - Earlier; before; prior to. - prehistoric. - Preparatory; preliminary.- premedical. - In advance. prepay. -Anterior; in front of.} But Gen Con goes go in front of the Kick starter backers..So he is looking for cash to pay for his booth at Gen Con?? No one will stop him from doing this and the guy will do it no matter any one says.. One thing I do worry about is the nerd rage fall out that is happening.. I see someone freaking out at the Palladium booth at Gen Con and would hate for this to happen. Plus the whole thing about he will allow backers to vote about the sale.. non voters are an automatic "yes" to sale..
    At the end of the day.. I guess we are lucky.. he has our money and one day we may get some miniatures out of the deal.. Maybe..

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  8. So when I saw this Kickstarter I thought "Oh, hell yes! I'm in!" and then that is when I saw that Kevin Siembieda was involved, at which point I just stopped checking out their site and decided not to fund it.

    I know that Ninja Division was involved as well, and that they have a decent track record at getting this sort of thing done and out the door, and at having it be a quality product in the end, but I have yet to see anything that Kevin Siembieda touches not turn completely sour, and generally, he touches every single thing that his name is even remotely attached to, because he is notoriously a pretty huge control freak.

    I have a few contacts who used to go through the industry doing freelance writing and design for some of the big RPG publishers out there, and not a single one of them has ever had a good thing to say about working with Kevin and/or Palladium. In most cases, it turns out exactly as I believe was linked above: Product is being written/designed, Kevin is being provided good constant updates and examples, Kevin is praising how great they are, Kevin receives the final product and suddenly hates the whole piece of work, cancels it, and re-writes it himself. The end product is delayed, and is generally sub par. I used to love the Palladium RPG settings, but had to give up on it after many years because products were coming slower, and once they did come, they were simply bad.

    Anyhow, I'm glad that I didn't back this, because I knew that it would happen. It's possible that I'll pick up a copy at some point if/when they hit retail shelves, but that will be because I love Robotech.

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