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Star Command is a game for iOS and Android where players can build their own ship, recruit their crew and explore the universe.
Star Command is a game for iOS and Android where players can build their own ship, recruit their crew and explore the universe.
1,167 backers pledged $36,967 to help bring this project to life.

What the hell did you do with our money?

Posted by Star Command (Creator)
1 like

In honor of tax day, we thought we would give some insight to our backers (as well as potential kickstarters) to how we spent the funds we were given at the end of September. Hopefully it sheds some light on why money disappears so quickly for game development.

Our kickstarter earned $36,967 after asking for $20,000 so that was incredible.

To begin with, we didn't get all of that. We lost about $2,000 to no-shows, just people that pledged and the funds did not transfer.

That got us down to $35k, and kickstarter and Amazon Payments take their portions, which got us down to right around $32,000.

Now, right off the top you had $10,000 for prize fulfillment. That includes printing the posters, the shirts and shipping everything (thanks Australia). If we had to do it again, we would have probably had the price point a bit higher for the t-shirts and posters, as those turned to be a very large expense. We also would have included the cost of a 3rd party fulfillment house - we just aren't equipped or skilled in that area, and it was (still is) something that we struggle with.

After that, we had $22,000 remaining. From there:

Music - $6,000
Attorneys, startup fees, CPA - $4000
Poster art - $2000
iPads - $1000
PAX East - $3000

TOTAL: $16,000

Leaving us with around $6000, which is income, so that was taxed (piece of advice to other kickstarters - spend that money before the end of the year).

So were right around $4000 remaining and even that cursory math isn't working as there are other things that weren't big tickets but sapped the coffers. There's odds and ends etc, so that goes rather quickly as you can imagine.

What would we do different? Keep the attorneys out of it. We got a little nervous after we recieved all the Kickstarter money and wanted to make sure our business was set up correctly. We registered our LLC's, got operating agreements etc, but in hindsight a nice piece of napkin paper probably would have done just as well. You plan for the worst (we all start hating each other and people start leaving) but if anything the team has gotten closer, so it seems like a lot of wasted money. If we could take it back we would. Maybe we will get another attorney and sue them.....wait.....

Rewards are something to watch out for as well. We just didn't fully appreciate the cost of printing 200 posters, shirts, and more than anything shipping. Shipping is a) expensive b) a pain in the ass when you have tubes and c) time consuming. None of those things are productive. We don't resent having sent that stuff off - we think the posters and shirts are awesome and we are super proud of them and it seems like everyone loved them, so thats great. But they were a lot of work.

So that gets us to the present. 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. We promise to keep this stuff open as possible and if you have questions, or feel like telling giving us a piece of your mind for the way we spent the money, hey, we're all ears.

Tell us your thoughts.

All that said though, its been great and the game would not be where it is if it wasn't for kickstarter. We're extremely confident were going to hit our summer release date and that never would have happened without you guys. We have made a game we're really, really proud of and you guys should be too. We have always felt an obligation to make your investment worth it, and hopefully we dont disappoint.

The Warballoon Team

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    1. Karsten Kopplin on

      Just wanted to say that I actually appreciate the expenditure on music.
      What music I've heard so far was topnotch, and I'd rather have music in tha game that
      is great to listen to instead of music that becomes only bearable as soon as you turn it off.
      And usually, with most things you get what you pay for.
      Looking forward to the OST, keep up the great work and your spirits, guys!

    2. Nick

      And with the double fine project of 3.5M$ you can just round it up to the nearest $100.000!

    3. Tobalt on

      I think it is awesome you guys revealed where the funds went. It is interesting to see what cost what, and see what cost a lot (prizes 10k! Wow!). Thanks for the post! Looking forward to playing the game!

    4. Missing avatar

      Madeline Johnston

      Double Fine has the advantage of being established as a company; they've dealt with budgets as high as their new game before... as someone who has put himself, friends, and family in debt over a game project, I think you're doing fine (even double fine) so far.

      As a side not, I also wish Kickstarter had existed in 1995! Imagine doing the bulk of your marketing and pre-order funds gathering via Usenet! Not awesome.

    5. liam millward on

      wish I had the funds earlier :( I would love the chance to buy a shirt, also the map sounds fun :P...
      where did I put my time machine?

    6. Janus Krinel on

      dont worry this app will be a HUGE hit when its released (and for Vita). dont sweat it!! :)))

    7. Janus Krinel on

      you guys should port it to the Vita and make moar monies... i'd buy two versions!

    8. Star Command 2-time creator on

      We can't imagine the accounting that goes into Double Fine's project. $3,500,000 - good lord.

    9. Sean Long on

      I'm pretty happy with what I've seen from you guys so far. Getting to see a working version at PAX East was pretty fun. I'm also really glad that you decided to share this information with us. It's fascinating to see how all of this goes, and see where all of the pledge money goes. It sucks about that 2k that simply disappeared though. I can't wait to tell all of my friends to buy this from the App Store.

    10. James Floyd Kelly

      Agree with earlier comment -- didn't have the funds earlier, but would buy a shirt now (as an extra) from your website. Maybe just change the color so that original backers have something unique, but so want the Red/Blue/Yellow character shirt.

    11. Star Command 2-time creator on

      Also, please don't misunderstand the post as us saying "ooops" or having any sort of resentment. We have loved everything about the process, even the mistakes - that's how you learn. Again, the goal of the post was to help out future kickstarters (it's info we would have loved to have seen) and just show how quickly you can responsibly burn through cash. Game development is an expensive endeavor - but one we think will ultimately be worth it.

    12. Missing avatar

      EOPE42 on

      It's been a good journey so far with you guys. Really interesting to see how things are panning out. I think with how long you've been running since KS and what funds you've used, you're going great guns this far forwards!

      Definitely want to invest a lot more in this project *at least this board member is happy with your progress so far* to ensure the core gameplay is tested and iterated and the rest of the game gets enough polish and extra features make it on time also.

    13. Andrew Nichols on

      I love you guys and am super excited for you game. IMO debt is a big no-no, I would have foregone any material bonuses (posters shirts etc.) for you guys to have that money for your own development.

    14. Nick

      What did the cocaine and hooker fund come under? Attorneys+/startup fee/ or PAX east? :)

    15. Oleg Ryzhikov on

      Where can I send you more money?


    16. Michael Matzat on

      I´ed give you more money in a heartbeat. If there is no second KickstarterIndygogowhatnot crowdfunding i would like to sugest that you use some kind of "suporters in app purchase".

      Maybe look at the "light meeter" App. You can decide for a 99 cent add removal or for a 4.99$ "buy the developers a pine" add removal that dos just the same thing and adds nothing more special to the app.

    17. liam millward on

      (just woke up :P) ...wait... are we still getting our stuff? also i wouldn't mind backing again :)

    18. Erik chaouch on

      Any thoughts on selling the shirts for a little profit? I couldn't pony up the money earlier but would still be interested in buying one.

    19. palenoue on

      My rule of thumb for projects like this is figure out how much you'll need then add 50% to 100%, because there's _always_ expenses that you never planned on.

    20. destoo on

      Michael: I'd like to agree with that comment, but no. When you have paid for them and they've done their work, and something bad happens, they'll just wiggle out and find a clause that invalidates their protection, and you will not get the money you need at that point, just more lawyers fees!

    21. Michael Stum on

      As for the lawyers: It's like an insurance, you always feel like you waste a ton of money, until that very moment you need one and then you'll be glad you got one. Interesting that the rewards are that expensive, but with 1100 backers, that's less than $10 per backer, so I guess it's okay. Anyway, thanks for the posting, really insightful!

    22. Xenophon on

      Thanks for the update guys. I didn't realize you could get no-shows. And damn prize fulfillment is expensive. Judging by the trailer the game is going to be amazing. Best of luck and I can't wait to play it.

    23. Jamie on

      I never received my sticker and button I just realized.... D: Ah well, I want to see the game finished more than anything anyways

    24. Brian Simmons on

      Thanks guys. I appreciate the candour and transparency. Your experience with Kickstarter has served you well. It's also a good thing that even though the swag cost you more than you thought it would you are still in the black, more or less. It's a shame Google Play and iTunes don't support pre-orders for apps/games. If you don't want to do another Kickstarter to get the funds for day one Android then that could have gotten you the loot to make it a reality (or approached Samsung like I suggested on Facebook).

      So good luck with the final push to release. Don't forget, you have a lot of ready and wiling beta testers here :)

    25. Karsten Kopplin on

      YIkes, that was a big chunk of cash for the prizes.... I totally underestimated that.
      And expenses and stuff.... Lawyery bloodsuckers.
      So looking forward to the finished soundtrack, though.
      At least once the release comes you guys should be swimming in cash. Hopefully... :D

    26. Chris on

      No worries (Australian).

      If you released something rather playable and continued to update with an unholy fervour as does perhaps, Tarn Adams, I'd give you the same support I give him - recurring donations.

      Speaking of, how about crayon rewards? I'd throw a donation your way for some "art".

    27. Missing avatar

      Madeline Johnston

      Team Hookers And Blow salutes you, sir!

    28. Star Command 2-time creator on

      Also - cocaine and hookers.