Crowdfunding Games: Interview with Kickstarter’s Michael Liebe, Outreach Games Europe

In May, we featured several games projects on our Facebook-page. In addition, we asked Michael Liebe for an interview and he agreed. Michael is based in Berlin and is responsible for Outreach Games for Kickstarter in Europe. He is also the head of #gamesweekberlin and founder and CEO of Booster Space.

(c) Sandy Kramer / Booster Space

Crowd-Fund-Port: You are supporting Kickstarter in the field of Games in Berlin and in Germany. What is the question most asked by the Games Developers in Crowdfunding?

Michael Liebe: As Outreach Games Europe, I am not only responsible for the German, but also for the European region. That said, my focus obviously lies on Berlin, the D-A-CH region as well as France, Spain and Poland. The most common question asked is at which stage of a project creators should start communicating (right before: Is my pledge goal reasonable?). Yet as goals are super individual, I cannot stress enough that for everybody who wants to go into self-marketing, aka independent game development and distribution, needs to start building a community and followership as soon as possible. So best start communicating that you are working on something (you do not need to reveal the details in the beginning) as soon as you start working on it. The Kickstarter campaign is a milestone within this complex of self-marketing, not the means to an end. The means of communication is your game or project!

Crowd-Fund-Port: There is a lot of support from the government for the Games Industry in Germany, the new state secretary for the Digital Agenda Doro Bär is a big supporter. What would you like the government to do more with regards to Games and Crowdfunding?

Michael Liebe: I am very happy about the development in the government to position Dorothee Bär as sort of CDO of Germany. She is a great advocate of the games industry – and not only in the field of serious games, but also in it’s pure form of entertainment. On a regional level, such as in Berlin, it is possible to combine crowdfunding funds as part of the funding mix with public grants. This is a very important fact for independent creators. I hope the German Games Fund (working title) will also allow for that. What would be awesome is that developers could announce the public grant within their crowdfunding campaign and tell a story like: if we raise this amount of money, we will get our public grant of X EUR. This is legally not possible at the moment, but would create great momentum in the community. Another thing is taxes in Europe. Like in Portugal for example Kickstarter campaigns cannot be launched due to some legislations. Also are there very few tax advisors who actually have the expertise on how to deal with the money raised on Kickstarter. This is mostly because of no clear statement of the tax offices on how to tax it (except for saying: you need to report it and tax it). Here it would be great to have a clear statement, which ideally does not apply in full amount the VAT + Income taxes, or else it diminishes the value of the money raised in a too high level.

Crowd-Fund-Port: One of the biggest game Crowdfunding campaigns was Star Citizen but they have not delivered the final game yet, even after years of development. Should the platforms do more to ensure the implementation of the campaigns?

Michael Liebe: Thats a big one. Yet, Star Citizen is an exception. It is designed to be an ongoing process and for backers it (can be) part of the fun to ongoingly be part of the development of the game. In other cases, fulfillment is not the exception but the the rule. Hence most projects are realized after the campaign was successful. As crowdfunding platforms are not a shop, there is no legal way to stress creators on fulfillment. It is part of the philosophy of crowdfunding that the community joins the adventure of creating something new.

Crowd-Fund-Port: Thank you for the interview!

*** Do you have more questions about games on Kickstarter? Get in touch with Michael via mliebe (at) kickstarter.com. ***

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