Founders, Benefactors, and doing the right thing

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AdamZax, Feb 2, 2014.

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  1. da.n.ynu.tk.os.@gmail.com

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    Ok, this topic bugged me enough all day/night at work that instead of coming home and going to sleep I had to express my thoughts on the whole situation. I will try and keep it short and to the point and limit my angry ranting ;)

    I have 2 main points I want to make.

    Point 1

    The decision of Portalarium to allow gifting of founder pledges is a slap in the face to all real founders. It is completely opposite of all info that has been spread up until this point that said nothing after a certain date could be considered a founder, and in my mind it shows that Portalarium cares more about getting a few extra $45 "upgrades" than they do about the group of people who supported them during the earliest times.

    However, that is their decision, and we will just have to live with it. I am a little hurt by it but ultimately having more people with more rewards does not affect my gameplay or enjoyment of the game and it is overall a good thing for the company to have more money and people to get more stuff.

    I don't care about being 'special' or having more 'stuff' than other people. I do care about how the company treats its supporters and what a move like this says about how they will make decisions in the future. So even though I don't agree with it, I will not comment more on this aspect of it.


    Point 2

    The part that really bugs me, and the ones I feel the worst for right now, are the benefactors.

    As it stands, there are 2 features that we have had for a long time now, gifting of pledges, and referral credit.

    Gifting of pledges made a lot of sense, for people that wanted to get family members or friends in on the game. It has been understood by most people up until now that gifting after the founder date would result in the recipient being a benefactor, and most people were just fine with that. I myself just asked that question in the pledge rewards sticky last week because I am planning on gifting a pledge for my younger brother. It was confirmed for me that my gift would make him a benefactor, and that was fine with me and with him.

    Referral credit is another feature that makes a lot of sense, you want to get more people into the game, word of mouth is great for that, and a bonus for recruiting new people into the game is a good incentive. More people coming into the game is always a good thing.

    With the decision to officially confirm/endorse founders 'gifting' basic pledges to benefactors to upgrade them, these 2 features are now being abused and exploited.

    A founder can 'gift' a basic pledge to a benefactor, who pays them back. The giver gets a referral credit applied, and the receiver gets to send an email in to support to have their pledges 'merged' which makes them now founders.

    This is not at all in the spirit or original intention of the gifting system, these are not real gifts. This is also not the spirit or intention of the referral program, as these are not new players being brought into the game.

    Now, the reason that I feel bad for benefactors is because there are plenty who will miss this bit of news. There are plenty of people who only check forums occasionally, or during the pre-releases, or who don't even check the forums and just read the updates that are emailed out.

    There are plenty of benefactors who will never see that this is an option for them, and there are plenty still who, even if they know it is an option, will not feel comfortable begging a stranger to gift them, or setting up money transactions with people they don't know.

    All in all, there will be a lot of benefactors missing out, and there are a bunch of founders profiting very well from this setup. The benefactors missing out are now getting fewer rewards or perks because they paid Portalarium directly instead of doing a shady, backdoor method through a middleman. This is just purely wrong.

    The right thing for Portalarium to do right now is to give all benefactors an upgrade option right on their account page.

    They want the extra $45 pledges, we know that, and they don't care about keeping founder status as anything special, we know that now as well. So there is NO reason at all to force benefactors to go through a middleman in the form of a financial transaction with a stranger.

    Portalarium, since you are already going this route, do the right thing, the fair thing, allow benefactors to upgrade themselves by paying you directly.
     
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  2. D__

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    Basically what I was saying (getting at) in my post...

    edit: sorry, I only linked to my post as I thought you may have missed it, but I see that you have liked it already so you must have read it ;)
     
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  3. da.n.ynu.tk.os.@gmail.com

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    I figure the more people that express how they feel about this, the better.
     
  4. Umbrae

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    I can understand the sentiment. I am a Founder from early in KS. However, I backed the game not to get special rewards but to get the game made. And although I will admit having some of the "specialness" taken away by everyone getting upgrade is a little sad, but for everyone upgrade is at least $40 extra dollars forthe game. In addition, many of those new Founders will increase their pledges as well now that they get a special price. So in the end it helps the project and gets us all more money into the development pool for the game.

    This was NOT a gimmick by Portalarium to make money. This was something they promised early on to Founders. They had 2 choices go back on a promise of allowing this features to Founders, or allowing the system to work. There is no way they could have policed this system to ensure it was only used for its intended purpose. It just would have drove this underground and Benefactors would have gotten scammed.

    I think they made the right choice, but I would advise others not to allow this sort of thing in the future. However, being that many Benefactors were bitter over just missing the exclusive window and that Founders get rewarded for this as well, I think this is good for the community and the game in the long run. It is only for a limited time until the anniversary.

    It is natural to feel a little slighted, but we have to remember this is not profit lining the pockets of Portalarium: this is money going directly into the development of the game which is hopefully why we are all here.
     
  5. HoustonDragon

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    Benefactor here, simply because at the time, I was between jobs and unable to support them during the Founder phase.

    That said, I disagree with both the proposal, and with Portalarium. There's a reason (or at least there WAS) of having the Founder rewards (like the LB cloak) versus the Benefactor rewards. It's kinda crappy for the folks who did support early, and in doing so risking their financial donations to ensure that SotA met their project goals to get started.

    Let's face it, without their support and assistance, we wouldn't be having this discussion on these forums, since the game would have puttered out like a lot of other would-be Kickstart concepts. Portalarium may be wanting to boost their financial gains by enticing more people to donate, but the short-term boost doesn't seem worth the long-term negative feelings it's passing along to its "valued" Founders.

    Offer new rewards, have promotional packages, heck, even have some off-the-wall drawings for non-game things if you need to raise the cash, Portal, but don't turn around and smack your early supporters around like this. Unique and time-limited rewards are valuable for that very reason, since they are no longer available and rare. Offering them willy-nilly ensures some understandable hard feelings and prolonged criticism for this decision.

    And as a Benefactor, I knew what rewards were available to me, which is why I donated for them. Sure, I would like some of the Founder rewards, but I also completely see why so many are ticked off at this promotion. It's fairly rude to promise something will be an exclusive reward, then turn around and renege on the agreement.

    Also, totally NOT an Internet lawyer here, but it does seem kinda shady given the original Kickstarter agreement. You guys promised them special rewards for giving early, doesn't it breach the contract by throwing it out there now?
     
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  6. Myth2

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    I agree with the OP. Portalarium has already sold out the exclusivity of founder's pledges, so why not just make the upgrade safer and stop requiring people to wire money to strangers over the internet?

    Edit: Is it so me and the other founders can profit from the demise of founder/benefactor disparity?
     
  7. da.n.ynu.tk.os.@gmail.com

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    So do you agree that there is no reason to make benefactors go through backdoor methods of a middle-man? and that they should just give all benefactors the option of paying directly to upgrade?
     
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  8. Myth2

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    This quote is the point of this thread. This middle-man early founder upgrade system is either a poor way of compensating original founders, or a shady way of pretending that founders haven't already been sold out.
     
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  9. HoustonDragon

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    See, I can agree with this sentiment. If Portal needed more cash for development issues (which is odd, given how far over their original numbers they've continued to climb), why not offer new shiny Widgets for people to donate towards? The entire Add-On shop is FULL of stuff like this that is a blatant way to raise money, but it's HONEST about it. People supporting SotA have shown they are more than willing to open their pocketbooks for the game team, but in fairness, the team also needs to provide value for the continued support.

    This whole "upgrade" thing just really smacks of being sleazy, down to EA levels of crap they've pulled. Don't throw your early Founders under the bus, Portalarium. You can reward and entice new folks to join in for shiny rewards, while still honoring your promises to them.
     
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  10. Umbrae

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    I guess I should have stated my opinion on that, huh?. :)

    No I don't. This was a reward to Founders, so Founders should be involved. It might make sense to allow Benefactors to put a Founder as a referral when they pay to upgrade to Founder status. This would mean no need for person to person transfers, but Portalarium would then have to spend time and money to edit their shopping system which doesn't support it that way now. I have talked with them about their system and it not actually easy to modify it, and I would rather (with just over 60 day left to do it) they not spend the effort on it and focus on the game.

    In the end, they made a marketplace for it so it is in the open. Allow Founders the ability to be the bastions of good will and facilitate the upgrades since we are already loosing a lot of our exclusivity. That seems like a fair trade-off especially when many Founders are doing the service for less than required price.
     
  11. da.n.ynu.tk.os.@gmail.com

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    I would feel better about it if this were actually true, however the founders doing this at a lower price are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They get a $25 credit for referral, which they can then turn around and use to boost their pledge level up higher, or get things from the store. The end result is that even though they are giving a $5-10 'discount' for upgrading people, they make that back through much cheaper tier upgrades for themselves. It is blatant exploitation of the gifting and referral system that goes totally against the original spirit of those systems.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge those members for doing it, it is very smart and good for them. But I just don't kid myself about any good intentions or sacrifice on their part.

    Secondly, and more importantly, it royally screws over all the benefactors who either don't follow the forums closely, or who are simply not comfortable with doing financial transactions with strangers over the internet, especially in this backdoor sort of method.

    Bottom line is that benefactors who would rather just give their money directly to the company are getting a really poor deal here, which to me is just plain wrong.
     
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  12. monxter

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    At least those with early founder status and early backing date will get to choose their lots sooner.

    The founder rewards may not be as exclusive anymore, but hey, it doesn't mean much gameplay-wise. Just get the founder status and upgrade your pledges :p
    It'll help out the team, maybe they'll even hire more people.
     
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  13. HoustonDragon

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    It comes down to trust, which is a big deal when people are shelling over their money. Yes, you can swindle folks for a quick profit, but it's long term trust and repeat business that keeps it going.

    The problem isn't Portal's team raising more money, we're all for that, I think. It's HOW they are choosing to do it. If they're willing to break early promises for a quick buck, well... Thou hast lost more than an Eighth, Portalarium. :(
     
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  14. Kambrius

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    Welcome to Adam Smith's "Shroud of Opportunism: the Metagame" :(
     
  15. Dame Lori

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    I agree with the sentiments in this post. What started off as "Early backers are our VIPs!" (-Dallas) turned into "Now you too can be a VIP for $40!"

    This is the first time since this project started that I've felt negative feelings towards the team. Maybe I was never going to sell my founder gifts so the lesser value doesn't directly impact me - but you know what, it would have felt kind of nice to have that founder sword or founder plaque on my house to show that I was here since the beginning. It now lost all meaning. But honestly, the lost of trust saddens me more than the lost of digital item value.

    I don't even understand why there is a benefactor package anymore. If they want all founder rewards available to people today, then increase the pledges by $40 and put all rewards back up.

    I probably would have been a little less angered if they did not fully endorse this by creating a forum space specifically to carry on this activity. It makes no logical sense to allow people to gain "backed by x date" status today, but it makes even less sense to give referral bonuses for "gifting" a $40 pledge to someone that is already a backer. I will not be taking part in this activity because I do not agree with this, so I lose 2 ways- as a founder, and I lose out on referral fees. Being a somewhat known name and site around here, I probably could have made out well. But I choose not to because this is wrong.

    This should have never been implemented to begin with way back when. When recently discovered it was not being used in the spirit of its intent, they should have announced they were ending it - sooner than 2+ months from now, and it should not have been advertised in the update.

    I've repeatedly used the "money for Port = everyone wins" line in other circumstances, but this is different. I'm happy they are getting funds, and great for benefactors that are thrilled, but this is not the same as trying to make money through the add-on store with cosmetic purchases. This was done at the expense of the people took a huge risk and believed in Port before there was -anything- to reassure us beyond Richard's name.

    On the point of doing away with the middle man - I agree, but they already announced to 27k backers how to go about upgrading. I doubt they will change anything now.

    I think they may have rushed to get out a response when this issue rose up on the forums and people were taking up arms. I hope next time, they will give a resolution and its consequences more serious thought.
     
  16. Umbrae

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    So Founders should give up their exclusivity, and get nothing in return? Sure they get something out of it, but there would be a tremendous backlash if Portalarium just waved a magic wand and allowed all Benefactors to be Founders. I guarantee this would result in lawsuits and the project would tank.

    Right now they are allowing Founders to do something that was promised to them, and many are upset just about that. Suddenly allowing a path which excludes Founders altogether would be breaking promises made under Kickstarter which many would consider a significant breach.

    No, I think the way it is - is the way is has to be. Otherwise, we severely risk getting no game at all.
     
  17. Umbrae

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    @Dame Lori,

    I agree with you on many points. I think if they knew how it would be used then they would never have done it. I think the whole thing was a pandora's box and I bet Portalarium was slapping themselves once this came to light.

    I think they had to announce it they way they did, or people would just have started getting scammed. But it is too late now. :(
     
  18. Dame Lori

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    Does someone have the link that shows the initial promise that founders could upgrade existing benefactors to give them founder status and earn a referral fee even though they were already a backer?
     
  19. da.n.ynu.tk.os.@gmail.com

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    Founders have already lost all exclusivity, what are you talking about? Portalarium HAS waved the magic wand and said that anyone can be a founder, its just that to do so, you have to use this backdoor method of giving money to a stranger online, who will 'gift' you a pledge, which you will email to support to have merged into one, and he gets a referral bonus too, even though you were already a backer and are not a new player.


    I would love to see where they promised us that everyone could be a founder eventually, regardless of dates pledged. Please do show it to me.

    I would also like to know why you say that allowing people to upgrade by paying portalarium directly would be somehow excluding founders altogether and breaking promises to them?
     
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  20. E n v y

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    Regardless of the decision Portalarium have made, the only people who are making this possible are actually the founders themselves.
     
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